Natalie Haynes

Natalie Haynes portrait photographed by Rachel Adams

"Women who refuse to accept what they’re given have been diminished throughout history. Women are accused of being ‘like a man.’ If that means working for what you need, fine. That’s not men’s behaviour, it’s human behaviour. I’m proud to be Bess."

'Women who refuse to accept what they’re given have been diminished throughout history.' Natalie Haynes
Portrait of Natalie Haynes by photographer Rachel Adams 2018
'Women who refuse to accept what they’re given have been diminished throughout history.' Natalie Haynes

Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. She writes for The Guardian and The Observer.
She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, including reviewing for both Front Row and Saturday Review, and presents her own radio series, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. Her first book, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, was published to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, and her most recent was the much-praised, The Children of Jocasta. She has spoken on the modern relevance of the classical world on three continents, from Cambridge to Chicago to Auckland.

Policing feminity

In a similar vein to Bess, Natalie has been accused of being like a man for working to get what she needs. 

Bess of Hardwick went to great efforts to protect her property and lands in order to secure the future of her sons, William and Charles. During the breakdown of her fourth marriage, she lobbied Queen Elizabeth and her chief ministers, Lord Burghley and Lord Leicester, for aid and protection. As a result of her pleas, the Privy Council and the queen herself repeatedly found in Bess’s favour. Shrewsbury was forced to restore to Bess all the lands and rents that he had confiscated. But although Bess was vindicated in her lifetime, her husband’s accusations have caused lasting damage, helping to shape historians’ perceptions of Bess as a scheming, emasculating shrew. 

Portraits for We are Bess hang with the historic portraits in the Long Gallery at Hardwick

Next portrait 

See which other women have found a parallel with Bess's story