In the first episode of our fifth podcast season, you’ll hear the Berlin-based British-Ghanaian author and political activist Sharon Dodua Otoo talking about her favourite woman who ever lived: Nana Yaa Asantewaa. This Asante queen led the 1900 war against British colonialism in present-day Ghana. When the British governor demanded the kingdom’s emblem of power, the Golden Stool, Nana Yaa Asantewaa encouraged the Asante government to fight back through a powerful speech, and was chosen to head an army of 5000 at the age of sixty.
Sharon gives us all the context of who, what, where and when – and tells us how important Nana Yaa Asantewaa is as a role model for her and many others. DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins Susan Stone to introduce this fascinating talk.
We’re back! We’ve got new ladies to tell you about! And we’re doing it outdoors!
We’re tentatively extending a toe into the live-event waters, since it seems safe to us under Berlin’s restrictions. So come along and enjoy some fresh air and edifying entertainment.
Join our guest presenters, the awesome writers SHARON DODUA OTOO and NADIRE BISKIN, along with old stalwart KATY DERBYSHIRE, to learn about three fascinating females who did their own thing. All held together by our prodigious podcast producer SUSAN STONE. There’ll be a royal rebel against colonialist rule, a woman who rethought the binary and the borderland, and a lady who was seriously into bees. We’ll be rocking the ACUD courtyard as the sun goes down, celebrating lives lived to great effect.
Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €8 or €5 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 8 pm – come on time to get a good seat!
We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 3G entry only – geimpft, genesen, getestet. In the event of rain, we’ll move indoors to the ACUD Studio, so please bring a mask to use when you’re not at your seat.
YAA ASANTEWAA led the 1900 Ashanti war against British colonialism in present-day Ghana. Born in 1840, she was a skilled farmer and mother, before ascending matrilineally to the title of Queen Mother in the 1880s. That made her a key advisor and king-maker. When the British governor demanded the kingdom’s emblem of power, the Golden Stool, she encouraged the Ashanti government to fight back through a powerful speech, and was chosen to head an army of 5000 at the age of sixty. Though she was captured and died in exile, and the war was lost, her mortal remains were returned home for a royal burial. She lives on in many imaginations today, especially in Ghana.
GLORIA ANZALDÚA was an American scholar of Chicana cultural theory, feminist theory, and queer theory. Born in the Mexico-Texas border region, she thought deeply about marginalization and the in-between. She began her working life as a schoolteacher and went on to live from her writing and academic work. Her ideas often challenged binary notions – in language, identity, sexuality – and the status quo of the movements she was part of. She spoke of herself as a “Chicana, tejana, working-class, dyke-feminist poet, writer and theorist”. Her collection of figurines, masks, rattles, candles, and other ephemera used as altar objects is held at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
EVA CRANE was a British expert on bees and beekeeping. Her education took her from a southeast London grammar school to a PhD in nuclear physics, which she taught at Sheffield University. Having been given a beehive as a wedding present in 1942, she quickly shifted her attention from atoms to apiculture. She founded the Bee Research Association and edited both the Journal of Apicultural Research and Bee World, while travelling to sixty countries to investigate local bees and the long history of human honey cultivation. To the delight of many translators, she was also general editor of ten multilingual dictionaries of beekeeping terms.
Episode 42 is all about the American writer and journalist Emily Hahn, also known as Mickey.
She qualified as a mining engineer, wrote greeting-card copy, travelled the world and authored 54 books and more than 200 articles and short stories. Aside from that, she led an unconventional private life and kept a number of different monkeys. Hear all about her from our co-founder Florian Duijsens, recorded at Berlin’s ACUD Studio in April 2019.
If you’d like to find out more, Florian recommends two biographies:
Ken Cuthbertson’s Nobody Said Not to Go and Taras Grescoe’s Shanghai Grand.
Episode 39 introduces Gráinne Mhaol, also known as Grace O’Malley, the legendary Irish pirate queen.
Translator Laura Radosh presents the rollicking tale of this tremendous woman, who has been lauded as “a most famous femynyne sea captain,” and “the dark lady of Doona.” Gráinne Mhaol was head of the O’Malley dynasty in 16th-century Ireland, owning up to 1000 cattle and horses, leading men on land and sea, and allegedly wreaking cruel vengeance for the murder of a lover. When her sons and half-brother were captured by the English, she is said to have met with Queen Elizabeth I and negotiated their release in Latin.
If you fancy being told the story by a dude with an excellent mid-70s beard, this 4-minute RTÉ clip is television gold.
Speaking of books, we’ve made some lists for you! Order from bookshop.org in the US or the UK to contribute to independent bookstores, and a little bit to us too. Or if you spot something you like the look of, why not visit or contact your favourite local bricks-and-mortar bookshop to show them some love?
It wouldn’t be January 2021 if we didn’t recommend a couple of related sea shanties (sort of). There’s “Five Pint Mary” or a whole suite, Granuaile. “Grace O’Malley” hits the spot – or try some Irish pirate metal. Warning: three out of four of these videos feature cartoon depictions of a red-headed piratess.
In Episode 38, we hear the sweet, sweet music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as the godmother of rock’n’roll.
DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens brings us the tale of this legendary guitarist and gospel singer who had a profound influence on musicians like Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin. She took to the stage at the age of four, and never really left it. Sister Rosetta Tharpe made the first gospel record to hit the charts, played with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club, attracted 25,000 paying customers to her third wedding, got in trouble with gospel purists and recorded a live album in Paris in 1964.
To start off the episode, Susan and Katy toast to the end of a strange year with the Dead Ladies Show signature tipple, affordable German bubbly Rotkäppchen (Red Riding Hood) and give thanks for the support we’ve had, and that yet to come.
The presentation in this episode was recorded live with help from Brigitte Hamar at the Studiobühne der Universität Münster where we were invited by the Burg Hülshoff Center for Literature. Other talks from this event in German can be found in the Center’s Mediathek: https://www.burg-huelshoff.de/en/medien/mediathek/dead-ladies-show Thanks also to Fiona, Kati, Tobias, Feline and Jörg for inviting and assisting us. Here we are with our co-presenters Karosh Taha and Bernadette Hengst.
On this sultry September evening, DLS Podcast producer and host Susan Stone took the stage to present the life and times of the unstoppable Ida B. Wells! This pioneering African-American investigative journalist, suffragist and activist was a pint-sized powerhouse. Born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862, Ida’s world opened up with the Emancipation Proclamation, and she became a teacher, newspaper editor, and international lecturer, fighting injustice and racism all the way. Her hold-nothing-back editorials and books exposed and documented the horrific practice of lynching in the American South. On her steely path to justice, she accepted no compromises, making friends and enemies along the way.
DLS co-founders Katy Derbyshire and Florian Duijsens take up the introductions as we get back into the podcast swing of things after a summer break.
In Episode 34, we’re once more in Muenster as guests of the Burg Hülshoff Centre for Literature, which happens to be named after a Dead Lady poet, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff! This time around, we’ll get introduced to Willa Muir, a prolific translator who brought Kafka into English for the first time. Born on a small Scottish island, she was eyewitness to some of Europe’s most important moments. She worked in tandem with her husband Edwin, who somehow managed to get all the credit… Presented by our co-founder Katy Derbyshire, also featuring Florian Duijsens, and produced and introduced by producer Susan Stone.
Here’s Willa’s portrait by Nigel McIsaac, held by National Galeries Scotland
And this is the editorial board of her college journal, with Willa probably at the front, but possibly at the back.
The racy cover of Willa and Edwin’s very first translation
And all four of “their” Kafka books
Edwin, Gavin, Willa and cat at home
Two books of Willa’s own writing
You can hear Willa’s lovely voice talking about Edwin at the London Review of Books’ The Space. And there’s more about Willa Muir’s writing at Scottish PEN’s very well named Dangerous Women Project.
For those now hooked on Kafka translating content, we strongly recommend Michelle Woods’ book Kafka Translated, which also has a lot of material about Willa.
If you understand German and want to listen to a three-minute podcast about our show in Münster, the Lesebürger*innen have exactly what you need!
The center’s online audio platform is called DROSTE FM.
Their online Droste festival is happening right now, so German-speaking lovers of modern-day takes on dead lady poets can dig right in. And non-German-speaking music-lovers can check out their accompanying Spotify playlists.
Episode 33 takes us virtually to Muenster as guests of the Burg Hülshoff Centre for Literature, which happens to be named after a Dead Lady poet, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff! However, we’re here to talk about mystery queen Dorothy L. Sayers.
Dorothy, or DLS, as she preferred to be called, is probably best known for her crime novels featuring posh amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. But she also gave us an impressive English translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, much loved to this day. Something of a child prodigy, she learned Latin at six and studied at Oxford before women were actually awarded degrees. She made an early living in advertising and later wrote essays on both Christian and feminist subjects, including the fabulously titled “Are Women Human?” All this while publishing sixteen detective novels, plus numerous plays and short stories, and leading what might best be called a turbulent private life.
Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens unravels the complicated plot of her life, as other co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins host & producer Susan Stone to set the stage.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in June. Don’t forget, we now have a Patreon! Please consider supporting our transcripts project and our ongoing work: www.patreon.com/deadladiesshowpodcast
Welcome to our 32nd podcast, in which Nicole Saraniero and Dana Lewis (recorded live by Christopher Neil in the Red Room at New York’s KGB Bar in 2019) conjure up enthusiastic ghost-buster Rose Mackenberg. Sometimes called “Harry Houdini’s Girl Detective,” Rose was dedicated to debunking psychics who scammed vulnerable and grieving Americans recovering from the tragedies of World War I and the Spanish Flu of 1918. She started out as a stenographer and private investigator, joining forces with famed magician Houdini to crusade against fraud and psychic swindlers.
Here it comes, produced and presented by Susan Stone:
Welcome to episode 31, in which Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire talks about Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai. She was present at the Copenhagen Second Congress of Socialist Women in 1910, where she voted for the introduction of International Women’s Day. Kollontai worked hard to promote women’s interests in the early Soviet Union, often a losing battle. And she had some exciting ideas about love in the new society.
Here it is, introduced and produced by Susan Stone for your enlightenment and enjoyment: