Latest updates

Paperback publication on 4 March: a propitious day

Friday, 12 February 2021

Dear Subscriber

I am writing to thank you again for your magnificent support for the hardback of Magnificent Women and their Revolutionary Machines – which has received some brilliant reviews (see new jacket). My personal favourite came from an anonymous Amazon reader who said, 'As a woman working in engineering, I believe this book is quite simply one of the most important pieces of literature…

Getting ready for takeoff

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

As Magnificent Women gets ready for takeoff, prepare to meet a cast of amazing characters who, until now, have been mostly lost to history. Join Eleanor Shelley-Rolls, sister of car magnate Charles, as she soars into the air in her balloon; get leathered up for a thrilling motorbike ride with inventor Tilly Shilling; or see sparks fly with electricity supremo Margaret Partridge – just a few of the…

A Panel Discussion on the First Female Engineers – 20 February

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

You are warmly invited to attend a panel discussion about the first female engineers at the Bedford Centre for Women’s and Gender History at Royal Holloway on Wednesday, 20 February 2019, at 6.00pm. Henrietta will be among the speakers in the Shilling Auditorium – named after Beatrice (Tilly) Shilling, the aeronautical engineer and motorcycling enthusiast.  

Please find more information here …

Rachel Parsons and the power of good stories

Friday, 23 June 2017

Today, 23 June, is International Women in Engineering Day, during which women around the world celebrate what it means to be an engineer and the great career opportunities that the profession has to offer. One hundred years ago, during the height of the First World War, their predecessors launched a long battle for employment rights. Find out more by reading this article in the June issue of E&T …

Electrifying pioneers: a tale of two Margarets

Friday, 2 June 2017

On Thursday, 15 June, I shall be taking part in a Wikithon at the Wellcome Collection in London. The event is part of a larger initiative to improve the gender balance in Wikipedia, since currently only 17 per cent of biographical entries in the online encyclopedia relate to women. Women engineers from history – long ignored or ridiculed as a group – provide fruitful territory for this work, in that…

Watch women build a bomber in record time

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

In the early summer of 1943, after months of relentless bombing raids by the German Luftwaffe, the Ministry of War, in collaboration with the RAF, issued a challenge to one of the factories producing planes for Bomber Command to build an operational Wellington bomber in record-breaking time. The purpose of the exercise was to impress friends and enemies alike. Broughton factory in Flintshire, a few…

Laura Annie Willson MBE: suffragette and house-builder

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Of the seven Magnificent Women who signed the document creating the Women's Engineering Society on 23 June 1919, one name stands out. At the foot of the list is Laura Annie Willson of 22 Savile Park, Halifax, West Yorkshire. Like her fellow founders, Mrs Willson is described solely by her marital status ('married woman' or 'spinster') but, unlike the rest, she had begun life with no financial or educational…

Pledge Party in Bloomsbury on 24 April

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Together with Unbound, Waterstones Gower Street (in Bloomsbury, central London) is hosting a monthly Pledge Party where you can hear from the authors of a number of new books that are crowdfunding. Think a literary Dragons' Den where eight authors each have 5 minutes to pitch their book.

You'll hear about everything from Fiction to Memoir, and from Poetry to History, and you can vote for your favourite…

Claudia and Verena: Loughborough's original lady engineers

Monday, 27 March 2017

There must be some sort of creative magic in the air of Loughborough. This thought occurred to me last week when I heard that two 16-year-old schoolboys from the Leicestershire town had been jointly awarded the title Young Engineer of the Year. Sankha Kahagala-Gamage and David Bernstein won the prize for inventing a vest for people with epilepsy that can predict an epileptic fit up to eight minutes…

Don't mention Miss Shilling's orifice

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

It doesn’t seem politically correct in modern times to mention the orifice made famous by Tilly Shilling in the Second World War, but on this day of all days it should be remembered – for 8 March is not only International Women’s Day but the birthday, in 1909, of Miss Beatrice (Tilly) Shilling, aeronautical engineer and motorcyle racer.

Tilly established her reputation during the war while working…

Black women engineers: Hidden Figures no longer

Thursday, 2 March 2017

So Moonlight won the Oscar for best picture – or, at least, I think it did, after a minor hitch that led to the award being presented to the wrong production team. And a brilliant, heart-rending film it is, with outstanding performances by Naomi Harris, Janette Monáe and Mahershala Ali, who secured the Oscar for best supporting actor.

But the triumph of Moonlight should not obscure the success…

Where are the Wikipedia women?

Monday, 13 February 2017

As the era of 'Post-Truth' descends, Wikipedia's reliability as a source of information about the past and the present becomes ever more important for anyone who uses the internet for research. It is therefore disturbing to discover how few biographies of women are included.

My first new Wikipedia entry has gone live – at last. Penetrating the wonders and mysteries of Wikipedia editing has…

Magnificent Women campaign launch

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Handmaidens of Death, a ten-minute film by Tracy Gillman


This is my first blog post for Magnificent Women, so I'd like to start by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has made a pledge to the recently launched crowdfunding campaign – and to anyone who feels inclined to do so in the future.

Crowdfunding is much more absorbing and fun than I had imagined. It has given me an excuse…

Publication date: September 2019
130% funded
380 backers