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Anne Sebba: The Rise of the Woman Reporter

Posted on 12/07/2013
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Anne Sebba: The Rise of the Woman Reporter

‘For most of history, Anonymous was a woman’, said one of King’s College London’s most revered alumnae, Virginia Woolf. Yet the world of which Woolf wrote was rapidly changing into one in which women could not only write and report but also be recognized for their efforts. The rise of the female writer was gaining speed and the place at which Woolf herself studied was one of the pioneers of the revolution.

In 1919 King’s launched one of the first diplomas in Journalism that was open to both men and women. Providing both theoretical and practical journalism training, the course gave women the unique opportunity to learn the reporting skills necessary to break into the world of journalism and go head to head with the male reporters of the era.

Running until 1939, the two-year diploma programme launched the careers of a wide range of celebrated women writers and reporters. Molly Lefebure (1919 – 2013) began her own career at King’s, later becoming a much respected wartime journalist and author, whose memoir Murder on the Homefront was recently adapted into a drama series for ITV. 

Author Stella Gibbons was also a graduate of the Journalism Diploma. After her studies she went on to write for British United Press, Evening Standard, and The Lady and penned several best-selling novels including the highly acclaimed Cold Comfort Farm.  She was joined by writer, journalist and biographer Jean Goodman, a further successful alumna of the course. Daughter of a correspondent for the Jewish Chronicle, Goodman wrote for the Yorkshire Evening Post, Eastern Daily Press, The Times and Vogue. She was also one of the first female reporters to break into broadcast journalism and worked as a contributor and later presenter of BBC’s Women’s Hour

Since the journalism course came to a close in 1939, King’s College London has continued to encourage and support women in the field. Acclaimed writer Anne Sebba studied History at King’s before building her highly diverse and successful career as journalist, biographer, presenter and all-round supporter of gender equality. 

In her book Battling for News – The Rise of the Woman Reporter, Anne depicts the seemingly eternal fight women have faced to enter journalism careers. From Lady Florence Dixie at the Boer War, through pioneers such as Virginia Cowles and Martha Gellhorn, the book emphasises the struggles through which female reporters have fought to get to the heart of some of the biggest stories in history.

In an exclusive interview, Anne talks about her own career as a female reporter and discusses how important the Journalism Diploma was in propelling some of the first female reporters to the forefront of the action. With invaluable insights into her ever-expanding knowledge of the woman reporter, Anne depicts how women have progressed to become some of the best writers, authors and reporters of our time – who certainly do not wish to remain ‘Anonymous’.

For more information please visit the Anne Sebba website.

For media information, please contact the Public Relations Department on 0207 848 3202 or pr@kcl.ac.uk.

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