Daphne Park - Spy! (British Intelligence Officer), Kofoworola Pratt - First black nurse in the NHS, Nellie Roberts - Artist (Botanical and Scientific illustrator)
Whilst researching the Borough of Lambeth for the very first Lambeth Tour Guides course back in 2020 we were surprised by the lack of material on historical women across the Borough. There were a few exceptions like Florence Nightingale and even Mary Coade but generally there was very little, certainly not in one place and certainly not that constituted a coherent story of women's indisputable contribution across the Borough - there was our challenge!
As three of us, Jenni Bowley, Elaine Wein and myself were fully occupied with setting up the course we tasked Jenny Rossiter with coming up a with short list of 'Lambeth Women'. An initial trawl came up with 50 names really quickly and once we had sat down (on zoom!) to decide what to do it became clear that we could easily extend the list and write a book!
Our list of 50 soon became 150 so we started regular 'home-made soup and book planning meeting's' at Jenny's house to formulate our plans.
Authors Jenny Rossiter, Elaine Wein, Chris Everett, Jenni Bowley
We divided up our women into the range of their activities, era's and backgrounds that we hoped would represent the whole Borough from north to south and east to west and set about initial research - each of us with a different theme and range of personalities. We also knew that we would have to leave many out and if we kept uncovering more we would never finish! We were pleased with ourselves that we had identified a worthy task but soon realised that without professional help were going to meander and time would drift - we needed focus and we got it from our newly identified editor Helen Doe. Helen soon told us some home truths and the disciplines we would need to bring it together - Phase Two was underway.
With our drafts analysed, re and re-read we were able to enter Phase Three - John Finn! John is a graphic designer with years of experience and under his expert guidance we were able to fashion our edited text and our scatter gun approach to images into the semblance of a credible publication. John duly completed his honing and tuning and off it went to the printers - almost two years after its conception Inspirational Women of Lambeth, from writers, business women, entertainers, professionals, politicians, activists and even law breakers were ready for the bookshops.
We had to settle for 130 influential women but have left space for an even bigger volume 2!
Our second book launch is at the London Metropolitan Archives on Thursday 22nd February.
Chris Everett co-author.