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Undreamed Shores Reviews

Undreamed Shores by Dr Frances Larson

Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology

Dr Frances Larson

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Granta Books
Publisher: Granta Books
Publication date: 4 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781783783328

The extraordinary true story of five women who met in Oxford at the dawn of the 20th century, and set out to explore the furthest reaches of the known world

4 stars out of 5
Kathryn Hughes
16 Apr 2021

"(an) enthralling group biography"

It sounds as though Czaplicka was poised for success, if not celebrity. And yet, as Frances Larson explains in this enthralling group biography, the first generation of professional female anthropologists faced far more prejudice back home than they ever did out in the field. Funding, career progression, access to academic publishing (My Siberian Year was actually brought out by Mills & Boon) all remained tantalisingly out of reach. While it’s true that in 1916 Czaplicka was appointed Oxford’s first female lecturer in anthropology, it was made clear that she was to keep the post warm until the right man came home from the war. Obliged to move to Bristol University , the final straw came in 1921 when the Polish-born scholar failed to win a fellowship that would have allowed her to return to Siberia. Exhausted after years of begging and scraping together money for her field work, the 36-year-old downed five fatal pills of mercuric chloride.


4 stars out of 5
10 Apr 2021

"Frances Larson tells the stories of these intrepid women and their pioneering work in some of the most isolated regions on Earth"

Undreamed Shores is a fascinating book. Occasionally it seems a struggle to contain five such varied lives in one volume; but that frustration is precisely because Larson succeeds brilliantly in engaging our sympathy for these women who ‘dared to navigate the edges of society’.