The Headswoman by Kenneth Grahame
The Headswoman (1898) is a story by Kenneth Grahame. Although less popular than The Wind in the Willows (1908), which would go on to become not only a defining work of Edwardian English literature, but one of the most popular works of children's fiction in the world, The Headswoman is a humorous story of tradition and bureaucracy that brilliantly satirizes the ongoing debate around women's suffrage. In the town of St. Radegonde, following the death of the local executioner, it has become necessary to make the role available to the man's only daughter. Although Jeanne would be the first woman to hold the position, an occurrence sure to be controversial, bureaucratic tradition demands to be upheld. Rejecting an offer to let her cousin, Enguerrand, become executioner instead, Jeanne is appointed to the role and begins her work the very next morning. Eager and capable, Jeanne has a calming effect on the men sent to her to die. But when a prominent aristocrat falls in love with the diligent young woman, her newfound independence and hard-won respect fall prey to the power of romance. The Headswoman is a satirical story set in the middle ages but aimed at a contemporary audience. Published during the early stages of the women's suffrage movement, the story envisions a world in which a woman is granted the right to fully participate in the formation and maintenance of authority. With cunning wit and sly references to nineteenth century life, The Headswoman seems to ask what equality would look like for women in a system dependent upon its opposite. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Kenneth Grahame's The Headswoman is a classic work of British literature reimagined for modern readers.