A few of the incredible, inspirational women who have achieved great things.
Helen Keller (born: 1880, died: 1968 aged 87)
American writer, who achieved success despite being deaf and blind.
Helen had a severe illness as a baby, which left her deaf and blind. In a desperate bid to help their daughter, her parents employed 20 year old Anne Sullivan (who was once blind herself) as a teacher. Sullivan taught Keller the names of objects by pressing the letters into her hands, and taught her to speak by letting her feel the vibrations on her own throat. Keller was an intelligent student and learned how to read and write fluently in Braille, and eventually she studied for an University Degree.
Helen tried to help as many people as she could by touring the world giving lectures. She also wrote many books including ‘The Story of My Life’, which was published in 1902.
Annie Besant (born 1847, died 1933 aged 85)
English campaigner for birth control, socialism, and the rights of women.
Annie left an unhappy marriage at the age of 26 and began working as a journalist. She cared deeply about poverty stricken women who had to look after large families, and she began campaigning for birth control. When she published a book on the subject, she was arrested and put on trial. Although she was released, her daughter was taken from her. The tragedy of losing her daughter pushed her into fighting for more reforms, especially for the London ‘Match Girls’. These women worked long hours in unhealthy conditions making matches for four shillings per week. In 1888 they went on strike for better pay. Besant wrote about them in the newspapers and led a procession of ‘Match Girls’ to the House of Commons. As a result the protest was successful.
Annie then moved to India where she helped to start the Central Hindu College at Varanasi. She believed strongly that India should be an independent country, free from British rule, and she started an independent newspaper to support the idea. Sadly, she died before this dream became a reality.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (born:1836, died:1917 aged 81)
Britain’s first woman doctor.
At a time when all girls were expected to stay at home and be wives and mothers, the headmistress at Elizabeth’s school encouraged her to seek a career. When she was twenty two, Anderson decided she wanted to be a doctor. She first trained as a nurse in London, then with the help of her professors, she studied in her spare time, and was allowed to become the first woman medical practicioner at the age of twenty nine, but she stillwas not a fully qualified doctor.