Review: Bluestockings – The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education

Originally uttered in a faintly pejorative tone, a ‘Bluestocking’ was an 18th century literary luminary, an educated, intellectual woman. In
Bluestockings – The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education, Jane Robinson reclaims the term and uses it to pull together an extraordinary tale of misogyny, determination, ambition and the quest for knowledge more than a century later.

In 1869, Emily Davis made history by creating a college for the first female undergraduates in England, in a house outside Cambridge. The lecturers were whoever could be persuaded to help out; the five students were not to actually be awarded degrees at the end of their courses. It would take two world wars before Cambridge allowed its female graduates to qualify, becoming the last university in England to do so – although it was the first English university to tolerate female students, after a fashion.

So what happened between 1869 and 1948?

Read the rest of the review at The F Word

Travel guides, bluestockings and a baking hiatus

Remember a few posts ago, before it all went gallbladder-shaped, that I promised to link to a travel post on Bruges I was writing for BitchBuzz? Well here it is. I’m beginning to form a similar post on Rome in my head at the moment, and being Greek I have plenty to say about visiting Athens. In a funny way, I’ve only learned to appreciate Athens as a tourist in the last few years; as a child it was a procession of relatives’ houses, syrupy preserved fruit and the odd smell of lavender and mothballs… but that’s for the memoir I’m a little too young to write.

I’ve received a copy of Jane Robinson’s Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education to review for The F Word, too. Luckily I have an awful lot of reading time on my hands, being more of less pinned to the sofa. I’m alternating between the above and Robert Löhr’s excellent Secrets of the Chess Machine, sent to me by a thoughtful friend.

Although I’m getting up to walk around as much as possible and trying to get strong very quickly, public transport is still an issue when the slightest carrying weight or jostle to the side causes a wave of pain through my torso. Frankly, even lying still can do it sometimes, and though movement is not so difficult now, sitting up in a chair for long periods tends to make the upper two incision sites pull, throb and itch. I’m blogging lying down, having felt I ought to do something for Dogs Trust. I miss my job! At least the bloody awful pain in the shoulder has stopped; it’s caused, somewhat improbably, by left over CO2 in the system after the operation (you’re inflated with it during the procedure) and is totally excruciating. I’ve now weaned myself off the painkillers because I’m really precious about medication; I simply won’t take anything I don’t desperately need. I never touched the codeine I was given and took the paracetamol until Sunday – since Monday morning, I’m drug-free. And sore. And missing the swimming and jogging I’d recently finally convinced my wobbly bits that they could do.

So the above paragraph should explain the baking hiatus. I won’t be able to cope with standing and hefting baking trays for a few more days. I’ll be back in the saddle – work and baking – on the 1st of September, although I hold out some hope I’ll be able to go in on Friday if things improve faster…