Marina Warner

Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism

Non-Fiction Monograph

University of California Press (paperback) US
Oxford University Press (Re-published Spring 2013)

Marina Warner tells a fascinating story. She has examined the court documents from Joan of Arc’s 1431 Inquisition trial for heresy and woven together with facts from those documents analysis of the histories, biographies, plays and the paintings and sculptures that have appeared over time to honour this heroine and symbol of France’s nationhood.

Warner shows how the few facts that are known about the woman Joan have been shaped to suit the aims of thos who have chosen her as their hero placesplacesplaces Joan in the context of the mythology of the female hero and takes note of her historical antecedents, both pagan and Christian and the role she has played up to the present as the embodiment of an ideal, whether as Amazon, saint, child of nature, or personification of virtue.


‘Warner’s book combin(es) a rich compendium of original observations about Joan’s life with a survey of how succeeding centuries have created their contrasting images of Joan.’

Joan Llewellyn Barstow, American Historical Review

‘An eloquent book…To accomplish her task Marina Warner has probed the printed sources of the period, picked the brains of the best modern scholars, and read widely in literature and world history.’

Mary Gordon, Chicago Sun Times

‘Elegantly written, thoughtful (as one would expect from the author of Alone of All Her Sex), imaginative, sensitive. Warner ranges through iconographic, allegorical, literary, dramatic, operatic, cinematographic, linguistic, biographical, and political evidence to present a history of Joan and of her subsequent representations.’


‘Joan of Arc - soldier, virgin, saint - is known to virtually every schoolchild. Her myth has captured the world’s imagination and, like all potent myths, it acts as a cultural Rorschachean test: each age sees her in light of its own moral preoccupations…Marina Warner seeks to examine the nature of the myth itself and to find out why it has such imaginative force. She tells, in effect, the story of the story - and does it extremely well.’

Jean Strouse, Newsweek

Other editions

First published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981