Wilma Rudolph was known as ‘the fastest woman on earth’, after she became the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals; but there was once a time in her life when doctors told her she would never walk again – let alone become a world famous runner.
Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born prematurely on 23rd June 1940 in Clarksville, Tennessee, weighing only 4.5 pounds! Born into a very large family, she was the 20th of 22 children!
Very early on in life Wilma became seriously ill, she suffered from many illnesses including pneumonia and scarlet fever. When she was only 4 years old she developed polio. This disease meant that Wilma lost the use of her left leg and foot; it was at this point that doctors told her she would never be able to walk. Wilma’s mother however, disagreed!
Nella Larsen was born on 13th April 1891.
Nellallitea ‘Nella’ Larsen was an American writer. Although she only published two novels, she was seen as a significant contributor to what was called ‘The Harlem Renaissance’.
Before she became known for her writing Nella first trained as a nurse, before later becoming a librarian. She was the first black woman to graduate from the New York Public Library school. She soon went to work in the Harlem branch of the library, which is where she met and was inspired by other artists & writers in the Harlem Renaissance.
Biographical dictionaries of the time called her “the patroness of liberty”. An advocate for freedom and human rights, many people considered her to be eccentric, particularly after her second marriage to William Graham which created something of a scandal (he was 26 years her junior and there were rumours that Catharine had been involved with William’s brother before the marriage).
Catharine had been fortunate enough to be privately educated and had been inspired by studying Roman and Greek history.
Born 7th April, 1889 was the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral.
Born Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga, she published her poetry under the name Gabriela Mistral. In 1945 she became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and remains the only Latin American woman to do so.
As well as a poet, Gabreila was an educator, a feminist, and was involved in politics throughout her life. She argued for the right to education for children, she spoke up for the rights of women and the poor, and believed strongly in peace and democracy. She defended those who were oppressed and used her essays, poetry and newspaper articles to draw attention to their plight.
I first read about KHUTULUN in an article called ‘7 of the Most Amazing Women You’ve Never Heard Of’ which is what first started me thinking about doing this blog. And indeed until that point I had never heard of this wrestling, warrior, princess.
Khutulun lived in a country called Mongolia over 800 years ago. Her name means ‘moonlight’, and her father, Kaidu, was a powerful ruler whose kingdom stretched far and wide across Central Asia.