Eleanor Marx: ‘Mother of socialist feminism’

Eleanor Marx has been called the ‘mother of socialist feminism’. She was a political agitator, literary translator, actress and campaigner for workers’ rights – deserving of accolades in her own right as more than just the daughter of her more well known father. Continue reading Eleanor Marx: ‘Mother of socialist feminism’

Freya Stark: a life of daring travel

Dame Freya Stark is legendary for her daring and unorthodox travel throughout the Middle East. She was an observant and prolific writer who became an accomplished cartographer mapping previously uncharted territory in the deserts of Southern Arabia in the 1930’s. Continue reading Freya Stark: a life of daring travel

Margaret Haig Thomas, Lady Rhondda

Margaret, Lady Rhondda, lived a life of wealth and privilege but she was not afraid to stand up for her beliefs as well as support them financially.  An only child, she was strongly influenced by her parents Sybil Haig – an active suffragette and David Thomas a Welsh businessman and long standing liberal MP.  She was Secretary of the Newport branch of the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) and she joined in with a number of militant and even violent actions, including protest marches and attempting to blow up a postbox.  She spent a brief spell in prison before being released after going on hunger strike. Continue reading Margaret Haig Thomas, Lady Rhondda

Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan has a strong claim to being the first professional author of any gender. Born in 1364, she was the daughter of an astrologer at the court of Charles V of France. She grew up in a highly cultural and intellectual society, and could have made use of the royal library. She married a court secretary and had two children by him, but was widowed at just 25. It was at this point that her writing career began, with ballads dedicated to her husband’s memory. These drew the attention and patronage of the French aristocracy. For the rest of her life she would be obliged to continue writing in order to support herself and her family. Continue reading Christine de Pizan

Noor Inayat Khan – The Spy Princess

Noor Inayat Khan was a Second World War SOE agent, also famously known as the “Spy Princess”.

Noor was born under the shadows of the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Her father was a Sufi saint and her mother an American. Her father had followers all over the world and he was in Moscow to preach his teachings in the royal court. When the First World War broke out her family moved to Great Britain. They then moved to Paris, France permanently. They were gifted a house by one of her father’s followers in Suresnes in the outskirts of Paris. They named it as “Fazil mahal” meaning “Home of Love”. Continue reading Noor Inayat Khan – The Spy Princess

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone

Lucinda Hinsdale was born September 30, 1814 in Hinesburg, VT to Aaron & Lucinda (Mitchell) Hinsdale. Lucinda spent her early years attending the public school, briefly attending a female seminary before finding the academic rigor less than what she desired and at age 13 went to Hinesburg Academy, a boys’ high school. Though she surpassed her male counterparts in the curriculum of Greek, Latin, French, and literature, the gender biases of the time kept her from continuing on to college studies, so at age 15 she became a schoolteacher, which was a common occurrence during that time. Continue reading Lucinda Hinsdale Stone

Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich (approx. 1342-1416) is thought to have been the first woman to write a book in the English language.

Very little is known about her, not even her real name. She was an anchoress (a kind of religious hermit, someone who retires from the world for spiritual reasons) and got her name from living in a cell at the Church of St Julian in Norwich. Some believe that she may have come from a rich family in the area and that she might have lost her family during a plague epidemic, but almost no definite information about her personal life still exists. Continue reading Julian of Norwich