8th March is International Women’s Day, and at CLC World we’re celebrating women from each of our resort destinations who’ve achieved in their different fields – from philosophy to mountaineering, literature to mathematics.
Daphne du Maurier
(Cornwall, UK, writer)
Daphne du Maurier’s work will always be associated with Cornwall. Celebrated around the globe, her famous novels, Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and The House on the Strand (which translates into Tywardreath in Cornish and is CLC Trenython Manor’s village) have been made into films and TV series.
du Maurier was often categorised as a “romantic novelist”, which considering the rarity of a happy ending and the sinister overtones that pervaded her work is quite a stretch! Really, du Maurier has more in common with Wilkie Collins with her twisting plots.
An obituarist wrote about du Maurier: “She did not want to put her readers’ minds at rest. She wanted her riddles to persist. She wanted the novels to continue to haunt us beyond their endings.”
Daphne du Maurier continues to appeal to readers, and particularly women, both for her riddles and the way she portrays women. She captures the nuances of their daily lives; the way they comfort children, stub out cigarettes or style their hair. It’s little wonder that the book Rebecca was an instant best seller, has never gone out of print and still sells about 50,000 copies a year.
Maria Zambrano was born in Vélez-Málaga, southern Spain. She studied under, and was influenced by, Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. Zambrano went on to teach metaphysics at Madrid University and at the Instituto Cervantes from 1931 to 1936.
Zambrano was against the military intervention that led to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and once it ended, she went into exile along with hundreds of thousands of others who remained loyal to the democratically elected government.
While little known to an English-speaking readership, Zambrano’s unique voice engages with some of the fundamental problems of our times in her essays.
Maria Zambrano returned to Spain in 1984, some 9 years after Franco’s death. She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Communications and Humanities in 1981, named Doctor honoris causa by Málaga University (1983) and became the first woman to be awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1988.
In August 2011, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner became the second woman to climb the fourteen ‘eight-thousanders’ (mountains that are 8,000 metres or more above sea level) and the first woman to do so without the use of supplementary oxygen or high-altitude porters. Everest and K2 are the highest of those peaks and the last of the 14 mountains that Kaltenbrunner summited.
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner’s interest in mountain climbing developed at a very young age when a youth group leader in her hometown in Austria introduced her to the fascinating world of mountains. After church, he would take her on tours to the local mountains. At the age of 13, Kaltenbrunner ventured on her first easy climbing tours at the local “Sturzhahn”, and her enthusiasm for climbing was born.
A trained nurse, she put all her savings into trekking and climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. Her greatest dream – climbing an eight thousand peak – came true at the age of 23, when she succeeded in climbing the fore summit of Broad Peak in Pakistan, with a height of 8.027m.
In 2012, she won the prestigious National Geographic Explorer of the Year Award.
The daughter of an Ottoman pasha, Safiye Ali, was the first female Turkish physician as well as the first woman to teach medicine to girls in college.
During her years at the Istanbul American College, she set her mind on becoming a physician, enrolling in the Medical Faculty of the University of Würzburg, Germany. She then specialised in gynaecology and paediatrics.
Ali received her diploma as Turkey‘s first female physician in 1923, opening her own surgery. She also worked, later becoming head, at a special care centre whose principal aim was to raise awareness among mothers on raising children well.
Patients flocked to Ali’s clinic. Her articles were published thanks to her activities in the field of women’s rights at the Turkish Women Union. However, as a flourishing physician at the top level of her profession, Ali was forced to quit. She was assaulted by male physicians many times and demoralised by groundless assertions. Ali struggled on until she was diagnosed with cancer, retuning to Germany to work until her death at the age of 61.
Dara Torres excelled at swimming, winning 12 Olympic medals and holding a world record in three events. She was the first swimmer to represent the USA at five different Olympic Games and at age 41, the oldest swimmer to earn a place on the US Olympic team.
At 14, she won the national open championship in the 50-yard freestyle by defeating the then-current champion, Jill Sterkel. Torres accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where she swam for the Florida Gators swimming and diving team. Torres left university having attained the highest possible number of All-American swimming honours during a college career, 28.
Torres’ Olympic career spanned 24 years, having taken two breaks out of competitive swimming, with her earning medals at the 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008 Games.
Torres’ 12 Olympic medals has been matched by only two other American swimmers, but not yet bettered.
(Scotland, UK, physicist)
Mary Somerville (1780 –1872) was a Scottish science writer and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was nominated as the joint first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society with Caroline Herschel.
When she died, The Morning Post declared that “Whatever difficulty we might experience in the middle of the nineteenth century in choosing a king of science, there could be no question whatever as to the queen of science”.
Somerville College, University of Oxford, is named after her, reflecting Mary’s virtues of liberalism and academic success that the college wished to embody. She is featured on the front of the Royal Bank of Scotland £10 note launched in 2017.
Sir David Brewster, inventor of the kaleidoscope, wrote in 1829 that Mary Somerville was “certainly the most extraordinary woman in Europe – a mathematician of the very first rank with all the gentleness of a woman”.
Mary was a feminist, writing: “From my earliest years my mind revolved against oppression and tyranny, and I resented the injustice of the world in denying all those privileges of education to my sex which were so lavishly bestowed on men.” She was the first person to sign John Stuart Mill’s unsuccessful petition for female suffrage in 1868.
International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world, while at the same time calling for a speedier resolution to gender equality.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual – asking everyone to choose to actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. You can find out more, here.