Press celebrates International Women's Day with double book launch

Posted on 7 March 2011

Our Mothers’ Land: Chapters in Welsh Women’s History 1830-1939, edited by Professor Angela John

From 6.00 pm on Tuesday 8 March in the Glamorgan Conference Centre, the University of Wales Press will be launching two new books themed on the legacy of Wales’ finest female figures throughout history. The launch will be held in celebration of International Women’s Day.

The two book launches are to coincide with the delivery of Professor Angela John’s third annual lecture series, held in memory of Dr Ursula Masson (1945-2008). This year’s lecture will centre on the topic of ‘Rhonddaworld: Lady Rhondda’s Life Story’.

The first book to be launched will be the new edition of Our Mothers’ Land: Chapters in Welsh Women’s History 1830-1939, edited by Professor John - a seminal volume in terms of the development of Welsh women’s history.

A first of its kind, Our Mothers’ Land was originally published in 1991, written when the study of women's history in Wales was in its infancy. The chapters range widely across time (1830-1939) and place, from exploring working class women's community sanctions and the perils of being a collier's wife, to the very different lifestyles of ironmasters' wives. It also tackles the idealised images of respectable Welsh women in periodicals and the tragic reality of those who committed suicide, as the transgressive actions of suffrage rebels.

Also to be launched will be Kate Roberts: Writers of Wales, a new title authored by Katie Gramich. The new book will examine the life and work of Kate Roberts, the most important woman writer ever to have emerged from Wales. It offers a comprehensive account of her life, from her birth into a life of poverty and hardship in the slate-quarrying region of Snowdonia to her death almost a hundred years later in Denbigh.

During her life, Kate Roberts would attend University, at a time when very few Welsh women did; work as an impassioned and inspirational teacher in the south Wales valleys; run a major printing press and published the main Welsh national newspaper, Y Faner; helped to found Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party; campaign tirelessly for the Welsh language; challenge gender stereotypes and restrictions in traditional patriarchal Wales, and produce a body of literary work in the Welsh language which would rank her alongside Saunders Lewis as the greatest Welsh writer of the twentieth century.

International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. Around the turn of the century, great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights, which marked the first ever National Women’s Day (NWD) – now celebrated the world over.

Professor Angela John works within Abersytwyth University’s History Department, while Dr Katie Gramich reads English at Cardiff University’s School of English, Communications and Philosophy.


Notes to editors:

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