The Britannias tells the story of Britain’s islands and how they are woven into its collective cultural psyche. From Neolithic Orkney to modern-day Thanet, Alice Albinia explores the furthest reaches of Britain’s island topography, once known (wrote Pliny) by the collective term, Britanniae. Sailing over borders, between languages and genres, trespassing through the past to understand the present, this book knocks the centre out to foreground neglected epics and subversive voices.
The ancient mythology of islands ruled by women winds through the literature of the British Isles – from Roman colonial-era reports, to early Irish poetry, Renaissance drama to Restoration utopias – transcending and subverting the most male-fixated of ages. The Britannias looks far back into the past for direction and solace, while searching for new meaning about women’s status in the body politic. Boldly upturning established truths about Britain, it pays homage to the islands’ beauty, independence and their suppressed or forgotten histories.