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19 February 2019Behind the Walls - Creativity, Visions & Horrors in Renaissance Italian Convents
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Behind the Walls - Creativity, Visions & Horrors in Renaissance Italian Convents Sarah Dunant Tuesday 19 February 2019

By the middle of the 16th century dowries in Italy were so expensive that most respectable families could not afford to marry off more than one or two daughters. The rest became nuns, entering convents at puberty and never leaving. Not surprisingly not all of them went willingly.

But along with stories of enforced incarceration and horror, there was also unexpected space for creativity: art, scholarship, writing, drama and music. As well there was the possibility of another kind of fulfilment – and power – that of ecstatic union with the spiritual husband, Jesus Christ. Behind those walls a great deal was going on. 


Sarah Dunant

Novelist, broadcaster and critic.  Sarah read history at Cambridge, then worked for many years as a cultural journalist in radio and television on such programmes as Kaleidoscope (BBC Radio 4), The Late Show (BBC 2), and Night Waves (BBC Radio 3). She has published thirteen  novels, taught renaissance studies at Washington University, St Louis, is a visiting tutor on the MA in creative writing at Oxford Brooks and has lectured around the world at festivals and conferences.

Sarah's last five novels have been set within the Italian Renaissance. Her latest: In the Name of the Family (published in 2017)  completes the story of the Borgia family and the remarkable period of Italian history in which they lived. 


Painting by Plautilla Nelli (Firenze 1524-1588) Santa Caterina de Siena