Being at the Reform club inevitably brings up snippets from the past. Virginia Woolf wrote about “so audaciously trespassing” as a woman on university turf, and being stopped by a Beadle : “he was a Beadle; I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me.”
If you’ve seen the film Out of Africa I’m sure you’ll remember the scene where Karen von Blixen (author Isak Dineson) is escorted out of the exclusive gentlemen’s club.
|Thackeray looking bemused at this group of female authors|
The dark polished wood, the gilt-edged panelling and the male portraits everywhere brings up in me these and other images from women's past. I can’t help thinking of the past because the Reform Club is a spectacular reminder of bygone times. But of course it’s also a tribute to reform, as its name testifies. It was here that great politicians and thinkers of the last two centuries discussed their plans to re-make history and re-imagine the world – from figures such as Gladstone, to J. M. Barrie, E.M. Forster and H.G. Wells.
Being able to step onto that “turf” from which we as women were once barred is a wonderful thing. It makes being in the Reform Club as a member of Sourcebooks, a publishing company committed to women writers, a very special thing. What a wonderful space to celebrate the achievements of women since the beginning of the twentieth century.
|Phillipa Ashley and Francesca Simon|
|Gabrielle Kimm, Jane Odiwe, Amanda Grange|