Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

First to do it! Celebrating pioneering women through portraiture and biography

Magicians, firefighters, DJs, politicians, broadcasters, fight directors…
Join us for a Zoom celebration of pioneering women past and present, with acclaimed photographer Anita Corbin and historian and writer Dr Kate Murphy.

Date: Wednesday 8 July 2020
Time: 4 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.
Location: ZOOM
Free, but booking essential (details below)

Anita's inspiring and informative exhibition of 100 First Women Portraits showcases British women who were each ‘firsts’ in their field.

Kate’s book Firsts: The Livewire Book of British Women Achievers, is a long overdue and startling exploration of over 500 women achievers.

They will be interviewed by art historian Dr Alexandra Loske, whose research interests include the life and work of women in the arts and sciences from the 18th century onward.

Professor Margaretta Jolly, Director of the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, will introduce the event.

This is a free event and open to all, but booking is essential. Please email Alexandra Loske for a place: A.Loske@sussex.ac.uk

Photographer Anita Corbin (left) and historian Dr Kate Murphy (right)Anita Corbin (left) and Dr Kate Murphy (right)

About the speakers:

Anita Corbin has been a portrait photographer all her working life and is passionate about creating images of girls and women that make people stop and think. Her passion is fired by years of working as an editorial portrait photographer with the Sunday Times and Observer colour magazines, where she was often sent around the world to cover ‘human interest’ stories involving women. Her exhibition 100 First Women Portraits features iconic portraits of celebrities, unsung heroines from across the decades, and ‘ordinary’ women doing extraordinary jobs. These include seventies rocker Suzi Quatro, Olympian Boxer Nicola Adams OBE, Lady Brenda Hale of the Supreme Court and football manager Hope Powell. Anita has said about this project, ‘It is my hope that women who dream big will look at these pictures and see that they are not alone.’ 

Anita Corbin' s exhibition 100 First Women Portraits has been at several venues in the UK. It opened at Brighton Museum in February 2020, but a month later the Museum closed temporarily because of the Covid-19 crisis. The exhibition is now available online: http://firstwomen.brightonmuseums.org/

Anita Corbin's First Women exhibition at Brighton Museum 2020Anita Corbin's exhibition 100 First Women at Brighton Museum, 2020




Kate Murphy, historianHistorian and writer Dr Kate Murphy

Dr Kate Murphy is an historian and writer who has long had a passion for female pioneers​. She worked at the BBC for 24 years, mainly as a producer on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, where she produced countless items about women firsts. Since 2012, she has been an academic, based at Bournemouth University, where she established the new history degree. She is the author of two books: Firsts: The Livewire Book of British Women Achievers and Behind the Wireless: A History of Early Women at the BBC.  In 2018 she co-curated the BBC website 'Pioneering Women: 100 Voices of the BBC'  ​


Dr Alexandra Loske is an art historian, curator and associate of the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research. She co-organised and chaired events with Anita Corbin at Brighton Museum and interviewed several of Anita's 'First Women'. She has also contributed to the related blog series 100 Pioneering Women of Sussex at Brighton Museum. 


Alexandra Loske and Anita Corbin at Brighton Museum March 2020Alexandra Loske with Anita Corbin at Brighton Museum, March 2020