Happy new year! I hope you’ve all had a peaceful holiday season, however you have chosen to celebrate.
As one year ends and another begins I wanted to take the opportunity to look back over the past year and share with you some 2016 Sheroes of History stats & achievements!
- The blog featured over 50 new inspiring sheroes (meaning there are now over 160 in total – what a great resource!)
- We had contributions from 32 wonderful, brilliant writers! (Thank you, I love you!)
- The blog was viewed nearly 40,000 times by 22, 891 visitors who came from 150 different countries around the world!
- The Sheroes of History Facebook page reached 1, 298 likes and we now have over 2, 600 Twitter followers!
- The most popular post on the blog was John Hudson’s contribution about Ameila Bassano Lanier, with 1, 678 views!
- There were a host of Sheroes events, including Sheroes storytelling sessions for Black History Month and a special Birmingham Sheroes event as part of Birmingham Heritage Week.
- In October I was nominated for a West Midlands Woman of the Year Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education!
- Finally – not at all Sheroes of History related, but perhaps my biggest achievement was growing and giving birth to a tiny shero!
Thank you all so much for your continued support, whether you have liked a post on Facebook, retweeted, read a post or written one – I am so hugely grateful to everyone who helps this endeavor continue.
You can be sure that 2017 will bring you many more stories of incredible sheroes of history. I continue to be inspired by the courage and passion of these women and consider it a privilege to be able to shine a spotlight on their amazing lives.
Theodora (c.497-548) was born in Constantinople – modern day Istanbul. In her remarkable life she became probably the most powerful woman in Byzantine history. Little is known about her early years, and it is hard to sort fact from fiction in such a colourful story.
The daughter of a bear keeper at Constantinople’s hippodrome, Theodora was put to work there herself at an early age as an actress, dancer, mime artist and comedian. Performing for hundreds of spectators, by the age of 15 she was a successful performer. She was also (as most actresses of the time were) prostituted, and gave birth to her first child aged just 14. Continue reading Empress Theodora
Zenobia was a 3rd century warrior queen who claimed she was descended from none other than Cleopatra. She is known for conquering Egypt and thwarting the Roman Empire.
Born in Palmyra in Syria, Zenobia’s given Roman name was Julia Aurelia Zenobia. It’s reported that as a child she learnt the riding skills which would serve her well in her warrior future. Continue reading Zenobia – Warrior Queen
If you have as much as heard of ‘DNA’, the name Rosalind Franklin should be synonymous with it. This pioneering scientist played a crucial role in solving one of the great scientific questions of her time, and unfortunately did not live long enough to be given her due.
Rosalind Franklin was a British scientist born in the 20th Century. She graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Cambridge (where she witnessed the appointment of its first ever woman professor Dorothy Garrod), and later joined King’s College, London, where she worked on X-ray crystallography of DNA crystals. It was a time when the greatest minds in Biology and Chemistry were working on one elusive question: what is the structure of DNA? This was particularly important because DNA is the molecule responsible for carrying genetic information; knowledge of its structure would help us understand how this genetic information is carried across generations. Continue reading Rosalind Franklin
Maria Theresa is perhaps best known as Marie Antoinette‘s formidable mother, but Maria Theresa always kept her focus on her kingdom and was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last ruler of the House of Habsburg.
As ruler, Empress Maria Theresa was a strategic, energetic woman who many people said was tactful like a woman but thoughtful like a man. Under her rule, two great wars were fought—War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War—both of which proved to be highly beneficial to Austria in strengthening its laws and introducing needed reforms. In addition, the Empress made Austria a modern state characterized by commercial enterprises and extraordinary intellectual activity.
Continue reading Empress Maria Theresa: A Formidable Ruler
Dorothy Howell was an exceptional British musician, who composed over 130 pieces during her lifetime.
Dorothy was born in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1898. Her five siblings were all musical, and their father, an ironmaster by trade, was a self-taught pianist, who became the Musical Director at their local church. Dorothy’s mother was also musical, an accomplished violinist & soprano. The family used to spend time singing and playing together.
By the age of 13 Dorothy was already composing pieces. She wrote a set of six pieces for piano that were inspired by the popular Tales of Beatrix Potter. Dorothy studied at a number of convent schools in Birmingham, Belgium & London, but at the age of just 15, with promising musical abilities, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM). There she was taught by great composers and pianists including Tobias Matthay and Sir J B McEwen. Continue reading Dorothy Howell
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon in Coyocoán, Mexico City to a Mexican mother and German father, her early life was spent in Casa Azul (the Blue House) which today houses a museum dedicated to her life and work. She was influenced by indigenous Mexican culture as well as religious and political themes, and is most famous for her self-portraits. she once said, “I paint my own reality”. Continue reading Frida Kahlo
Mary Somerville was born in Scotland on Dec. 26, 1780, and had four supreme passions in her life: her family, equality for women, science, and birds.
Described as feminine in manner and appearance, as a girl she never cared for dolls. Her mother said she would have been content if Mary had “only learnt to write well and keep accounts which was all that a woman was expected to know.” Mary, however, had a talent for mathematics. She taught herself by listening in on her brother as he was tutored in geometry and by reading Euclid. Continue reading Mary Somerville: A Passion for Science
“I am obnoxious to each carping tongue/ That says my hand a needle better fits.”
These are the word of Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), from the Prologue to her first collection of poems, published in London in 1650. With its publication, Anne became the first published woman poet writing in the English language. Also, as she had emigrated to America with her family at the age of eighteen, she became America’s first published poet, of either gender. Anne correctly foresaw that many would argue that poetry was not a fit occupation for a woman, and had prepared herself in advance to stand up to the critics. Continue reading Anne Bradstreet – Poet and Feminist
Tcheng Soumay (also known as Tcheng Yu-hsiu and Madame Wei Tao-ming) was a lawyer and campaigner for democracy and women’s rights. She was active in China in the first half of the twentieth century when the ancient empire was toppled and competing factions fought for the soul of the new republic.
Soumay (to use her first name) was born to a wealthy family in Canton. Her father was a government official, her mother was the daughter of a general. It was usual to bind the feet of upper class girls, so their gait was ‘dainty.’ Always a rebellious child, Soumay refused to have her feet bound, ripping off the bandages. Her father was sympathetic, he encouraged her inquiring intellect and, wanting to take her around in public with him, dressed her as a boy. Continue reading Tcheng Soumay