According to the official International Women’s Day website the first occurrence of this annual gathering happened in 1911. Marked by women worldwide, the fundamental aims of the day are to “celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about women's equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, [and] fundraise for female-focused charities”. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’. Although International Women’s Day didn’t exist in 1896, it would’ve been brought into existence during the lifetimes of the fictional women of the Bow Street Society. If you’ve read the books, I’m sure you’ll agree that the group’s female members often ‘choose to challenge’ the patriarchal world around them. Therefore, to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, I would like to celebrate some of the strong women of the Bow Street Society.
Dr Locke is a fully trained Doctor of Medicine. She gained her qualification from the London School of Medicine for Women and runs her own private medical practise from her home on Cleveland Terrace. Although she is married to fellow Bow Street Society member and renowned illusionist Percy Locke, he makes no contributions to her work whatsoever. Whilst it’s true his open support of her career makes it easier for her to do what she loves in the eyes of ‘polite’ society, her achievements are entirely her own. In addition to her private practise, she also tends to sick patients in London’s slums free of charge.
Sabrina Poole as Miss Rebecca Trent
Miss Webster is the secretary and ward of fellow Bow Street Society member and prolific freelance writer Lady Katheryne Owston. Highly knowledgeable about ledgers, postal marks, and all things clerical, she has been proven invaluable in cases where poison log books and mysterious letters were involved.
Like Miss Trent and Dr Locke, she also doesn’t shy away from confrontations, and views confrontations with men as a welcome challenge. Despite suffering from Pyrophobia after being caught in the fire that killed her parents at an early age, she doesn’t allow it to dominate her life. She thoroughly enjoys her work with the Bow Street Society and revels in the complexities of a case and the satisfaction of a culprit being exposed.
Miss Trent, Dr Locke, and Miss Webster are just three of the inspiring women that the Bow Street Society counts amongst its members. There is plenty more to discover about them and their female colleagues in the Bow Street Society Mystery series of books and Bow Street Society Casebook series of short story collections. I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the Women of the Bow Street Society and will #ChooseToChallenge on International Women’s Day, just like Miss Trent, Dr Locke, and Miss Webster would.
~ T.G. Campbell,March 2021
MISS AGNES SAMANTHA WEBSTER
MISS REBECCA TRENT
The Women of the Bow Street Society
Miss Trent is without doubt the driving force behind the Bow Street Society. Appointed its clerk in 1895 after answering a newspaper advertisement, she is responsible for:
* the interviewing of & hiring of new members
* enforcing discipline among existing members
* deciding whether to accept cases on the Society’s behalf
* assigning members to cases based upon their skills etc.
* chairing member meetings about ongoing cases, and much more
During the course of her work with the Bow Street Society, she has worked alongside surgeon Dr Percy Weeks in carrying out preliminary examinations of corpses, post-mortems, and toxicology tests. Respected by both male and female members of the Society, she will often take the younger female members under her wing to encourage them to realise their full potential. Like Miss Trent she doesn’t shy away from confrontations and will stand her ground for something she believes in.
DR LYNETTE JONELLE LOCKE
She is respected by both male and female members. Her determination and no-nonsense attitude have also earned her a reputation for being formidable among chauvinistic clients and intolerant police officers alike. She is an advocate for equality and respect for all regardless of their age, race, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, mental health, physical health, etc. She never shies away from a confrontation with anyone. As a result, she has had run-ins with everyone from the functioning alcoholic and Bow Street Society member Dr Percy Weeks to Chief Inspector Richard Jones of Scotland Yard.