Fantastic women cyclists from history
I've been interested in women's history and cycling for a long time, and in the last few years I've come across so many amazing female cyclists I'd never heard of. As a linocut artists, I get alot of inspiration from old posters and illustrations and there are alot of them depicting cycling events from the Nineteenth century. To celebrate International Women's Day I've collected some of them here, together with the some of the prints and sketches they inspired.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list so please let me know if there are others I've not come across. I've only just begun to appreciate the link between women's emancipation and the bicycle, and it how it changed women's social lives and opportunities. The American suffragist Susan B Anthony is often quoted as saying 'The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world' It is the individual stories and the tales of 'normal' women who took to the bicycle and achieved amazing things that interest me.
Annie was the inspiration behind my original wheelwoman print, and a series of monoprints on her life.
In 1895, Annie Cohen Kopchovsky set off amidst a sea of publicity to cycle round the world. She had never cycled before and undertook the journey as a self publicity stunt - she even changed her name to one of her sponsors. Leaving behind her husband and three small children, she completed the journey in 15 months, although she did apparently hop on far too many trains and ferries along the way. However, with a 20kg bike who can blame her? She certainly changed her life and was an inspiration to many of the women who followed her.
Tillie Anderson (a.k.a The Terrible Swede)
Tillie, a Swedish immigrant to the U.S.A, was known as "female bicycling champion of the world," from 1897 to 1902. She was unbeatable on the track and road at every distance, completing half a mile in 52 seconds and 100 miles in six hours, 52 minutes and 15 seconds. Not bad times in any age. In 1902 women were banned from competitive cycling due to it's perceived danger.
Helene is perhaps more famous as an aviator, but she was a very accomplished track cyclist who held the one hour record in 1893. In 1896 and 1897, the Belgian was the women's speed track cycling world champion. In addition to racing, she was also a professional stunt cyclist who wooed crowds with he 15 metre jumps!! She went on to become an accomplished pilot and actress.