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Mary and Joan on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day has grown since the 1900s to become a global occasion to inspire women and celebrate achievements. Perhaps two of the most inspirational female figures from history are the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc. We spoke with Marina Warner, author of the seminal titles, Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism and Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, about these women and their historical and personal impact.

Where did your interest in the cult of the Virgin Mary come from?

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Why is Joan of Arc such a figure of heroism and inspiration?

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Marina Warner is a writer, historian, cultural critic, novelist, and Professor of Literature at the University of Essex. She is the author of Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism and Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary released in their second editions this month among other works. Marina Warner was created a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French in 2002, and a Commendatore by the Italians in 2005. She was awarded the Warburg Prize in Germany in 2004, and is an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is Professor of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex and President of the British Comparative Literature Association. In 2005 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. Oxford gave her an Honorary Doctorate in 2005.

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