The Emily Davison Memorial Project


The maquette (small model) of the proposed life-size sculpture of Emily Wilding Davison.

A group of Epsom residents are leading a campaign to install a memorial to the suffragette and former Royal Holloway student Emily Wilding Davison, who died after running out in front of the King’s horse during the 1913 Epsom Derby.

Emily is arguably one of the most famous suffragettes after Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters because of her actions that day. The incident was captured on the newly invented technology of the time, the moving image, and viewed by millions nationally and internationally. Emily became a controversial figure and there was much debate about her intentions, which were interpreted by many at the time as suicidal. These persisted until recently, when new evidence came to light suggesting she was attempting to attach a suffragette banner to the horse’s bridle as it passed the Royal Box, in order to highlight the campaign for votes for women to the King.

However, Emily was so much more than what happened that fateful day. Born in Blackheath, London on 11 October 1872, but raised in Morpeth, Northumberland, Emily was intelligent and academically minded. She studied at both Royal Holloway College and Oxford University where she completed two degrees, despite the fact that women were not allowed to graduate. She subsequently became a teacher and a governess in order to earn a living, as her father had died and left her and her mother in financial hardship. She also had many other talents and interests, which included swimming, cycling, singing and writing.

During her campaign to secure women the vote, Emily was imprisoned a number of times. She went on hunger strike seven times and was subjected to force feeding no less than 49 times. Emily is also well known for boldly hiding in a broom cupboard overnight in the Houses of Parliament during the census, thus claiming her address as ‘Houses of Parliament’. There is now a plaque to commemorate this event on the cupboard door.

Residents in Epsom also want to commemorate Emily in the town where she lost her life on that fateful day, and so the Emily Davison Memorial Project has been formed with the aim of installing a life-size bronze statue of Emily sitting on a contemporary granite bench in the redeveloped Market Place in Epsom town centre.

The artist commissioned to make the statue is Surrey-based sculptor Christine Charlesworth, an elected member of the Society of Women Artists and the Royal Society of Sculptors. Christine has created many sculptures for individuals, local authorities and businesses and won a gold medal at the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show. Christine was an official artist with BT leading up to and including the 2012 Olympics with a selection of sports sculptures, and she created an action portrait of Paralympic basketball player Ade Adepitan for Jubilee Square, Woking.

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council and Surrey County Council are both behind the project, along with Emily’s family. All permissions have been granted and the fundraising campaign is in full swing; the Committee are almost halfway towards their £50,000 target. If you would like to donate to this important project to ensure Emily and all she did to secure women the vote is properly commemorated, please donate via the website. Donations of any size are welcome. There are also corporate sponsorship opportunities available, with companies or individuals donating £5,000 having their name engraved on the statue.

Sarah Dewing, Chair of the EDMP says. “It is time that Emily Wilding Davison is properly recognised for the part she played in bringing about the Governments’ decision to give some women the right to vote. It is due to her sacrifice and that of many others that women today have equal rights in law and opportunities to fulfil their potential that Emily’s generation could only dream of”.

To find out more, please visit, or the Emily Davison Memorial Project Facebook or Twitter page (@Emily Memorial). You can contact the Committee at

Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines: Women Engineers after 1919

heald 1

Eleanor Shelley-Rolls (1872–1961), a founding member of WES

On 20 February 2019, the Bedford Centre will be hosting a panel discussion on the history of women in engineering and we are delighted to be welcoming Henrietta Heald as one of our speakers. Henrietta is the author of the forthcoming Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines which tells the story of the foundation the Women’s Engineering Society in 1919. To mark the society’s centenary in 2019, copies of the book will be available in print from September. As a taster, here Henrietta tells us about the book and what inspired her to write it. 

This book began as the story of one intriguing, enigmatic and inspirational character: Rachel Parsons—daughter of Sir Charles Parsons, an inventive genius, and granddaughter of William Parsons, an Irish earl who in the 1840s built the largest telescope ever seen.  Rachel and her mother, Katharine, were the pioneering founders of the Women’s Engineering Society, of which Rachel became the first president.  During her presidency, Rachel met Caroline Haslett, an equally extraordinary woman of a very different kind. From a strict Victorian lower-middle-class background, Caroline went on to become the pre-eminent female professional of her age and mistress of the great new power of the 20th century: electricity.

heald 2

Rachel Parsons (1885-1956)

The idea of exploring the parallel lives of these two largely forgotten women was irresistible. What I hadn’t anticipated was the number of other amazing individuals who would clamour to get into the book because, as I found, the Women’s Engineering Society was a magnet for many ambitious and intellectual women in the 1920s and 1930s who sought to express themselves and earn a living outside writing or the arts.

At the same time, as well as securing the vote and the right to stand for Parliament, women were making progress in law, medicine and other areas.  However, those with technical, mathematical or scientific interests probably had a steeper uphill struggle. The Women’s Engineering Society and, later, the Electrical Association for Women, drew them together in a common purpose, opened new opportunities, and encouraged them to make alliances across boundaries of wealth, politics and class.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, of course. In a forerunner of today’s familiar assassination by social media, women who stepped outside the boundaries of ‘normal’ female behaviour were often subjected to ridicule and suspicion.  They reacted by ignoring such treatment or asserting their independence in diverse ways, with many remaining single or having same-sex relationships.

heald 3

Caroline Haslett (1895-1957), IET Archives

As now, engineering covered a broad range of disciplines but in 1919 it brought together those women who had contributed to industrial production and related activities during the war and felt angry and disappointed at being, as some put it, ‘thrown on the scrapheap’ afterwards. Some were trained in particular areas, others absorbed skills along the way, but all had had their eyes opened to the advantages of social and economic liberation.

Equal pay was a crucial goal and in the wartime munitions factories the positive effects of supporting female workers in all aspects of life had become clear. Special provisions were made for pregnant women and mothers of young children, including subsidised childcare schemes. Training and education for women had been implemented on an unprecedented scale, and they had shown that they could excel in many areas. Taken together, these elements might have been seen to prefigure a feminist utopia—until the war ended, when it all started to go badly wrong.

The magnificent women in my book called themselves engineers, but their revolutionary machines were more than mechanical objects such as cars and boats and planes. Through their achievements at work and their campaigns to promote women’s rights, they prepared the ground for a social revolution that would put fair and equal treatment of the sexes firmly on the political agenda. It amounted to a vibrant ‘wave’ of feminism that, until now, has largely eluded the attention of historians.

Henrietta Heald is the author of William Armstrong, Magician of the North, a book about the great Victorian industrialist who built Cragside in Northumberland, the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. The book was shortlisted for two literary prizes.  To get a 10% discount on your pre-ordered copy of her new book, Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines, please visit and use the code WIE10.

To find out more about the history of women in engineering and the current work WES is undertaking to promote gender diversity and inclusivity, please join us in the Shilling Auditorium at 6:30 on 20 February 2019.  Please register for free tickets here.



Magnificent Women

A Panel Discussion on the First Female Engineers

Wednesday 20 February 2019, 6.00-7.30pm, Shilling Auditorium, Royal Holloway


After being side-lined after undertaking crucial engineering and technical
roles during the First World War, in 1919 a group of pioneering women
engineers banded together to found the Women’s Engineering Society
(WES). The society continues today to promote gender diversity and
inclusivity in engineering.

To celebrate the centenary of WES and 100 years of women engineers, the
Bedford Centre for the History of Women and Gender is delighted to present a
panel of commentators looking back at the historic roles of female
engineers, and to welcome Henrietta Heald, author of the forthcoming
Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines on the founders of the
Women’s Engineering Society; Nina Baker, engineering historian on the first
female electrical engineers; Jane Robinson, historian and author of Hearts
and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won
the Vote and a forthcoming title on the opening of the traditional professions
to women in 1919 with the passing of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act;
and Elizabeth Donnelly, the CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society.

David Howard, Founding Head of Royal Holloway’s Electronic Engineering
Department, will introduce the pioneering work of Beatrice Shilling in the
new Shilling Building named after her. There will be time for networking
over refreshments and a chance to sign up to WES so do please join us for
what promises to be an engaging discussion of how the past can help shape
the future of women in engineering.

To register for free tickets please visit:

For more information email Katie Broomfield:

Women’s Rights and Suffrage from 1866 to Today: New Online Course


Dr Mari Takayanagi, senior parliamentary archivist, discusses the Representation of the People Act with Citizens project officer Claire Kennan

The centenary of the Representation of the People Act in February this year, which gave some women the vote for the first time, has provided us with a great opportunity to look back at women’s struggle for rights and equality. Over the course of this year, these acts have been commemorated at local, regional and national levels. There have been exhibitions, lectures, and statues to celebrate the tireless work of women suffrage campaigners.

Royal Holloway has played its part too, delivering its own successful programme of events to celebrate the centenary and its own connections. The Bedford Centre’s summer conference entitled, Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives, formed part of the College’s activity and provided a welcoming forum for the latest academic thinking and research. However, as the centenary year draws to a close, opportunities to engage with and learn about the suffrage campaign remain.

On Monday 12th November, Royal Holloway’s free online course ‘Beyond the Ballot’ relaunches on FutureLearn, following its successful first run in February. Developed in partnership with UK Parliament, and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the course examines the history of women’s rights and suffrage from 1866 to today.

Over four weeks the course places the women’s suffrage campaign into the broader context of the fight for equality, both before the vote was granted and after it was partially secured in 1918. But the story doesn’t stop there! The course continues the narrative right up to the present day, finishing by asking current female MPs for their views on remaining barriers to equality.

We look beyond the familiar story of the Pankhursts and the militant campaign of the Suffragettes to give due attention to the peaceful, law-abiding efforts of the Suffragists and some of the forgotten organisations like the Actresses’ Franchise League. By the end of the course we hope that every learner will know their suffragist from a suffragette.

Learners will also get a chance to consider the position of the suffragettes within popular consciousness and see how this memory has been constructed. The subject of suffragette militancy is also covered, and we allow our learners to draw their own conclusions as to whether it could be classed as terrorism. And as Dr Fern Riddell reminds us: ‘we have to see our history in its totality…. a half-history serves no one.’

Beyond the Ballot isn’t your standard university course, it is a free open online course on the Futurlearn platform. As such it is designed to be accessible to everyone and we’ve taken steps to make the content as engaging as possible through documentary style interviews with experts, the chance to look at original sources, and fun features like polls and quizzes.

Participants can learn with experts in their field, including our very own Dr Stella Moss and Dr Alex Windscheffel and archivists, academics and curators from Parliament, The National Archives, and The Women’s Library Collection at the London School of Economics. It also gives learners the chance to explore unique documents and artefacts central to the story of women’s suffrage. The course is packed with links to extra content allowing learners to explore and research the topic further.

We hope the course will inspire people to find out more about women’s history, whether that’s taking another short course, visiting their local museum or archive, or attending one of the many fantastic events or exhibitions which are taking place across the country.

Finally, from the controversy over the pay gap to the #MeToo movement it’s clear from today’s headlines that women’s rights are a still a live issue. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the women’s suffrage movement or women’s fight for equality more broadly, please sign-up to ‘Beyond the Ballot’ and help contribute to this ongoing discussion.

Steven Franklin is a Citizens Project Officer. The Citizens project is led by Royal Holloway, University of London, and charts the history of liberty, protest and reform from Magna Carta to the Suffragettes and beyond.



Centenary of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act: Celebrating the First Female MP, Constance Markievicz

Statue of Countess Constance Markievicz in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

This month marks the centenary of the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act. One significant outcome of the Act was the opportunity it opened to women over the age of 21 to stand for election as a Member of Parliament (MP). The honour of the first female MP goes to Irish revolutionary Constance Markievicz (1868-1927).

The eldest of five children, Constance hailed from an upper-class Irish Protestant family. She spent her childhood at Lissadell House in County Sligo and studied art in both London and Paris. In Paris, Constance immersed herself in the burgeoning avant-garde culture, which exposed her to ideas and politics that challenged traditional norms. It was also in Paris, at Académie Julian, where she met Count Casimir Dunin Markievicz, whom she married in 1900.

Soon after marriage, the couple moved to Dublin and became prominent participants in the city’s cultural scene. Constance showed a particular interest in the Irish revival occurring in Dublin as well as Irish nationalism. In 1908, she joined Sinn Féin and Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) and also helped to found Ireland’s first women’s nationalist journal Bean na hÉireann (Women of Ireland).

In 1909, Constance amicably separated from her husband. Afterwards, she continued to nurture her interest in Irish nationalism. By 1911, she had become an executive member of both Sinn Féin and the Daughters of Ireland, and also had her first brush with the law when protesting George V’s visit to Dublin, resulting in her arrest. During the First World War she further developed her political activism by opposing Irish participation in the allied war effort and co-founding the Irish Neutrality League in 1914.

In 1916, Constance took part in the Easter Rising campaign that called for an end to British rule in Ireland. She was subsequently arrested along with other known participants by the British government and was sentenced to death. However, her sentence was reduced to penal servitude for life because she was a woman. She only served fourteen months of this sentence before being released in the June 1917 amnesty prior to the start of the Irish Convention.

Constance continued to advocate for Irish independence after her release from prison. In 1918, she was arrested again along with fellow Sinn Féin members for her participation in an alleged plot with the German enemy – an act of treason. The plot was purported to include the transfer of money to purchase German bonds to assist in another rebellion in Ireland.

In the 1918 general election, Constance campaigned as a Sinn Féin candidate from her cell in London’s Holloway prison. She ended up winning the Dublin St Patrick division seat and became the first woman elected to the British parliament. Yet, despite this significant victory, she did not take her seat in the House of Commons and instead joined other Sinn Féin MPs in refusing to acknowledge the authority of the British government.

Constance remained politically active until her death of peritonitis at Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital in Dublin in July 1927. One hundred years after her achievement of becoming the first female MP, she is now honoured in a portrait at the House of Commons donated by the Irish parliament. During these centenary celebrations, we are reminded of her legacy and role in Anglo-Irish history.

By Erin Scheopner, a PhD student at Goldsmiths, University of London. A version of this blog post first appeared on the Citizens Project.

Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives Conference 13-14 June 2018

Wellesley group in Suffrage parade in Philadelphia ,1915
Suffrage Parade (© Trustees for Wellesley College). Students march for suffrage in Philadelphia (1915),  College Women Open Access Portal: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education

Calling all Researchers, Lecturers, School Teachers, Archivists, Curators, and Heritage Professionals with interests in education and suffrage!  As a result of generous funding from the History of Education Society, we have extended our Call For Papers deadline and are now able to offer student bursaries (see below for details).  We are also currently exploring options to help support individual or group presentations by Teachers.  So do get get writing and send your proposals to Conference Administrator by Monday 27th November.  Our conference website will be going live very soon, but if you have any questions or concerns please contact Alex, or Bedford Centre co-Director Nicola Phillips, we are happy to help.

We are also delighted to announce that our Keynote Speakers will be:

Eric Pumroy, Director of Special Collections & the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Centre for the History Of Women’s Education (Bryn Mawr, USA) and former Director Jennifer Redmond, (Maynooth University, Ireland) who will speak about education, suffrage and their work on the Seven Sisters’ College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education portal.

Kay Whitehead, Professor of Education, (Flinders University, Australia) who will give a presentation on transnational teacher education and suffrage in Australia and Britain.

As part of  a Royal Holloway college wide series of events to commemorate suffrage at Royal Holloway in 2018, the Bedford Centre for the History of Women  teamed up with Winchester’s Centre for the History of Women’s Education to organise this international, interdisciplinary conference exploring the links between education and suffrage campaigns and the roles of college women in them.  The idea grew out of the Bedford Centre’s new project to digitise Bedford and Royal Holloway college student archive documents relating to suffrage (so watch this space for more about this fascinating new material!), which will be launched at the conference. Which is why we also want to highlight the existence and educational uses of similar material, textual and digital collections around the world.

We are running the conference over 13-14th June to commemorate the funeral of Royal Holloway Alumna Emily Wilding Davison after whom our stunning new library, which opened this month has been named.  Fellow RHUL alumnae attended her funeral procession, including Rose Lamartine Yates who was the first guard of honour to Emily Wilding Davison’s coffin.  She is pictured below, having tea with friends in her college room.

Rose Lamartine Yates in Study

Rose Lamartine Yates (bottom left) with friends in her study at Royal Holloway c. 1900.    RHC PH/271/3  [Copyright Royal Holloway Archives]


Pioneers of women’s higher or further education in different countries both supported and distanced themselves from contemporary suffrage campaigns for a range of reasons. Women who had benefitted from a college education that had introduced them to ideas of equality, democracy and citizenship also joined both sides of the suffrage debate as evidenced in letters, diaries, newspaper reports and other ephemera. The debates took place within nations and on the international stage, and college women travelled extensively in their private and professional lives exchanging views through their correspondence and in their memories.

The conference will provide a forum for those involved in teaching and researching suffrage and the history of women’s education (in schools, HE and heritage institutions) to discuss new directions. We invite submissions in a range of formats by archivists, public historians, researchers, curators and teachers to explore and discuss the under-researched links between education and suffrage.  Presentations may draw on a range of sources as they relate to the intersection of education and suffrage, including the use and interpretation of digital archives and material sources for research or educational purposes.

Proposals of c. 300 words are welcome for 10 or 20 minute individual presentations, or for workshops, panels, symposia, or posters on the themes of (but not limited to):

College Women’s engagement with suffrage or anti-suffrage
Institutional attitudes and responses to suffrage
Alumnae networks, Associations and suffrage
College Women’s inter/trans-national suffrage connections

Oral histories of education and suffrage
School and College magazines
Public Histories of suffrage and education
Educational archives and suffrage
Memorialising suffrage and college heritage

Teaching and Learning
Citizenship, Education and Suffrage
Education and Suffrage in film, music, drama and fiction
Using and accessing digital archives of education and suffrage
Teaching suffrage beyond national boundaries
Creating innovative suffrage resources & activities

Student Bursaries:  To apply please send your 300 wd proposal, plus a 1 page CV and supporting letter from your Supervisor or Lecturer.

The conference organisers very much look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to Royal Holloway’s historic campus,

Dr Nicola Phillips and Dr Alex Windscheffel (Royal Holloway, University of London), Prof. Stephanie Spencer and Prof Joyce Goodman (University of Winchester)




‘Mary Toft’s Monstrous Births of 1726: Then and Now’


William Hogarth, ‘Cunucularii or the wise men of Godlimen in consultation’ (1726) Wellcome Library no. 17342i

The Annual Bedford Centre Lecture 2017

By Professor Karen Harvey, University of Sheffield

Thursday 2nd February, 6-8pm Moore Building Auditorium

at Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey

Click here to listen to a podcast of the lecture and view Karen slides

It is also available on our Podcast Resources page

In 1726 Mary Toft gave birth to seventeen rabbits or parts of rabbits in Godalming, Surrey. Toft had looked at the animals during her pregnancy and their image was imprinted on her foetus. Based on new research, Karen’s engaging presentation explores why so many contemporaries, including eminent male Physicians, believed in the hoax.  Many portrayed Toft as a devious woman who set out to hoodwink the doctors and make her fortune, yet this lecture offers other explanations for the extraordinary actions of Toft and her family.  It also explores the social, physical and emotional experiences Toft underwent in the contexts of the work of contemporary midwives, gynaecologists and reproductive medicine.

The Bedford Centre is particularly delighted to welcome back Karen Harvey, who is a Royal Holloway alumna and started her career as a student on the MA in Women’s and Gender History.

Karen is now a Professor of Cultural History at the University of Sheffield and her numerous publications include The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford University Press, 2012) which is Open Access and available to read online, and Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Bodies and Gender in English Erotic Culture (Cambridge University Press, January 2004).  Karen works on material culture and is committed to the public understanding of History and the past. She has been Academic in Residence at Bank Street Arts, in Sheffield, since 2012.

This engaging public lecture is free (no booking required) and everyone is  warmly invited to to join us for a wine reception afterwards.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Celebrating the past to shape the future of women in law

“Get thee behind me (Mrs) Satan!”  A caricature of American suffragist and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull by Thomas Nast, published in Harpers’ Weekly (February, 1872)    [Wikimedia Commons]

Women’s history has always been ‘political’ but following the US Presidential election it has taken on a new significance, as campaigners for Hillary Clinton revived memories of American suffragists and  the media sought comparisons with previous female presidential candidates.  Former lawyer Katie Broomfield teamed up with fellow Public History MA student Emily Petretta to write this post about the effect the US election result had on them and a conference run by the First 100 Years campaign, which aims to promote gender equality by commemorating inspirational female lawyers.


Waking to a cold, rainy, November morning last week, many of us were hoping to hear that America had elected its first female president and despite losing, former lawyer Hillary Clinton certainly came closer than any woman before her.   She was not, however, the first woman to run for president nor was she the first woman to seek selection as the Democratic Party’s nominee.  Those honours fall to Victoria Woodhull, who announced her intention to run for president in the New York Herald in April 1870; and to the first black congresswoman  Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 also became the first woman to contend (albeit unsuccessfully) for the Democratic Party’s nomination.  Unsurprisingly, at a time when women were still denied the vote, in both Britain and America, Victoria Woodhull also failed to win the nomination of any major party.  A prominent women’s rights campaigner and advocate of Free Love,  she was known as Wicked Woodhull and spent election day in prison after having been arrested under the Comstock Laws for sending ‘obscene’ letters.  Hillary Clinton faced similar media attacks and, following accusations that she should be in jail for her use of a private email server, was dubbed Crooked Hillary by supporters of Donald Trump.  Many commentators have viewed these as misogynistic,  and speaking in 1982, Shirley Chisholm was clear that she ‘met more discrimination as a woman than for being black’.

have-women-been-trumpedPanel, chaired by Dame Jenni Murray, discussing ‘Have Women Been Trumped?’   [Image: Katie Broomfield]

On the day of the election results a more positive outlook for women was presented at the Second Annual Spark 21 Conference organised by the First 100 Years project with the aim of celebrating the past to shape the future of women in law.  Starting with a video interview of Baroness Hale, the first and still the only female Justice of the Supreme Court, the overriding theme of the day was one of optimism and courage.  A panel discussion on ‘Have Women Been Trumped?’ ended in spontaneous applause following a comment from the audience that Hillary Clinton should not be dismissed as a loser but celebrated for her courage, resilience and tenacity.  She gave it a go and as Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC said this is the best advice for success.  Sharing advice that she was once given Vanessa Davies urged women to have courage and remember that we have as good a chance as any and a better chance than many.

Speakers highlighted that by supporting each other women can achieve greater equality and diversity. Caroline Criado-Perez emphasized that she tries never to criticise other women on social media; Sarah Davis explained that by exerting their buying power women can and should support each other to force change; and Funke Abimbola emphasised how mentoring, coaching and sponsorship can provide mutual help and support.  Of course, this does not always happen.  On Tuesday, we assumed that the women pictured on twitter queuing to place ‘I voted’ stickers on the grave of suffragist Susan B Anthony were representative of broad female support for Hillary but, while New York State voted for her, over 50% of white women who voted, did so for Trump.  This highlights the importance of women’s history and the need for more public role models, like the suffragists, to remind women what we can achieve when we work together.

Underlining why the First 100 Years project is so important, Katherine McMahon revealed that when she was researching her book The Crimson Rooms she found virtually nothing written about early female lawyers.  In an attempt to rectify the absence of pioneering women from our public history, Caroline Criado-Perez, having already led a successful campaign for a woman (Jane Austen) to appear on a Bank of England bank note, outlined her next campaign to put the statue of a suffragist in Parliament Square in celebration of the centenary of votes for (some) women in 2018.


liz-trussLiz Truss speaking at the Second Annual Spark 21 Conference before presenting the Inspirational Women in Law Award [Image: Katie Broomfield]


As public role models go, Liz Truss, the first female Lord Chancellor in 800 years, is surely high on the list.  Although her appearance at the conference was overshadowed by recent events she certainly had some promising things to say about the judiciary, gender equality and diversity before presenting the Inspirational Women in Law Award to Keily Blair.  Keily’s prize was a limited edition toilet roll in a presentation bell jar symbolising the alleged lack of female toilet facilities at law firms and legal institutions which was used as an excuse to avoid the employment of women.  It is a striking visual representation of the barriers put up to women entering the legal profession; a reminder that these barriers can be overcome; and a demonstration that learning about women’s history can give us courage to overcome the barriers put up today.


Katie Broomfield (@KRBroomfield) and Emily Petretta (@EmilyPetretta) are both students on Royal Holloway’s MA in Public History


‘Translating Women’s History for Television’: A Lecture by Pam Cox

Pam Servants2

At 6pm on Thursday 2nd June  Professor Pam Cox (University of Essex) will be joining us to talk about the benefits and challenges of telling women’s histories on television and setting them in the broader context of creating, writing and filming TV documentaries.

Pam has written and presented two highly successful BBC history documentaries. The first, Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs (2012) focused on the 1.5 million people who worked in domestic service (more than those working in factories or farms) who are often portrayed as characters in period dramas, but whose real lives and stories are rarely shown. More recently Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter (2014) traced how the predominantly male world of mid-Victorian retail shops was challenged by a major influx of female workers at the turn of the century. It explored their working conditions and realities of life for female shop assistants from then until the 1960s.  

If you would like to see Pam in action before the talk and you have access to Box of Broadcasts, you can watch both her TV series, click on the links below for the first episodes of each. Some episodes are also still freely available on You Tube. 

Pam shopgirls2

BoB Servants episode 1 

BoB Shopgirls episode 1 

She has also co-authored a book of stories from this series with Annabel Hobley entitled, Shopgirls: True Stories of Friendship, Hardship and Triumph From Behind the Counter (2015).

Pam is strongly committed to public history in all its forms, including work with policy makers in child protection and youth justice. She works across both history and the social sciences and is the Chair of the Social History Society. She is currently completing a digital life-course project tracing 500 nineteenth century lives. 

The lecture is free and takes place at 6pm in the Moore Building Lecture Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. Everyone is welcome to attend and there is no booking required. For more information please contact Nicola Phillips.  We look forward to seeing you there!