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!

Dr Elsie Inglis

“In Scotland they made her a Doctor, In Serbia we would have made her a Saint.” – Serbian saying.

Elsie Inglis was born in Naini Tal, India to Scottish parents. Her father was employed by the East India Company and the family returned to Edinburgh in 1878 when Elsie was 14. Elsie’s parents believed, unusual for this time, that both boys and girls should have equal access to education and were supportive of Elsie’s decision to study medicine. Women won the right to obtain medical degrees in 1876 and when the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women was opened in 1886 Elsie decided to study there, graduating in 1892. Continue reading Dr Elsie Inglis

Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun – Ani Pachen & Adelaide Donnelley

Last year I wrote about Ani Pachen, an incredible shero who was, as the title of this book indicates, a Tibetan warrior nun. Her life intrigued and inspired me, and I wanted to know more, so I ordered her biography Sorrow Mountain, which I’ve just finished reading. Continue reading Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun – Ani Pachen & Adelaide Donnelley

Esther Roper

What connects Winston Churchill, women’s trades unions, Irish independence, an early 20th century magazine opposing traditional gender concepts and a suffrage petition long enough to carpet a railway platform?

The answer is Esther Roper: suffragist, labour organiser and pioneering writer on gender and sexuality.
Continue reading Esther Roper

Lady Anne Cunningham

Lady Anne (or Anna) Cunningham was a Scottish noblewoman, businesswoman, and warrior, born at the end of the sixteenth century into the tumultuous of world of the European Reformation.

Daughter of a wealthy Protestant noble family, in 1603 she was married to the fourteen-year-old James Hamilton, and over time they had eight children. Her husband inherited his father’s lands and title in 1604, and consequently spent much of his time at court, leaving Anne to manage their estates, which she did competently: she was evidently educated and had a good head for business, undertaking projects such as the improvement of the family palace and the development of industrial projects like coal mines. Continue reading Lady Anne Cunningham