The Viney Agency


Holly Smale

Hannah Jewell is a former senior writer at BuzzFeed UK, where she became known for her humour writing about gender and her satire of UK and US politics. She presented BuzzFeed's live 2016 election night show, which was watched by nearly 7 million people. Born in the UK, she grew up in California and did her undergraduate study at UC Berkeley in Middle East Studies, then moved to the UK for an MPhil in International Relations and Politics at Cambridge.

Hannah’s first book, 100 Nasty Women of History combines her background in history and politics with her love of the internet to write about remarkable women of the past with an accessible, hilarious (and sometimes sweary) style. It will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK in 2017 and by Sourcebooks in the US in 2018 under the title She Caused a Riot.

Hannah is set to join the Washington Post in the autumn of 2017 as an on-camera host for the video team.

In the final debate of the 2016 election, Donald Trump leaned into the microphone as Hillary Clinton spoke about social security, twisted up his small, sphincter-like mouth, and called his opponent: ‘such a nasty woman’. The phrase has stuck around in the months since he first uttered it, and has even, it turns out, become something of a badge of honour for women in the US and around the world.

Now that America has been plunged into its current unending hell-scape, with a commander-in-chief firing off executive orders like so many deranged midnight tweets, what better time is there than the present to look back and learn a thing or two from the nasty women of our past?

Take Zenobia, for instance – the 3rd-century Syrian warrior queen, who, when she wasn’t invading Egypt or defeating the Roman army, used to hunt bears, panthers and lions, as nasty women are wont to do. Or, if you’re not into lion-hunting, consider Nzinga Mbandi, the brilliant diplomat, military tactician, and queen of what is now Angola. In the 17th century, she held off Portuguese colonialism for as long as she lived and ruled, which the Europeans surely found frightfully unladylike.

These are the stories that every little girl, every surly teenager, and every slightly stressed woman should carry with her as she goes about life under the preposterous reign of a tangerine misogynist Nightmare-in-Chief. If every American schoolchild knows the name of John Hancock, who, let’s face it, is only really famous for having a swirly signature on the Declaration of Independence, why shouldn’t we make room in our memories for the likes of Josephine Baker, the scandalous cabaret star who fought for both the French Resistance and the American Civil rights movement, and used to walk her cheetah round the streets of Paris on a leash.

These are the types of stories that featured in my BuzzFeed articles ‘12 Historical Women Who Gave No Fucks’ and ‘14 Badass Historical Women To Name Your Daughters After’, which received a combined 6.4 million views. Now, in my first book, the list will extend to 100 women representing every continent, race, religion, and century – united only by the fact that they were, in their time, perhaps a little bit nasty.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 100 Nasty Women of History, Hodder and Stoughton, UK 2017; She Caused a Riot, Sourcebooks, US 2018.