Readers reactions

January 22, 1999

Earlier this month in The THES..

Marie Denley argued that women should have made the shortlist for the Today programme's Person of the Millennium competition.

The exclusion of women from the Today shortlist says more about the past millennium's patriarchal culture than about current ideology. The past exclusion of women from the mainstream of government, science, and the church makes it inevitable that there are few who could challenge the world-wide influence of William Shakespeare, (the competition winner). Only Elizabeth I's absence, given her role in establishing Anglicanism, preventing religious or civil conflict, requires explanation.

Marie Denley misses the point about the Today poll - that it was assessing the personalities of the past 1,000 years, during which the talents of half the human race were sadly under-utilised. But a finalists' list of Lady Astor, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth I, Florence Nightingale, Mrs Pankhurst and Shakespeare (as the token male) could have led to only one reaction: "It's a fiddle!" - Greg Walker, Professor of early-modern English literature and culture, University of Leicester

Christopher Wain, Keele University.

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