Here are 4 more women who were either entirely ignored in the past, or were acknowledged for just part of their life’s work. Blog selected from a new ebook by guest blogger Christine Hobson
Anne Damer – one of the first British women sculptors and the niece of Horace Walpole. The idea of a ‘woman of quality’ taking up a hammer and chisel and wearing trousers for work like a man, brought her a lot of criticism. She was publicly mocked in a cartoon that depicting her chiselling the behind of a statue of Apollo. She also wrote a popular romantic novel ‘Belmour’ with characters said to resemble Walpole and some of her friends. She met Napoleon in France and presented him with busts she had sculpted of two of her friends: Lord Nelson, and Charles James Fox, the Whig politician.
Elizabeth Kent (known as Bess) – is usually only remembered as the sister of Marianne Kent, the wife of author Leigh Hunt, but Bess was a skilled and knowledgeable horticulturalist and writer. Part of the ‘Cockney School’ of writers, she had bouts of bad temper, probably made worse by her addiction to opium, and her much-discussed relationship with Leigh Hunt. She produced two published books anonymously ‘Flora Domestica or the Portable Flower Garden’ about potted plants (one of the first on the subject), which also included poems, and ‘Sylvan Sketches’, about shrubs and trees.
She wrote two children’s books, a book about birds and another about British wild flowers, but some of these have been lost or possibly never published. She also wrote articles in magazines about plants and gardens, aimed at educating and interesting young people in the new hobby of gardening and teaching them about botany.
Amelia B Edwards – Known as an Egyptologist, was also a talented organist, singer, composer, artist and writer of 8 romantic novels which became best sellers. She achieved great success also in writing travelogues which she illustrated herself. She loved to travel in Europe and on visiting Egypt became obsessed by the history and artefacts of the region, dropping all her other interests. She set about teaching herself the subject and learnt to write and interpret hieroglyphics, eventually becoming an expert on Ancient Egypt and setting up what is now the Egypt Exploration Society.
Hilda Leyel – Known as a herbalist and writer of many books on cookery and related subjects, she spent most of her life raising large amounts of money for charity. Having been an actress as a young woman as well as a society hostess, she used her celebrity contacts to gather together amazingly elaborate and expensive prizes for the ‘Golden Ballots’ she devised at the beginning of the twentieth century. Some of the money raised funded over half the houses and much of the infrastructure for a new settlement (Westfield Village) to house local war disabled and veterans. Despite being prosecuted and fined for running national charity lotteries, which were illegal at that time, she persisted until they were brought within the law.
Part one of the blog- four audacious women is here .
Audacious Women in a Man’s World by Christine Hobson
99p/ $1.43 for some excellent research and writing.