Inject a Little Estrogen into Your History Lesson with “Rejected Princesses”
I’d seen the posts on Tumblr and even reblogged a few of them, but I honestly never really thought much about it. Let me tell you, I wish that I would have picked up Rejected Princesses sooner.
For those who may not be familiar with this property, Rejected Princesses is the brainchild of Jason Porath, a former animator at Dreamworks who worked on films like How to Train Your Dragon 2. As the story goes:
While working at DreamWorks Animation, I had quite a few opinions about the state of animated movies. I’d often joke around with co-workers about movies, and one conversation we had was about “what is the least likely woman to ever get the animated princess treatment?” Some of them were such good ideas I just had to see them illustrated, so I did some illustrations (despite having little to no artistic background). As soon as I put them online, they went viral, and it became my full-time job.
Basically, Rejected Princesses is an encyclopedia of badass women throughout history. Porath collected 100 stories – whether they be actual historical figures, figures who may or may not have existed, or figures who existed but very little is known about them – and assembled them into the ultimate compendium of legendary women. These 100 stories are painstakingly researched and feature hilarious and sadly true commentary on the treatment the women often endured. (Though, keep in mind that this commentary comes from a white man from a Western culture. Sometimes his commentary is spot on, sometimes it could use a little more historical context.)
There is at least one woman from every continent (excluding Antarctica), and they run the gamut from warriors (like Nzinga Mbande) to intellectuals (like Ada Lovelace) to queens (like Hatshepsut) to villains (like Elizabeth Bathory, who despite what this book claims, almost definitely deserved her gruesome reputation). These are tales of “heroines, hellions, and heretics,” and though including them in a book might seem like celebrating them, I don’t think that was the intention. We live in a world where even the most vile men get movies made about their lives, and I hadn’t heard of more than half of these women before picking up this book.
Each woman gets her own chapter, which introduces her by name as well as country (or countries, as the case may be) and the time period in which she lived (or allegedly lived). Not only that, Porath thoughtfully created a rating and trigger guide for each chapter – 1 to 5 for maturity and warnings for things like rape, abuse, and self-harm – though they’re not always consistently applied. Plus, each woman receives a lovely illustration, often full of little nods at various moments in her history. Some of the chapters are longer than others, depending on how much information was available.
Multiple chapters in this book inspired me to do my own research, which I highly recommend. This is a general overview and narrated in a casual manner; it isn’t meant to be a history book. Do check out the sources at the end for further reading. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a number of the women chronicled in this book made my own list of Women Who Need Biopics from last year.
In short, this is a good jumping off point if you want to learn more about some female historical figures that were probably not included in your history lessons. Make sure to visit the website for even more ladies.
Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath is published by Dey Street Books and is currently available wherever books are sold.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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