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Miriam Margolyes on Bluestockings

Monday 10 August 2009, 17:02

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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While Miriam Margolyes was recording the current Book of the Week, Bluestockings, it became clear that the text had particular meaning for her because she had been a Bluestocking herself. Producer Justine Willett writes:

Cambridge University is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. And on this week's Book of the Week, you can hear award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes reading Jane Robinson's Bluestockings, the remarkable story of how the first British women went on to get a university education. Miriam, herself a former Newnham College gal, in the early 60s, found reading the book took her back took her back to those extraordinary days at Cambridge, where she shone in the Footlights, made life-long friends, and embraced eccentricity by smoking a pipe...

After the recording, Miriam recorded a few words about Bluestockings:

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    Comment number 1.

    I wish we could have a break from Oxbridge related broadcasts on Radio 4. Desert Island Discs is probably the main offender – and such guests are rarely interesting. There was a lengthy feature - ‘Bluestocking Women' - on Woman’s Hour in 2008 (1), followed by a comprehensive discussion on the exceptionally popular Woman’s Hour messageboard. I’m aware that Ms. Willett is a WH producer, so would be interested to know if she produced the original WH feature.

    Interestingly, one of the most memorable interviews on ‘Feedback’ over recent years comprised three women interviewing the WH editor, Ms. Jill Burridge. They were all highly critical of the ‘bluestocking’ feel to the programme. Ms. Burridge appeared shocked, but the flavour of the programme certainly didn’t change. One of the females who took part in the interview actually posted on the R4 MBs 18 months later. This woman informed boarders that Feedback was supposed to contact them again in order to assess what changes had occurred within WH. Feedback never contacted the women and there certainly wasn’t a Feedback follow-up.


    (1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/01/2008_11_tue.shtml


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Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.


See the latest on our blog


Find out about this year's panel and theme