Best-selling author Katie Hickman is an expert on unconventional women in history. Her novel, The Aviary Gate, was set in a harem in 16th century Constantinople, while its sequel, The Pindar Diamond, took the story to Venice. Her historical book, Courtesans, studied the lives of British “society” women in the 18th and 19th centuries. These women were, she says, essentially rich prostitutes, but the thing that interested her was “what that financial independence could buy for them in an era when women’s choices were extremely limited.” We decided to talk about women in the 21st century. We asked her what had become of the feminist movement:
Katie Hickman (Standard British accent)
That is a very good question. I’m not exactly sure how to answer it. It does seem rather dismaying that, you know, you get women who now their great aim in life is to, you know, become a WAG (“Wives And Girlfriends”), you know, to… to snaffle a rich, football-playing husband, but I’m not exactly sure how much that is just something that is concentrated on by the press, whether it’s a story that you read in the newspapers, whether that really… you know, whether that really is so across the board. I mean, more women are being educated now than before, women… you know, girls do better at school, there are more… I believe there are more women undergraduates than there are male undergraduates now and everywhere you see women doctors, women lawyers, so, you know, I think the more… I think what younger women dislike perhaps is the old-fashioned, rather shrill, you know, dungaree, the sort of the cliché of the… of the… of the feminist, you know, banging the drum… banging the drum for her rights. And I suppose women have more… women have more choices now than they ever have done in the past and that has got be a good thing, although, from my personal point of view, I think a bit of, you know… I don’t think the battle has been completely won yet and a bit more drum-banging would probably not go amiss!
(Katie Hickman was talking to Mark Worden)