WSG Mentoring Scheme: The Mentee’s Experience by Amy Solomons

Amy Solomons was mentored by Karen Lipsedge during the 2021-22 scheme. Below, she reflects on her experience of the scheme and the support she received from her mentor.


I started my PhD in October 2019 which means I only had six months of ‘normality’ before the pandemic hit in Spring 2020. My PhD, in collaboration with the National Trust, relied heavily on physical sources which I could no longer access. Throughout 2020 and 2021, I worked to reframe my PhD to mitigate the loss of crucial time in the archives. Throughout the pandemic, I participated in online conferences, made connections on Twitter and connected with my peers at Liverpool through online coffee chats. These experiences were great in tackling the isolation of doing a PhD during the pandemic. As the world began to reopen, I organised a quick succession of trips to archives and National Trust properties, keen to reconnect with colleagues and make strides in my PhD research. I also felt that I needed to fast track my personal and professional development to make up for lost opportunities during the pandemic.

When I saw the WSG Mentoring Scheme advertised, I knew that it would be a fantastic opportunity to enhance my PhD experience. I applied to the WSG Mentoring Scheme in February 2022 with three aims: to enhance my networking skills, to explore post-PhD career options and to write my first journal article. My supervisory team are hugely supportive but I was keen to expand my network and learn from different experiences. I was really pleased when the WSG got in touch and paired me with Dr Karen Lipsedge.

Our first meeting was fantastic and Karen helped me to set out a strategy to achieve my first aim: networking. I was attending my second in-person conference not long after our meeting and asked Karen for tips in growing my network. Karen’s advice was hugely reassuring and helped me to feel more confident in approaching senior academics at the conference. It was great to be able to feedback on the conference with Karen in a future meeting. I have now attended several face-to-face conferences and have started to enjoy the previously dreaded ‘tea break’ on the schedule!

Karen’s advice on forming connections with non-academic partners proved hugely beneficial during my recent placement with the British Library. I took advantage of available training and worked with colleagues at the library to learn about different career paths within the sector. Outside of the placement, I continued to have discussions with Karen about post-PhD options and now have two routes (one academic and one in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums sector, otherwise known as GLAM) to explore next year when I submit my PhD.

We also dedicated time in every meeting to progress on my publication plans. Academia is hugely competitive and sometimes difficult for those of us in the earlier stages of our career to navigate. Informal conversations with Karen have been invaluable in understanding the process and thinking about the best way to frame an article. I now feel more confident about the co-editing experience and review process. I am currently co-editing a special issue for a journal and the process now seems less daunting. I am looking forward to seeing my article in print later in the year.

Throughout the process, Karen has continued to encourage me to reflect on my experiences and celebrate the small wins! The mentoring scheme has been a fantastic opportunity to broaden my network, gain advice and set aside dedicated time to work on my professional development. Like many current PhD researchers, I missed out on face-to-face connections and informal network building for almost two years. My meetings with Karen pushed me to make new contacts, develop my ideas and think about future opportunities. I am hugely grateful to Karen for her continued support beyond our sessions and to the WSG for facilitating the experience.


Amy Solomons is currently undertaking a collaborative PhD with the University of Liverpool and the National Trust researching networks of female readers in eighteenth-century library collections.

Women’s Studies Group 1558 – 1837 2022 – 2023 Seminars

We are pleased to announce that we now have both in-person and zoom seminars.

In-person meetings. These will take place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ, on Saturday afternoons. We will be allowed into the room at 12.30, Greenwich Mean Time, to give us time to sort out paperwork and technology, but sessions will run from 13.00 – 15.30. Please arrive between 12:30 and 13:00. There is a break for tea, coffee and biscuits halfway through the session.

The Foundling is a wheelchair accessible venue, and directions for getting to the Museum can be found here, including for those who are partially sighted. Seminars are free and open to the public though non-members will be asked to make a donation of £2 for refreshments. Those attending the seminars are welcome to look round the museum before or after.

ZOOM meetings. These will take place on Thursday evenings and will be hosted by a member of the WSG committee. The session on Thursday 13 October 2022 is from 18:00 – 19:30 (British Summer Time),  with the waiting room opening at 17:45.  In 2023 the January  12th  & March 9th sessions will run from 19:00-20:30 (Greenwich Mean Time), with the waiting room opening at 18:45.

Thursday October 13, 2022 via ZOOM.  Waiting room opens 17.45 for 18:00 – 19:30 (British Summer Time) Please note earlier time. Chair: Sara Read, Zoom host: Trudie Messent

Yvonne Noble: Anne Finch’s Mrs Randolph.

Valeria Viola: Eighteenth-century Global Domesticity. Don Luigi and Donna Caterina Riggio, Princes of Campofiorito.

Saturday November 12, 2022 at The Foundling Museum (12:30 for 13:00 GMT)

Tia Caswell: “La Reine en Chemise”: The Deployment of Female Agency and the Construction of Marie-Antoinette’s Public Image as the Natural Woman.

Clémentine Garcenot: The impact of the French Revolution on aristocratic family life.

Carolyn D. Williams: Problems with Reading Plays: Degradations and Redemptions of Hermione in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Saturday December 3, 2022 at The Foundling Museum (12:30 for 13:00 GMT)

Julia Gruman Martins: Between Manuscript and Print: Alchemical Recipes from Isabella d’Este to Isabella Cortese.

Eleanor Franzén: Selling Sex, Selling Stories: the Magdalen House Texts, 1758-1777.

Janette Bright: ‘A careful, motherly woman’ or ‘Prime Minister of the House’: assessing the status of Matrons at the London Foundling Hospital (1740-1820).

Thursday January 12, 2023 via ZOOM. Waiting room opens 18.45 for 19:00 – 20:30 (GMT) Host: Sara Read

Emanuele Costa: Pen and Paper, Not Needle and Spindle: Maria Gaetana Agnesi on Women’s Equality.

Lesley McKay: Widows fight the disruption of widowhood in Norway and its former territory, Shetland during the early sixteenth century.

Anna Ferrandez: Did Jane Austen Read Mary Wollstonecraft? A Comparative Study of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Austen’s Fiction.

Saturday February 4, 2023 at The Foundling Museum 12:30 for 13:00  GMT

Federica Coluzzi:  Epistolary networks of early women readers of Dante: a survey of the reading evidence.

Maria Grazia Dongu: Uses of Boccaccio and Shakespeare in Shakespear Illustrated by Charlotte Lennox.

Jennifer Germann: “At the tribunal of public and just criticism”: The Social and Scientific Networks of Margaret Bryan.

Francesca Saggini: On the Humble Writing Desk

Thursday March 9, 2023  via Zoom.  Waiting room opens 18.45 for 19:00 – 20:30 (GMT) Host: Trudie Messent

Karen Griscom: Lucy Hutchinson Reads Poetry and History in Shakespeare’s Richard II.

Claudia Cristell Marin Berttolini: Sor María Anna Águeda de San Ignacio: a unique woman in 18th century Puebla.

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Reminder: WSG Workshop Saturday 24 September 2022

The Women’s Studies Group Annual Workshop on ‘Women on the Margins 1558 – 1837’ will take place in-person on Saturday 24 September from 12:30 – 16:40 (BST) at The Foundling Museum,  40 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ

Registration is now open on Eventbrite via this link, which will close on Friday 16 September 2022.

Late registrations may be possible by emailing the organiser, Miriam Al Jamil via

Registration fees include lunch, refreshments, and entry to the Foundling Museum:  

£23 for non-WSG members; £19 for WSG members; £17 unwaged/student members


10:30 Doors open. Distribution of materials and refreshments.

11:00 Keynote – ‘On the Margins?: Interrogating the notion of marginal status in the Long Eighteenth Century by Dr Karen Lipsedge (Kingston University) & Dr Emma Newport (University of Sussex)

12:15 – 1:15 Lunch & time for participants to view the Foundling Museum (both included in fee)

1:15 – 15:45 Participant presentations (including tea break) Participants are invited to prepare a 5-minute presentation from any discipline, related to  ‘Women on the Margins 1558 – 1837’.

These presentations should focus on women, imaginary, fictional or real, who might be considered as being on the margins, or in borderlands, and the ways in which they experience, navigate, and/or disrupt this characterisation.  20 printed handouts and/or a couple of PowerPoint slides are helpful. Please email slides in advance to 

15:45 – 16:30 Summing up and closing discussions – Dr Karen Lipsedge & Dr Emma Newport

Email with dietary requirements and any queries/late registration.

Call for papers from the Women’s Studies Group: 1558-1837 (2022-2023 season)

The Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837 is a small, informal, multidisciplinary group formed to promote women’s studies in the early modern period and the long eighteenth century. Established in the 1980s, the group has enabled those interested in women’s and gender studies to keep in touch, hear about one another’s research, meetings and publications, and meet regularly to discuss relevant topics. We organize regular meetings and an annual workshop (see membership application form) where members can meet and discuss women’s studies topics. We can also offer advice and opportunities to engage in activities that increase opportunities for publication, or enhance professional profies in other ways. The WSG is open to men, women, and non-binary people, students, faculty, and independent scholars, all of whom are invited to join the group and give papers.

The group now has two kinds of meeting.

In-person meetings. These will take place at the Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AZ, on Saturday afternoons. We will be allowed into the room at 12.30 pm., Greenwich Mean Time, to give us time to sort out paperwork and technology, but sessions will run from 1.00 – 3.30 pm. So please arrive a little early if you can.

ZOOM meetings. These will take place on Thursday evenings and will be hosted by a member of the wsg committee. They will run from 7-8.30 pm, with the waiting room opening at 6.45 pm (British Summer Time Oct 13; Greenwich Mean Time Jan 12).

Topics can be related to any aspect of women’s studies: not only women writers, but any activity of a woman or women in the period of our concern, or anything that affects or is affected by women in this period, such as the law, religion, etc. Male writers writing about women or male historical figures relevant to the condition of women in this period are also a potential topic. Papers tackling aspects of women’s studies within or alongside the wider histories of gender and sexuality are particularly welcome; so are topics from the early part of our period. We would also welcome how-to presentations for discussion: examples of suitable topics would include, but are not limited to, grant applications, setting up research networks, becoming a curator, co-authorship, using specialised data, and writing about images. Papers should be 20-25 minutes.

Dates of meetings:

Thursday October 13, 2022, Zoom  (British Summer Time)

Saturday November12, 2022, In-person (Greenwich Mean Time)

Saturday December 3, 2022, In-person (Greenwich Mean Time)

Thursday January 12, 2023, Zoom (Greenwich Mean Time)

Saturday February 4, 2023, In-person (Greenwich Mean Time)

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Send in your news!

Have you published a new book or article that members of our Women’s Studies Group (WSG) would be interested to read? Do you have information about a new call for papers, conferences, grants, jobs, seminars, or workshops that our WSG members might be interested to hear about and contribute to?

If so, please send your news to Sara Read who writes out monthly newsletter! The newsletter is sent to all WSG members at the beginning of each month and Sara is looking for content that would benefit our membership. Please email Sara your news no later than the 30th of the month or no later than the 28th/29th if it is February!). Her email is: