Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians

At the base of Tamworth Castle can be seen the statue of an armed woman protectively holding a child. The child is Athelstan but the woman is not his mother. Her name is Aethelflaed (Æthelflæd), and she was one of the greatest warrior-leaders in Anglo-Saxon history. Continue reading Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians

Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was a groundbreaking female architect who worked on over 700 buildings during her epic career, paving the way for women in a male-dominated profession.

Julia was born to a wealthy family in San Francisco 1872. She was the second of 5 children and excelled at maths at an early age, encouraged by her mother. When she was still young she met her mother’s cousin, the architect Pierre Le Bron, who sparked in her the desire to become an architect too. Continue reading Julia Morgan

Gaspara Stampa

Gaspara Stampa was born in 1523 to a bourgeois family. Her parents were known for hosting cultural salons, and they ensured that Gaspara and her siblings were educated in Latin, literature, and music.

She became an excellent lute-player and singer, as well as an exceptional lyric poet. When she began to host her own cultural salons, she often performed her own work. Modern Western poetry was born from the Medieval culture of performance; poets would sing their own compositions, since most people were illiterate. However, in the later middle ages, there was a shift towards writing and reading rather than singing and listening. Gaspara was one of the last poets who was equally skilled at writing and performing, and she quickly became a much-admired figure in the cultural circles of her native Venice. Continue reading Gaspara Stampa

Lillie Devereux Blake

Lillie Devereux Blake, a 19th century American writer and women’s rights reformer, played an important, though often overlooked, presence in social movements in the United States.

In 1833, Elizabeth Johnson Devereux was born in Raleigh, North Carolina to southerner George Pollock Devereux and northerner Sarah Elizabeth Johnson. Following her father’s death in 1837, her mother moved her two daughters back to her home in New Haven, Connecticut, where the young Lillie attended the Apthorp School for Young Ladies. Continue reading Lillie Devereux Blake

Melanie Klein: Breaking into the Boys Club of Psychology

Psychoanalysis in the early 20th century is often described as a men’s discipline, with Freud’s theories creating and dominating the field. In contrast, the second half of the 20th century confirmed that psychoanalysis wasn’t always destined to be a boys’ club. It was during this time that several key women began to distinguish themselves as theorists.

Perhaps none was more noteworthy than Melanie Klein, who had a tremendous impact on both psychological theory and practice, and her innovative work involving child therapy places her among the most prominent mental health experts of the 20th century. Klein, a young divorcee with small children and no Bachelor’s degree achieved recognition using her experiences as a mother to analyze children, studies which hadn’t yet been attempted.   Continue reading Melanie Klein: Breaking into the Boys Club of Psychology

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg died when she was just 47 years old, and was described as a small, frail woman. But in those 47 years she managed to pack enough in for two lifetimes and leave a huge impression on the world which she left behind.

Rosa was born in Russian-ruled Poland to a Jewish family in 1871, the youngest of 5 children. She was a keen learner from a young age, learning to read and write by the time she was 5. At the same age she suffered a hip complaint which left her with a limp she would live with for the rest of her life. She was home educated until she was 9 when she was accepted to a prestigious girls’ gymnasium. Rosa performed well at school, but was denied the recognition she deserved; she wasn’t given the gold medal that other girls earned for their achievements because of what the school called ‘an oppositional attitude toward the authorities’ – an attitude which wouldn’t leave her any time soon! There was a lot of anti-Jewish and anti-Polish sentiment at the school, which was mostly full of the daughters of Russian soldiers and nobility. She wasn’t allowed to speak Polish while she was there, only Russian. Continue reading Rosa Luxemburg

The Bridport Wildcats!

One Friday afternoon in February 1912, the women who worked on the French netting machines at Gundry’s net-making factory in the market town of Bridport, Dorset, SW England, were informed (without notice) that their pay was to be reduced to match the wages of the girls and women who worked on the other machines in the factory.  The women refused to accept this pay cut and immediately came out on strike.  There was no precedent for this, and the women were on their own, there was no union backing, it was regarded as a wildcat strike.

Continue reading The Bridport Wildcats!

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