Because women had such a tough time earning a living as writing professionals in the 1890s, many of them adopted male pseudonyms. Our first President was Mrs Pearl Craigie, one of the most famous playwrights of the late Victorian era, but she felt forced to write under the name John Oliver Hobbes. Other female journalists, novelists and playwrights also used male by-lines in order to be accepted.
Yet the reason for our existence in those late '90s days was because of a wonderful man - Joseph Snell Wood (1853-1920) who founded our Society. It was Joseph who created the famous Chelsea Arts Ball and held high editorial positions in Fleet Street at the time. He was a director/editor of The Graphic, Bystander, The Gentlewoman and many other newspapers and journals. It's amusing to see that modern day professional male authors often adopt female pen names in order to promote their work.
|Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham OBE, DL|
Image Ayo Banton
Among our Presidents, patrons and council members are the famous Scottish novelist Flora Annie Steel, Mary Frances Billington (first Daily Telegraph woman journalist), Lady Sarah Wilson, Lady Violet Astor, Clemence Dane, Vera Brittain, Phyllis Bentley, Dr Marie Stopes, Margery Allingham, Radclyffe Hall, Lady Troubridge, Rebecca West Joyce Grenfell, Nina Bawden, Lady Longford, and so many more notable names including, Jacqueline Wilson, Lady Shirley Williams, Ann Widdecombe, Lady Sandra Howard, and many more modern writing women including the lovely late Victoria Wood. Much more detailed history is listed in our book THE WOMAN WRITER.
Our very latest lovely news is that we are to welcome Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, DL into our Society as our new President. Floella is well known as an actress, broadcaster, writer and charity campaigner, and an enthusiastic supporter of a wide range of public and voluntary organisations. We hope that our members and guests will be able to meet her at one of our forthcoming events. Look out for a full interview with Floella in the Autumn issue of The Woman Writer. Meanwhile, the Summer issue is out now. www.swwj.co.uk