Born in the early hours of a thunderstorm, with pointed ears and ‘witches’ marks’ on her skin, little Rosaleen was destined for a life of the occult. From her earliest childhood, Roie was drawn to the dark, and her drawings and stories about ghouls, monsters and grotesque horrors set her apart from her peers. As a young woman, she immersed herself in Theosophy, Western Esoterism, dedicated herself to the pagan god, Pan, and pursued a life of art. Come with us to the dingy streets of mid-century Sydney, where Rosaleen’s occult paintings and pagan ways made her infamous as the Witch of King’s Cross.
A disguised princess forced into domestic drudgery who meets a prince at an extravagant ball might sound familiar, but there’s more to Juleidah’s version of the tale. After escaping the illicit desires of her father, this Egyptian princess dons a suit of leather and travels to a nearby kingdom, hiding out as the scullery maid and Queen’s jester. Come with us to a mythical land as we explore Cinderella’s lesser known cousin, ‘The Princess in the Suit of Leather’.
From a progressive upbringing in otherwise conservative late-Victorian Melbourne, Agnes Goodsir went on to become one of Australia’s foremost bohemians. After studying and exhibiting between London and Paris, Goodsir eventually settled with her muse and lover, Cherry. Come with us to the salons of the Left Bank on the cusp of a new century, where Agnes and Cherry can be found sipping wine with Paris’ famous artistic and lesbian elite.
In the humid tropics of 1920s Townsville, Lizzy O’Dea became infamous in the local tabloids for shooting her rival. As the press continued to sensationalise her adventures, notoriety for her petty theft and sexual exploits grew. Join us as we chat with author Ariella Van Luyn, whose novel Treading Air follows Lizzy from bookie’s daughter in Brisbane to working girl at the Causeway Hotel, about researching the life of one of history’s hidden women, and why such stories continue to be relevant to us today.
Takeko Nakano of the prominent Aiku clan was a fierce Onna-bugeisha and master of the deadly naginata. When the Boshin War saw the Shogun’s army square off against the Imperialists, Takeko knew where her duty lay. At just 21, with the Imperial Army at the gates, she led a rag-tag squad of lady warriors onto the battlefield, determined to sacrifice everything for the honour of her clan. Join us as we delve into the fray, but don’t forget to pen your death-poem first, and bring your kaikan dagger just in case …
In the frosty splendour of 18th century Moscow, the death of Peter the Great paves the way for family rivalries and political intrigue. Drawn into the fray is Anna, the impoverished and largely forgotten Duchess of Courland. As the noble men of court clamour to pull the strings, Anna makes her move, becoming Empress of all Russia on her own terms. While Anna’s ten-year reign bolstered advances in science and the arts she is mostly remembered for her excess, extravagance, and ruthless cruelty. Brace yourself as we sweep through the lavish rooms of the Winter Palace, and into the fiendish realities of Anna’s imagination. You are going to need a very warm coat…
In 1984 author Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale: the chilling dystopic story of Offred, a woman trying to survive in a world where women have been reduced to their procreative functions. Since its publication, the novel has been turned into a film, an opera, a ballet, and most recently into a Hulu television series. Join us as we pair up with Justin from Mayday: The Handmaid’s Tale Podcast to unpack just what it is about Atwood’s vision that seems so compelling, and so relevant, over thirty years later.
In the epic time of Norse mythology, the Völsunga Saga tells of love, betrayal, tragedy and blood feuds. At the heart of one family’s legend sits Guðrún Gjúkadóttir, wife to three kings, and a woman to whom vengeance necessitates a devastating sacrifice. Join us as we venture into a land of Valkyries and dragons, where a sorceress’s prophecy might foretell your doom, and you must always be wary of accepting ale!
Born to only ever be the King’s Great Wife, Hatshepsut defied history and, after the death of her Pharaoh husband, proclaimed herself King. A great builder, trader, and military leader, the history of Hatshepsut’s achievements was systematically erased, lost for thousands of years until archeologists began to piece together the truth about the woman who ruled as Pharaoh. Come with us as we travel through the mists of time to a land steeped in myth and legends to discover one of the ancient world’s greatest rulers.
Both born bastards, and disguised as boys in their youths, Anne Bonny and Mary Read shared more than just their love for the sea. Each left the British Isles for a life of piracy in the Caribbean where their fates intertwined. Infamy soon followed, as the pair gained a reputation as the most fearless and ferocious duo of the high seas. Come aboard as we follow the reckless adventures of these swashbuckling lady pirates!
Assigned female at birth, Eugenia Falleni led most of his life as Harry Crawford: a tough-talking, whiskey-drinking ladies man. In 1920 Harry was charged with the murder of his first wife, Annie Birkett, and his ‘duplicitous’ identity as Harry – then perceived a ‘sexual perversion’ – became Australia’s headline news. Join us as we trace Harry’s life, from shocking events aboard a merchant vessel on the high seas, to the working houses of Sydney, and wonder whether or not Harry’s fate could have been any different.
Josephine Baker broke from a life of poverty in St Louis to take jazz age Paris by storm. Riotous and erotic, Baker was adored for her uninhibited sensuality, unpredictability and wild humour. But she was also one of the most glamorous espionage spies of the French Resistance, and a passionate advocate of the Civil Rights Movement. Join us as we travel from St Louis to Paris, Berlin and Casablanca, chasing one of the twentieth century’s most dynamic women.