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Eight women of Bristol worth celebrating

Today, Friday the 8th of March, marks the 111th annual International Women's Day.

By Hope Riley, Living Editor

Today, Friday the 8th of March, marks the 111th annual International Women's Day. The theme for this year is 'Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,' and in light of this, I invite you to remember and celebrate these eight women who lived and worked in Bristol, and their diverse yet remarkable contributions to our city.

Carmen Beckford (1928-2016)

A Filton resident and one of the seven founders of St. Paul’s Carnival in 1967, who worked tirelessly to improve race relations and help disadvantaged communities in Bristol. In recognition of her efforts, she was also the first black recipient in the South West of an MBE, awarded to her by the queen in 1982.

'I never paid too much attention to what other people thought was right or wrong, or whether people thought I should be doing this or that' (Carmen Beckford)

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910)

Bristol-born Elizabeth Blackwell was a physician notable for being the first woman to receive a medical degree from a university in the United States. Throughout her career, she advocated the importance of educating girls and acted as a pioneer for women in medicine. In 1949, the Elizabeth Blackwell award was established to recognise the achievements of women in the medical field.

Princess Campbell (1939-2015)

The first black ward sister in Bristol. Princess Campbell moved to Bristol from Jamaica in 1962, and worked throughout her lifetime to challenge racial inequalities and represent the voices of those most vulnerable. One of her many notable achievements was setting up the United Housing Association in order to extend access to affordable housing in Bristol.

'When you come up against challenges and adversity, don't run away; stay and fight if you want to change things.' (Princess Campbell)

Angela Carter (1940-1992)

Author and journalist best-known for The Bloody Chamber (1979), her highly potent collection of neo-Gothic ‘adult fairytales.’ Carter’s subversive work was celebrated in 2017 at the Strange Worlds exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy, and her books, in which a reconstructed feminist model of the fairytale heroine is often at the core, continue to be widely read, studied and enjoyed.

Flickr / John Keogh

'What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many?' (Angela Carter)

Norah Cooke-Hurle (1871-1960)

An advocate for children with disabilities and learning difficulties who campaigned for inclusive access to proper schools and housing. She also served as Chair on the Statutory Mental Deficiency Committee, and was an active member of the Somerset Association for Mental Welfare.

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994)

Nobel Prize-winning chemist known for the development of protein crystallography, as well as the confirmation of the structure of penicillin, who also served as Chancellor of the University of Bristol from 1971-1988. The university-owned Dorothy Hodgkin Building sits adjacent to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and is the home of research that provides radical approaches to the treatment of stress-related disorders, hormonal and psychiatric disease and Alzheimer's Disease.

Jessie Stephen (1893-1979)

Jessie Stephen moved from her birthplace of Glasgow to Bedminster, Bristol, after World War II, where she lived until her death in 1979. She was a prominent socialist, trade unionist and suffragette, who worked and campaigned successfully for better conditions for workers (especially women).

'It makes one wonder when the movement will begin to treat its women as adults' (Jessie Stephen)

Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011)

Flickr / Chris Cowan

The postmodernist fantasy fiction writer is best-known for penning Howl’s Moving Castle (1986), which has since been adapted into a hugely popular Japanese animated film released in 2004. In 2005, following the film's release, Wynne Jones won the Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association, an award that annually recognises a book published twenty years earlier that was worthy of - but did not at that time win - a major literary award.

'Things we are accustomed to regard as myth or fairy story are very much present in people's lives. Nice people behave like wicked stepmothers. Everyday.' (Diana Wynne Jones)

Featured image: Flickr / Chris Cowan

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