A history of a century of women, punishment and crime in HM Prison Holloway.
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING
'Davies's absorbing study serves up just enough sensationalism - and eccentricity - along with its serious inquiry' SUNDAY TIMES
'[A] revealing account of the jail's 164-year history' DAILY TELEGRAPH, 5* review
'Insightful and thought-provoking and makes for a ripping good read' JEREMY CORBYN
'A much-needed and balanced history' OBSERVER 'Davies explores how society has dealt with disobedient women - from suffragettes to refugees to women seeking abortions - for decades, and how they've failed to silence those who won't go down without a fight' STYLIST
Society has never known what to do with its rebellious women.
Those who defied expectations about feminine behaviour have long been considered dangerous and unnatural, and ever since the Victorian era they have been removed from public view, locked up and often forgotten about. Many of these women ended up at HM Prison Holloway, the self-proclaimed 'terror to evil-doers' which, until its closure in 2016, was western Europe's largest women's prison.
First built in 1852 as a House of Correction, Holloway's women have come from all corners of the UK - whether a patriot from Scotland, a suffragette from Huddersfield, or a spy from the Isle of Wight - and from all walks of life - socialites and prostitutes, sporting stars and nightclub queens, refugees and freedom fighters. They were imprisoned for treason and murder, for begging, performing abortions and stealing clothing coupons, for masquerading as men, running brothels and attempting suicide. In Bad Girls, Caitlin Davies tells their stories and shows how women have been treated in our justice system over more than a century, what crimes - real or imagined - they committed, who found them guilty and why. It is a story of victimization and resistance; of oppression and bravery.
From the women who escaped the hangman's noose - and those who didn't - to those who escaped Holloway altogether, Bad Girls is a fascinating look at how disobedient and defiant women changed not only the prison service, but the course of history.
Caitlin Davies writes with warmth, empathy and humour about the women - some brave and rebellious - who spent time in Holloway Prison. Assiduously researched, Bad Girls documents interweaving struggles against prejudice, injustice, ignorance and poverty. It is a call for a more enlightened justice system that provides respect and rehabilitation, the stirrings of which were evident on my visits, as the local Member of Parliament, to the prison before its closure in 2016. The stark mismatch between prison regimes and everyday life in the streets outside points to the potential benefit of increased contact between prisons and local communities. I want to thank Caitlin Davies for ensuring the real history of Holloway is written in this insightful and thought-provoking book - which makes for a ripping good read - Jeremy Corbyn
Fascinating both for its portrait of larger-than-life women and the ways in which they were regarded by wide society during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - History Revealed
Readable, compelling and illuminating - The Bookseller
Davies's absorbing study serves up just enough sensationalism - and eccentricity - along with its serious inquiry . . . Davies captures the sense of camaraderie that blossomed inside Holloway, occasionally between warder and inmate . . . Davies uses the prison as a prism through which to chart changing attitudes to women over the past 164 years - beginning with the Victorian notion of "double deviance", which suggested that female criminals had broken not only the law of the land, but that of nature by committing "unwomanly" acts - SUNDAY TIMES
It's such a great read . . . fascinating - Jo Good, BBC Radio London
A rich, superbly researched, definitive history of Holloway Prison . . . There are so many heartbreaking stories within stories in the book' - The Herald
Meticulously records a much-needed and balanced history of this home to "royalty and socialites, spies and prostitutes . . . Nazis and aliens, terrorists and freedom fighters" and thousands of very ordinary desperate women - Observer