The idea for Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, came from a few inspiration points. I’m a distant relation of Emmeline Pankhurst (she is my great, great grandfather’s, brother’s, son’s wife) so I can’t claim to have her famous suffragette blood running in my veins but I can say that Emmeline’s story has followed me all my life and I do think on some level has influenced my work as an author and illustrator.
Exploring strong female characters for girls and boys to relate to would have always been a priority for me regardless of my surname, but the Pankhurst connection and Emmeline’s remarkable life did lead to the spark of an idea that a book really should exist for younger readers that celebrated the amazing stories of astounding women from history, like Emmeline.
While working on Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World in 2016, I’d hoped it would resonate with parents and young readers but had no idea just how much appetite there would be for this type of book. This seems to be a reflection of the times we live in, where we’ve taken huge strides in gender equality but there are still some doors that today’s girls will find it hard to open in their futures. And, lets face it, we can’t ignore that some extremely regressive things have happened around the world the past few years. It seems that people are left with the sense of ‘has that ACTUALLY just happened?’ and ‘is this actually STILL happening today?’
I hope the non-fiction stories of female achievement in Fantastically Great Women offer young readers a way into exploring the inequality and injustice of the past in a hopeful, accessible and age appropriate way. It’s a conversation starter for boys and girls about the way things have been, how they are now and how they could be.
The remarkable thing about all the women featured in the book is that they weren’t born special or different, they simply never said no to an adventure, stood up for what was right and fair and used their talents to their best advantage. Closing the book with the question ‘how will you change the world’ was really important to me, I wanted readers to feel inspired that their hopes, dreams and talents can take them to extraordinary places in the future.