Fedden_Poppies

Poppies by Mary Fedden is available as a Limited Edition print here. If – if – Brexit doesn’t happen, we are going to buy this to hang in the shop as an ecstatic celebration of the future and a way of in some small way making up for the hell of the last two and half years.

ThusA rather wonderful but fairly unknown Vanessa Bell. There are no actual flowers but looking at this is certainly as calming as a cup of tea or a walk  or a good novel. Although, truth to tell, some of us are beginning to wonder if this Brexit agony will ever end, the politicians are immovably stubborn and maybe the only thing to do is ignore them. But this is so hard to achieve. Even this picture was probably painted in France.

Golden Kipper 1939 by Mary Potter 1900-1981

At the beginning of this fraught week we said the Post would be devoted to soothing flower paintings. But actually a kipper is just as soothing. And there are some flowers. This is by Mary Potter (1900-81).

Tue

Today is the big day when there is a chance, just a chance, that we won’t have to be cut asunder from our 27 friends and allies in Europe – and then spend the next decade begging them to forgive us and allow us to be their friend again. But who knows what tricks our wrecked political system has in store for us? More deep breaths and another soothing painting: this is Still Life with Roses and Peaches by Margaret Fisher Prout (1875-1963).

Mon

Very very soothing paintings this week, in what is going to be a crucial week in British politics and for all us Brits. As Simon Kuper pointed out in the Financial Times on January 10th: before the referendum few people cared about the EU. ‘Brexiters won by attaching Brexit to two issues that voters did care about: immigration and the NHS. But Brexit, if binned [which he thinks is ‘quite likely’] could fade back into marginality.’ Then, as he says, we must make every effort to achieve social peace, and he wisely suggests using Mandela’s approach as our model. So, here is the first of five soothing flower paintings by women. This is Still Life with Fruit by Nora Cundell  (1889-1948). Look at it and breathe deeply.

Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_official_SCOTUS_portrait_(cropped)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is our total heroine and we are all praying for her return to full health. See the film and marvel at her intelligence and grace, something which Felicity Jones captures perfectly.

cornelia-sorabji-01India’s first woman lawyer Cornelia Sorabji became a specialist advocate for women prohibited from communicating with men. Unable to represent them in court due to a blanket ban that would not be overturned until 1922, Cornelia nevertheless fought courageously for both the inheritance rights of these neglected women and her own as a professional. When the legal profession finally opened its doors to female lawyers in the 1920s, Sorabji opened her own practice in Calcutta . She is thought to have helped over 600 client fight legal battles over the course of her career, no mean feat given the obstacles stacked against her by a deeply oppressive and conservative patriarchy and by a legal system that sought to impose alien Western values on India. A keen short story writer, her experiences are recounted in the book Between The Twilights (1908) and her two memoirs. She retired in 1929 and returned to England, where she had been at university, living on Green Lanes near Manor House in North London’ (more detail here).

Die_Gründerinnen_des_Deutschen_Akademikerinnenbundes_e.V.

It is sobering, as we watch the UK tearing itself apart (agony, actually) to be reminded how backward it has been in the past – hey, New Zealand may have given women the vote in 1893 but we shall go on force feeding young women; of course women cannot be lawyers. Etc. Even in Germany, before the rise of Hitler, women were lawyers. Here is Margarete Berent (on the right) with the other women  in the Association of Women Lawyers and Judges in 1926. She left Germany in November 1939 (that must have been a harrowing journey) and went to Chile, after that to New York. She is mentioned in this excellent book about women lawyers in Germany (which also mentions Lore Ehrlich, who features in A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1913-39 because of the remark she made when she too had to give up her legal career in Germany and on arriving in England said ‘the only English family I know are the Forsytes.’ It was she who had a battered copy of They Knew Mr Knight. Alas, she died in 1980 so she never saw Dorothy Whipple’s rebirth. But she re-qualaified as a lawyer in England. And England welcomed her!).

Dame-Rose-Heilbron

Rose Heilbron was the most famous woman lawyer in the 1960s and ’70s. Vera Baird QC has written well about her here.

Helena_Florence_Normanton_Tumblr_-_2014-12-15_08.49-vert

Inspired by On the Basis of Sex (terrible title for an excellent film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, starring Felicity Jones) the Persephone Post this week is about female lawyers (although even that phrase, female lawyers, becomes questionable in the context of the film – it should be ‘about lawyers who are of the female gender although that should make no difference to anything’). First up Helena Normanton (1882-1957) who was the first woman to practise as a barrister in England. She was the first woman to obtain a divorce for her client, the first woman to lead the prosecution in a murder trial, and the first woman to conduct a trial in America and to represent cases at the High Court and the Old Bailey. Unlike the two female prime ministers we have endured/are enduring, she was a great supporter of women’s rights. This month 218 Strand Chambers, a set of eight members, will rebrand as Normanton Chambers in her honour. This is the first instance of a set of chambers being named after a woman.

Back to top


59 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB