101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No. 70: Feminist journals

Spare Rib 6

Hmmm – what to read…? Celebrity cellulite hell; top-ten handbags-to-die-for; how to bake the perfect chocolate cheesecake; how to lose 15 stone in three days; how to perform the perfect blow-job; how to maintain the will to live….

Amidst today’s flim-flam of celebrity, lifestyle, fashion and beauty publications consumed by much of British womanhood, there does exist progressive, political, publishing on women and their rights: and it is Birmingham, through one of its own daughters, that can proudly take the credit.

Long before there was Spare Rib (the late-lamented tribune of 1970s British second-wave feminism) there was The English Woman’s Journal (1858-1864). This pioneering periodical was co-founded by Birmingham lass (albeit quite a posh one), Bessie Rayner Parkes, who was born in the city in 1829. 
Her affluent, middle-class parents were Joseph Parkes, a solicitor of a radical political bent, and Elizabeth Rayner Priestley, granddaughter of scientist, philosopher and Unitarian minister, a chap you may have heard of: Joseph Priestley.
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