Varying circumstances took me to web resources on two fascinating women:
1. Louise Michel, a 19th-century French anarchist and social activist, whose web-biog has been put up by the International Institute of Social History to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her death. The illegitimate daughter of a maidservant and an aristocrat, she was given a good education before being thrown on her own resources by her stepmother. I won’t summarise the life here – check the link! – but this snippet pretty well sums it up …
The next five years were spent alternating between attending meetings or in prison. There was even an attempt on her life during a meeting in Le Havre, in 1888, when the extremist Pierre Lucas shot her, but she quickly recovered.
(There’s also a French version.)
2. Mary Lamb, the English writer who suffered from periodic fits of madness, during one of which she stabbed her mother to death. Hers was perhaps the perfect Romantic life – she and her brother were friends with Wordsworth, Coleridge and Mary Shelley. One of these days I must put up a review of the excellent A Double Life: A Biography of Charles and Mary Lamb by Sarah Burton, but in the meantime, there’s this interesting web biography, structured something like a mind map, but with full use of hyperlinks. (If that’s a bit conceptual for you, there’s a short narrative version here.)