The Marvellous Miss Macbeths

Five Victorian Sisters

‘The Marvellous Miss Macbeths‘ looks at five real life remarkable sisters whose lives span a century of change, from Queen Victoria to Margaret Thatcher

They are the five strong and resourceful daughters of liberal Scottish parents in a big Victorian middle-class family with art, science and manufacture at its heart.

Their lives play out over a hundred years of social and political revolution that sees women’s emancipation, imperial decline and the dawn of modernity.

Ann, the eldest, is a central figure in the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement, a collaborator of Charles Rennie Mackintosh who studies and teaches at Glasgow School of Art and lives the life of a busy independent artist-craftswoman.

Ailie, the youngest and most rebellious, is a brilliant endocrinologist who shocks the family with her three marriages and often illegal transgender work, but who chafes at the need to keep her most daring ventures secret.

Flora, the middle sister, is an international golfer who marries a royal surgeon and joins the establishment, but who remains an artist and dissenter at heart, while Sheila, always scared of being outshone, is a First World War nurse who survives the wreck of the Titanic’s sister the Britannic in 1916, lives as a memsahib in pre-independence India and finally becomes a genealogist and television star.

Written by Angelica Goodden, one of Sheila Macbeth’s four granddaughters. Gooden is Emeritus Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St. Hilda’s College and has written a number of books on European culture and literature.

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