P1010118 (640x480)Female writers have no problems these days in seeing their work published in books, newspapers and magazines.  This was definitely not so at the end of the 19th century. Women who, like today, have an urge to express themselves on the page, were shunned by Fleet Street, and were often forced to use a male synonym in order to be published – and, more importantly, paid!

Things changed in the 1890s when the Society of Women Journalists hit Fleet Street.     But it took a man, Mr Joseph Snell Wood, a wealthy, clever director of the successful Gentlewoman Magazine to invest in this radical organisation. Advertised in The Times of 1 May 1894, almost overnight, 200 women writers flocked to pay their one guinea to become members and Mr Wood set about finding premises where the ladies could meet. Their first president was Mrs Pearl Craigie (1867-1906) writing as John Oliver Hobbes), an Anglo-American playwright  and the Society flourished with some of the world’s most revered novelists, journalists, dramatists, poets and women of literature seeing their work published – at long last –  under their own name.

In the archives, we find luminaries such as Marie Stopes, Radclyffe Hall, Rebecca West, Vera Brittain (and later her daughter Queen and Joyce Grenfell lineupShirley Williams), Joyce Grenfell, Lady Elizabeth Longford, Nina Bawden and latterly Jacqueline Wilson, Martina Cole, Lady Sandra Howard and the wonderful Victoria Wood among hundreds of notable women who have made such a difference to journalism and literature over the 120 years’ existence of the Society.

We published a regular newsletter and magazine to which the cream of the world’s literati contributed.  Such names as Daphne du Maurier, Rumer Godden, Sir Compton Mackenzie, Spike Milligan and so many more.

We have come a long way from those heady days of the naughty nineties.  Our members have reported from the South African Boer War (Lady Sarah Wilson); the Great War; Suffrage debacles; many of our members were first on the scene when the BBC began broadcasting in 1922; our journalists reported during the Depression years of the ‘30s and of course, many served during World War II. With bombs falling, our council continued to meet in Stationers’ Hall in the City, just as we do these days, in our office just off the Minories.

In 1951 we changed our name to The Society of Women Writers and Journalists and in 2004, some men joined us as Male Associates. We now have a dozen excellent male writers. 

This year we are celebrating our 120th year.  We intend marking the occasion on Tuesday, 14 October.  At 11.30am we will meet at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, for a special service.  This will be followed by our birthday lunch at the ancient Stationers’ Hall at 1.30pm.  Our distinguished President, Shirley Williams (Baroness Williams of Crosby) will be present, alongside Libby Purves, Simon Brett and our speaker, Ann Widdecombe and many of our patrons, vice-presidents and, of course, our members who will help us enjoy this special time in history.

For more details and application form to attend the day:  www.swwj.co.uk    


About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.