5 speakers 15 minutes each

Sarah Dunant

the secret life of nuns

Sarah Dunant- acclaimed author of The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan, and Sacred Hearts, all set in Renaissance Italy- tells the story behind the secret life of nuns. Taking us back to Renaissance Italy, she explains that it was those daughters for whom a family could not afford a dowry who were sent to convents- along with the maimed, disfigured or mentally unstable. She goes onto vividly describe what kind of lives they could expect to lead behind the convent walls. Not entirely isolated and cut off, Dunant describes how the walls of the convent were breached, and how many nuns achieved a surprising degree of liberation even within their confines. The story also touches on the romantic lives of Renaissance nuns, which was perhaps more active than one might initially suppose...