After graduating in history and politics, I worked for some years for Cambridge University Press and then J.M. Dent before combining work as a free-lance copy editor with caring for my three children.
I began selling second-hand books and ephemera by and about women in 1984. Then this area was regarded by the trade as of little consequence. However, over time, interest in women’s – and family – history has grown and been reflected in an awareness of the importance of primary source material – books and ephemera – in composing a picture of women’s lives in the past.
Intrigued by the material that was passing through my hands, I have, over the last 20 years or so researched and written several books. The first, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide (Routledge 1999) grew out of the necessity of researching items connected with the suffrage movement in order to be able to catalogue them for sale accurately. ‘What’, I thought, ‘is needed is a compendium containing full information on the people and societies involved.’ A publisher’s editor to whom I mentioned the idea agreed – and I set to work. The Reference Guide was followed by The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey, published by Routledge in 2005, which explains how – from 1866 -the suffrage movement developed throughout the British Isles.
In between these two books I wrote Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle, published by Francis Boutle in 2002. In this I discuss the lifetime’s work of a group of efficient, highly-motivated women who transformed women’s lives in Britain in the last quarter of the 19th century. The work of the Garretts and their circle opened for women entry to areas of work and study from which they had hitherto been barred – medicine, education, and interior and landscape design – as well as, at the same time, campaigning for the vote. In 2009-11 I had the pleasure of helping to create the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery, generously funded by UNISON, in what was the ground floor of the former Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, now part of the UNISON Centre at 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY.
Over the years I have contributed to various radio – and television – programmes and given many talks – at academic conferences, to schools and to local history groups – on a range of topics associated with my researches.