Posts Tagged ‘Heroes and Heroines’

"Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015. The End." by Pate-keetongu. Image via the Lego Discworld Flickr group.

“Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 – 2015. The End.” by Pate-keetongu. Image via the Lego Discworld Flickr group.



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One of my earliest memories is receiving from First Sibling a beautifully illustrated copy of Disney’s retelling of Sleeping Beauty, which, of course, featured many of the highly detailed images from the 1959 film. I’ve watched this film repeatedly over the years, every time I see that it’s to be on television, and am always struck by the medieval beauty of the illustration style, full of patterns and rich colours, like the pages of an illuminated manuscript. The cartoon does in fact open as an illuminated manuscript telling Aurora’s story:

Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" as an illuminated manuscript (Image via A Book Hunter's Holiday blog).

Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” as an illuminated manuscript (Image via A Book Hunter’s Holiday blog).

The pages above remind me of the Chroniques d’Angleterre, specifically of the miniature below:

F.16 of the Chroniques d'Angleterre,, depicting the marriage of Diodicias (British Library, Royal 15 E IV ). Image via British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

F.16 of the Chroniques d’Angleterre,, depicting the marriage of Diodicias (British Library, Royal 15 E IV ). Image via British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.


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Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852 (St James Square blue plaque)

Ada Lovelace, 1815-1852 (St James Square blue plaque)

Happy Ada Lovelace Day 2014! Do you have any plans for the day? I walked past her blue plaque (in the photo to the left) at least twice a week most weeks when I lived in London, going to and from the London Library on my lunch hour, as a result of which I began reading a lot about her, and she has become one of my heroines. (more…)

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Tonight I watched the first episode of She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens, an excellent documentary series written and presented by historian Dr Helen Castor, currently being repeated on BBC4.

The first episode was about mother-in-law and daughter-in-law Matilda and Eleanor. I’ve known of the latter, whose more complete name is Eleanor of Aquitaine for as long as I can remember; I can’t remember the circumstances of our meeting, be it the compulsive reading, over and over, of the Ladybird Adventures from History series, or if it was through travelling in France on holidays, where we stayed for a week or so near Poitiers (part of Eleanor’s family’s territories) every year. I grew up fascinated by the idea of the fabled court of love, which led to my reading courtly literature, and thus, in part, to my career as a medievalist. So at least one thing in my museum has to be about her.

Effigy of Eleanor of Aquitaine from her tomb,  early 13th century, Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou, France (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Effigy of Eleanor of Aquitaine from her tomb, early 13th century, Fontevraud Abbey, Anjou, France (image via Wikimedia Commons)


I’ve never been to Fontevraud Abbey, although I plan to do so, but I have seen the 19th century plaster cast of the effigy above in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I think that the reason that this caught my eye is, unsurprisingly, because she is reading. It’s a decidedly unusual tomb, for an equally unusual woman.

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Which door do I open next? (image from Fiction Fixers: Adventures in Wonderland)

When I realised that I would not be able to complete 23 Things for Professional Development by the original deadline in October, I decided that I would take some of the pressure off myself, by resolving to finish all 23 things by the end of 2012. Because I go away for a few days tomorrow, I want to write my last CPD23 post this evening to keep my resolution. I would like to thank the Evil Geniuses behind CPD23; I hope that they realise what a great thing they do for the rest of us. (more…)

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Princess (Source:  Battleoftheplanets.net)

Princess (Source: Battleoftheplanets.net)

1980s pop music has a lot to answer for; fortunately, I know that there is no possible way that I will be the only person of my acquaintance who can still sing/”sing” Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero all the way through. This is in no small part owing to my years spent as a faithful worshipper in the Church of Cheesy Pop (when I was an undergraduate), where such songs were the hymns, but my favourite part of the song is the Greek Chorus of ladies in white. The gender politics are annoying, and were annoying, even when I was eight years old, as Bonnie Tyler’s character didn’t quite fit with my other heroines – She-Ra, Wonderwoman, Princess in G-Force, Annie, Anne Shirley, Jo March and Joey Bettany – at the time. Yet still the song was something of a classic, and it does suit today’s Reverb12 prompt: (more…)

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I realise that I should be considering Thing Four for CPD23, and I promise that I am, but Thing Three is still very much on my mind.  I have been thinking a lot about how I and others use my real name, and have used it, throughout my life.  I’ve always liked my name; it’s very much like that of L. M. Montgomery’s Little Elizabeth (in Anne of Windy Poplars), as I can change it according to my mood and situation.  Kathleen, Katie, Kate, Katya, Katherine, Kath. I have become accustomed to answering to more or less any variation on my name (officially, “Kathleen”) as people don’t always hear it properly or, if I am abroad, find it difficult to pronounce.  It is one of the drawbacks of having a relatively quiet voice, and it makes having clear, memorable business and calling cards considerably more important . And now, in public and in person, not merely online, I will answer to the Victorian Librarian.

Of course, when I was seven, I would only answer to Wonder Woman (so my godmother tells me), and in my first job post-University, I was nicknamed Buffy – I blame the kick-boxing classes – when I’d rather have been Willow, or a Watcher, a redhead and/or a genius book geek and librarian.  I still have all these characters as my role models; geekery is not just for Christmas.  I am also occasionally called Lucy – it was on the list of possible names before I was born, and certain friends (or “friends”, now that I think about it) maintain that it was intended to be short for Lucifer. While I would like to believe that this is because I am as bright as a morning star (after coffee, anyway), I suspect that diabolical comparisons are in fact being made at my expense.

The only real problem that I have ever had with my name is the Irish song I’ll take you home again, Kathleen, as was sung to me by our primary school janitor and various other wannabe comedians (several now coincidentally and curiously missing). For a few years, it seemed to be an accepted salutation in lieu of “hello”, much to my annoyance. Fortunately, the Tindersticks came to my rescue with their beautiful song which bears my name: Kathleen.

Alors … CPD23-ers, as a Thing Three (b), and everybody else, as a general question, what part does  your given name play in your identity, and what other names do you use, and why? Quick! To the comments!

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