Helena Wojtczak : biography
Helena Wojtczak (pronounced ‘VOYT-CHAK’) (born 1958, Sussex) is a British researcher and author of women’s history books, and owner of The Hastings Press.
Wojtczak grew up in London, where she spent 22 years before moving to Kent for five years, then returning to her native county in 1992. She holds a BSc Honours degree in the Social Sciences (majoring in Psychology) and Social History.
Wojtczak has written five books on women’s history including Women of Victorian Sussex, which Tony Benn described as "well researched, scholarly and immensely readable", and has created a website called Women of Hastings and St Leonards – a social history containing many details about life for women in a typical English south coast town in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and is currently creating another, about The Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Wojtczak gives talks and lectures in local women’s history and the history of women workers on the railways, and is an associate tutor in women’s history for the University of Sussex. She has also run a series of self publishing seminars.
At the age of 19 Wojtczak became the first woman employed as a guard by British Rail. In connection with this, Wojtczak has written about her experiences of railway recruitment and training.
Working in the industry led Wojtczak to research, write and then to publish the history of Railwaywomen – a task that took her 16 years. The book was launched at the House of Commons, at the TUC Conference 2005 and at the National Railway Museum. It has received considerable acclaim, and has won the 2007 David St John Thomas Trust non-fiction book award.
Now Britain’s foremost authority on the history of women railway workers, she has been consultant historian to the National Railway Museum and a contributor to The Oxford Companion to British Railway History.
Wojtczak has written for the Oxford University Press, the Hastings Press, the TSSA, the RMT, My Weekly, Hunter House Publishers, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer, The Warrior magazine, P3 Publishing (Steam Railways), The Victorian Web and Encyclopaedia Titanica.