Fairtrade Fortnight

This year Fairtrade Fortnight takes place from Monday 26th February to Sunday 11th March. 
This is an opportunity to celebrate the great work which Fairtrade does around the world to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow the things we love: chocolate, coffee, wine, bananas, gold. 

How does Fairtrade work?

Fairtrade change the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fair deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. 
The Fairtrade Premium is a small increase in the cost of some goods which goes directly to the farmers and farming co-ops. This allows them to invest in their communities.
This small price can support things that have a massive impact on communities around the world: education and healthcare for children, or building infrastructure such as roads.

The Prospects for Women’s Suffrage

Many of you will have come across the New Statesman, the liberal left-leaning magazine featuring writers such as Laurie Penny, Will Self and the late Christopher Hitchens. But most of you probably haven’t heard of its forerunner, The Athenaeum.

Image of the hard bound spines of The Athenaeum
The Athenaeum

Published weekly between 1828 and 1931, The Athenaeum was a highly influential periodical covering topics such as literature, fine arts, music, theatre, politics and popular science and is noted for publishing anonymous reviews, often written by famous and/or influential people.

Here at City we are fortunate to hold an editor’s copy of The Athenaeum featuring handwritten notes identifying who the authors of various articles were, and this makes it one of our most frequently accessed Special Collection items.

The Athenaeum is also available online via CityLibrary Search and our subscription to Proquest’s British Periodicals Collection: you can search the full-text simply by logging-in with your City username and password.

One of the other features of The Athenaeum was the amount of personal correspondence printed, and the image (below) is a scan of a letter sent to the editor in April 1917 from a John Darbyshire in response to an article written on proposals for giving women the right to vote.

Image of the letter 'The Prospects for Women's Suffrage'.
DARBYSHIRE, J., 1917. THE PROSPECTS FOR WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE. The Athenaeum, (4616), pp. 192.

To the Editor of The Athenaeum.
SIR,-Allow me to comment briefly on Councillor Eleanor Rathbone’s article on the above subject in your last issue. It will be a pity if the issue is to be decided as between married v. single; we have had enough of that sort of thing in the conscription business. Miss Rathbone says: “On no account must an opportunity of securing the protection of the Parliamentary vote for five or six million women, married and widows, be sacrificed to the supposed interests of the woman wage-earner.” Well, in the first place, there is no call to sacrifice the opportunity. The problem is: Why not both ? Even Mr. Asquith has emphatically declared that if women are to be enfranchised at all it should be on the same terms as men. Miss Rathbone further says: ” The married women and working mothers stand, after all, not only for themselves, but for their children.” Of course, but does this only apply to married women over 35 ? Are the young married mothers not even more concerned to…’

The letter is a passionate plea for equality and for all women, regardless of age, marital status or financial disposition, to be granted the same democratic rights as men. John Darbyshire goes on to write:

“We are in the present mess not only because of one-sex government, but because of this assumption of age-wisdom, and of the right of one generation to make the laws under which their grandchildren will live.”

As we reflect on the centenary of The Representation of People Act 1918 and some of the continuing challenges we face as a society today, it’s always fascinating to explore the past in order to gain new insights and understanding about our present and future.

The Homeless Period

This winter Library Services raised money to donate sanitary products to Hackney Foodbank.

William, the Hackney Foodbank warehouse manager weighs our donations.

Currently homeless shelters are not provided with money for tampons and towels.  With limited or no access to sanitary products, homeless women are often forced to go without. Homeless Period believes that tampons and towels should be made available through homeless shelters, the same way the government provides condoms. This charity encourages individuals to donate sanitary products to local homeless charities or food shelters.

You can support this great initiative by visiting their website, signing their petition, or donating a tampon.

For homeless women, it really is that dreaded time of the month.

Donations from staff

Staff from Library Services organised a series of events to raise money. They set up a festive bake off, a drop-in Christmas decorations making event, quizzes and  donated money that would have been spent on Christmas cards across all four library locations. Over £100 was raised for sanitary products and other items which Hackney Foodbank needed.

Homeless Period

Hackney Foodbank

Sustainable Libraries

Library Services are keen to support sustainability and the local environment and community. In the past year they have collected books and lent their expertise to growing a children’s school library, pledged to cut non-reusable plastics wherever possible and promoted recycling.

A bake off


The Disappearance of Miss Bebb

Proving once again that Library staff are multi-talented folk,  Alex Giles, a member of the City Library team has written a drama to be performed by an all star cast. “The Disappearance of Miss Bebb”, a 90 minute radio-style version of Alex’s screenplay “Justice” will be performed at Middle Temple Hall on 2nd April. 

About the play 

Gwyneth Bebb with her daughter Diana (1919) Image: First 100 Years

Gwyneth Bebb has left Oxford University the top law student of her year. So why can’t she practise as a professional lawyer? Because she’s a woman… 

Based on true events and the infamous case “Bebb v the Law Society”, the drama follows four brave young women on the eve of WW1 as they fight for the right to become our first female lawyers; a tale of faith, hope and bigotry.  

In tumultuous times they battle the mighty legal establishment against all odds, amidst personal feuds, joys and tragedies. 

The title role will be played by Call the Midwife’s Laura Main, other cast includes Martin Shaw, Jason Watkins, Ray Fearon and Hugh Dennis. 

The performance is on behalf of the Kalisher Trust, a charity which supports aspiring barristers, whatever their background, to create a more diverse and socially mobile criminal Bar; unlocking  the skills of criminal barristers, and showing that anyone can aspire to be the advocate of tomorrow. Internships and awards are available.

Alex will be appearing on BBC Radio 4 ‘s Woman’s Hour on 22nd March with Lady Justice Anne Rafferty, to talk about “The Disappearance of Miss Bebb” and the work of the Kalisher Trust.

Researching “Bebb v the Law Society”
Access the original reports of the case Bebb v  The Law Society [1914] 1 Ch. 286 in the various law reports held at City’s lawlibraries and via Westlaw
Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, from the School of Law at Reading University is the leading expert on Gwyneth Bebb. You can access her articles via CityLibrary Search:

Virginia Woolf was a contemporary of Gwyneth Bebb. Could she have been describing her when she wrote the following in 1929?
“At any rate, she was making the attempt. And as I watched her lengthening out for the test, I saw, but hoped that she did not see, the bishops and the deans, the doctors and the professors, the patriarchs
and the pedagogues all at her shouting warning and advice. You can’t do this and you shan’t do that! Fellows and scholars only allowed on the grass! Ladies not admitted without a letter of introduction!
 ……. So they kept at her like the crowd at a fence on the race-course, and it was her trial to take her fence without looking to right or to left. If you stop to curse you are lost, I said to her; equally, if you stop to laugh.
Hesitate or fumble and you are done for. Think only of the jump, I implored her, as if I had put the whole of my money on her back; and she went over it like a bird. But there was a fence beyond that and a fence beyond that.
Whether she had the staying power I was doubtful, for the clapping and the crying were fraying to the nerves. But she did her best.”

Virginia Woolf ‘A Room of One’s Own’: http://library.city.ac.uk/record=b1163691

Celebrating International Women’s Day at City Library

International women's day logo

Today is International Women’s Day. On this day every year we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women from around the world.

City University is proud of its female staff. Whether they have achieved great successes outside of the workplace or led impactful research on a range of issues that affects people from around the world, they have shown great strength and dynamism and brought value to society. They are an inspiration to us all.

City Library holds many books by inspiring women both from City and from around the world. Their work has brought forth much good and their remarkable stories of achievement inspire and push us all. We hope you check out these items and push the boundaries of what can be accomplished for everyone.

  • Malala Yousafzai is a truly inspiring person. She gained international fame at a young age as a fearless blogger and activist for human rights and female education in Pakistan. In 2012 she survived an attempted assassination which aimed to silence her work. Recovering from that attack, she has since travelled the world advocating for human rights and female education, speaking to world leaders and at the UN. In 2014 she was the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. If you have seen it yet, watch this film or read her book today.
  • Annie Leibovitz is one of the foremost photograph portraitists working today. Famous photos have included the Rolling Stones in their early seventies pomp, the last ever portraits taken of John Lennon and photographs of the Queen. She has inspired a whole slew of photographers since.
  • Professor Susan Gathercole through her long career, Susan has researched specific learning difficulties in children. Focusing on understanding memory problems, she has shown how kids can be supported through training and in the classroom.
  • Chloë Fox was a noted Australian politician. Following her postgraduate study at City, Chloë won a stunning landslide election victory in 2006 in an opposition marginal seat. In 2011 she was appointed SA Transport Services Minister. After she left politics in 2014 she became a teacher. She is just one of the great political success stories from City University. You can find out more about the successes at City from the alumni webpages.
  • J.K. Rowling Astute business women and media mogul, Joanne Rowling is best known for creating the Pottermore Empire single handedly from an Edinburgh coffee shop. An icon to startups everywhere, she understood the key to success in business is having a good story. The company mascot she created, “Harry Potter”, now rivals Bibendum Man and Gio Compario in lists of favourite corporate creations. Since retirement she has tried her hand at writing: one of her books even got adapted by the BBC.

Find out more about International Women’s Day at City University London and the City women who have been achieving the extraordinary since 1894 on our #IWD2016 minisite.