A new mythology of older women

Coming from Virago on October 3, 2024


‘The primary purpose of this collection is to reenchant a time of life which can seem dreary, and which most of us approach with trepidation. In spite of the evident challenges of midlife, menopause and the decades which follow, more and more mature women today are looking for ways to reimagine and reclaim the power of the second half of life. We’re all looking to become Wise Women, each in our own unique way. This book re-members the beautiful, lost fragments of our rich European traditions, and offers ideas for reweaving them into the fabric of a more meaningful and exhilarating everyday.’

An inspiring and beautifully written collection of ancient stories retold to celebrate older women.

From early childhood, we learn about the world and its possibilities through myths and fairy tales. The heroines, though, tend to be young, golden-haired princesses, and the evil-doers often older women: either wicked witches or unforgiving matriarchs. But from midlife onwards, women today are searching for positive versions of themselves, and this dazzling array of not-to-be-messed-with older characters provides them. They outwit monsters, test and mentor younger heroines, embody the cycles and seasons of the earth, weave the world into being – and almost always have the last laugh.

Many years of research have gone into this new gathering of ungainly giantesses, sequin-strewn fairy godmothers, misunderstood witches, fierce grandmothers, hairy-chinned hags and craggy crones. These wise women manifest their wisdom in different ways, and so offer us inspiration for how we too can walk boldly and live authentically in the second half of life.



Hardback, e-book and audiobook: Virago Press

Translation rights enquiries to Virago Press: [email protected] 

All other rights enquiries to my agent: [email protected] 

Publicity queries to [email protected]

‘The stories which are retold in this book, based on originals scattered throughout several European traditions, are stories in which older women positively dazzle. In bringing together these ungainly giantesses, glamorous fairy godmothers, misunderstood witches, fierce grandmothers and perspicacious wise women, my aim was both to challenge and change the current cultural discourse around ageing – to help older women to transform themselves, and live and tell their own stories in their own unique way.’


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