Jane Aaron reviews
Rocking the Boat: Welsh Women Who Championed Equality 1840-1990
by Angela V. John
Launched in the Senedd building on International Women’s Day this year to celebrate the centenary of the granting of (partial) suffrage to British women, Angela John’s latest volume aims to recognise seven ‘feisty’ Welsh women. All seven, she claims in her introduction, radically ‘challenged the status quo’ but none of them ‘received the recognition they deserved’, in part because they lived the greater part of their lives outside Wales and thereby slipped from the pages of Welsh history. Readers of this engrossing volume are thus likely to assess its chapters with three questions in mind: to what degree did these women ‘rock the boat’; can all of them still today be said to be unfairly neglected; and, if so, how far is that due to their ‘Welsh exile’ status? The seven women in question are the physician and education reformer Frances Hoggan (1843-1927), the social reformer and historian of the suffrage movement Margaret Wynne Nevinson (1858-1932), the Labour MP and advocate of women’s priesthood Edith Picton-Turbervil (1872-1960), the sisters Myfanwy Rhys (1874-1945) and Olwen Rhys (1876-1953), the journal editor and business woman Margaret Haig Thomas, Viscountess Rhondda (1883-1958) and the novelist Menna Gallie (1919-1990). Apart from Gallie, born after women got the vote, all of them were also active suffragists or suffragettes during the pre-war years.Sign in to read more
Jane Aaron’s latest books include Welsh Gothic (University of Wales Press, 2013) and the edited collection Cambria Gothica: Gothic Tales from Nineteenth-century Wales (Llyfrau Cantre’r Gwaelod, 2018). She is also the series editor of Honno Press’s English-language ‘Welsh Women’s Classics’.