Jane Robinson

Senior Associate

Jane is a social historian, writer and lifelong friend of Somerville College. Born in Edinburgh and raised on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, Jane has been an ardent bibliophile since the age of seven, when she was banned from the local library for using a jam-tart bookmark in their copy of Squirrel Nutkin.

Jane first came to Somerville as a student, where she took a degree in English Language and Literature before moving to London to work in the antiquarian book trade. It was during this time that Jane’s first book (Wayward Women) was commissioned. Today, Jane works as a full-time writer and lecturer, specialising in social history through women’s eyes. She is the author of over a dozen books, including social histories of women’s education and the fight for the Vote, as well biographies of pioneering figures such as Josephine Butler and Mary Seacole.

Today, Jane lives just outside Oxford  but can be found once a week in the Somerville archives, cataloguing our Special Collections.


Wayward Women: a Guide to Women Travellers (1990, Oxford UP, ISBN 0192828223)

Unsuitable for Ladies: an Anthology of Women Travellers (1994, Oxford UP, ISBN 0192116819)

Angels of Albion : Women of the Indian Mutiny (1996, Viking, ISBN 0670846708)
Parrot Pie for Breakfast : an Anthology of Women Pioneers (1999, Oxford UP, ISBN 0192880209)

Pandora’s Daughters: the Secret History of Enterprising Women (2002, Constable, ISBN 0094805105)

Published in USA as Women Out of Bounds: the Secret History of Enterprising Women (2003, Carroll & Graf, ISBN 0786710519)

Mary Seacole: The Charismatic Black Nurse Who Became a Heroine of the Crimea (2005, Constable, ISBN 9781845294977)

Bluestockings : the Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education (2009, Viking, ISBN 9780141029719)

A Force to be Reckoned With: A History of the Women’s Institute (2011, Virago, ISBN 9781844086597)

In the Family Way: Illegitimacy Between the Great War and the Swinging Sixties (2015, Viking, ISBN 978-0670922062)

Hearts And Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote (2018, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0857523914)

Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders – The Pioneering Adventures of the First Professional Women (2020, Doubleday, ISBN 9780857525871)

Where Next?