Representations of order, disorder and violence through addiction in Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Sign of Four’.

Photo by Hert Niks on Unsplash

Art has a way of capturing the spirit of its time, particularly in times of change and difficulty. The Opium Wars and the Indian Mutiny of 1857 had, in the late Victorian age, not quelled Britain’s fascination with the mystical ‘orient’; nor had it quenched her thirst for the profit she continued to make by trading opium out of India, the jewel of the Empire.

These conflicts added to the general feeling of instability which punctuated the late Victorian age, where post-industrial revolution poverty grew together with the rise of socialism and labour unions. Liberty causes such as the civil…

Mothering misadventures, hairbrush hell, and a vague wish for a bald preschooler

Little girl with two dark blonde braids standing in a sun-gilded wheat field, the grass up to her shoulder. The evening sky is powder blue. The girl is facing away from the camera. Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash

Today, now, in this moment, I feel like The Worst Mum In The World. The daily trauma of brushing my 3.5 year old’s hair finally ground me down and left me sobbing. The guilt. The frustration. The guilt — we’ve all been there, even if not over hair brushing. Haven’t we? (Yes — yes, it’s not just you, inner voice says with faux confidence.)

The day started well enough. Favourite leggings found. My baby girl all dressed. ‘Time for shoes and socks,’ I said rummaging through the clean washing basket, fishing out two socks that looked more or less the…

Angry Letters, indignation & being ignored: When the only response is change, we win.

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

‘Oh, he’s always writing letters to this or that MP,’ said Mum, speaking about my dad. ‘The best they do is fob you off. It doesn’t do anything except make him feel better.’

I’m usually not the first to rush to Dad’s defence, but I did. My stomach clenched slightly, preparing for an argument. ‘At least he’s trying to make change,’ I said. This last part was heavily accented with accusation: ‘It’s better than sitting back and complaining but not doing anything.’

And that’s how I truly feel. How can things change if no one is prepared to call it…

The 1895 murder of Brigid Boland speaks to the grisly — and readily believed — narrative of the monstrous feminine

Are you a witch, or are you a fairy?

Or are you the wife of Michael Cleary

The Murder of Brigid Boland

Brigid Boland, wife of Michael Cleary, wasn’t like other women, Sady Doyle writes in Dead Blonde and Bad Mothers. Boland was in possession of a singer sewing machine and knew how to use it — Brigid was a milliner, dressmaker, a fine woman, and uncommonly beautiful to boot. She wore fashionable clothes, in part to advertise her skills, and in part to be admired, as anyone who wears fashionable clothes hopes to be.

That sewing machine, a modern invention and gift of her…

An non-exhaustive but excellent list of BIPOC feminist voices

Image Credit: Shutterstock

A few weeks ago I was putting some research together to for the ‘Feminism in the Land Down Under’ epsisode of my passion project, Shrews Untamed podcast. I don’t consider myself an ‘authority’, but I’m getting comfortable with the description ‘reasonably well read’ in Aus Feminism. As is my way, I was excited to share the pearls of wisdom I’ve learned from the fierce, strong women I admire so much. However. I looked at the spines of my beloved reads. I thought of the texts we were given in Gender Studies at Uni. And realised one thing.

They were nearly…

…but this symbol of power and the sacred feminine wasn’t always reviled.

Image credit: The Guardian, 2014

Ever wondered about women’s voices before the first wave? Women weren’t quite as silent as we’ve been led to believe. For example, poet, professional writer, and author of what can only be described as a feminist texts, The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies Christine de Pizan (1364–1430) was a successful, well-known French poet. Her influential work was lost to history until she was rediscovered in the 19th century.

Sister Plautilla Nelli (1524–1588) was a Renaissance artist and nun. She was famous in her her time and was known for, among other…

Taking my husband’s name wasn’t a feminist choice. Here’s why I did it.

Image Credit:

Nearly three years ago I stood yoga mat under my arm, belly protruding, lining up to register before beginning my prenatal yoga class. I’m not sure if the practitioner was doing her own little case study, but for the more ‘interesting’ names, she’d ask “is it yours, or did you marry it?”

Most women had married it, myself included. When she came to the woman in front of me who said proudly no, she loved her name and would never change it, she said “So many women are changing their names still — I mean, what happened to feminism?”


An honest reflection and sometimes tongue-in-cheek diary of my experiences and preoccupations living through COVID19. Welcome to ‘Love in the time of Corona’.

Image credit: Centers for Disease Control

Love in the time of Corona: Foraging Day

Dear Diary,

Today’s foraging yielded 750ml packs of crystalised bleached — a true boon. Non-laundry bleach has been off the shelves for weeks. Only about 10 packs were left; I stood strong in my place; I wasn’t the only one who noticed them. Observing the customer limits, I walked away with two, pushed protectively down in my trolley. I’m happy to have the crystals.

Flour still largely absent from the shelves. Despite what I’ve read about people buying flour but not dry yeast, in my neighbourhood of Italian, Greek and Bulgarian matriarchs and white bred corn fed Aussies, the flour-horders…

A non-political story about my mother, the apple-growing town she made a home in, and the the home she may not go back to.

Image credit: James R. Zimmerman

Spot the recurring word in an exchange of text messages between my mother and I as NSW fires rage into her home town.

‘I hope you’re ok — I’m worried about you, text me when you’ve left’

‘Hopefully we’ll be lucky again’

‘Fingers crossed for little Batlow’

The word is hope. The sentiment is luck and prayer. And here’s what I’ve not dared to say, to write: I hope you have a home to go back to.

A picturesque mountain town, Batlow is the place my mother — let’s call her Gail — has made her home for nearly 20…

Jennifer Zeven

Freelance Writer|Emerging Author|Shrews Untamed Podcast

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