Showing from Tuesday, March 1, until Sunday, July 3, is the fascinating exhibition, ‘Mary Taylor: Strong-minded Woman’, which explores the pioneering life of the 19th Century feminist, writer and adventurer Mary Taylor of Red House, who was also friend and inspiration to Charlotte Bronte. In addition, on Sunday, March 6, there will be an enthralling ‘History Wardrobe’ talk, 'Florence Nightingale: Respectable Rebel', about the unconventional life of this pioneer in nursing healthcare.
Mary Taylor, who was born into a woollen merchant's family at Red House, has attracted international attention for her unusually independent lifestyle - she led mountain climbing expeditions to Switzerland, emigrated to New Zealand, set up a business, wrote three books, taught in Germany and advocated feminist views.
"It is easy to see why Mary was so admired. Even by today's standards her's was an adventurous life. For a woman to do it in the 1800s was extraordinary,” said Museum Officer Helga Hughes.
Mary Taylor was educated, intelligent and ambitious. In a time where women of her social class faced restrictions and inequalities in education and employment and were unequal in the eyes of the law, Mary Taylor believed women should take action to win their independence and financial security.
She first earned her living teaching in Germany (but was frowned upon because she taught boys not girls!). Then in 1845 she took an arduous four-month sea voyage alone to New Zealand, becoming an early settler in Wellington and establishing a successful shop. Returning to England in 1860, she contributed to the history of the Women’s Movement with important national magazine articles on women’s rights and the publication of her books, including a novel, ‘Miss Miles’.
'Mary Taylor: Strong-Minded Woman' was created in partnership with Joan Bellamy, a former lecturer in English Literature and founder of the Women in the Humanities research group at the Open University. Liversedge-born Joan researched and wrote the exhibition in 1992 - she is also the author of Mary’s fascinating biography ‘More Precious Than Rubies’, published in 2002.
This exhibition has toured to the Petone Settlers’ Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, for 18 months. Mary Taylor has a place in that country’s ‘Hall of Fame’.
There are still tickets available for 'Florence Nightingale: Respectable Rebel' on Sunday, March 6. This talk will provide an inspirational exploration of the life and times of an extraordinary pioneer who also defied the conventional role of a Victorian lady, revolutionising nursing management techniques and training. As in all ‘History Wardrobe’ presentations, there will be gorgeous costumes and entertaining storytelling.
The presentation starts at 2pm and access is by stairs only. Booking is essential and tickets, price £6.50 (Kirklees Passport holders £5.50) are available from Red House Museum, Oxford Road, tel: 01274 335100.