In Ukraine, the foremost woman poet and playwright is Larysa Petrivna Kosach-Kvitka, but she is much better known by the pen name her mother gave her: Lesya Ukrainka (Lesya of Ukraine)—a name as highly recognizable as her famous braided hair. Lesya Ukrainka is seen everywhere on statutes, postage stamps, paintings, films, and certainly in books by and about her.
Her very name “Lesya Ukrainka” was itself a brave and radical act for identifying as a Ukrainian during the oppressive regime of Imperial Russia which considered Ukrainian nationalism and the language as subversive and treasonous.
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Mary was born in 1799 to a poor family in Lyme Regis, her father was a cabinet maker and she was one of 10 children (although only her and her elder brother, Joseph, survived into adulthood). She was fortunate to be able to learn to read and write at the Sunday School of the Congregationalist Church her dissenting parents attended. Yet as a girl from a poor working family in the early nineteenth century her opportunities were limited, probably working from home before marriage and motherhood, and a likely hand to mouth existence.
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Lorna Wing (1928 – 2014) became one of the world’s leading experts in autism; she died in June this year.
Lorna was born in Kent and trained as a medical doctor, specialising in psychiatry. She met her future husband while studying medicine and they had a daughter, who was diagnosed in 1962 at the age of three with autism. This led Lorna to change the focus of her work to childhood developmental disorders and her work was ground-breaking.
As a researcher she refined the sub-groups within a diagnosis of autism, coined the term Asperger’s syndrome (to describe behaviours observed by the Austrian psychiatrist, Hans Asperger) and contributed to the eventual development of autism as a spectrum condition. She also described the “triad of impairments” which all people with autism show. Researchers following Lorna owe a great debt to her work.
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