We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Missing Thread

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474615617

Price: £25

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

‘A brilliant concept, executed with enviable elegance’ Lucy Worsley

‘A gem of a book. Thanks to Daisy Dunn’s elegant and lively retelling of history, the women of the ancient world are restored to the centre of the story of classical antiquity. It was a joy to read.’ Peter Frankopan

Spanning 3,000 years, from the birth of Minoan Crete to the death of the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Rome, a magisterial new history of the ancient world told, for the very first time, through women.

For centuries, men have been writing histories of antiquity filled with warlords, emperors and kings. But when it comes to incorporating women aside from Cleopatra and Boudica, writers have been more comfortable describing mythical heroines than real ones. While Penelope and Helen of Troy live on in the imagination, their real-life counterparts have been relegated to the margins. In The Missing Thread, Daisy Dunn inverts this tradition and puts the women of history at the centre of the narrative.

These pages present Enheduanna, the earliest named author, the poet Sappho and Telesilla, who defended her city from attack. Here is Artemisia, sole female commander in the Graeco-Persian Wars, and Cynisca, the first female victor at the Olympic Games. Cleopatra may be the more famous, but Fulvia, Mark Antony’s wife, fought a war on his behalf. Many other women remain nameless but integral. Through new examination of the sources combined with vivid storytelling Daisy Dunn shows us the ancient world through fresh eyes, and introduces us to an incredible cast of ancient women, weavers of an entire world.


A beautiful, gloriously intricate tapestry, full of fresh faces and revitalised tales, woven with all the artistry and wit we've come to expect from Daisy Dunn. A stunning tribute to the women of the ancient world.
Jessie Childs, author of God's Traitors
Groundbreaking... Dunn's barnstorming book explores the stories of dozens of women... as well as being a well-researched and elegantly written counterpoint to the way men have dominated the histories of antiquity, she has an eye for the quirky, revealing detail.
Pioneering ... For anyone even to undertake a single-authored general ancient history would be bold enough. To do so with the focus on the distaff side and without falling into grave distortion just adds to the complexity of the task... [Dunn] carries it off triumphantly, the outcome of 15 years' research.
The Oldie
A brilliant concept, executed with enviable elegance. People will go to college to study the ancient world because of this book. Brava, Daisy Dunn!
Lucy Worsley, author of Agatha Christie
A gem of a book. Thanks to Daisy Dunn's elegant and lively retelling of history, the women of the ancient world are restored to the centre of the story of classical antiquity, rather than being kept in the shadows. It was a joy to read.
Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
Daisy Dunn is the real deal. No thread is left hanging, let alone missing, in her closely woven tapestry of ancient women's history. Brilliantly conceived and written, The Missing Thread unerringly fingers the (chiefly male) ancients' inability to understand women and view them in the round.
Paul Cartledge, author of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece
I loved this radical new take on the familiar stories of the ancient world we all think we know but clearly only know the half. Dunn succeeds magnificently not in erasing men but in bringing out of the shadows some extraordinary women and giving them much more than merely reflected glory. The book sparkles with fresh ideas.
Anne Sebba, author of Ethel Rosenberg
Beautifully written, witty and wry, this is a great his - and her - story of the ancient past, carefully sifting the evidence to shine light on the power and influence women have wielded through the ages.
Michael Scott, author of X Marks the Spot
A bold and ambitious book... Dunn fills The Missing Thread with brilliantly drawn pen-portraits... a wonderful book: informative, thought provoking, and a pleasure to read.
The Telegraph
In The Missing Thread, Daisy Dunn shows us once again why all children should learn about ancient civilisations: because they provide great stories that are powerful and always fresh and relevant.
Literary Review
With wonderful lightness of touch, Daisy Dunn has rewritten the history of the ancient world. Coming out of the shadows, so many human faces, from Homer to Agrippina, from Lucretia to Cleopatra. Our vision of antiquity will never be quite the same again. As with all her previous books, Daisy Dunn has constructed an utterly compelling narrative. The men are not neglected, but they stand aside to reveal the neglected other half of the human race.
AN Wilson
Deft...Again and again, Dunn shows us women guiding and shaping their world...You might call the book an epic act of noticing.
Daisy Dunn is a wonderful writer and The Missing Thread is a wonderful book: rich, immersive, breathtaking in its authority and scope. This is a history of the ancient world which puts women where they belong - at the heart of the narrative - and the result is both deeply absorbing and urgently timely.
Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves
The title of "the next Mary Beard" is one bandied around with wearying predictability, but judging by this terrifically readable and deeply researched new book, Daisy Dunn is in prime position to take up such a mantle. She tells the story of how the classical world, so long discussed through the prism of the men who lived in it, should be reassessed through its influential and fascinating female inhabitants instead. By turns authoritative, witty and revelatory, The Missing Thread feels like a book for our times and for all time
The Missing Thread is learned, spritely and hugely ambitious
The Sunday Times