Yesterday I visited the Feminist Library in London, looking for ideas and materials for my forthcoming workshop at the Conway Hall: Writing the Stories of When Women Gather
The library was officially closed as they are preparing for their move from Westminster Bridge Road to a new home in Peckham and the volunteers were working late. Nevertheless, I was lucky to be have several hours to browse the shelves – a luxury in these digital times and much more fun than searching online.
The Feminist Library does have an online catalogue but they are refreshingly low-tech and beautifully organised. I loved dipping into the shelves and discovering the unexpected. There’s a real treasure trove of boxes of old periodicals and magazines from the 1960’s onwards with titles such as The Broomstick and Medusa, Hex, Bitch and Pandora’s Jar.
I found newsletters from Greenham Common and the Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Camp, publications by and for older women, lesbian feminists, nurses, radical midwives, occupational therapists in women’s prisons, teachers, artists and creative writers.In the first edition of Aurora magazine from 1986 I found a poem called ‘Dies Natales’ by Carol Ann Duffy.
There was another visitor to the library, a young Korean woman who told me she had found things in the Feminist library that she couldn’t find in Korea! She showed me a magazine from 1981 called Women of Korea with articles about women revolutionaries from North Korea.
The Feminist Library will re-open in its new home in the Sojourner Truth Community Centre at 161 Summer Road, Peckham in March this year. Keep an eye out on their website for details. Your can also become a Friend and support the library and donate to their Crowdfunder campaign to help fit out the new library space. The library is staffed by volunteers and is a great example of what can happen ‘when women gather’. I’m looking forward to visiting them in their new home.
Do you want to explore your own stories of when women gather? Discover more at my Creative Writing Workshop: Writing the Stories of When Women Gather, Conway Hall, Saturday 26 January.