Helena Wojtczak FRHistS (1958-)
Born in Sussex during 1958, Helena grew up in London, where at age 19 she blazed a trail for working women by becoming British Rail’s first female train guard. During her 20 years in that role she studied part-time for a degree in sociology and social history, and spent ten years painstakingly researching the hidden history of women railway workers.
After an accident on duty ended her railway career in 1999, Helena became a full-time historical researcher, author and public speaker, focussing on the lives of Victorian women, initially those of Hastings but later encompassing all of Sussex. On this subject, she has produced a website, published four books, and given talks at the invitation of local history societies, universities and museums across Sussex.
In 2016 Helena's contribution to women's history was acknowledged when she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Her other books include the groundbreaking Railwaywomen, which received many accolades, won two awards, and led to invitations to speak at venues across the UK. After discovering that a serial poisoner who is also a major Jack the Ripper suspect once lived and worked in Hastings, Helena branched out into criminology by researching and publishing the first study of his life and crimes. The book has received wide critical acclaim, was shortlisted for an award, and led to a speaking engagement at New Scotland Yard.
Helena is also a scholar of the women’s suffrage movement, and has devoted years to researching local women’s involvement. Having previously successfully promoted a Blue Plaque for Barbara Bodichon and for Elsie Bowerman, she hopes to persuade the council to award one to Eliza Darent Harrison, an activist whose biography she has recently completed.
- Women of Victorian Hastings (2002) ISBN: 1904109020
- Notable Women of Victorian Hastings (2002) ISBN: 1904109039
- Women of Victorian Sussex (2003) ISBN: 9781904109150
- Railway Women (2005) ISBN: 9781904109044
- Notable Sussex Women (2008) ISBN: 1904109152
- Jack the Ripper At Last? (2017) ISBN: 9781904109310
- Strange Exits from Hastings (2020) ISBN: 9781904109365