In this first full-length account of Helena Normanton’s life and career, Judith Bourne tells of her fight to join the Bar of England and Wales and open it up to women.
Helena Normanton and the Opening of the Bar to Women describes how her ambition was forged as a child after seeing her mother patronised by a solicitor. It tells how the press were quick to pigeon-hole and harass her, leading to disciplinary proceedings for ‘self-advertising’. Enmeshed in a world of men, Helena Normanton faced a constant struggle to establish herself against a backdrop of prejudice, misogyny and discrimination. The book describes how solicitors, fearful of the unknown, were reluctant to instruct her, leaving her to take on poor person’s cases, dock briefs and those few cases ‘deemed suitable for a woman’.
But Helena Normanton was a force to be reckoned with. She was not just the first woman to be admitted to an Inn of Court, hold briefs in the High Court and Old Bailey, and (as one of two women) be made a King’s Counsel, but a prolific author, leading feminist and speaker who entranced audiences at home and abroad. Along with the controversies that eternally surrounded her and her own foibles, this is all contained in this captivating book.
'[ An ] excellent biography of Helena Normanton, brilliantly researched by Judith Bourne... a captivating book for all aspiring barristers to read'-- Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers.
‘Bourne has succeeded in rendering Normanton as a human being, a woman with grit and aspiration, whose experiences were as often disappointing as celebratory in the context of her time and place’-- Professor Mary Jane Mossman (from the Foreword)