About this website

This website was created as a place where everything about British women's emancipation since the Renaissance could be brought together without being muddled up with people and events of other countries. I've been quite cross at having my time wasted in the past when, halfway through reading a webpage about women's history, it becomes obvious that the article is in fact about Australia or the USA. (About.com is one of the worst offenders, by the way!)

This website's main attraction and uniqueness is its presentation of primary sources. These are sources taken from the period and they have a value all of their own. To be able to read things first-hand; to be able to see the use of language; to be able to see the context; all these things tell us so much about the period. The use of language, too, is fascinating, because language has changed so much.

Another main benefit of this site is the inclusion of details, where available. For example, I have read in several books and websites that Queen Victoria once said, "I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights'." Sometimes they even include that she added: "Lady Amberley ought to get a good whipping," .. but not once have they sourced when she said this, to whom it was said, or in what context. Nor do people who quote this explain who Lady Amberley was, or why the Queen was so angry with her.

This site rectifies the omissions. Not only have I researched and discovered the source of the quote (a private letter to Sir Theodore Martin in 1870) but I have written a short biography of Lady Amberley and even included a photograph of her and presented her ten-point plan for women's emancipation.

I've spent time reading lengthy, tedious debates from the House of Commons and editing them down to the salient points to save other historians from wading through all the chaff to get to the wheat. Here is an example: the 1867 suffrage debate.

I've written a number of brand new essays, to bring together all the scattered scraps of information into one easily-accessible place, for example the myth about men beating wives with a stick 'no thicker than his thumb'.

I've thrown the spotlight onto female activities that are rarely publicised, for example women dressing as men and in particular those who passed themselves off as sailors.

Some of my pages cover subjects that have no other web presence whatsoever. See for example my two unique essays about the Ladies' Gallery, and the registration battles.

Some subjects included on this site have many other webpages devoted to them. However, I cover these subjects in a completely unique way, unlike any other website. See for example my detailed early history of women's suffrage.

This site is a gigantic undertaking which will take the rest of my life to complete, if indeed it ever can be. Five hundred years is a long time to try to cover in depth, and so far my coverage of all eras, events, people and campaigns is patchy.

Lastly, this website is a labour of love, created out of the love I have for my subject, women's history; and most of all out of due respect and heartfelt gratitude to all the women who, over the past 500 years, were brave enough to take baby steps or giant steps towards female emancipation. All British women are today reaping the benefits.

Sources used in the creation of this website include Hansard (transcripts of parliamentary debates) and nineteenth century newspapers and magazines.

Helena Wojtczak

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