This is a fascinating book. To look up some familiar or half-familiar name among the 580 biographical sketches offered is to be drawn irresistibly into a web of lives, some connected by personal ties, others by common interests, all of them distinguished by energies and talents and some of them of the utmost distinction. The range and achievement of the women of one county laid out here fully justifies the editor's intention to bring into the open a record of women's works which have been commonly disregarded in male-oriented histories. Well-judged sub-divisions and cross referencing make the book, as is claimed, both informative and accessible while the many photographs are a source of special pleasure. Extracts from contemporary newspapers add further depth to the scene as do sections at the end which fill in more of the social background against which the women lived their lives. This is a work of energy, enthusiasm and expertise and, as a consequence, a source of both pleasure and illumination. 

Joan Rees, Professor of English Literature

 Notable Sussex Women is truly amazing, a tribute to the indefatigable energy of Helena Wojtczak. The 580 notable women, over 90% of who were born between 1801 and 1900, are sorted alphabetically by village or town within three major areas - West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, and East Sussex. 

The first thirteen pages of the book have a clearly written and immensely readable précis of the difficulties faced by women in their long struggle for emancipation in a hostile masculine world and this section has over two dozen well chosen marginal quotations from well known figures.

In short, this book contains something of interest for everyone, and should grace the bookshelves of not only those interested in social history, or of Sussex, or of women's fight for emancipation, but also of those interested in exploration, or any of the myriad occupations and hobbies of these notable women.

Peter Leyel 

Helena Wojtczak has done it again, another brilliant piece of work! While the title of this work suggests that it will be mostly of interest to local residents and historians, and while this may be true to some extent, the book is much more than that. The book begins by commenting on the artificial absence of women in most writing of history, and then puts notable Sussex women into context. This introduction gives a nutshell analysis of what was (and in many ways still is) going on with women, straight and clear to the heart of the matter. Besides a short review of our social position in the past two centuries, this section touches on core political, social, psychological and philosophical points behind the lives of the women the book lists.

 It doesn't just name percentages of women in various professions, but analyses the reasons for the proportions, giving insight into why the 580 notable women made the choices they did. Because we are still confronted with many of the same obstacles in more subtle ways, it would be a wonderful and helpful thing if all girls were to read the first 13 pages of this book before finishing school. In just 13 pages, written in a voice that is a pleasure to read, they would be given historical context for understanding some of the struggles they are, even in this century, going to meet as they take part in adult life. 

This book is more than just a collection of sketches of interest to locals and local historians. As you graze through the short biographies (after reading the truly brilliant introductory sections), a picture of the times emerges, of the terrible and less terrible obstacles women met, of the ways they nevertheless participated and contributed importantly to the age they lived in. Though the book only deals with the interesting women in a tiny part of the world, it makes a major contribution to dismissing the myth that women have been unimportant in history and in shaping the best, most humane and/or interesting aspects of the world we live in now. 

Alexandra Semyonova


Notable Sussex Women is both interesting and informative. Some entries I knew about, so many more I didn't. A very well researched book which contains a fascinating mine of information. An excellent publication and a must-have for local interest and anyone interested in the social development of women in Britain.

Connie Evans