Born OTD in 1959, author, broadcaster and a professor of creative writing, Jeanette Winterson. ‘Written On The Body’ is the most beguilingly seductive novel to date from the author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Winterson chronicles the consuming affair between the narrator, who is given neither name nor gender, and the beloved, a complex and confused married woman.

Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulation of a lifetime gather there. … More

Born OTD in 1890, mid-20th-century novelist who was born and grew up in the Caribbean island of Dominica, Jean Rhys. Good Morning, Midnight is experimental in design and deals with a woman’s feelings of vulnerability, depression, loneliness and desperation during the years between the two World Wars. The book initially sold poorly—critics thought it well written, but too depressing—and after its publication Rhys spent a decade living in obscurity. It was not until it was adapted by Selma Vaz Dias into a radio play, first broadcast by the BBC in 1957, that Rhys was once again put into the spotlight.

Saved, rescued, fished-up, half-drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set… Set in a 1930s … More

Born OTD in 1909, black American writer, Chester Himes. Himes wrote about African Americans in general, especially in two books that are concerned with labor relations and African-American workplace issues. ‘If He Hollers Let Him Go’ – which contains many autobiographical elements – is about a black shipyard worker in Los Angeles during World War II struggling against racism, as well as his own violent reactions to racism.

Robert Jones is a crew leader in a naval shipyard in Los Angeles in the 1940s. He should have a … More

Born OTD in 1856, Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist, Bernard Shaw. Andrew Undershaft, a millionaire armaments manufacturer, loves money and despises poverty. His estranged daughter Barbara, on the other hand, shows her love for the poor by throwing her energies into her work as a Major in the Salvation Army, and sees her father as another soul to be saved. But when the Army needs funds to keep going, it is Undershaft who saves the day with a large cheque – forcing Barbara to examine her moral assumptions.

Are they right to accept money that has been obtained by ‘Death and Destruction’? Full of lively comedy and sparkling … More

Happy Birthday to local Young Adult writer and screenwriter, Catherine Johnson. A forensic crime thriller set in Revolutionary Paris. Young surgeon Ezra McAdam must hasten to Paris to rescue his friend Loveday Finch and her charge Mahmoud, the Ottoman prince, who have been caught up in the Revolution. On the way, Ezra experiences the war first hand on the battlefields of Northern France, where his surgical skills are in high demand by the beleaguered French army. Meanwhile, in Paris, the guillotine is busy, and the medical world is finding the surfeit of bodies useful to its research into the seat of life.

Ezra is not persuaded by the controversial theories of his French colleagues, but his mind is on other matters. Finding … More

Born OTD in 1759, English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights, Mary Wollstonecraft. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft’s life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and work as important influences.

Wollstonecraft responds to those educational and political theorists of the 18th century who did not believe women should receive a … More

Born OTD in 1962, American author, journalist and feminist, Naomi Wolf. Wolf posits the idea of an “iron-maiden,” an intrinsically unattainable standard that is then used to punish women physically and psychologically for their failure to achieve and conform to it. Wolf criticized the fashion and beauty industries as exploitative of women, but added that the beauty myth extended into all areas of human functioning

Wolf writes that women should have “the choice to do whatever we want with our faces and bodies without being … More

Born OTD in 1931, Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician, & psychiatrist. She has written many books on the subject of women in Islam, paying particular attention to the practice of female genital mutilation in her society. This powerful non-fiction account of the oppression of women in the Muslim world remains as shocking today as when it was first published, more than a quarter of a century ago.

Her experiences working as a doctor in villages around Egypt, witnessing prostitution, honour killings and sexual abuse, including female circumcision, … More

Penny Pepper has led an extraordinary life. She is a writer. Poet. Punk. Pioneer. Activist. And she also happens to be disabled. In her absorbing memoir, which spans the mid-80s up until the millennium, Penny paints a picture of life, love, sex, music, success, failure and misadventures in the UK punk scene of the late 20th century. Craving freedom from the poor Chiltern Hill council estate where she grew up, Penny dreams of moving to London, of writing, of finding her way in the North London music scene.

She doesn’t have what others take for granted; she is disabled. And she sets out with just her raw, burgeoning … More