Illustrated by Abigail Dannatt

Amazing Women Forgotten in History

The 1st of March marks the first day of woman’s history month across the World which aims to bring attention…

The 1st of March marks the first day of woman’s history month across the World which aims to bring attention to the women throughout history who have achieved remarkable things but might not have gotten the recognition that they deserved. With this article, I thought it would be a good idea to try and research a few women from history who I found particularly interesting and talk about what made them so great. With that in mind here are a few historical female figures who deserve to be recognized and celebrated.

Beatrix Potter

Best known for her creation of famous children’s stories including Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter is regarded as one of the most famous children’s authors of all time. However, it is not just her illustrations and storytelling capabilities that are impressive, Potter was also an avid scientist and conservationist. In the late 1800s, most of Potter’s focus was on the study of natural history, most notably Beatrix had a great love for Mycology (the study of Fungi). She would learn to produce scientifically accurate depictions of different Fungi and even wrote a paper based on a theory on spore reproduction in Fungi called ‘On the Germination of the spores of Agaricineae’. Sadly the paper was never published, it was presented to the Linnaeus society in 1887 to a mycologist from Kew Gardens, but because women at the time could not join the society, her paper was rejected. Whilst there has been some debate about how ground-breaking this paper would have been, it does highlight the gender imbalances of Victorian society, especially within the scientific community. Beatrix was however the first mycologist to grow fungi directly from spores. She eventually left mycology behind which led her to the creation of her animal illustrations. Later in her life, she turned conservationist, using the proceeds from her books to purchase land and protect it from development.

Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut takes us all the way back to ancient Egypt, she was the first female who won the title of Pharaoh. She is considered one of the best rulers in all of history, however, this title did not come without struggle. Famously, Thutmose III (Hatshepsut’s successor) attempted to destroy her burial sculpture in an attempt to erase her from history, however, the Metropolitan Museum of Art rediscovered fragments of the statue during an excavation in the 1920s. Hatshepsut is known for bringing great wealth to the Egyptians and sponsored one of Egypt’s most successful trading expeditions bringing back gold, and ebony amongst other things. Above all, Hatshepsut represented something unprecedented at the time, a female with the same powers and rights afforded to a male king, and she was good at it and often thought of as one of the greatest diplomats of antiquity.

Ida B. Wells

One female historical figure who has been largely forgotten is Ida B. Wells. Born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862, Wells became a prominent journalist, activist, and suffragist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is perhaps best known for her anti-lynching crusade, during which she investigated and documented numerous cases of lynching in the South and advocated for federal anti-lynching legislation. Wells also played a key role in the women’s suffrage movement, working tirelessly to secure the right to vote for women of all races. Despite her contributions to American history and civil rights, Wells is often overlooked in discussions of the era, and her legacy is not as widely celebrated as that of her contemporaries such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Ching Shih

Ching Shih was a pirate queen who terrorized the South China Sea in the early 19th century. Originally born into poverty, Ching Shih became a prostitute before marrying a pirate and eventually taking over his fleet when he died. She often ran into problems with the Chinese government which attempted many times to take her down, however, Ching Shih remained undefeated until she eventually negotiated a pardon from the government. She went on to live the rest of her life in peace. Interestingly after she retired she became a relatively successful businesswoman, running a gambling house. Unfortunately, she is often overlooked in favour of more popular male pirates, however, she did make an appearance in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy played by actress Takayo Fischer.

I really enjoyed researching the women for the article and looking deeper at their individual stories. I felt it was a nice way to celebrate some important and quite frankly cool women for Woman’s History Month. Hopefully, this provides some insightful reading, this is not an exhaustive list, there were many women who I could have included.

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