Book review: Angels of the North: Notable Women of the North East

bookWhere can you find artists sit beside tennis champions, suffragettes rub shoulders with surgeons and MPS share the stage with explorers and scholars?

 The answer is in Angels of the North: Notable Women of the North East, a new book by Joyce Quin and Moira Kilkenny, published by Tyne Bridge Publishing, at Newcastle City Library.

 Forty women are featured in the book which shines a light on North East women spanning from 1600s to the 2000s. There are some names which would be largely recognised straight away – MP Mo Mowlam, explorer Gertrude Bell, suffragette Emily Wilding Davison and author Catherine Cookson. But the book also features anti slavery campaigner, Anna Richardson, Muriel Robb, England ladies Singles Tennis Champion and Stockton’s Ivy Close who carved a successful career in movie production.

 The book starts with Mary Astell, a pioneer feminist writer born in 1666. She held the ‘radical’ notion that women were equally rational as men and just as deserving of education. She said ‘If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?’

 Quin and Kilkenny include a wide range of North East women and it is particularly timely to celebrate the, all too often, hidden achievements of women, purely because of their sex, in the year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of partial suffrage.

 And in the introduction they say ‘This book is really just the beginning. There are of course many other women of the North East we could have written about and who deserve to be commemorated and celebrated.’ This is important and hopefully the book will lead to conversations about other eminent women and spark a thirst for knowledge about them.

Indeed, if you want to know which women was referred to as ‘The best man of the lot’ by Bernard Shaw or who was the first women to study mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge, Angels of the North is a perfect starting point.

Angels of the North: Notable Women of the North East by Joyce Quin and Moira Kilkenny

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