This insightful and revealing collection of essays focuses on seven Welsh women who, in a range of imaginative ways, resisted the status quo in Wales, England and beyond during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Written by an acclaimed biographical historian, the essays not only challenge expectations about how women’s lives were lived in the last two centuries, they also explore different ways of approaching biographical writing and understanding, as well as raising issues of gender and nationality.
From the pioneer doctor and champion of progressive causes, Frances Hoggan, to the irrepressible twentieth-century novelist Menna Gallie, these women spoke out for what they believed in, and sometimes they paid the price. Although proud of their Welsh identity, they articulated it in a variety of ways, and each spent most of their adult lives outside Wales. They became familiar, and often controversial voices, on the page and platform in London, Oxford, Northern Ireland and internationally. Lady Rhondda and Edith Picton-Turbervill championed women’s equality at the centre of power in Westminster, whilst Myvanwy and Olwen Rhŷs saw education as the key to change. Women’s suffrage played a prominent part in the lives of these women and was especially central to Margaret Wynne Nevinson’s thinking, writing and actions.
The intelligence, determination, and grit of these women are revealed through their stirring stories. Taken together, the essays critically investigate the challenges, setbacks and hard-won achievements of feisty women who rocked the boat over a period of 150 years.
Angela V. John is a historian and biographer who has published extensively on women’s and gender history in Britain. She held the chair in History at the University of Greenwich and is now an honorary professor at Swansea University. She edited Our Mothers’ Land, a pioneering collection of essays on Welsh women’s history, and Unequal Opportunities, a volume about women’s employment opportunities in England between 1800 and 1918. She co-edited (with Claire Eustance) The Men’s Share? which examined male support for women’s suffrage and has published the life of Lady Charlotte Guest (with Revel Guest), as well as biographies of Elizabeth Robins, Henry Nevinson, Evelyn Sharp and Lady Rhondda. Her most recent book, is about her hometown and entitled The Actors' Crucible: Port Talbot and the Making of Burton, Hopkins, Sheen and All the Others.