Tomorrow is publication day for fantastically Great Women Who Made History! Lets meet the rest of our fantastically great line up – today a pirate queen, mighty female king, singing sensation and a mother and daughter with ideas ahead of their time.
- Everyone knows that girls make better pirates. Sayidda al-Hurra didn’t actually sail the high seas plundering treasures from her enemies but she did enlist the help of fearsome Barbary Pirates though to wage war on the mighty Spain and Portugal in order to protect the city of Tétouan she ruled in Morocco in the 1500s.
- When a crisis of some sort (this happened so long ago nobody is quite sure what actually happened) hit Ancient Egypt Hatshepsut (female stand-in pharaoh who was looking after Egypt until her step son was old enough to take over) decided the best way to survive the crisis would be to show strong leadership. Hatshepsut gave herself a new, powerful look, one that had worked for previous rulers – she ordered that all statues and artworks of her be made to look more masculine and … king-like. The people of Ancient Egypt weren’t used to a woman being in charge but it seems the pharaonic beard persuaded them they were in safe hands with Hatshepsut. While today it sits uncomfortably to think of a woman having to change herself to fit with people’s expectations of what ‘powerful’ looks like it’s interesting that Hatshepsut seems to have embraced the need to give people a bit of what they were used to so she could get on with the job of ruling and being a mighty phraroh. Who says girls can’t be kings? Her reign was long, prosperous and a time of relative peace for Egypt.
- During the 1920s and 30s Josephine Baker rose to international stardom with her dazzlingly different performances while living in liberal and diverse Paris. Josephine had left her native USA to escape poverty and a segregated society, one that wouldn’t allow a poor black girl to be a star. During her long career she broke down racial barriers, became a style icon and … HAD A PET CHEETAH! Yes. An actual pet cheetah that she used in her act. Trying to capture her animated smile, lightening fast footwork and seemingly elastic dancing arms in an illustration was a mesmerising challenge.
- Tell me honestly, did you know that the original feminist thinker Mary Wollstonecraft was literary gothic horror literary legend Mary Shelley’s mother? (If you knew that you should have told more people because I’m not sure it’s as common knowledge as it should be.) How did I not know that those two remarkable women were related before researching this book?!