Any list is in essence exclusive. This list is exclusive in many ways. The first obvious exclusion is men – this is a list about women.
It is also a list about extraordinary women.
While all people can surely be regarded as extraordinary in some way, this is about those who stand out as somehow above the norm. It may be because of remarkable achievements or success in spite of setbacks. It may be because they had special talents or strange life stories. Or it may just be because of certain character traits.
This list is also exclusive in the sense that it is my list. Surely there are women who achieved greater things or had greater talents or suffered more. But to make this list, the women’s stories had to somehow resonate with me. They had to become real people, people who touched my heart with their strength, their courage, their love.
I have often counted off the forty days from winter solstice to my birthday. This year, as I neared my forty fourth birthday, I wondered what other women were doing at that age, where they were in their life stories. And this is what I found. Some died before their time, some are still living and haven’t reached that age yet. But as I contemplated them one by one, day by day, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by their lives.
A whole book could be written on the lives of every one of these women and it is very difficult to tell the gist of their stories in a few lines. I hope that this list will inspire you to investigate them further; maybe to make your own list. And to look at your own life and contemplate where you have been, where you are and where you might still be going. As George Eliot said: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
So here they are, in chronological order: