A relative mentioned in passing that we may be related to the internationally famous, classically trained Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell – I had no idea of this. A further call to my relative revealed she had kept a newspaper cutting from 1954 and I was astonished to learn that Winifred’s hands were insured for £40,000 in the 1950s! Winifred was an international celebrity, known in households at home with Stephen Bourne citing her as a’folk hero for the British working classes.’ (Bourne 2001). My relative also told me that Elton John named one of his touring piano’s after Winifred and looking further I see that Elton names Winifred as one of his most early influences. Continue reading Winifred Atwell
The Harlem Renaissance was the name given to the artistic, literary and intellectual movement within a tumultuous period of racial change in post-war United States. Also named ‘The New Negro Movement’, this cultural explosion drew black writers, photographers, artists, poets and scholars together to forge a new black cultural identity throughout the 1920s and 30s. Although critic and lecturer, Alan Locke (1926), described the transformation from “social disillusionment to race pride”, the women of the Harlem Renaissance had to face double prejudice of both race and sex.
Henrietta’s tumour cells, most commonly known as HeLa cells in science are responsible for some of the most significant medical discoveries of all time. From chemotherapy and the polio vaccine to cloning and IVF, her immortal cells have changed and saved countless lives. But it is truly unfortunate such profound scientific breakthroughs came at the cost of an inspirational women, mother and a loving wife. Continue reading Henrietta Lacks- The true shero behind modern medicine
Sarah was born on 6 June 1826 in Salem, Massachusetts, the second youngest child of the ten offspring of John and Nancy Remond. Salem was 14 miles from Boston and Sarah says that it contained “about 25,000 inhabitants, who are characterised by general intelligence, industry and enterprise and few towns in the States can boats of more wealth and refinement than Salem.” Continue reading Sarah Parker Remond
Patsy Takemoto Mink was a Japanese-American politician who spent decades fighting sexism and racism. She broke many barriers during her life, especially when she was elected to the House of Representatives in 1965 to represent Hawaii, which had become a state in 1959. Mink was not only the first non-white, but also the first Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) woman, in addition to being the youngest person to represent the youngest State of the nation in Congress. Continue reading Patsy Takemoto Mink
Born in San Rafael, California in 1887, Louise was the only daughter of mining magnate John Franklin Boyd and the well-bred Louise Cook Arner. As a young woman, she became a prominent socialite like her mother and was groomed to assume control of her father’s financial empire. Upon the death of her parents, Louise Arner Boyd became a millionairess in her early thirties. Unmarried and with no living relatives, she was freed from the gilded cage that had constrained her for so long. Continue reading Louise Arner Boyd (1887-1972)
Madeleine L’Engle, author of the groundbreaking children’s novel A Wrinkle in Time, was a clumsy girl, born to older parents who loved her and wanted her but weren’t sure quite what to do with her after twenty years of childless marriage. Her father, Charles Camp, was a journalist who had been exposed to mustard gas during WWI and caught pneumonia frequently. Her mother was often in frail health. When Madeleine was born in New York City in 1918, antibiotics hadn’t been discovered. Madeleine was over-protected and sent off to boarding school for most of her lonely childhood. Continue reading Madeleine L’Engle: A New Perspective on Science and Girls
A reason to remember Tain in North East Scotland is Dr Elizabeth Ross. She wasn’t born there, as her banker father worked in London at the time of her birth, but the family came from the Ross- shire town, and returned after his death. But except for a small plaque in Tain’s St Duthus Church she is almost forgotten. Interestingly this is NOT the case in Serbia. Each year she is commemorated in a ceremony attended by Serbian high ranking dignitaries and many thousands of people. It is a huge celebration. Continue reading Dr Elizabeth Ross
During the Second World War large numbers of women were recruited to work in factories to meet the labour shortage caused by men going to fight in the war. Many factories in Birmingham supported war production, including Cadbury’s, the British Small Arms Company and Austin Motors. Spitfires were also made in a factory in Castle Bromwich. All of these companies employed women during the war. Continue reading Women Factory Workers in Birmingham during the Second World War
Delia Derbyshire was a pioneer in electronic music who created one of the most well known TV theme tunes of all time.
Delia was born in Coventry in 1937, only two years before the outbreak of the Second World War. When the war began the government encouraged parents of young children like Delia to send them away to the relative safety of the countryside, however many chose not to. Initially, Delia’s parents were amongst them. She stayed in Coventry and lived through the famous Coventry Blitz, which razed the city to the ground. The sound of the air raid siren sounded night after night made a lasting impact on Delia, in her later life she reflected: Continue reading Delia Derbyshire