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May McGoldrick | Five Badass Women in History

May 15, 2019

By May McGoldrick (aka Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick)

When we set out to write the Royal Highlander series (Highland Crown, Highland Jewel, Highland Sword), our goal was to weave the lives of three extraordinary women into the fabric of a revolutionary, but largely forgotten series of historical events called the Radical War of 1820.

From that mindset, the characters of Isabella, a university-trained physician; Maisie, an early activist for suffrage; and Morrigan, a militant revolutionary, formed in our imagination. Our research directed us to real historical figures of the Georgian and Regency Era who served as models for our heroines. Women like Dorothea Erxleben, physician; Mary Fildes, political activist and an early suffragette; ‘William’ Brown (birth name unknown), an African woman serving in the Royal Navy); and María Antonia Santos Plata, a rebel guerrilla leader in South America.

Since Highland Crown deals with a neglected chapter in Scotland’s struggle against the English Crown, we thought we’d cast a little light on five real-life kick-ass heroines from the past. These are rebellious and radical women who would never be talked about, if some people had their way.  

  1. Abigail Adams (1744-1818). Her husband might have been the second president of the United States, but she was a radical and a patriot from the earliest days of the Revolutionary War. With battles raging in the Boston area where she lived, Adams learned that the American soldiers were running low on ammunition. Gathering together all the silver and iron in her home, she had it melted down into bullets for the troops. She was also one of the first women to fight for women’s suffrage, famously telling her husband while he was off helping create the Constitution that it was a mistake to “put such unlimited power into the hands of [men]. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.” And she believed in acting according to one’s principles; she wouldn’t step foot in the house of a slaveholder nor entertain one at her own table. 
  2. Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005). In 1968, this fierce Brooklynite was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. Over the next fifteen years, she introduced over fifty pieces of legislation, fighting hard for gender and racial equality and serving as a champion throughout her life to improve conditions and opportunities for the poor. In 1972, Chisholm sought the Democratic nomination for President. When she was prevented from taking part in televised debates, she was not about to be bullied or ignored. She took legal action. When she was asked how she wanted to be remembered, ‘Fighting Shirley’ said, “I want to be remembered as a woman…who dared to be a catalyst of change.” 
  3. Nusaybah Bint Ka’ab (7th century) was a woman who would give any historical hero a run for their money. Nusaybah was one of the first people to convert to Islam. Born in Medina, she fought in seven battles against the warring neighbors, carrying a sword and bow and sustaining a dozen wounds, including the loss of one hand. But that didn’t stop her. In one battle, she distinguished herself as a fierce and tireless fighter, defending the Prophet (pbuh) himself against attacking warriors. She was tremendously revered by the community for her toughness as well as her goodness. 
  4. Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938), which translates from Lakota into English as ‘Red Bird’, was a Dakota Sioux woman who fought her entire life against a white majority culture that was systematically trying to stamp out Native American identities. She battled racism and corruption in government and industry across the country, founding the National Council of American Indians to lobby for justice and equal rights. She wrote dozens of influential essays and pamphlets to expose American corporations that were using coercive business practices that included robbery and even murder to defraud tribes of their rights to leasing fees for development of their oil-rich land in Oklahoma. Her brilliance and tireless activism would lead to Congress passing the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934. And in her ongoing campaign to enlighten Americans, she was among the first to publish traditional Native American stories for a widespread white readership. In those stories, she used fictionalized autobiographical material to take issue with what she saw as the evils of assimilation aimed at erasing her history and way of life. Multi-talented, accomplished, and tenacious, she was truly a kick-ass hero.
  5. Bella Abzug (1920-1998) was an unrelenting feminist and civil rights advocate who served in the US House of Representatives during the 1970s. Fierce and outspoken,  this daughter of immigrants fought anyone who believed women should remain on the political sidelines. During her years in Congress, Abzug introduced legislation demanding the withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam. She demanded an investigation into the competence of J. Edgar Hoover, the all-powerful director of the FBI. She was the first to call for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. She even fought her own party’s complicity in the political deal-making traditionally carried on in secret and passed legislation that has come to be known as the ‘sunshine law’, requiring that the business of government be carried out in the open. Abzug also introduced groundbreaking legislation aimed at increasing the rights of all citizens, including the gay and lesbian community. Unable to fault her on ethical grounds, her critics were reduced to attacking her strong personality. She didn’t care. Her fight was for the American people. Bella Abzug was the kick-ass predecessor of all the newly elected women tearing it up in Congress today.  

Of course, there are thousands upon thousands more. Maybe we should write a book about them? Or three!

HIGHLAND CROWN by May McGoldrick

Royal Highlander #1

Highland Crown

Scottish pride, persuasion, and passion—this is Highland romance at its breathtaking best.

Inverness, 1820
Perched on the North Sea, this port town—by turns legendary and mythological—is a place where Highland rebels and English authorities clash in a mortal struggle for survival and dominance. Among the fray is a lovely young widow who possesses rare and special gifts.

WANTED: Isabella Drummond
A true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mystery—and fury—in a great many men. Hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she came to the Highlands in search of survival. But a dying ship’s captain will steer her fate into even stormier waters… and her heart into flames.

FOUND: Cinaed Mackintosh
Cast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself…until Isabella saved his life—and added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can keep her safe to seek refuge at Dalmigavie Castle, the Mackintosh family seat. But when the scandalous truth of his past comes out, any chance of Cinaed having a bright future with Isabella is thrown into complete darkness. What will these two ill-fated lovers have to sacrifice to be together…for eternity?

Romance Historical [St. Martin’s Paperbacks, On Sale: April 30, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250314970 / eISBN: 9781250314987]

Travel to Scotland with this steamy romance

An enchanting and exciting Highland romance that leaves your heart panting for more!

About May McGoldrick

May McGoldrick

USA Today Bestselling Authors Nikoo and Jim wrote their first May McGoldrick romance using historical figures that Jim researched while earning a PhD in sixteenth-century Scottish and English literature. Nikoo, a mechanical engineer, is a born storyteller. She is all about characters and feeling. Jim is about action and sense of place. Together, they have crafted over forty fast-paced, conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey.

Their stories have touched the hearts and minds of millions of readers all over the world. Their work has been translated into over a dozen languages, and counting. Because of their success, they have been frequent guests on local and national radio and television. They travel regularly, speaking at writers’ conferences, libraries, classrooms, and book group gatherings.

These popular and prolific authors write historical romance, suspense, mystery, and young adult novels. They are four-time Rita Finalists and the winners of numerous awards for their writing, including the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Daphne DeMaurier Award, three NJRW Golden Leaf Awards, two Holt Medallions, and the Connecticut Press Club Award for Best Fiction. Their work is included in the Popular Culture Library collection of the National Museum of Scotland.

Scottish Relic | Royal Highlander


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