Help Bring Suffragettes’ Voices to Life: Call for Readers on 26/05/2018 and 27/05/2018

Dear all,

As part of our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Event, we are recruiting volunteers to read selected letters written by Suffrage campaigners and some of their relatives. We need 6 readers per day. Ideally we are hoping to find two male voices and four female voices per day, but we’ll attribute roles on a first come first served basis. You are welcome to come on Saturday or Sunday only, although we’d love it if you could spend the whole weekend with us. We’ll send you the texts in advance of the event. It goes without saying that no previous experience is needed. All you’ll need is:

  • Be free from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday 26/05 and/or Sunday 27/05
  • That’s it!

Come join us!

7JCC-O-2-108b
Christabel Pankhurst, 1909, from the Women’s Library ‘s Suffrage Collection (7JCC/O/2/108b, Licence)

Just email us at transatlantic.women@gmail.com specifying which day(s) you can attend and come along to the Glasgow’s People Palace Museum. Transcripts of the letters will be provided.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The TLW Team.

Advertisements

“Out of the Shadows”: Forgotten Transatlantic Women Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday 29thMay, 1.30pm, The Kelvin Hall seminar room, free.

It’s a beautiful day in Glasgow, we hope that all our followers have had a chance to get out in the sunshine. Here at TLW HQ the weather has been getting us excited for conference season, and so today we bring you a short post about the TLW Roundtable discussion which we will be hosting at the Glasgow University College of Arts PG Conference on Tuesday the 29thMay.

Laura will be introducing our roundtable discussion by speaking about why she started the Transatlantic Literary Women series. She will also be looking at two forgotten literary women who were overshadowed by male partners or family members: Zelda Fitzgerald and Alice James, as well as Edith Wharton. Sarah will be focusing on Polish-born, Jewish-American writer, Anzia Yezierska and Nella Larsen. She will also exploring how BAME women scholars have recovered forgotten writing, and how essential it is for universities to include diverse curricula. Finally, Saskia will be covering Brazillian writer, Clarice Lispector and African American author, documentary-maker and social activist Toni Cade Bambara.

In addition to the TLW Roundtable, the conference will be hosting a range of excellent keynote speakers and workshops. On Tuesday 29th Dr. Michelle Keown, Senior Lecturer in English Literature (University of Edinburgh), will be kicking off the conference with her keynote address. Wednesday 30thwill see Glasgow University’s own Dr. Benjamin White start the day with his keynote talk ‘Animals in displacement,’ and workshops on Sign Language and Creative Writing. The conference also has a wide and diverse range of papers being presented by an array of panellists over the course of the two days.

We look forward to seeing you all at the roundtable on the 29th, and to the fascinating discussions that will ensue from exploring the achievements of these forgotten women writers.

You can register for the event here (registrations closes on the 17th May), and also head over to the Connections Conference website to see the full programme that the committee have lined up for us, it looks like a great couple of days!

Kari

 

 

 

 

Suffragette Spotlight: Annie Kenney

Ahead of our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Celebration at the People’s Palace Museum (26th and 27th May 1-4pm), the TLW team have been posting weekly blogs about inspiring women who fought for suffrage. Today’s blog focuses on Annie Kenney.

GetImage.ashx

 

“As I was one of the leading actors in the first play, so I was one of the leading actors in the last.”
— Annie Kenney, Memories of a Militant

Kenney was born in 1879 to a working-class family near Oldham, and Marie Roberts describes her as “the most readily identifiable representative of working-class women” in the Women’s Social and Political Union (xi). One of eleven children, Kenney went to work in a local cotton-mill when she was ten years-old. Starting out as a ‘half-timer,’ she would work in the morning before going to school in the afternoon. At thirteen years-old she switched to full-time employment in the mill, undertaking shifts as long as twelve hours. It was in this role as a weaver’s assistant that Kenney had one of her fingers torn off.

Kenney continued to work in the mill for 15 years, during which time she helped fellow workers to read, and take an interest in literature. She became involved in the trade union movement, and throughout her life was heavily influenced by Robert Blatchford, the English campaigner and journalist who launched an affordable weekly socialist newspaper called The Clarion.

In 1905, as a member of the Oldham Clarion Vocal Club, Kenney heard Christabel Pankhurst speak. This inspired her to join the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by the Pankhurst family in 1903. In the same year that Kenney joined the WSPU she attended a Liberal rally in Manchester with Christabel, where they repeatedly interrupted Sir Edward Grey to question whether women would be given the right to vote. The two women were removed and later imprisoned for the alleged assault of the police officers who ejected them from the rally. Kenney was imprisoned for three days, the first of thirteen prison sentences throughout her life. In 1913 she was sentenced to a lengthy 18-months which was temporarily interrupted by her release under the Cat and Mouse Act.

Christabel Pankhurst fled to Paris in 1912 to avoid imprisonment, and Kenney was placed in charge of the WSPU in her absence, demonstrating the high degree of influence which she held in the organisation. When the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918 it granted women over the age of 30 the right to vote if they passed certain property and education requirements. After partial suffrage had been won, Kenney dropped out of political life. She married and gave birth to her son in 1923, and published her autobiography the following year.

Many feel that Kenney’s efforts in the fight for the vote have been “undeservedly neglected,” (Roberts, xv) and this often relates to a further belief held by some that working-class efforts for women’s suffrage have also been overlooked. Krista Cowman voices this in her 2018 article for the New Statesman, stating that “When women finally got the vote, the stories of many working class suffragettes were quickly forgotten. Few of them had the time or contacts needed to publish autobiographies and most could not afford to travel to London for the meetings of the Suffragette Fellowship, a militant old girls’ association that tried to preserve their campaign’s history. As we celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act that gave votes to at least some British women in February 1918, we should remind ourselves of the sacrifices made by many ordinary and anonymous women, who risked their livelihoods and reputations alongside their more affluent companions in the fight for equality and citizenship.”

In exploring the various women to cover for the Suffragette Spotlight series, Kenney seemed a particularly fitting figure as she is an inspirational woman both within and without the context of female suffrage. For a generation of young women today, many of whom have experienced a setback in the age that they can hope to reach traditional life-milestones such as starting a career, a family, or buying property, Kenney is an example of someone who refused to let her age, class, gender, or finances, restrict her aspirations and achievements in life. She became a member of the WSPU when she was in her mid–twenties; arguably her greatest life achievement of helping win women’s suffrage was reached when she was in her late thirties, and she was in her early forties before she married and started a family. Despite having to start work at only ten years-old, she succeeded in educating herself through self-study and correspondence courses – encouraging fellow working-class women to do the same – and reached leadership status in the predominantly middle-class led organisation of the WSPU. She experienced the physical consequences of the dangerous working-conditions in Britain in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, but also helped ensure that future generations would have the opportunity to change these conditions by voting for their chosen representatives in government. Kenney exists as both a historical hero who was willing to sacrifice a great deal for a cause she believed in, but also as a rousing reminder that if a woman from her humble background could achieve so much, over a century ago, women today need not let their own goals be limited by the societal expectations which are often imposed on them.

Keep an eye on our website for more blogs like this one, or follow us on Twitter @transatlanticladies using the hashtag #TLWsuffrage. And if you want to learn more about ground-breaking suffragettes, make your own rosettes, and learn about women and the vote, join us at the People’s Palace for an afternoon of crafts, talks, and a look at Glasgow’s suffrage collections!

Kari
References and further reading

Kenney, Annie. Memories of a Militant. London, Edward Arnold & Co., 1924.

Roberts, Marie, and Tamae Mizuta. Perspectives on the History of British Feminism. Routledge/Thoemmes, London, 1994.

Cowman, Krista. “Let’s not forget the working class suffragettes” in New Statesman, 6 February 2018.

Information on Kenney can also obtained from the Working Class Movement Library.

The British Newspaper Archive gives access to articles which mention Kenney.

The Annie Kenney Project is an ongoing campaign to have a statue of Kenney erected in Oldham town square.

Picture courtesy of LSE Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day competition winner

Happy International Women’s Day from the TLW team!

As you all know, in honour of International Women’s Day, we held a guest blog competition. We are very pleased to announce that the competition winner is Deborah Molloy, with her fascinating and informative piece on Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.  Thank you Deborah, for your wonderful contribution to the blog.

Here is a quick update on the latest TLW news and events:

  • On Saturday 26th – Sunday 27th May we will be collaborating with the People’s Palace Glasgow to hold a Women’s Partial Suffrage Centenary Celebration. You can find out more about this exciting event here.
  • The team are looking forward to hosting a Roundtable discussion on partial suffrage at Glasgow University College of Arts Postgraduate Conference on the 29th. You can keep up to date with the latest from the conference on their WordPress, and if you would like to submit a paper then you still have a day to get your abstracts in!
  • We will be hosting a TLW film screening on Wednesday the 18th of April at the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, Glasgow University. There will be more details of this announced over the next week, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Our website has been given a small re-vamp, so you can now browse our past events, and our brand new Press and Reviews page which has links to event reviews as well as this recent article from The Skinny, which featured our book club.

Whether you are doing something special to mark IWD 2018, or quietly contemplating the achievements of women while you are in work, we hope you all have a great day. And if you ask us, there’s no better way to celebrate than by reading Deborah’s winning guest-blog . . . enjoy!

Reflections on Margaret Atwood, Deborah Molloy

I came across the works of Margaret Atwood when I was studying my A levels, long before her current vogue following the success of the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.  My wonderful teacher chose not to give us that particularly bleak dystopian vision to study, but rather introduced us to her beautiful poetry with “Woman Skating”.  Atwood is probably more famous as a novelist but she has also published seventeen books of poetry, including this unforgettable piece which encapsulates the vision of her mother skating on a frozen Toronto lake.

“On the ice a woman skating,

jacket sudden

red against the white,

concentrating on moving

in perfect circles.”

Intrigued by the visual quality of her poetry, and the evident high esteem of my teacher, I went on to discover her fiction for myself, starting with The Edible Woman.  I had always been an avid reader, and had engaged with a wide range of genres, but this was the first feminist text I had discovered.  I was instantly hooked on her sly satire of the ‘perfect’ wife and the pressures put upon young women to conform in 1950s Canada.  She has a gift for humour, using it to leaven the bitterness of her subject matter, allowing her to highlight the cannibalistic nature of gender relationships through the happy medium of cake.

Margaret Atwood was the first author I discovered to talk about life in the raw, the struggle of being a woman in our society and the survival skills necessary to maintain a female sense of self.  She is a mistress of genre, and can meld historical memoir with science fiction without missing a beat.  Her concern for the environment is evident in much of her work, the futuristic Oryx and Crake trilogy sometimes feels uncomfortably close to coming true with its genetically modified fast food, cybercriminals and all-powerful pharmaceuticals conspiring to engineer the end of the world.  With her talent for capturing the essence of truth, if anyone ever offers you ChickieNobs for dinner then be very afraid.

I was fortunate enough to attend a talk she gave at the Edinburgh International Book Festival a few years ago, speaking with wit and urgency as she read from her then new novel about memory, ageing and our relationship with the past, The Blind Assassin, in which a grandmother tells her life story to her granddaughter, with all the twists and turns we have come to expect from an Atwood novel.   She recently became the inaugural contributor to the Future Library[1], committing an unpublished piece to a cultural time capsule to be printed in a hundred years’ time.  My great grandchildren will have the opportunity to discover this new Atwood treasure, like true time travellers, in 2114 – how I envy them!

Margaret Atwood is my contemporary literary heroine and deserves to be recognised for being a brave female voice for over fifty years.

“A word after a word

After a word is power.”  Spelling, Margaret Atwood

[1] More information about the Future Library Project is available here

 

Deborah Molloy is based in Whitstable, and currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Glasgow, focusing on female mental illness in New York fiction.

 

Happy New Year from TLW!

The TLW team would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! 2017 was a fantastic year for us, and we’d like to thank all of our wonderful followers for coming to our events and helping to make the series what it is! We can’t wait to share what 2018 has in store for TLW, so keep your eyes peeled as we tweet (@atlantlitwomen) and blog about events in the coming months. Expect plenty of interesting talks, book clubs, guest blogs, and much more. The team is particularly looking forward to sharing our series of blogs on overlooked texts by transatlantic women, as well as details of a follow-up online #TLWBookChat. Look out for the first of these posts in the next week!

The 2018 series kicks off with another instalment of our book club, and the chosen novel was voted for by you! It looked like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper was going to win our Twitter poll, but at the very last minute Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God took the lead. We hope you will join us to talk about Hurston’s novel on Tuesday 16th January at 5.15pm in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club. As with all our events, the book club is free and open to all. Snacks and refreshments will be provided, so just bring along your copy of the book and enjoy the evening.

Other dates for the TLW diaries: Wednesday 21 February, 5.15. We’re delighted that Gaby Fletcher (National University of Ireland, Galway) will be joining us to talk about Fluffy Ruffles. Intrigued? You will be! Watch this space for more details…

And finally, competition time! The start of 2018 has left us excited for International Women’s Day on Thursday 8th of March, so we decided to make this the theme of our next writing competition. We invite submissions in the form of a blog entry about the woman that you would like to recognise on International Women’s day, telling us why you feel they should be recognised. We welcome pieces on any literary women. This could be your favourite novelist, or perhaps you have a journalist, songwriter, poet, or even a film and television writer who you would like to write about? We can’t wait to hear about the women who have influenced you, and the winning entries will not only be published on our website as a guest blog, but will also win some great prizes! Please submit entries of up to 500 words to us at: transatlantic.women@gmail.com by midnight on Friday 2nd March, providing your name and where you are based.

We can’t wait to see you all at our 2018 events, and we wish you a great start to the year!

Kari, on behalf of the TLW team.

The last podcast episode is here!

Dear all,

How are you? Today, we bring good and bad news: our latest podcast episode, featuring Carly Brown’s amazing performance, is out today! This means that our series comes to an end… It was a pleasure to rediscover the great talks, interviews, and workshops recorded at the Glasgow Women’s Library back in June. We hope you enjoy this episode:

Our Edith Wharton writing competition is now over and we look forward to revealing the winning entries on Wednesday, at the Edith Wharton Workshop. Hope to see you there!

Best wishes,

The TLW Team.

Book Club – Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

Tuesday 17 October, 17.15-19.00, Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, Gilbert Scott Building, University Avenue, Glasgow University.

Plath 1.jpg

The book club is back! Join us for a fun, informal, discussion on Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Whether you’re new to Plath, study her, or are a devoted fan, you’re welcome to chat about her semi-autobiographical novel with us. In true TLW style, free refreshments and snacks will be provided!

Remember to collect your free copies of the book at the launch of TLW Season 2, on Tuesday the 19th of September. You can find more details about the launch here.

Sylvia Plath is perhaps one of the most famous transatlantic women we’ve looked at in the series so far. Born in Boston to German parents in 1932, Plath was raised in the US and moved to England to study at Cambridge University. She published The Colossus and Other Poems, and The Bell Jar during her lifetime, married the poet Ted Hughes, and lived in England until her death in 1963. Several collections of her works have been published posthumously, including the celebrated poetry collection Ariel.

Belljarfirstedition.jpg

The Bell Jar was first published under Plath’s pseudonym, Victoria Lucas.

This is a pretty big year for Plath fans and scholars. A few months ago, it was announced that two previously unknown poems by Plath were discovered in her notebooks, around 50 years after they were originally written: ‘To a Refractory Santa Claus’, and ‘Megrims’. The academics who discovered these, Gail Crowther and Peter K. Steinberg, also found two previously unseen photos of her. For more about these discoveries check out this article from The Guardian. What’s more, this autumn sees the much anticipated first publication of The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1 (Faber and Faber). These collected letters are bound to offer fresh insight into Plath’s world. What better way to celebrate this transatlantic writer than by reading and discussing her work?

This is a relaxed, informal evening. You can drop in and out whenever suits you. The venue may be called the ‘postgraduate club’, but the event is open to all! In the meantime, here’s a link to a Plath-inspired poem you might remember from last year’s creative writing event at the Scottish Writer’s Centre, poet Maria Sledmere’s ‘Sylvia’.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our other events, including our Edith Wharton workshop, more to details to come… If you have any questions just email us at transatlantic.women@gmail.com or Tweet them to @atlantlitwomen. See you there!

By Saskia McCracken