In 1918, the British government passed the Representation of the People Act, granting women in the UK the right to vote. While this did not include every woman in the UK, it was a gigantic leap for the progression of women’s rights. One hundred years on from this, Bromley House Library are celebrating this landmark with a display of miniature knitted versions of some of history's most famous women. We sent our Rebecca Miller down to the library to have a butcher's — Here's what she had to say.
The collection in Bromley House Library currently consists of 22 knitted women, each one included alongside a book of information which distinguishes each woman — although for the most part this is not necessary, as the figures show an uncanny resemblance to the women they are based on — and are each constructed by a knitting group associated with the library from a selection of donated wool. The clothing and accessories have been chosen with a great deal of precision and a number of the outfits have been knitted and embroidered from hand specifically to recreate the image of each woman.
The knitted figurines include a vast arrayof famous women, including but not limited to film stars Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, monarchs Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II, artist Frida Kahlo, authors Beatrix Potter and Jane Austen, the sportswoman Serena Williams, and the activist and orchestrator of the suffragette movement Emmeline Pankhurst.
The idea for creating these knitted figurines came from a suggestion by Bromley House employee Amy, who sent around the knitting group a basic outline of the figure of a woman and asked if any of the group fancied making figurines of famous women in history. By constructing a list of famous women each knitter selected one or more women which they would like to replicate in fabric form, after a couple of months of work the group had its first finished woman — Charlotte Brontë. Although the plethora of knitted figurines are already gracing the walls of Bromley House Library, there are plans to extend the collection further- the next famous woman being the Polish revolutionary socialist, Rosa Luxemburg.
The knitted women shall be on display in the library until early November, after which point they shall briefly go into hiding to make room for a large number of poppies, which are again being knitted by the same group, to celebrate the commemoration of the end of the First World War. The exhibition will be back on display by the start of December and shall be sold off in a silent auction, with the money raised going on to help fund future projects at Bromley House Library.
To see more of the knitted women exhibition, or to find out more about Bromley House Library, visit the webpage at www.bromleyhouse.org, or check out their Instagram feed @bromleyhouselib.