A series of essays chronicling the lives of every female MP ever to serve in the UK Parliament will be released in November 2018 – 100 years after the election of the very first.
The two-volume series published by Biteback will be edited by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the company’s director Iain Dale, a former Conservative candidate.
Volume I will begin with Countess Markievicz, who was elected to the House of Commons in 1918, but did not take her seat, and Nancy Astor, the first female MP to sit in Parliament.
It will contain profiles of the 169 female MPs who served from 1918 to 1997.
Volume II will contain profiles of the 287 female MPs elected between 1997 and 2017 and will be published in November 2019.
All 456 essays will be written by women, including Mary Beard, Liz Truss and Nicky Morgan, who have all been commissioned to write chapters for the first volume.
Others to write chapters include journalists, academics and historians. Ms Smith said she was really looking forward to seeing women’s stories told by other women, adding the early female MPs shared “considerable grit and energy”
Before the election of Trudy Harrison in Copeland by-election last month there had only been 455 female MPs in history – the same number of male MPs currently in the commons.
Google marks International Women's Day with 13 amazing women
Google marks International Women's Day with 13 amazing women
1/13 Ida Wells
An African-American journalist and activist born in Mississippi in 1862, she wrote prolifically on the fight for women’s suffrage as well as the struggle for civil rights. She documented the practice of lynching black people in the southern states showing how it was often used as means of controlling or punishing black people who competed with whites rather than as a means of “justice” for crimes.
2/13 Lotifa El Nadi
Egypt’s first female pilot born in 1907 in Cairo. Although her father saw no need for her to pursue secondary education, expecting her to marry and have a family, she rebelled and worked as a secretary and telephone operator at a flying school in exchange for lessons as she had no other means to pay for the training. Her achievements made headlines around the world when she flew over the pyramids and competed in international flying races.
3/13 Frida Kahlo
A Mexican painter and activist born in Mexico City in 1907, her work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions and by feminists for its honest depiction of female experience.
4/13 Lina Bo Bardi
A Brazilian architect, born in Italy in 1914, she devoted her life to the promotion of the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. She is also celebrated for her furniture and jewellery designs.
5/13 Olga Skorokhodova
A Soviet scientist born into a poor Ukranian peasant family in 1911, she lost her vision and hearing at the age of five. Overcoming these difficulties in a remarkable way, she became a researcher in the field of communication and created a number of scientific works concerning the development of education of deaf-blind children. She was also a teacher, therapist and writer.
6/13 Miriam Makeba
A South African singer and civil rights activist born in Johannesburg in 1932, she was forced to work as a child following her father’s death. She became a teenaged mother after a bried and allegedly abusive marriage at 17, before she was discovered as a singer of jazz and African melodies. After becoming hugely successful in the US and winning a Grammy, she became involved in the civil rights struggle stateside as well as in the campaign against apartheid in her home country, writing political songs. Upon her death, South African President Nelson Mandela said that “her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.”
7/13 Sally Ride
An American astronaut and physicist, she was born in Los Angeles in 1951 and joined NASA in 1978 after gaining her PhD. She became the first American woman and the third woman ever to go into space in 1983 at the age of 32. Prior to her first space flight, she attracted attention because of her gender and at press conferences, was asked questions such as, “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?” She later worked as an academic at the University of California, San Diego.
8/13 Halet Cambel
A Turkish archaeologist born in 1916, she became the first Muslim women to compete in the Olympics in the 1936 Berlin games as a fencer. She declined an invitation to meet Adolf Hitler on political grounds, and after the conclusion of the Second World War, she trained as an architect and later worked as an academic in Turkey and Germany.
9/13 Ada Lovelace
An English mathematician and writer born in 1815, she became the world’s first computer programmer. The daughter of poet George Byron, she is chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, and was the first to recognise the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, creating the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.
10/13 Rukmini Devi
An Indian dancer and choreographer credited with reviving Indian classical dance, she was born in 1904 and presented her form of dance on stage even though it was considered “low” and “vulgar” in the 1920s. She features in India Today’s list of “100 people who shaped India” having also worked to re-establish traditional Indian arts and crafts and as an animal rights activist.
11/13 Cecilia Grierson
An Argentine physician, reformer born in Buenes Aires in 1859, she became the first woman in Argentina to receive a medical degree having previously worked as a teacher. Women were barred from entering medical school at the time, so she first volunteered as an unpaid lab assistant before she was allowed to train as a doctor. She was acclaimed for her work during a cholera epidemic before going on to found the first nursing school in Argentina. The harassment she experienced at mediacl school helped make her a militant advocate for women’s rights in Argentina.
12/13 Lee Tai-young
Korea’s first female lawyer and judge born in 1914 in what is now North Korea, she was also an activist who founded the country’s first legal aid centre and fought for women’s rights throughout her career. Her often mentioned refrain was, “No society can or will prosper without the cooperation of women.” She worked as a teacher, married and had four children before she was able to begin her legal career after the Second World War, becoming the first woman to enter Seoul National University. She also fought for civil rights in the country and was arrested in 1977 for her beliefs, receiving a three-year suspended sentence and a ten year disbarment.
13/13 Suzanne Lenglen
A French tennis champion born in 1899, she popularised the sport winning 31 championships and dominating the women’s sport for over a decade. She was the first female tennis celebrity and one of the first international women sports stars, overcoming a childhood plagued with ill health including chronic asthma – which continued to plague her in her adult life. At 15, she became the youngest ever winner of a major championship and lost only seven matches during her entire career. She received widespread criticism for her decision to turn professional, but defended her right to make a decent living in the days when the grand slam tournaments paid a relative pittance to the winners.
Speaking to The Independent, Ms Smith said: "This year, for the first time, more women have been elected to parliament than men who are currently sitting in the House. Each of these women represents a story of considerable guts, dedication and political history. However they are all different and their stories' should be told.
"We are asking other women – MPs and others – to write about one of these women MPs for the books. The result will be an enormously valuable resource, but also a good read. It will be a unique history and commentary. We are currently contacting women to write the entries and are getting a very good response."
It was revealed last week that Biteback is also publishing the memoir of controversial columnist Katie Hopkins, entitled Rude. Hopkins has been accused of sexism in the past and once said feminists should "do one". Mr Dale said the columnist was a "marmite" figure.
Asked whether Biteback's decision to publish Hopkins' book chimed oddly with the initiative to celebrate female MPs, Smith responded: "That's a question for Iain!"
Mr Dale told The Independent no one has yet been lined up to write Theresa May's profile and he said the writer for former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would remain a secret - for now. "I've asked someone, and if they do it [it] will be quite a major triumph," he said.
He said he didn't see "a conflict at all" with publishing both the profiles and Hopkins' book. "Katie's book is effectively subsidising the others," he said, adding "it will probably make a lot of money".
"I'm not expecting to make any money from these [books about female MPs] but they should be published."Reuse content