In our last episode of 2021, The DLS team of Susan Stone, Katy Derbyshire, and Florian Duijsens all come together to clink glasses of bubbly, and discuss our favorite Dead Lady news of the year.
Plus, DLS Producer and journalist Susan Stone presents our featured Dead Lady, architect Zaha Hadid. Born in Baghdad, Zaha started her creative life early, designing her own clothes and furniture at the age of 7 or 8. She studied at, then taught at, the Architectural Association School in London, where she honed her boundary-breaking skills and unmatchable style.
Both life and her designs threw a series of curves her way, but she excelled and inspired, becoming the first woman to with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for architecture, as well as many more accolades and contracts, eventually designing everything from schools to shoes. Along the way she faced notable sexism and racism as one of few women and Arabs in the field. But she wowed critics, and created some of the most incredible buildings the world has ever seen before her death at the age of 65 in 2016.
Here we are again! Bringing three new ladies to regale you with! Not outdoors, because it’s November, but with excellent ventilation and a strict 2G+ formula.
Next Tuesday, join our guest presenters, the impressive writers Asal Dardan and Hinemoana Baker, along with your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens, to learn about three women who changed the world. All held together by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. There’ll be an anti-fascist adventurer, a convention-breaking writer, and a real lady of a lady who brought the idea of vaccination to Western Europe. We’ll be rocking the ACUD Studio as the night sets in, celebrating lives lived to great effect.
Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €7 or €4 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7.30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!
We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 2G+ entry only – so scannable proof of being either geimpft or genesen, plus a recent Burgertest. To ensure everybody’s safety and peace of mind, we will also ask you to wear a mask even while seated. Thank you for your understanding and support!
OLGA BENÁRIO PRESTES was a Jewish communist from Munich, who joined the party at the age of 15. A youth instructor with military training and experience with jailbreaks, she was assigned as a bodyguard to her later husband and tasked with helping him return from the Soviet Union to Brazil. There, they were eventually arrested and the pregnant Olga was extradited to Nazi Germany, giving birth to her daughter in Barnimstrasse women’s prison. She was gassed with hundreds of other women political prisoners in 1942; her daughter is a professor of Brazilian history, still teaching occasionally in retirement.
KATHERINE MANSFIELD was an influential modernist writer from New Zealand. She wrote from a young age, leaving for England at 19. Dispatched to Bavaria after leading a fast-paced life in London, including various male and female lovers, she discovered Chekov and started writing in earnest, culminating in her first collection, “In a German Pension”. Back in England, World War I sparked her most prolific period, producing many short stories and poems. Her lasting legacy was partly published posthumously, following her early death of tuberculosis in the company of her “wife,” her fellow Bloomsbury Group writer Ida Baker, in Fontainebleau, France.
LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU was an English aristocrat famed for her wit and beauty. When her husband became ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1716, she accompanied him to Constantinople. Gaining access to female spaces in Turkey, she witnessed smallpox inoculations there and had her son immunized in the same way, using a small sample of the live virus that had killed her brother and caused severe scarring to her own face. The principle was adapted into what we now know as vaccination. Lady Mary later left her husband behind in England after falling for an Italian count, only returning after she was widowed. She wrote poetry, essays, and copious letters, many of which were published after her death, encouraging other ladies to travel as she had done.
In this edition of the Dead Ladies Show Podcast, DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens introduces us to the eccentric Dada artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. An eternally eclectic, German-born New Yorker, the Baroness was known for living life as a work of art, wearing a collage of found items, from tin cans to postage stamps to live birds, seducing almost everyone she met, and creating mind-blowing poetry and sculptures, yet never making any money off them. These days, she deserves some reclaimed recognition for creating the found art genre known as readymades, including a particular infamous sculpture credited to French artist Marcel Duchamp (or Marcel Dushit, as the Baroness called him.)
DLS other co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins producer/host Susan Stone to introduce the show, which was recorded in front of a live audience of enthusiastic college students as part of Bard College Berlin‘s student-organized Pankumenta festival back in 2019.
**This episode contains brief mentions of suicide and suicide attempts as well as some humorous profanity**
We’re going live again! Dead ladies, live on stage, next Tuesday, October 5, 8pm at ACUD.
We’re going to try and do it outdoors but if the weather doesn’t play along we’ll move inside! We have limited space, so please book in advance via Eventbrite. 3G entry only – geimpft, genesen, getestet. In the event of rain, sleet, snow or cold weather, we’ll move indoors to the ACUD Studio, so please bring a mask to use when you’re not at your seat.
Join our guest presenters, awesome academic AGATA LISIAK and jubilant journalist THEMBI WOLF, along with our podcast producer SUSAN STONE, to learn about three fascinating females who shaped our world. All held together by your familiar hosts, FLORIAN DUIJSENS and KATY DERBYSHIRE. You’ll learn about three revolutionary women – in fields as diverse as politics, sex, and architecture. We’ll be rocking the ACUD courtyard as the sun goes down, celebrating ladies who changed other people’s lives.
Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €8 or €5 reduced entry. Generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat!
ROSA LUXEMBURG was a Polish Marxist and co-founder of the anti-war Spartacus League in 1915 Germany, which became the KPD. Having started out as a political activist at the age of 15, she had organized a general strike before she left school. She wrote prolifically and travelled widely in the service of the revolution, all while on the run from the tsarist police. Luxemburg moved to Berlin in 1898, where she “hated the stifling conservatism, despised Prussian men and resented what she saw as the grip of urban capitalism on social democracy.” After Germany’s 1918 revolution she was tortured, murdered and thrown in the Landwehr Canal by Freikorps soldiers. Today she has her own square, though, so there’s that.
DR. JUNE DOBBS BUTTS was an African-American sex researcher and therapist who argued for greater openness about sex in the Black community. The youngest of six daughters of a civil rights activist, she grew up playing with Martin Luther King Jr. After years of study and breakthrough research, she eventually had her own practice in Maryland, hosted a radio show, and wrote articles and columns for Black magazines like Jet, Ebony and Essence. “I realize that there are a lot of critics,” she said, “but I’ve found out that nine times out of 10 they have a sex hang-up themselves.”
ZAHA HADID was a British-Iraqi architect. Dubbed “the queen of the curve” and “a planet in her own orbit”, she received awards by the truckload for the buildings she left us. Hadid studied in Baghdad and London and opened her own firm in 1980, only three years after graduating. Many of her ambitious plans went unbuilt while she established her unique style, until she designed a fire station near the Rhine. From then on, her projects grew bigger and bigger (and often curvier). She taught and painted and designed interiors and products, and was also on the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
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.
In this episode of the podcast, DLS co-founder Katy Derbyshire introduces us to daring German writer Irmgard Keun. As an ingenue, Irmgard’s writing debut was much more consequent than her acting debut, and she garnered praise and a film adaptation. Her books explored women’s lives in Weimar-era Berlin with a humor all her own, which of course meant the Nazis banned them. There’s dark wit, wild parties in the face of danger, and fabulous costume changes — oh, and an unreliable narrator. It’s a bit of Babylon Berlin meets Cabaret, perhaps.
Irmgard Keun is also one of the original Dead Ladies (along with Dorothy Parker) that sparked the creation of the Dead Ladies Show in the first place!
Our other DLS co-creator Florian Duijsens joins podcast producer and host Susan Stone for the introducing duties in our last episode of DLSP Season Four!
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.