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Wed, Nov 01


A Woman of Influence

A Woman of Influence with Vanessa Wilkie

Please join us for our next event in the NACBS Book Launch Series.

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A Woman of Influence with Vanessa Wilkie
A Woman of Influence with Vanessa Wilkie

Time & Location

Nov 01, 2023, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PDT

A Woman of Influence

About the event

Join Amy Froide for a discussion with Vanessa Wilkie about her latest work A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England.


"Alice Spencer was born in 1560 to a family on the rise. Her grandfather had amassed a sizeable estate of fertile grazing land and made a small fortune in sheep farming, allowing him to purchase a simple but distinguished manor house called Althorp.  With her sizable dowry, Alice married the heir to one of the most powerful aristocratic families in the country, eventually becoming the Countess of Derby. Though she enjoyed modest renown, it wasn’t until her husband’s sudden death (after he turned in a group of Catholics for plotting against Queen Elizabeth I) that Alice and her family’s future changed forever.  Faced with a lawsuit from her brother-in-law over her late husband’s fortune, Alice raised eyebrows by marrying England’s most powerful lawyer. Together, they were victorious, and Alice focused her attentions on securing appropriate husbands for her daughters, increasing her land ownings, and securing a bright future for her grandchildren and the entire Spencer family. But they would not completely escape scandals, and as the matriarch, Alice had to face an infamous trial that threatened everything she had worked so hard for.  Now, in “this riveting tale reads more like a legal thriller than historical nonfiction” (Beth Morrison, coauthor of The Lawless Land), the full story of the remarkable Alice Spencer Stanley Egerton is revealed. A woman both ahead of and part of her time, Alice’s ruthless challenging of the status quo has inspired future generations of Spencers and will change the way you view Tudor women."


Dr. Vanessa Wilkie is the Head of the Library Curatorial department and curates the Library's renowned collections of medieval manuscripts and British History. She earned her PhD in British history from the University of California at Riverside and was a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of Redlands before coming to The Huntington in 2013. Wilkie has curated two exhibitions: "Magna Carta: Law & Legend" and "The Reformation: From the Word to the World". She also served on the advisory committee for the arts initiative /five. She has published on female editorial practices, patronage, and death rituals. Her book A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England (Atria/Simon & Schuster) was published in April 2023.

Amy Froide is Professor of History at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Professor Froide teaches courses in British history and European Women’s History, focusing on the years 1500-1800. Her areas
 of expertise include social, economic, social, women’s, and gender history. She
 is the author of Silent Partners: Women as Public Investors during Britain’s Financial Revolution, 1690-1750 (Oxford University Press, 2016). Her other books include Never Married: Singlewomen in Early Modern England
 (Oxford University Press, 2005) and Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250-1800 (University of 
Pennsylvania Press, 1999), co-edited with Judith M.
Bennett. Professor Froide has served as the book review editor for the Journal of British Studies, President of the Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies, and 
the founding Director of UMBC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Minor. She holds 
affiliate appointments in UMBC’s Gender and Women’s Studies program
 and the Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. program. She mentors Master’s degree 
students in both early modern British and European women’s history. Former students 
have gone on to Ph.D. programs in the U.S. and the U.K.  She is the winner of the 2018 Regents’ Award for Teaching Excellence.


The NACBS Book Launch Series features NACBS members who have recently published books in the field of British Studies. Events are open to the public and include a discussion with the author. We hope that members will participate in this new series and encourage any interested members who have an upcoming publication date, or have published books in the past six months, to sign up here.

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