This episode presents a first: our presenter (our very own Susan Stone!) actually met the lady in question. Bebe Barron was a bohemian, composer, and electronic music pioneer. She and her husband Louis worked avant-garde art-makers like John Cage and Maya Deren, and hung out with Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, and more. The pair is credited with inventing the tape loop, and possibly the audio book. It’s certainly the case that they composed and created the first electronic music — or electro-acoustic — feature film soundtrack. Electronic music as we know it would not exist without Bebe, nor would the sounds we associate with outer space.
In this episode, Anneke Lubkowitz introduces us to the brilliant and strange 19th-century writer and poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. This Dead Lady was a Lady in the literal sense – she was born into nobility, and the life her family expected for her was far different from the one she led. Choosing the male occupation of poet, and the unladylike hobby of fossil collecting, nature devotee Annette could often be found wandering the muddy moors or writing away in a turret. Her ahead-of-her-time way with verse included timeless poems and a work of gothic fiction considered by some to be one of the first murder mysteries.
Via Zoom from the bright green rooms of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s former home Haus Ruschhaus, Anneke also reads some newly translated poems from Droste’s collections (thanks to the translators: Shane Anderson, Daniel Falb, Monika Rinck, and Annie Rutherford!).
The star of our 40th (!) episode is author, educator, and therapist Beryl Gilroy. Born in what was then British Guiana, she trained as a teacher before migrating to London in 1952 as part of the Windrush generation and worked all manner of jobs until becoming one of the very first Black head teachers in the UK. Her groundbreaking debut, Black Teacher (1976), documented her journey up to that point, and she’d keep publishing until her death in 2001. Telling her story is Berlin-based author Divya Ghelani.
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.
Our 37th podcast episode celebrates a legendary spy, writer, and fencer whose very existence caused such a public uproar that it caused a grumpy British judge to outlaw all betting on a person’s gender. Although her story has been told many, many times before, most versions either invent her life story entirely or do not honor her own identity. Though she wanted to be recognized as the woman she was, that didn’t mean she was happy with society’s expectations of what a woman could or should wear, look like, or be around the time of the French Revolution. Mary Wollstonecraft was a fan, ranking her among the likes of Sappho and the Empress of Russia, and we think you’ll enjoy her story too.
Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss our first episode about a woman we would now probably call a trans woman. Note that she is best known in the literature and all around the internet as the Chevalier d’Eon, Chevalière d’Eon is probably the more grammatically correct title 🙂 We also discuss the Dead Ladies Show’s famous three rules, and talk about about another unruly rulebreaker, Anne Lister.
Our 36th podcast episode brings you a glimpse of the acclaimed author of some of the most chilling tales in contemporary American literature, Shirley Jackson. Her short story “The Lottery” has been a true classic since its publication in 1948. Jackson blended gothic and horror elements with explorations of women’s alienation and search for identity. In her real life, she was forced to balance her tremendous talent with the everyday duties of a wife and mother and societal expectations of femininity which she defied at almost every step. Our presentation from Krista Ahlberg comes courtesy of Dead Ladies Show NYC, and was recorded live by Christopher Neil in the Red Room at New York’s KGB Bar in 2019.
Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens joins podcast host/producer Susan Stone to discuss some of Shirley’s stories and the films and series in the extended Shirley Jackson universe.
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.
It’s been, as they say, a minute since you’ve last heard from us. And it’s been very strange not to be up there on stage at ACUD every two months. We miss you! I know we’ve been in contact through the podcast, and through our Patreon book club, but however much we cherish our listeners from afar, and we do, there’s really something special about sharing these lives (and awesome guest presenters!) with a real-life Berlin audience.
So with the current restrictions in place, and a slight change of scenery, we’re doing our 26th show at ACUD on September 14. It’ll be a very intimate one, just 20 people in ACUD’s open-air courtyard, and all those tickets have been sold to lovely folks on our mailing list.
For our final show of this season, we’re excited to present two more outstanding Berlin writers who share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. Show numéro 26 brings you three women who went against the grain: a journalist, an artist, and a teacher/writer. Presented by writer DIVYA GHELANI, DILEK GÜNGÖR, and your beloved podcast producer SUSAN STONE. All held together by your perennial perma-hosts KATY DERBYSHIRE and FLORIAN DUIJSENS.
Investigative journalist, newspaper editor, educator, suffragist and early civil-rights leader IDA B. WELLS was the most famous Black woman in the United States during her lifetime. Her intrepid reporting on lynching in the Deep South and her powerful editorials taking on discrimination and violent treatment were read widely at home and abroad, and she was dubbed “The Princess of the Press.” Ida journeyed twice to Britain on speaking tours and ran (unsuccessfully) for the Illinois State Senate in 1930, all the while utilizing boycotts and lawsuits to further her cause, which made her for a time unpopular with some more conservative activists. However, she did find love with one of her fellow rights fighters, and after their marriage, he put his career on the back burner to cook dinner most nights and also care for the kids while she traveled.
DORA MAAR’s work as an artist spans from collage to street photography, from abstract landscape paintings to eerie photograms. It also spans almost the entire 20th century, and it certainly surpasses her relationship with a certain dickish cubist (ok, Picasso). Though her work with him was fundamental to masterpieces like Guernica, for which Maar provided key photographic documentation, she was more than just his “muse.” One of the few publicly acknowledged women surrealists, she entered into the relationship with skills to teach him. Having traveled all over the world in the first part of her life, she would spend the second half largely secluded in the countryside, and only after her death was the full spectrum and force of her work from all those many decades revealed.
Having grown up and trained to be a teacher in Guyana, BERYL GILROY arrived in the UK in the early 1950s as part of the so-called “Windrush generation.” Homeschooling her two kids (one of whom would grow up to be great historian Paul Gilroy, coiner of the “Black Atlantic”) and working as a maid, factory worker, and slush-pile reader before she’d be able to work as a teacher, she ultimately become the first Black headteacher in London! She crystallized that experience in Black Teacher, a radical memoir that has shamefully fallen out of print. She would publish nine more novels, plus poems, essays, and a series of children’s books reflecting the Black British experience. If that weren’t enough, she also trained as a ethno-psychotherapist, and her literary work certainly reflects that sharply trained eye.
The seventeenth edition of DLS NYC is upon us! Tuesday, July 21, from 7–8:15 pm on Zoom. This month, please join EMILY KNAPP and ELIZA ROCKEFELLER to learn about a visionary artist and teacher and the revolutionaryMayor of Christopher Street. Presented, respectively, by an art historian-slash-curator and a student of government and philosophy.
Free admission, and an ~*important note!*~ If you can, you’re welcome and encouraged to donate what you would have paid for a drink or two to the KGB Bar/Red Room, which has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. They are distributing 30% of all donations directly to employees. Donate here:Literary Landmark KGB Bar NYC Aid
We also ask that you consider donating to the following organization:G.L.I.T.S. Inc, a nonprofit led by trans women of color that works to address “the health and rights crises faced by transgender sex workers.”
LOÏS MAILOU JONES(1905–1998) was a visionary artist and teacher who spent much of her 70-year career as an ardent advocate for African-American art. She established the art department at Palmer Memorial Institute and later became a professor at Howard University, where she mentored generations of African-American artists until her retirement in 1977. Her profound range spanned mediums and continents, from her early work designing textiles in New York to her captivating paintings of Paris and Port-au-Prince, not to mention her work as a U.S. cultural ambassador to numerous African countries in the 1970s.
MARSHA P. JOHNSON (1945-1992), also known as the “Mayor of Christopher Street”, was an activist, drag queen, performer, and sex worker. Credited as one of the initiators of the Stonewall uprising of 1969, co-founder of the radical activist group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and an AIDS activist with ACT UP, she was one of the most prominent figures in the fight for queer liberation.
About your presenters:
INDIRA A. ABISKAROONis an art historian based in New York City. She is currently on leave from her role as Curatorial Assistant, Collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
ALMA BRADLEYis a Senior at Hamilton College concentrating in Government and Philosophy. She is spending her summer conducting research on alt-right protest movements and experimenting with fermentation in her spare time.
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.