Through the pandemic years it was my pleasure to present a series of zoom interviews with creative women, hosted by the National Women’s Register :
Interviewing writers of remarkable life stories
The Musical Life by Helen Marquard
Helen Marquard’s search for a piano teacher led to Hedwig Stein who had fled Berlin in 1933 with her Russian Jewish husband, to start again here as concert pianists. Inspiring and vivid, Hedwig shared her history, and ideas on music, art, philosophy, and literature. Years later Helen discovered that Hedwig had written a diary, and determined to bring her remarkable story to others.
The Bamboo Bracelet by Merilyn Brason
Merilyn Brason’s parents survived four years in Japanese internment camps in the Philippines during World War II. Her older sister was born there. A lifetime later Merilyn uncovered her mother’s detailed notes of her experiences, and began to research to learn more. This moving personal story reads like a novel but is a true reconstruction of historical events, and a tribute to the internees’ extraordinary resilience.
Invisible Ink by Martha Leigh
Martha Leigh’s parents were not who they seemed to be. Her investigation of secrets buried in her Jewish family’s archive takes the reader all over Europe before, during and after World War II. By unravelling the threads of her deeply moving family stories from the tapestry of 20th century social and political history, Martha discovers her own place in the pattern.
The Northern Line: the history of a provincial Jewish family by Judy Simons
When Judy Simons cleared her late mother’s house, she discovered an old tin box of papers, signposts that led her on a journey into the past. Her resulting book blends memoir and social history in a riveting family saga that uncovers the lies and secrets buried for years, and evokes the struggles and triumphs of early Jewish immigrants in northern England.
- Music For Dogs – Carol A Caffrey, Irish actress and poet, talks about returning to creativity later in life & performing Paula Meehan’s one-woman play
- Story Cafe – Wendy Kirk talks about running a read-aloud group in the Women’s Library in Glasgow’s East End & how she balances work with raising two children
- Be an Angel – Pauline Prior-Pitt, poet and artist reads from her collection of poems about women’s lives & talks about life as an artist in the Outer Hebrides
- Poetry Breakfasts and more – Anna Dreda, founder of the Wenlock Poetry Festival, talks about running an independent bookshop & encouraging a community of local poets
- ‘Our Lives’ – Mary Simpson, teacher of English to adults, talks about what she has learnt from her students, and supporting people to write their own stories
- Food, Poverty & Children – Anna Taylor, director of the Food Foundation, shares her story of campaigning to ensure children are not hungry.
National Women’s Register
I was for several years the patron of this great organisation. It started 60 years ago to “connect women who are interested in everything and talk about anything!” Members meet in local groups across the UK. Each group decides its own programme of events or topics to explore – stimulating, serious or just fun. They’re open and welcoming – women moving to a new town have found a way to get to know others through a local NWR group. Some groups have been going for years and members have supported each other through many life changes. In the last year they’ve put on a fantastic programme of on-line talks and activities. To find out more go to: https://www.nwr.org.uk/join-nwr