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A Dirty, Filthy Book by Michael Meyer
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A Dirty, Filthy Book

Sex, Scandal, and One Womanโ€™s Fight in the Victorian Trial of the Century
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Narrator Rachel Bavidge

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Length 10 hours 25 minutes
Language English
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Brought to you by Penguin.

Sex and Scandal in the Victorian 'trial of the century'


June, 1877: the petite 29-year-old Annie Besant stands motionless before the 75-year-old Judge towering over her in the Palace of Westminster. Lord Chief Justice Cockburn is presiding over the scandalous 'trial of the century' where Annie Besant and her confidante Charles Bradlaugh have been charged with the unforgiveable crime of publishing and selling a guide to birth control. Charged with obscenity, she argued -- controversially and outrageously, for the time -- that it was a woman's right to be able to choose to have children. The riveting trial over freedom of speech and the rights of women captivated the British public, caused outrage across the grey Victorian establishment and helped transform Annie Besant into one of the most famous women in the Empire.

Drawing on unpublished archives, private papers and court-room transcripts, and an incredible cast of characters including Queen Victoria, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Darwin, and JS Mill, A Dirty, Filthy Book tells a gripping story of double standards that will horrify and delight in equal measure. At its heart is one of the most fascinating women of Victorian society, a little-known pioneer who single-handedly refused to accept the role that the establishment assigned her. Annie's trial lit the flame of social change, free speech and women's rights that is still burning around the world almost 150 years later.

ยฉ2024 Michael Meyer (P)2024 Penguin Audio

Michael Meyer is a critically-acclaimed author and journalist who has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and many other outlets. A Fulbright scholar, Guggenheim fellow, Berlin Prize and Whiting Award winner, Meyer has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Cullman Center, MacDowell, and the University of Oxford's Centre for Life-Writing. He is a Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches nonfiction writing.

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Reviews

Michael Meyer deserves hearty congratulations for returning a remarkable woman to centre stage, where she belongs Makes the case for Annie Besant as a truly eminent Victorian, as brilliant and fearless as she was beautiful . . . [A] witty and entertaining account Annie Besant was a freethinker and a half โ€“ an indomitable woman who challenged many of the discriminatory views of her day and put all her energies into social change. A great read Michael Meyer has mined the rich seams of history and woven together a fascinating and gripping narrative. Beautifully told, it has echoes for today. I donโ€™t know how he does it Drawn from newspaper accounts, court records, and Besant's own memoir, Meyer's depiction of Besant fighting for reproductive rights, almost 150 years ago, is truly marvellous . . . Meyer succeeds admirably in his efforts to bring to light the story of a truly remarkable and courageous woman Expand reviews
Celebrate our 10th Anniversary with giveaways, merch, and more! Learn more