Gertrude Ederle became known as ‘Queen of the Waves’ for her record breaking achievements in swimming; becoming the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Gertrude Ederle was born in New York city in 1905. Her parents were German immigrants who owned a butchers shop. As a child Gertrude very quickly took to the water, being taught to swim by her father during their family holidays in New Jersey.
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In many ways Alice Ann Wheeldon was an ordinary, middle aged woman, seen by her neighbours as a relatively unexceptional lady. Born in 1866 in Derby, Alice had four adult children, Nellie, Hettie, William Marshall and Winnie, and made her living as a dealer of second-hand clothes, working and living in her shop at 12 Pear Tree Road. However, Alice was anything but ordinary. A passionate socialist radical, Alice was a committed anti-war campaigner, a suffragette and provided safe houses to Conscientious Objectors (COs) during the First World War. She sheltered many COs above her unassuming shop, before helping them gain safe passage to America or Ireland.
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Yugoslavian-born Anica Vesel Mander, nicknamed Ani, dedicated her life to women’s and civil rights. Not only did she become heavily involved in the American Women’s Movement in the 1970s, she also conducted research in Yugoslavia in the 1990s that resulted in an international tribunal declaring rape a war crime.
Ani was born in 1934. After spending several years in hiding from Nazi forces on an island in the Adriatic Sea, Ani and her family moved to the United States and settled in California in 1949. Ani was a multi-linguist, speaking English, French, Italian and Serbo-Croatian. She pursued languages at university in Berkeley and would later receive a doctorate in women’s studies from the Union Institute in Cincinnati in 1976.
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Thr Trung sisters are famous in Vietnam for their brave stand against the occupying Chinese nearly 2000 years ago.
Trung Trac and Trung Nhi were sisters, daughters of a powerful military ruler. Unlike many neighbouring countries of the time, women in Vietnam could work, becoming judges or soldiers, and were allowed to inherit property and land. This opened a world of opportunity to the young sisters. As girls growing up they were really into martial arts and when they grew into young women their lessons extended to the art of warfare, which they learnt from their dad. These sisters were strong, brave and not to be messed with!
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Amelia Bassano Lanier (1569-1645) was the first English woman to publish a book of original poetry. It now appears she may also have been the long-sought major author of the Shakespearean plays.
She was born into a family of Venetian Jews who had been brought to London to be the Court recorder musicians, and who lived as secret Jews or Marranos practicing their faith covertly. From the age of 7 she was educated like a countess in the household headed by Lord Willoughby, the Danish ambassador, and his sister Countess Susan Bertie. About the age of 13 she was given to be an ‘honest courtesan’ to Queen Elizabeth’s half-brother Lord Hunsdon, 43 years her senior. He was the royal falconer, a judge, a general, and the Lord Chamberlain in charge of Court entertainments and the theater industry.
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Katherine Cheung was born in Canton, China in 1904. When she was 17 she moved with her father to California to study music at the Los Angeles Conservatory. After graduating, she continued her studies at Cal Poly Pomona and the University of Southern California.
Even while in school, she had a wild streak that sometimes broke out of the demure, ladylike persona that society expected. She convinced her father to teach her to drive, a mark of independence unusual among women at the time. It was during one of these lessons with her father in a parking lot near the airport, that she became interested in an even more unusual skill—flying.
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Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer was an amazing woman who, although severely disabled, became an inspiring disabled rights activist & published a moving book about her life.
Ruth was born in 1950 in Massachusetts. She was a healthy baby until, at just five weeks old, she became very ill. She had a temperature, was dehydrated & started to have convulsions. Her parents rushed her to the hospital where the doctors did all they could to help her. Soon she was home again and everything seemed fine. In fact for the first year of her life it looked like Ruth had recovered completely. However, just after her first birthday her parents realised that she was not developing the way other children her age were. After tests at the hospital Ruth was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which they now knew was a result of the illness she had had as a baby (encephalitis) which had affected her brain.
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