Zach Omitowoju is the latest student to take a placement with us, creating the above promotional film for our Ms. Hood comic. Inspired by the issues raised in Aly Stoneman’s poetic reimagining of the Hood legend, he’s written a guest blog for us to celebrate Women’s History Month.
For me, Maid Marian is the true hero of the Robin Hood legend in English literature. Often assumed to be his lover, Marian gained high respect in Robin’s circle for her courage and independence as well as her beauty and loyalty.
Courage and independence are still traits that are highly desirable in modern society. These are particularly relevant for women who continue to break down barriers – be that women entering traditionally male dominated industries, such as engineering, or those demanding equal pay. For this reason, Maid Marian is celebrated by many feminists as one of the earliest strong female characters in English Literature.
There have been several books based on her character. Maid Marian was the title of Thomas Love Peacock’s 1822 novella and Elsa Watson’s 2004 novel. Whereas American author Jennifer Roberson followed up her 1992 novel Lady of the Forest with Lady of Sherwood in 1999, presenting the story of a ‘handywoman who can take care of herself’ – as one reviewer opined it.
Marian remains a non-controversial character on the screen and has been played by actors such as Uma Thurman, Kate Moss, Cate Blanchett, Audrey Hepburn, and most recently, Eve Hewson. Marian’s presence provides a strong, but not over-bearing, presence in what would otherwise be a male-dominated story. This is why I enjoyed making the promo video so much as Aly Stoneman places ‘Ms. Hood’ at the centre of the narrative, determining her own destiny.
This led me to research other women from Nottingham who display similarly inspiring characteristics. Such as:
- Ada Lovelace
- Catherine Greenaway
- Dame Stella Rimington
- Sherrie Hewson
- Susan Hallam
- Vicky McClure
There are organisations within Nottingham and all over England that we can show our support for during Women’s History Month, including Nottingham Women’s Centre as well as Women’s Aid, both of whom help and support women. On Twitter, you might want to follow the account @onthisdayshe which ‘puts women back in history, one day at a time’.
Dawn of the Unread includes other pioneering literary figures such as Margaret Cavendish, Mary Howitt and Alma Reville aka Mrs. Hitchcock. I also hear from James that there are currently plans for a female rebel trail across Nottingham as part of the #rebelnotts project created by the Howie-Smith project, Mark Shotter, and others. These are all reasons to be positive that women (and other voices) are being heard. To misquote Aly’s poem: ‘Ms Hood will never be gone. Her fight goes on’