Who's Who Is High on Detail, Low on Humour; the Macmillan Dictionary of Women's Biography - the Lives of over 2000 Remarkable Women. Compiler and Editor Jennifer Uglow (Macmillan, Pounds 25). Re Viewed by Ross Reyburn
Reyburn, Ross, The Birmingham Post (England)
Jennifer Uglow's biographical dictionary of famous women is low on humour with an unhappy absence of anecdotes but nevertheless remains an invaluable reference book.
First published in 1982, this third edition is revised by Maggy Hendry and this has heralded a departure from the purely factual style of the previous volumes. So we find the entry on the Queen (1926- ) includes what surely must be a classic misprint ref erring to her "annus horribilis" in 1992 "in which her children's mental (sic) problems were compounded by a fire at Windsor Palace and demands that royalty pay tax." And the entry on Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-97) describes how this "skilful manipul ator of the media" had "fallen in love with a man who had cheated on her."
By contrast, the deservedly large entry for the remarkable Elizabeth I (1533-1603), the greatest woman in English history, contains no praise for her Machiavellian brilliance as a stateswoman.
Nevertheless, this is a publication to be enjoyed. Male chauvinists can have fun asking female friends to spend a couple of hours trying to track down a famous woman painter, cook, playwright or chess champion among the 2,000-plus entries. …