In this book, Carr unravels the biography of the archaeologist Tessa Verney Wheeler, a charming, tiny woman whose untimely death left her archaeological career overshadowed by her distinguished husband, Sir Mortimer Wheeler. Despite a short career of just over twenty years, Verney Wheeler published and excavated extensively while simultaneously developing new archaeological techniques, brought archaeology into the lives of the general public through her connections with the Press and the encouragement of site tours, and was an inspiring teacher to an impressive roster of students. In this biography, her life is recovered through an examination of her written work, archives, sites, and photographs, as well as through the memories of those who knew her. By means of a discussion of the very personal life and work of one woman, Carr explores the role of women in early British archaeology, resulting in a fascinating picture of a woman and a vivid evocation of the interwar period in London and Wales.
From her work retraining colliery navvies as archaeological diggers in Roman amphitheatres on the Welsh borders, to cheap omelettes with her students at the Lyons Corner House on Piccadilly in London, Verney Wheeler crossed social and physical borders with a grace and appeal that remains very palpable today.