Our new favourite …


What’s it called?

Encyclopedia Womannica

What’s it about?

According to Liz Kaplan, one of the podcasters involved, the series began from a simple question she had when she thought back to the history lessons she had at school: “Where the ladies at?”. Perturbed by the emphasis on famous men at the expense of the distaff side she created Encyclopedia Womannica, five minute biographical sketches of a roll call of inspiring and pioneering women from across the centuries.

Who’s in it?

Kaplan reads the lessons, as it were, helped out by occasional snatches of archive audio where relevant. As for the subjects, the podcast’s 11 episodes so far have covered a cast as varied as South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, fearsome US jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hollywood star Olivia de Havilland, who took on the studios on a point of employment law and won, and 9th century scholar Fatima al-Fihri, who founded the world’s first degree-awarding educational establishment.

Best bits so far?

The episode covering the life of Jacques Dufresnoy is a doozie. Now the eagle-eyed among you might have twigged that that’s a man’s name, which is true. But after becoming one of the first people to undergo gender re-assignment in the 1950s Jacques became Jacqueline Dufresnoy and, using the stage name Coccinelle, became a legend on the Paris nightclub scene. In a landmark legal case which had the blessing of the Catholic Church, she was even allowed to marry.

Where can I find it?

The podcast is available on several platforms, including iTunes, or via makers Wonder Media.

Fun fact …

De Havilland, who for years kept up a famous feud with her actress sister Joan Fontaine, is still alive and turns 103 next month.