Sappho was the original female singer-songwriter, an Ancient Greek Carol King or Joni Mitchell, whose songs were so memorable that people were still writing about them and passing them on centuries later.
Today her name is synonymous with lesbianism – indeed the very word ‘Lesbian’ comes from the name of the island where Sappho lived, Lesbos – due to the many lines of her poetry where she expresses strong, and sometimes sexual, feelings for other women. But there was more to Sappho than just her interest in women. Continue reading Sappho
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
Emonia Lewis was a world famous African American and Native American sculptor. Born in America, she spent most of her career in Rome.
Edmonia was born on 4th July 1844. Her father was Haitian, while her mother was from the Native American Ojibwa tribe. Sadly, by the time she was 9 they had both died, so Edmonia and her brother went to live with her aunts in Canada, where her mother’s tribe came from. While living with them she was known by her native name, ‘Wildfire’, while her brother was called ‘Sunshine’. She helped make traditional baskets with her aunts, which they sold to tourists near Niagra Falls.
Continue reading Edmonia Lewis – Sculpting Shero
Lily Parr was maybe the greatest female football player who ever lived! In a career that spanned over 30 years she scored nearly 1000 goals!
Lily was born in Merseyside on 29th April 1905. She was the fourth of seven children, and as she grew up she prefered kicking a ball around with her brothers to sitting inside and sewing like most other girls her age. She quickly became adept at both football and rugby, but it was football that was to become her life’s passion. By 1919 she had joined the St Helen’s Ladies football team.
Continue reading Lily Parr – Shero shoots, shero scores!
Frances Power Cobbe dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of women, children and animals. She spoke out about domestic violence and founded the first organisations to campaign against animal testing.
Frances Power Cobbe was born in Dublin in 1822. She came from a well known family with quite a religious background; her ancestor, Charles Cobbe, had been the Archbishop of Dublin in the 1700s, a very important position at the time.
Frances was the only girl in her family and had four older brothers. While they were allowed a proper education Frances remained at home for most of her childhood, reading everything she could lay her hands on and educating herself. She was sent to a school in Brighton for a couple of years when she was 14, but this was more of a finishing school for girls and she said it did her no good whatsoever. She was pleased when she returned home and could once again return to her books.
Continue reading Frances Power Cobbe
Ethel Smyth was a composer, suffragette and writer known for her passionate public and private life.
Born on 23rd April 1858 Ethel developed an interest in music from a young age. At 12, when she learned that her governess had studied music at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, she decided that was where she needed to go.
Unfortunately her father saw things differently, and was completely against the idea. He even stopped her music lessons to try and change her mind. Ethel was having none of it, and over the next seven years she persistently pressured her father; refusing to eat, locking herself in her room, skipping church and other social occasions until he finally gave in! At the age of 19 she finally left to attend the music school.
Continue reading Dame Ethel Smyth: Composer and Suffragette