AEWHA: Documenting the lives of extraordinary women

All England Women’s Hockey Association (AEWHA) Collection

Hockey may not seem especially heroic today; most of us have played it, or attempted to, at school, but in the early decades of the 20th century when organised physical activity for women was a relatively new idea and hockey as a sport was just getting started, it wasn’t quite so ordinary.

Hidden away in the archives of the UK governing body for women’s hockey there are some amazing stories about truly heroic women. Angela Gradwell (1906-1994) is just one of them. Her story begins in Bristol, where she was born into the wealthy and influential Tuckett family, and continues through a life that appears to defy everything that might once have been perceived as conventional.

She was the first female solicitor admitted to practise in Bristol. She was also a political activist, a writer, an internationalist (having travelled widely in Europe and the USA), a member of the Communist Party, an enthusiastic folk singer and player of the concertina, head of the legal department of the National Council for Civil Liberties, a reporter for the Daily Worker, a Marxist scholar, a trade unionist, a campaigner for the rights of the unemployed and a qualified air pilot. In her spare time she played hockey for England. Here she is with her team mates in 1935.

Angela Gradwell (1906-1994)

All these extraordinary, independent, adventurous, pioneering, hockey-playing women have stories to tell. To find out more or to arrange a visit to Archives & Research Collections contact:

Find out more about extraordinary women around the world and celebrate International Women’s Day with the Library.

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