Saturday, January 16, 2010
THE WOMAN WRITER & EARLY DAYS OF JOURNALISM
I'm currently publicising our Society's history book THE WOMAN WRITER just appearing in good bookshops (written by yours truly). The Society's provenance is traced to 1 May 1894. This was a memorable year. London Bridge was opened to traffic; Cocoa Cola arrived in Britain, and Harold Macmillan, later our Prime Minister was born on 10 February. He shared his birthday with our wonderful later president Joyce Grenfell who was born on 10 February 1910. Harold Macmillan's grandson, Alexander Macmillan, the 2nd Earl of Stockton, is now a patron of our Society, along with other distinguished supporters.
Life for women journalists in the 1890s was dire, but was rapidly changing. Women's salary was half that of male colleagues who worked on London daily newspapers and magazines. Surprisingly, there were several hundred professional women writers working in and around London during the 1890s. Many of them rode bicycles, a hazardous and dirty practice in London's Fleet Street which was often jammed with horse-drawn traffic. Later, they were to learn how to drive motorcars and fly aeroplanes - and write articles on these topics. 200 women journalists joined the SWWJ in its first year.
When our founder, Joseph Snell Wood, set up our Society, he was ridiculed; however, over the next 116 years, we succeeded beyond his dreams and have gone from strength to strength. Many of the world's most notable and distinguished journalists, novelists, playwrights, poets and associated creative writers have either become members or had strong connections with the SWWJ. From time to time, I will blog in some of our news from the past and look at the lives of some of our valiant pioneers.