Category Archives: Women's biographies


Litercurious Book Review

Ghost of the Orphanage – Christine Kenneally


Christine Kenneally PhD., is a proud Antipodean born in Melbourne. She is an exceptional, renown award-winning journalist and author. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Linguistics from Cambridge University.

Her debut non-fiction manuscript, “The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language,” earned her a  place as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her next publication, “The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures,” was well received, being included in the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014. The investigation that would become the inspiration for Ghosts of the Orphanage began with a piece that she was researching whilst working as a senior contributor for BuzzFeed. Her report was published in August of 2018 and was hugely successful; winning an Online Journalism Award. Christine Kenneally also contributed to the Official Police Investigation into the crimes that took place at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. 


Ghosts of the Orphanage is a stirring masterpiece of investigative journalism. Christine Kenneally shares her exploration of the atrocities committed on the wards of St. Joseph’s Orphanage by their ecclesiastical key turns. What follows is a catalogue of crimes that were subjected to police investigation. An investigation that exposed the daily routine horrors that the children endured during their time as reluctant guests of St. Joseph’s reprehensible clerical form of hospitality. 

Ghosts of the Orphanage present’s a panoply of horrific first person recollections of historic, systemic, and religious sponsored child abuse. Kenneally documents multiple victims accounts that coalesce into nightmarish clarity. She exposes the range of neglect and abuse that include: verbal, physical, sexual, mindless violence, cruelty and psychological tortures metered out to the wards of St. Joseph’s. The innocent children would go on to suffer lifetimes of horror, depression, survivors’ guilt, and nightmares.

Keanneally primarily focuses on the accounts of five victims; revealing their vivid and disturbing back-stories. The author exposes the gross and disturbing traumas of the former captives through her skillful dogged determination and dedicated research methods. Through her persistent and unrelenting efforts, she blows the whistle on the generational systematic abuse and neglect that resulted in so many casualties. Internee’s of these religious institutions, according to Kenneally, were subjected to crimes of the most egregious natures. These poor victims suffered decade after decade whilst their alleged abusers still remain unpunished.

It is common among children that endured such abhorrent treatment to self-medicate in later life. They suffer neurological problems, substance abuse issues and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Many survivors attempted to suppress their recollections of the trauma to which they had been subjected; insightfully, Kenneally includes this in her observations.


Christine Kenneally skillfully uncovers a culture of dehumanization and abuse on an industrial scale at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. She applies considerable talents to uncovering the evidence that include: first-person accounts, primary sources, diary extracts, and a range of official documentation to expose the heinous crimes committed against untold numbers of children over decades. The evidence recovered reveals the dark devilish history of the orphanage and the evil actions of the demon inspired clergy.

Ghosts of the Orphanage is an important work as it documents, not just the numerous crimes committed against the children, but also exposes the conspiracy of silence.

This book will likely effect the reader on many personal and emotional levels. It may leave you haunted, angry, sad, and even a little vengeful. The graphic descriptions of mindless cruelty, physical and psychological tortures make the blood run cold. It would be bad enough if this culture of terror was an isolated incident; but a brief internet search will reveal that the same culture spanned the globe in numerous religious institutions. These poor children suffered such great atrocities at the hands of their jailers, and it seems no one cared. The feelings that this book engendered in me are intense and difficult to forget.

Ghosts of the Orphanage makes for difficult reading. I found myself profoundly moved by the graphic nature of the horrors described. The children’s recollections left me with a deep sense of unease and were extremely emotive.

I would like to tell you that the victim accounts are the worst part of this book. However, the decades of abuse remain unpunished to this day, leaving the victims without meaningful justice. The casualties are left to suffer the emotional and psychological fall-out of their abuse leaving them to exist in an uncaring, disinterested world. A world who has yet to discover the degrees of horrors which plagued their young lives.

The narrative instilled a longlasting impression upon me and an infinite number of questions. There is one question that haunts me still:

What ever happened to little Mary Clark?

Be prepared to be enraged. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Christine Kenneally, PublicAffairs and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search for Justice .


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ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI: Illuminating Women Artists – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Artemisia Gentileschi Sheila Barker
Artemisia Gentileschi Sheila Barker
TitleArtemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists)
AuthorDoctor Sheila Barker Ph.D
PublisherGetty Publications (February 15, 2022)
GenreIndividual Artist Monographs / Art History (Books)
Women’s Biographies
ISBN 10/131606067338 / 978-1606067338


Holding a PhD in art history from Columbia University, Sheila Barker works at one of the leading Digital Humanities laboratories for the exploration of Renaissance history: The Medici Archive Project, a non-profit that is based in the USA but

carries out its work in Florence. There, in 2010, Doctor Barker founded the world’s first archival research program dedicated to women artists, which was recently given an award by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women for the “Best digital scholarship, new media, or web -based project of 2014.” In addition to publishing on women artists of the 16th-19th centuries, she has published on Poussin, Michelangelo, plagues and art, early modern news circulation, Urban VIII, Maria de’ Medici, and the contributions of Medici women to pharmacy and medical science.

Source: Excerpt taken from: Dr. Sheila Barker LinkedIn profile.


Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists) is a laudatory, panegyric on the life and times of this remarkably talented Baroque artist. This biographical monograph is the second book of the sub-series of Illuminating Women Artist: Renaissance and Baroque, by Sheila Barker. In Artemisia Gentileschi, Barker has produced an authoritative account of the artist that is appropriate for knowledgeable art enthusiasts and those with an academic interest.

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654) was the protégé and daughter of the illustrious and prolific artist, sculpture, architect, designer and internationally renowned Renaissance painter, Orazio Lomi Gentileschi (1563–1639). Artemisia was especially renowned in her time for her ability to paint complex large-scale compositions, as well as her ability to mix exquisite blues; considered a valuable skill during the period. Her skills and artistic abilities were appreciated at home, in Italy, and internationally; in such diverse locations as Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London. Her works convey a strong pictorial intelligence; with technical expertise equally as powerful as some of her male contemporaries. In recent times, Artemisia is becoming popular among collectors as new examples of her work are being discovered, increasing her oeuvre.

Artemisia Gentileschi is written as a comprehensive, detailed, historic, biographical, chronology of the life, times, travels, and work of this little known artist. Barker details the numerous challenges, tragedies and successes of this renaissance female. The imprint is grandiose in its span and breadth, detailing this International Baroque artist’s life and work. The publication is illustrated throughout with the highest-quality plates that depict many of Artemisia’s most notable works.

Barker details the artist, her attributed works, and her documented international travels during her life from her formative years through her active professional period. She discusses Artemisia’s commission for Urban VIII, Maria de’Medici in Venice, her later works and even her private life; finally, culminating in an account of Artemisia’s mysterious death and the search to find her final resting place.


Artemisia Gentileschi by Doctor Barker is an intricate and detailed analysis and expertly crafted eulogistic work on this much maligned female artist. Barker shines a light in this biographical account of the newly discovered archival finds.

My first impression of Artemisia Gentileschi: Illuminating Women Artists, is that the entire package is of the highest quality. Exceptional plates commingle in unity with the learned prose; accompanied by a comprehensive range of supportive content, references, image credits, a list of manuscripts and detailed bibliographical material. There is a subtle balance between the stunning imagery depicted by the large vibrant and dynamic images of Artemisia’s original works; works that stand as a testament to her unique and exceptional talents.

I’m mesmerized by the large, full color plates of her oversized and detailed paintings. The plates depicting numerous technically exceptional scenes executed with the grace and ease of an expert.

It seems, at times, that each consecutive plate exuded a greater level of technical excellence than the last. I’m struck by the diversity of subjects, poses, color harmony and hues combining to present powerful visual narratives that thrill the eyes and stir the senses. The imagery is not limited to the work of Artemisia, but is accompanied by examples of her contemporaries that include both Renaissance and Baroque Masters such as: her father Orizio; Van Dyck; Coppola, (a personal favorite I share with Artemisia) and Caravaggio.

Artemisia Gentileschi contains a plethora of dense and concise information. My favorite section discusses the opinions of her peers about her work. In the section entitled ‘Mizia,’ the author delves deeper into the observations and opinions of Artemisia’s burgeoning latent talents that were self-evident to her mature peers. I particularly enjoyed the section titled ‘Aquiring Skills,’ where the author introduces us to the opinions of other contemporary artists of her first foray into design; even though she was not yet a teenager.

This work is an exceptional piece of writing and as such will only really be appreciated by an elite few. Those who will find it most edifying are likely to be: art connoisseurs, art historians, art aficionados, art collectors, conservators, librarians, art graduates, students studying advanced degrees, historians, and archivists. In addition to these professionals, private artists may also enjoy the rewards of owning a copy. Artemisia Gentileschi is exceptional in every way and it along with the Illuminating Women Artist series is absolutely irreplaceable as a reference in any quality library.

Artemisia Gentileschi‘s biography by Sheila Barker Ph.D., has inspired me to read and research her work in greater detail. I discovered that a Gallery exhibition was recently held, posthumously, in her honor. It is pleasing to read that, at last, Artemisia’s first exhibition opened to some acclaim. It is a well deserved accolade that was long overdue; and at least the tiny portion of her attributed works were being openly acknowledged in recognition of her stellar achievements.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


I would like to thank Doctor Sheila Barker Ph.D, Getty Publications, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists).

Well, hello again! Thank you for visiting us at Litercurious. We appreciate your patronage and look forward to providing you with the best experience possible on each and every visit. Feel free to suggest any books you would like reviewed through our contact link. We look forward to you next visit. Feel free to share our posts on social media.




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Written in bone – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Written in Bone by Sue Black
Written in Bone by Sue Black
TitleWritten in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We
Leave Behind
AuthorSue Black
PublisherArcade (June 1, 2021)
FormatKindle, Paperback, Hardcover
GenreUnabridged Adult Non-Fiction, Biographies
of Scientists, Scientist Biographies, Women’s
Biographies, Biology

#Biographies of Scientists #Biology #Scientist Biographies #Women’s Biographies #Forensic Anthropology #Anatomy #Forensic Science #Forensic Anthropology #Forensics

Dark, mysterious, and enlightening; Written in the Bone is as satisfying as it is truly disturbing; with a shocking personal revelation that comes out of no-where. 

N, Nemo


Professor Dame Sue Black DBE, FBA, FRSE, FRCP, FRAI


Written in Bone could be the best non-fiction book you will read this year. A colorful non-fiction dive into the anatomy of crime and all that remains.

Dame Sue Black’s outlines her career as a Forensic Anthropologist (FA) investigating human and non-human remains as well as her work as a professional expert in criminal cases. She cleverly utilizes the skeleton as a roadmap of clinical and not so clinical facts in her investigations. She references historic accounts, such as the one involving Doctor Buck Ruxton who murdered his wife and housekeeper. The investigation that followed utilized some seminal forensic techniques, a number of which are still utilized today by forensic anthropologists.

Black manages to weave scientific fact with legal imperatives against the backdrop of horrific violence that leaves its mark on the bones. A work that is simultaneously chilling and compelling in equal measure. Written in Bone is a skillfully constructed dissection of the human skeleton from zygote [DIPLOID] to birth and on unto death. Black’s book divides the skeleton into three sections beginning with the head, followed by the body, and finally the limbs. She further sub-divides the sections into their constituent parts. Using forensic techniques both new and old, she was a member of an international scientific team that investigated some of the most horrific crimes in our time; including the War Crimes in Bosnia, and the tortures and executions in Syria.


Written in Bone is a real life forensic detective account, a tutorial on the human skeleton and a Forensic Anthropologist’s (FA) biography of an incredible career. It is neither dry nor stultifying and contains first-person examples of evil crimes and their terrible tragedies. Written in Bone puts the profession of the FA front and centre instead of in the shadows that the profession once inhabited. There is a consistent message from the author that FA’s should always follow the evidence rather than unsupported assumptions.

Written in Bone manages to convey the reader into the world of the FA in a way never seen before. Hard cold facts meet the warmth of humanity on the frontline of the war on crime. It is accompanied by gallows humor and some slight irreverence for those experts that strayed into the field of FA, and fell flat on their face.

Black’s narrative manages, throughout, to maintain the interest of the reader. She imparts her personality with the imprint. A genuinely remarkable work of non-fiction and definitely one for the true crime community. No true crime library would be complete without a copy of Written in Bone, by Sue Black. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


I would like to thank, Professor Dame Sue Black, NetGalley, and Arcade Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Written in Bone.


All that Remains by Sue Black Non-Fiction Adult Scientists Biographies Forensic Anthropology
All that Remains by Sue Black Adult Non-Fiction Unabridged Pathology of Forensic Medicine Biographies of Scientists



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The report download below is mentioned in Written in Bone, it contains details of torture and should only be viewed with discretion. This material is NOT suitable for for children. View at your own discretion.