In a memoir spanning continents and a lifetime of scholarship, a trailblazing historian recounts her struggles since the 1960s in her search for fulfilment both as a scholar and a woman Of all the exhilarating slogans that galvanised women in the 1970s, determined to change ourselves and the world, the one that really inspired me was- 'Be the most that you can!' Even as a small girl, I was eager to be the most I possibly could. This desire drove my life.
Raised in an aspirational Australian working-class family of Christian Scientists, in the 1960s Dale Kent embarked on a lifelong struggle to fulfil the desire of many women of her generation-to be the most she could be. Despite discrimination and self-doubt, she escaped her controlling family and established an international career as a historian of the Florentine Renaissance. But she failed to liberate herself from the crippling views of women, love and sex she had internalised in childhood.
Craving independence and sexual fulfilment, Kent left her child with her husband and started afresh in the United States on an academic road trip that took in Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton and the National Gallery of Art. Her story, both poignant and darkly comical, traces a counterpoint between increasing professional success, a desperate search for a sexual soulmate and a way back to her daughter.