A Guardian Best Book of the Year 2020
'Not all Essex girls are party girls. They can be sages, martyrs, leaders. In her neat and provocative little book, Sarah Perry celebrates their courage and vivacity.' Hilary Mantel
A defence and celebration of the Essex Girl by the best-selling author of The Essex Serpent
Essex Girls are disreputable, disrespectful and disobedient.
They speak out of turn, too loudly and too often, in an accent irritating to the ruling classes.
Their bodies are hyper-sexualised and irredeemably vulgar.
They are given to intricate and voluble squabbling.
They do not apologise for any of this. And why should they?
In this exhilarating feminist defence of the Essex girl, Sarah Perry re-examines her relationship with her much maligned home county. She summons its most unquiet spirits, from Protestant martyr Rose Allin to the indomitable Abolitionist Anne Knight, sitting them alongside Audre Lorde, Kim Kardashian and Harriet Martineau, and showing us that the Essex girl is not bound by geography. She is a type, representing a very particular kind of female agency, and a very particular kind of disdain: she contains a multitude of women, and it is time to celebrate them.