Myth and Materiality in a Woman's World: Shetland 1800-2000

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The place of women in Shetland society is unique. In this isolated island group off the north of Scotland, women dominated the family, economy and the cultural imagination for 200 years. Here, women were numerically preponderant and economically vital. They maintained families and communities because men were absent. In their minds they constructed an identity of themselves as 'liberated' long before organised feminism was invented. It examines the opportunities and life experiences of women in a place where more of them worked and fewer got married than anywhere else in the British Isles. And it is about the relationship between myth-making and historical materiality and the ways in which the people of this northern archipelago have imagined their past. Reconstructing this 'woman's world' from fragments of cultural experience captured in written and oral sources, the author recreates and explores Shetland using its inhabitants' material experience and personal testimony.