Women’s History Month – The woman behind the poster

Elizabeth Anionwu at her 'Desert Island Disc' discussion. 5/10/16

With Women’s History Month well under way this March, Redbridge Libraries has begun it’s month long programme of events and activities to celebrate the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

You may have seen the poster around the borough promoting all of the events taking place in Redbridge throughout March, but might be wondering who the woman in the poster is. The face behind the poster is Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, author of “Mixed Blessing from a Cambridge Union.” She will be joining us mid-month in Wanstead Library for an author talk and book signing.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Dame Elizabeth to give our readers a little more insight into who she is and what this month means to her.

Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu Book cover

“When friends and colleagues discovered that I had spent my first 9 years in care, in a Catholic Children’s Home run by nuns, they couldn’t believe it and wondered how I had managed to succeed so well in life.  They urged me to write my memoirs in order to share my story with others who might find inspiration from it.  Entitled ‘Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union’, I write about the experience of being a mixed-race child born in Birmingham just after the Second World War to a single, white, Catholic mother and a Nigerian father. I did not find the latter until I was 25. The book explores, amongst many other topics, the challenging issues of identity and how I managed to succeed in a nursing career that spanned being a radical health visitor to the first UK specialist sickle cell nurse.

The reception to my book has been fantastic! I self-published it towards the end of 2016 and over 3,000 individuals have obtained a copy. Out of 114 reviews on Amazon, 110 have awarded the book a five star rating. In addition I have been invited to give over 100 talks about my memoirs.”

Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu with statueUpon asking Dame Elizabeth about the importance of Women’s History Month and how her memoir relates to the themes celebrated this March, she spoke passionately! Dame Elizabeth believes that the month is “Extremely important. [She is] a black woman that is very interested in history and women’s issues.” Her memoir explores the lives of several generations of women including her mother, herself and her daughter, plus her granddaughter also gets a mention!

When considering the advice she would give to young women today, Dame Elizabeth encourages them to “read about the lives of as many women as you can and also consider writing your own narrative.”

Come along to our special free event Breaking Through Despite the Odds with Professor Dame Elizabeth where she will give a talk and will also be signing books. The event takes place on Thursday 14 March at 6.30pm in Wanstead Library. Please book in advance via Eventbrite.

There is a range of exiting exhibitions, events, reading groups, fitness days, theatre performances and lots more taking place through out the month. Come along and get involved! To find out about more of our events during Women’s History Month please visit our website.

Post Author: Nida Hussain

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