Helena Wojtczak

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Helena Wojtczak
Born Template:Birth year and age
Nationality British
Occupation Historian and author

Helena Wojtczak BSc (Hons) FRHistS (born 1958 in Sussex) is a British historian and author of women's history books. She also owns the Hastings Press, a small book publishing company.[1]


Helena Wojtczak was born in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, to a Polish father and English mother. She grew up mainly in Brighton and London (where she spent 22 years) before moving to Kent for five years, then returning to Sussex in 1992.[no citations needed here]

She holds a BSc in Social Science, majoring in Psychology, which she followed by studying Social History for two years to gain her Honours.[no citations needed here]

In 2016 Helena was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, adding the postnominal letters FRHistS to her name.[no citations needed here]

She has written five works of women's history, including Women of Victorian Sussex (2003),[2] which Tony Benn described as "well researched, scholarly and immensely readable", and Notable Sussex Women (2008),[3] which is a compendium of short biographies of 580 women, written as a response to the very poor number of Blue Plaques honouring women. The book is treated as the standard reference book on the subject [no citations needed here].

Her most famous work is [no citations needed here] Railwaywomen: Exploitation, Betrayal and Triumph in the Workplace (2005)[4] a book that details the work of women on Britain's railways from 1830 to 2005. Launched at the House of Commons, at the TUC Conference and at the National Railway Museum, it won three awards and led to Helena being invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. The book has been highly acclaimed by expert reviewers including Dale Spender, Christian Wolmar, Adrian Vaughan, Dr Jo Stanley and Dr Terry Gourvish, as well as all the major railway history magazines.[5]

In 2014, she wrote wrote Jack the Ripper At Last? The Mysterious Murders of George Chapman.[6] This book has received considerable critical acclaim. For example, Ripperologist magazine called it: ‘A work of unarguably superior merit and significance.’

Helena Wojtczak has also written and created the women's history website The Emancipation of Women Since the Renaissance, at www.historyofwomen.org[7] and also a website about women's lives in Victorian Hastings. In 1978, when she was 19, Wojtczak became the first woman employed as a train guard by British Rail and has written a long article about her harrowing experiences during her recruitment, training and day-to-day work.[8]

In addition to publishing her own writings Helena, under her imprint Hastings Press, has published biographies of other notable women, including the sculptor Clare Sheridan (by Betty Taylor) and Matilda Betham Edwards (by Professor Joan Rees) as well as a history of women's hospitals in Brighton (by Val Brown).[no citations needed here]

Helena has been an associate tutor in women's history for the University of Sussex and has given dozens of public talks and lectures on women's history at universities and museums across the UK and also in Sweden and Finland. She has also given talks at New Scotland Yard and to the Whitechapel Society. She has written for the Oxford University Press, the TSSA, the RMT, My Weekly, Hunter House Publishers, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer, Hastings Town, Sussex Life, various railway magazines, the Victorian Web and Encyclopaedia Titanica.[9]


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