A Lit Hub Best Book of 2016 One of Electric Literature's Best Novels of 2016 An Entropy Best Book of 2016
“The duchess herself would be delighted at her resurrection in Margaret the First.... Dutton expertly captures the pathos of a woman whose happiness is furrowed with the anxiety of underacknowledgment.” —Katharine Grant, The New York Times Book Review
Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when being a writer” was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen’s attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England: at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was Mad Madge,” an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London-a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution-and the last for another two hundred years.
Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past. Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.
"In Margaret the First, there is plenty of room for play. Dutton’s work serves to emphasize the ambiguities of archival proof, restoring historical narratives to what they have perhapsalways already been: provoking and serious fantasies,convincing reconstructions, true fictions.”—Lucy Ives, The New Yorker
“Danielle Dutton engagingly embellishes the life of Margaret the First, the infamousDuchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.” —Vanity Fair