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Joan K. F. Heggie and Sarah Carter

The Hilda Neatby Prize English Article


Joan K. F. Heggie and Sarah Carter, “Miss Jack May, Lady Farmer in England and Canada” Women’s History Review, 21 Oct 2022.

Joan K. F. Heggie and Sarah Carter have gathered an impressive range of sources to track, contextualize, analyze, and interpret the intertwined life histories of three individuals and their social worlds. Isabel/Jack/Isabel who lived “openly as a cross-dressing woman”, Louisa Wittrick– “her friend, companion, and business partner”, and “Ada Norah Summers, her life partner.”

The originality of this paper lies in its methodological approach, inspired by Julia Laite’s “small history in a digital age”. Based on a rich and engaging analysis, it offers a fascinating narrative of individuality, agency, and bravery during a period of female emancipation and colonial expansion in early twentieth century England and Canada. The authors highlight the types of gender and sexuality constraints under which women lived and worked, as well as illustrating how they used their agency to usurp such conventions and expectations. More broadly, Heggie and Carter effectively engage with and situate these lives within the wider fields of both queer and trans histories and histories of gender, migration, and settler colonialism.