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How Did Women Change the World on Two Wheels? Hannah Ross

Festival of Ideas
Hannah Ross on bicycle

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Hannah Ross explores the history of women who broke from convention and cycled their way to freedom.

Ross introduces us to women who were told they couldn’t or shouldn’t cycle but they did so anyway. Simone de Beauvoir borrowed her lover’s bike to cycle around Paris in the 1940s, instantly falling in love with the freedom it gave her. Alice Hawkins, a factory worker from Leicester, pedal-powered her fight for universal suffrage as the bicycle became a cornerstone of her work to recruit women to the cause. Zahra Naarin Hussano challenged religious and cultural taboos in Afghanistan to ride a bike and teach others to do the same.

Today professional female cyclists at the top of their game such as Lizzie Deignan and Helen Wyman, still face problems of representation and pay.  Ross examines the barriers women face cycling across the world and the importance of bikes for women’s agency – not just in terms of the Suffrage movement, but in cities, today.

Ross celebrates the women who are part of the rich and varied history of cycling, many of whom have been pushed to the margins or forgotten.

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Hannah Ross’ Revolutions in published by Orion Publishing. Buy a copy from Waterstones, our bookselling partners.

Hannah Ross on bicycle

Hannah Ross works for an independent publisher in London. When she isn’t working on other people’s books or writing her own, she is usually on a bike. She belongs to a local cycling club and also volunteers for a charity helping refugee women learn to ride bikes. Whenever she can, she packs up her saddlebag and heads for the open road, and now she doesn’t feel she’s really travelled anywhere unless it’s on two wheels. Given the choice, she would always rather be (slowly) pedalling up mountains than almost anywhere else.

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