“Elsie Knocker has an irresistible inclination towards the greatest possible danger.” Author May Sinclair.
When I first heard about the war-time achievements of Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm, my first thought was not only how remarkable they were, but also how on earth hadn’t I heard about them before?! It makes me furious that so many extraordinary women have been neglected or ignored – and I’ve been determined to shine a light on Elsie and Mairi ever since. Continue reading Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm – War Nurses
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
When I lived in Wellington Shropshire during the 90s I learnt that Edith Pargeter ( better known as Ellis Peters ), had lived in the area. But it was only by chance that I found out about another Edith – Edith Picton-Turbervill . I discovered that she was by far the most important Edith. However, there wasn’t one plaque or memorial to her and she seemed all but forgotten. I read about her in a biography of Jennie Lee. My Edith had been a very early Labour Member of Parliament for the area and as I was interested in politics, I became curious to discover her story. Continue reading Edith Picton-Turbervill
Isabella Stenhouse served as a doctor during the First World War, but is that enough to make her a Shero? In fact, what makes any ordinary girl into a Shero? Joseph Campbell analysed hero stories from around the world. He found that they followed a remarkably constant pattern that he called The Hero’s Journey. If Isabella’s journey matched Campbell’s model, would she qualify as a Shero? Continue reading Dr Isabella Stenhouse’s Sheroic Journey
For a short time in the sixties and early seventies I had two great female friends. I was in my twenties, Frances Gordon in her fifties and Freda White in her late seventies. I had recently graduated from Glasgow University and was accumulating educational qualifications; Frances had a degree from the LSE gained in the 1930s and was a linchpin in the political and cultural life of Edinburgh; Freda was among the first graduates from Somerville College, Oxford, an author, journalist, campaigner and lecturer of international renown. Continue reading Freda White
No Petticoats Here tells the stories of remarkable women who lived during the First World War, through song. As a folk singer, songwriter and some time teacher of history I take great interest in combining music with stories from the past. Frustrated at the relatively small amount of attention given to women’s stories during the centenary commemorations of the First World War, I decided to look closer at women’s achievements from this period.
My research took me from Flanders to the battlefields of the Somme, through the doors of many museums and research centres and brought me into contact with some incredible historians and authors as well as the relatives of some of these incredible women. Continue reading No Petticoats Here
Mary Quaile was born in Dublin on 8 August 1886. The Quailes emigrated to England in 1889 or 1890. Mary left school aged 12, working as a domestic servant, which she later described as “by no means a bed of roses.” She went abroad, working in the French port of Brest for a time where she gained a working knowledge of French, a skill that no doubt later proved very useful at international trade union meetings. Back in Manchester she became enthused by trade unionism after the well-known trade union organiser Margaret Bondfield came to Manchester to organise women workers. Continue reading Mary Quaile
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
“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
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