Title: Toksvig’s Almanac 2021 – An Eclectic Meander Through the Historical Year

Author: Sandi Toksvig

Pages: 360 Pages

Publisher: Trapeze

The Blurb

Toksvig’s Almanac is intended merely as a starting point for your own discoveries. Find a fabulous (or infamous) woman mentioned and, please, go looking for more of her story. The names mentioned are merely temptations. Amuse-bouches for the mind, if you like. How I would have loved to have written out in detail each tale there is to be told, but then this book would have been too heavy to lift.’

Let Sandi Toksvig guide you on an eclectic meander through the calendar, illuminating neglected corners of history to tell tales of the fascinating figures you didn’t learn about at school.

From revolutionary women to serial killers, pirate nuns to pioneering civil rights activists, doctors to dancing girls, artists to astronauts, these pages commemorate women from all around the world who were pushed to the margins of historical record. Amuse your bouche with:

Belle Star, American Bandit Queen

Lady Murasaki, author of the world’s first novel

Madame Ching, the most successful pirate of all time

Maud Wagner, the first female tattoo artist

Begum Samru, Indian dancer and ruler who led an army of mercenaries

Inês de Castro, crowned Queen Consort of Portugal six years after her death

Ida B. Wells, activist, suffragist, journalist and co-founder of the NAACP

Eleanor G. Holm, disqualified from the 1936 Berlin Olympics for drinking too much champagne

These stories are interspersed with helpful tips for the year, such as the month in which one is most likely to be eaten by a wolf, and the best time to sharpen your sickle. Explore a host of annual events worth travelling for, from the Olney Pancake Race in Wiltshire to the Danish Herring Festival, or who would want to miss Serbia’s World Testicle Cooking Championship?

As witty and entertaining as it is instructive, Toksvig’s Almanac is an essential companion to each day of the year.

The Review

I love Sandi Toksvig. My love for her knows no bounds and all I really want to do is tickle her brain. She just knows so many amazing things and her latest book Toksvig’s Almanac is proof of that. It is a celebration of all the amazing – and times not so valued or remembered – fascinating things that women have done through the years. These women have been forgotten or hidden by history and it seems that Toksvig will not stand for it. I, for one, salute this.

I learned so much about so many women that I knew so little about when I read Toksvig’s Almanac. So many things have been forgotten or shoved to one side or retold to suit a patriarchal society that I know that I need books like this to help me understand the basics of a broader picture.

Toksvig’s Almanac really is the gift that keeps on giving. It is not a one time read. This could be read over and over again and it gives you a scope of things to research further. It is a book for all girls and one that should be gifted to everyone you know.

Toksvig’s Almanac 2021 – An Eclectic Meander Through the Historical Year by Sandi Toksvig is available now.

For more information regarding Sandi Toksvig (@sanditoksvig) please visit www.sanditoksvig.com.

For more information regarding Trapeze (@TrapezeBooks) please visit www.instagram.com/trapeze_books/.

Title: Let’s Do It – The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood

Author: Jasper Rees

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Trapeze

The Blurb

‘I was born with a warped sense of humour and when I was carried home from being born it was Coronation Day and so I was called Victoria but you are not supposed to know who wrote this anyway it is about time I unleashed my pent-up emotions in a bitter comment on the state of our society but it’s not quite me so I think I shall write a heart-warming story with laughter behind the tears and tears behind the laughter which means hysterics to you Philistines…’

From ‘Pardon?’ by Vicky Wood, Aged 14. Bury Grammar School (Girls) Magazine, 1967

In her passport Victoria Wood listed her occupation as ‘entertainer’ – and in stand-up and sketches, songs and sitcom, musicals and dramas, she became the greatest entertainer of the age. Those things that might have held her back – her lonely childhood, her crippling shyness and above all the disadvantage of being a woman in a male-run industry – she turned to her advantage to make extraordinary comedy about ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary bodies. She wasn’t fond of the term, but Victoria Wood truly was a national treasure – and her loss is still keenly felt.

Victoria had plenty of stories still to tell when she died in 2016, and one of those was her own autobiography. 

‘I will do it one day,’ she told the author and journalist Jasper Rees. ‘It would be about my childhood, about my first few years in showbusiness, which were really interesting and would make a really nice story.’ 

That sadly never came to pass, so Victoria’s estate has asked Jasper Rees, who interviewed her more than anyone else, to tell her extraordinary story in full. He has been granted complete and exclusive access to Victoria’s rich archive of personal and professional material, and has conducted over 200 interviews with her family, friends and colleagues – among them Victoria’s children, her sisters, her ex-husband Geoffrey Durham, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Dawn French, Anne Reid, Imelda Staunton and many more. 

What emerges is a portrait of a true pioneer who spoke to her audience like no one before or since.

bVictoria Wood is one of Britain’s best loved comediennes. I say ‘is’ because whilst she passed away she is still lauded as one of the best by both her peers and her audience today. She gave us such gems as Acorn Antiques, Two Soups and of course Let’s Do It – The Ballad of Barry and Freda (still one of my all time favourite things ever) however behind the camera Victoria Wood was an intensely private person. Those who knew her well tell us all about the person behind the performer in this in depth and wonderfully written biography.

The Review

Victoria Wood is one of Britain’s best loved comediennes. I say ‘is’ because whilst she passed away she is still lauded as one of the best by both her peers and her audience today. She gave us such gems as Acorn Antiques, Two Soups and of course Let’s Do It – The Ballad of Barry and Freda (still one of my all time favourite things ever) however behind the camera Victoria Wood was an intensely private person. Those who knew her well tell us all about the person behind the performer in this in depth and wonderfully written biography by Jasper Rees.

I should start by saying that Victoria Wood is not glorified in this biography. In fact, some of the more unpleasant facets of her personality are highlighted – in particular her grueling work ethic that she expected others to adhere to and also making her friends the butt of her jokes. However, all of those who worked with her are quick to say how talented and how generous she was with her comedy, often relegating herself to the lesser role and giving the more memorable zingers to her fellow cast member. Jasper Rees paints a picture of a woman who knew she had the power to make people laugh and she knew what she wants from her work and her fellow colleagues. He has taken the life of a brilliant woman and brought her back into the public conscience.

Whatever you think of Victoria Wood it is inarguable that she pathed the way for women in comedy and that her humour had a firm finger on the pulse of contemporary Britain. It is no wonder she is still adored and sorely missed.

Let’s Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood by Jasper Rees is available now.

For more information regarding Jasper Rees (@JasperRees) please visit www.facebook.com/fredaandbarry

For more information regarding Trapeze (@TrapezeBooks) please visit www.instagram.com/trapeze_books/