The immense cultural achievements of women writers in ancient Japan — Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973 or 978-c. 1014 or 1031 CE), Sei Shonagon (c. 966-c. 1017 or 1025 CE), and Izumi Shikibu (c. 976-c. 1040 CE) — facilitated the first flowering of classical Japanese literature. Women wrote Japan’s and perhaps Asia’s first autobiographical narratives in diaries and memoirs, as well as miscellaneous writings composed of poems, lists, observations, and personal essays during the Heian era (794-1185 CE). For this reason, the Japanese can uniquely claim to have a literary golden age dominated by women. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Professor Lynne K. Miyake of Pomona College about the importance of these women writers and what enabled their literary brilliance.
In this special guest post, Ms. Susan Abernethy of The Freelance History Writer introduces Ancient History et cetera readers to the compelling life and achievements of St. Hilda of Whitby. Renown for her piety and learning, Hilda is one of the most appealing and yet elusive figures from the Early Middle Ages (or Late Antiquity). Thanks to her vigorous activities, Hilda’s religious and political influence ensured that northern England remained Christian, while many, including The Venerable Bede, attested to her reputation for intellectual brilliance. In 2014, we celebrate the 1400th anniversary of her birth. Whenever I hear the term the “Dark Ages” I cringe a little bit. This term has fallen out of use, but you still hear it occasionally. The more I’ve studied medieval history, the more I see this era of history wasn’t “dark” at all. There are some “rays of light” that appear to us, even with the non-existent to scant documentation we have. One of them is St. Hilda of Whitby (c. 614-680 CE).