The Rise and Fall of a remarkable Jewish businesswoman (author Rebecca Abrams)

Paperback guide price £14.99 online and at good bookshops (ISBN 978-1-3999-1638-7), including Waterstones, P&G Wells and the Hampshire Cultural Trust (ARC and City Museum) in Winchester. Also available as an ebook (ISBN 978-1-3999-1791-9) from Bookbaby and other good platforms. Please order your copy now.

“Totally fascinating, tragic and unforgettable – an untold story of female power, royal intrigue, high finance, civil war and antisemitism.”   – Simon Sebag Montefiore, eminent historian.

“A beautifully written account of the life of the most important Jewish woman in thirteenth-century England. Easily accessible to general readers yet informative even to specialists, this book deserves a wide and receptive audience.” Robert Stacey, Professor of History, University of Washington

Licoricia of Winchester rose from obscurity to become the most successful female financier in early thirteenth century England. Royal favourite, businesswoman and single mother, her life spanned seven decades and was filled with dramatic highs and tragic lows. In this inspiring chronicle of an extraordinary Jewish woman, Rebecca Abrams tells the story of Licoricia and the Jews of medieval England, set against a backdrop of political unrest and rising antisemitism, opening a window onto a period of English history whose aftershocks linger to this day.

Specification:  40,000 words; over 40 colour illustrations; foreword by Simon Sebag-Montefiore; five chapters, footnotes and bibliography; paperback 160 pages.

Author information


Author Rebecca Abrams is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction and a lecturer in creative writing at Oxford University. Her publications include The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 objects, and Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries. Her novel, Touching Distance, was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize for Literature and won the MJA Open Book Award.

SIMON SEBAG-MONTEFIORE is a best-selling historian, novelist and television presenter, and a patron of the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal charity

The book was commissioned by the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal charity with additional funding from various charities.

Written in an engaging and accessible style, the book appeals to a broad readership interested in medieval history, feminism and Jewish history.

As a strong, educated woman who held her own against adversity and persecution, Licoricia is an important addition to the growing list of overlooked historical women and their remarkable achievements, helping in turn to broaden the perspective on the role played by women in the past, socially, politically and economically.

Licoricia’s story has direct relevance to our understanding of modern racism and prejudice, and stands as a salutary reminder of the tragic consequences of intolerance.  The book draws out the parallels with slavery in the eighteenth century, the rise of antisemitism in Nazi Germany, and the hostile environment used against the Windrush generation in 21st century England, as well as other minority ethnic groups here and worldwide.

The book will appeal to teachers and educators for both its historical content and contemporary relevance.   With many schools now rewriting their curricula to reflect greater sensitivity to the experiences of minority groups, Licoricia’s story will provide educators with a greater depth of understanding about the contribution of the Jewish community in England as well as the prejudice and persecution they have suffered.

@Rebecca Abrams 2021

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