mountaineering trailblazer

A trailblazer in the very literal sense of the word, Lizzie Le Blond was one of the first generations of women to take part in the sport of mountaineering, breaking societal rules to do so. Born Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed, the only child of Captain and Mrs Hawkins-Whitshed of Killincarrick House in Greystones, County Wicklow, she inherited the family estate at the age of 11 after her father’s death in 1871. She married Colonel Frederick Burnaby, a soldier, adventurer and author, in 1879. Shortly after the wedding,…Continue Reading “History’s Rebel Girls – Lizzie Le Blond”

Historian and activist Gerda Lerner can be credited with making women’s and gender history a recognised research subject. Lerner said, when she started working on women’s history in the 1960’s, the field did not exist. It was not a recognised area of research, and according to Lerner, people didn’t think women had a history worth knowing. Her professors thought she was wasting her talents pursuing an exotic specialty. ‘Men develop ideas and systems of explanation by absorbing past knowledge and critiquing and superseding it. Women,…Continue Reading “History’s Rebel Girls – Gerda Lerner”

fraulein doktor mademoiselle docteur

Fräulein Doktor or Mademoiselle Docteur was the codename for a female spy who acted on behalf of the German military high command during the First World War. Her real name was Elsbeth (Elisabeth) Schragmüller. She was born in 1887 into an affluent family, which afforded her a good education. Schragmüller was one of the first generation of German women to obtain a university degree. She graduated with a PhD in Political Science from the university of Freiburg in 1913. With the outbreak of the First…Continue Reading “History’s Rebel Girls – Fräulein Doktor”

martha gellhorn

Journalist and writer Martha Gellhorn has been hailed as one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century. During her long career, Gellhorn covered almost all major conflicts of the era, from the Spanish Civil War to World War II, from Vietnam to the US invasion of Panama. Born in 1909 in St. Louis Missouri, Gellhorn was raised by liberal parents who helped to found a co-educational school based on equal treatment of students regardless of their gender. Her mother Edna was a suffragette…Continue Reading “History’s Rebel Girls – Martha Gellhorn”

suze randall

Model, photographer and director Suze Randall was one of the first women behind the lens in the porn and adult entertainment industry. As the first female staff photographer for Playboy and Hustler, she was a trailblazer in a male dominated field. Born in Worcester, England in 1946, Suze considered herself a bit of a tomboy and says ‘she was shy as a girl but quite good as a boy.’ Her parents encouraged her to flaunt authority, no doubt an attitude that helped her in her…Continue Reading “History’s Rebel Girls – Suze Randall”

sheehy skeffington

Irish suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington (1877-1946) was at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights as equal citizens of Ireland. As a republican, Sheehy Skeffington also fought for an independent Ireland, but always related this struggle to how it would impact on women. In 1909 she was quoted saying ‘Until the women of Ireland are free, the men will not achieve emancipation.‘ Historian and biographer of Sheehy Skeffington, Margaret Ward, stated that Hanna Sheehy Skeffington ‘challenged both the imperial connection with Britain and the…Continue Reading “History’s rebel girls – Hanna Sheehy Skeffington”

angela davis

As a child growing up in the GDR I was quite familiar with the name Angela Davis. Davis, a member of the Communist Party USA was frequently invited by East German officials and perfectly suited the anti-imperialist rhetoric of the state. Back then though, I didn’t really know who Angela Davis, the woman with the impressive Afro, was. Born in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis experienced segregation first hand. This experience undoubtedly influenced her subsequent political activism, which has been aimed at fighting political repression,…Continue Reading “History’s rebel girls – Angela Davis”

shirin neshat iranian art

Shirin Neshat, born in Iran in 1957 and now living and working in the United States, is a visual artist (video and photography) and filmmaker. Her work to date has focussed on contemporary Islamic cultures and identities, primarily exploring the experience of being a woman in Islam. Her artistic approach aims at creating a dialogue which identifies and explores some of the negative and stereotypical characterisations of Muslims, particularly Muslim women. Neshat grew up in an Iranian household that was open to western ideas and…Continue Reading “History’s rebel girls – Shirin Neshat”

gerda taro

In today’s post I thought I’d try something a bit different and instead of talking about myself all the time, I’ll talk about an interesting woman from history. I’m hoping to make this a regular feature with posts about once a month or so introducing women, alive or dead, who have made a great contribution to society and have just been all round kickass ladies. Taking inspiration from the Bikini Kill song ‘Rebel Girl’, history’s rebel girls should serve as a reminder of how awesome…Continue Reading “History’s rebel girls – Gerda Taro”