Category Archives: Europe

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

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

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

Margaret More

Margaret Elizabeth More was born in Harlech on June 26th 1903, to parents William Henry More and Alice. She had much older siblings, Constance, Jack, Frank, Evelyn and eventually a younger brother, George. The family home was Crown Lodge, in Harlech on the rugged Welsh Coast. Margaret was a great deal younger than the next eldest sister Evelyn, and was undoubtedly an unplanned child. As the girls did not attend school, they instead had a governess, with whom Margaret studied music. Margaret was a natural rebel, and the boredom of life away from a big city necessitated that the siblings created their own entertainment.

Continue reading Margaret More

Matilda of Flanders

October 2016 saw the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the event in history during which England gained a new King and a new Royal family. English Heritage led the way with a series of Twitter accounts set up to reveal the thoughts and actions of a collection of people affected by the invasion. One of those accounts was for Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror. I was incredibly relieved that English Heritage included her from the start, not just because history should show the perspectives of women as well as men, but because without Matilda, William’s reign as King of England probably wouldn’t have lasted very long. Continue reading Matilda of Flanders