Thursday, March 06, 2008

List #6 and Thurday Thirteen : edition #5 - Famous Women

Thirteen Famous (and not so famous) Women

8 March is International Women's Day. It's a holiday here in Laos, where the men are supposed to cook and clean and take care of the women for the day. Today many of the hospitals and school have programs about the rights of women, with skits and music followed by lunch.

In honor of the day for remembering famous women, I wrote up this list of known and lesser known women - politicians, diplomats, scientists, artists and authors. Some are famous; some I have never heard of, but it's a day to research and think about how the rights of women had to be fought for. For many of these women, being your own person was way ahead of its time.

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author now living in the US. Her book Half of a Yellow Sun starts just before the Biafran conflict and follows the lives of three characters as their lives and ideals are touched by the war. This book won the Orange Award for first novel. Her original short story is here

2. Zora Neale Hurston
Raised in Florida, Hurston later moved to NYC to study anthropology under Franz Boaz and Ruth Benedict. Doing field work in African-American folk lore, she later became a writer exploring these themes in fiction. Her most famous work was Their Eyes were Watching God. As a black woman, she herself was between worlds. Her writing did not appeal to whites but her African-American objected to her accepting assistance from outside the community. She returned to Florida and died in poverty. The author Alice Walker rediscovered her works.

3. Hypatia
Philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, living in Alexandria, Egypt between 370 to 415 AD. She was the first known woman involved in the sciences, and believed that scientific principles rather than mysticism explained the natural world. Because of her radical views which offended the church, she was killed by a mob while driving her chariot. Not much is known about her because her written works were destroyed with the library in Alexandria.

4. Pauline Kael
Famous film critic for the New Yorker magazine.

5. Sofia Kovalevskaya
(1850 - 1891) While many women take it for granted that they can study and attend university, this was not the cultural norm in Sofia's Kovalevskaya's early life. Her father allowed her to study math but when he refused to allow her to study abroad (at that time Russian universities denied admission to women), she married to be allowed to travel to Germany with her husband. Studying abroad was still difficult, but she eventually became the first woman to teach in a European University and the first woman to be on the editorial board of a mathematical journal.

6. Doris Lessing
Writer, social critic, and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. Although her most famous work was The Golden Notebook, she also wrote short stories and science fiction. Her work explores contemporary life and transitions. I remember seeing a YouTube video of her being told she had won the Nobel Prize - like "so what?" Trying to write more about this amazing woman and author would be too difficult - so I won't try. Look her up on the web and read her works. Doris LessingQuotes

7. Nefertiti
A mystery woman, who married the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) and started the cult of sun worship. I think most people know her name more than that of her husbands, from the art that survives of her image. She lived at the time of the Eighteen Dynasty, about 1400 BC.

8. Cixi (or Tz'u-hsi or Hsiao-ch'in)
(1835 - 1908) The minor concubine of the Chinese emperor Hsien-feng. The bio on the site is very exciting and full of intrigue.

9. Wangari Maathai
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Born in 1940, she has been a major figure in Kenyan environmental movement, forming the 'Green Belt' movement to plant trees to deal withKenya's deforestation. She fought hard all her life to study - first to even get through school, then to study in the US and finally to receive her PhD in Kenya. She was impressed for her views in 1991 and suffered head injuries while taking part in a demonstration. In 2002, she was finally elected to the Kenyan Parliament.

10. Olga of Kiev
890 - 969 and known as the founder of Russian Christianity.

11. Eudora Welty
Somehow I have never read anything by Eudora Welty. Her entry here is to remind me that I should.

12. Kiran Desai is an Indian author now living in the US. Her first book, Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard established her reputation as an author. Her second book, The Inheritance of Loss, set in the hills of northern India is a meditation on change and loss and won the Booker Prize.

13. Emma Goldman
Anarchist, women's rights advocate and writer, Emma Goldman was born in Lithuania and migrated to the US to work in the textile trade. She became an outspoken member of the anarchist movement and served time in jail for resistance against the draft laws. After WWI and the Russian revolution, she moved to Russia but became disillusioned with the Soviet system. She remained in Europe.

Links about famous women: has a nice women's biographies page.

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Mrs. Brownstone @ XBOX Wife said...

Wow! You put a LOT of time and effort into this list! I am bookmarking your site so I can come back and check out the links you provided for these women. This was really interesting. I watched a documentary on Nefertiti not too long ago. It was really great! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

SandyCarlson said...

Emma sounds like my kind of woman! The women authors are on the list of reading requirements for college graduation at the local university, so there's progress! Thanks for teaching me about the other fine women.

pjazzypar said...

I have heard of Adichie, Hurston, Hypatia and of course Nefertiti. The rest sound interesting as well. Thanks for sharing this list and happy belated TT.

Lori Watson said...

Wow, great idea for a list. The second woman mentioned tugged on my heart strings. To not fit in anywhere would be difficult. I wish her work had been recognized while she still lived, but I guess that would be true for many people. It's rather sad.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tink said...

You provided some very interesting links, I've bookmarked several!
Thanks for visiting my inspiring people TT.

Melanie said...

What a great TT list. I can see you spent a lot of time working on it. I'm going to check out several of your links!

storyteller said...

Thanks for visiting Small Reflections and leaving the link back to your T-13 on Famous Women. I always enjoy learning new information and much of what you shared was previously unfamiliar to me, so thank you very much for sharing.
Hugs and blessings,

Malcolm said...

Thanks for this educational TT. Although I am familiar with Zora Neale Hurston, I didn't know that she died in poverty. I recognized Emma Goldman's name, but didn't know where I had heard it. After reading up on her, I was reminded that she was played by Maureen Stapleton in the movie "Reds". Once I submit my comments here, I am going to read up some more on Pauline Kael.