This Week in History
For the week of Monday October 21, 2013
On October 26, 1889, Kathleen Blake Coleman, pen name Kit, published her first column in the Toronto Daily Mail. It was the beginning of a long career in journalism for this woman who became known for her innovative spirit.
Her adaptation of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden captivated Edward Farrer, editor-in-chief of the Toronto Daily Mail. He hired her to write the women’s section entitled Woman’s Kingdom. Kit gradually developed her own unique style. At first her column discussed household tips and feminine ideals, but it soon tackled more complex subjects. Kit innovated by writing acerbic critiques on “men’s topics,” i.e., politics, business, religion and science. Her comments sparked speculation about the author’s gender, and some readers were convinced that a man was masquerading as “Kit”!
Since she had worked her entire life and supported her family on her own, Kit was in favour of equal pay for equal work. However, she did not risk associating with feminist movements. It was only in 1904, owing to frustration over discrimination in her workplace, that she used her contacts to secure support for the Canadian Women’s Press Club. Then, in 1910, she started working with the suffragettes.
She died in 1915 in Hamilton, Ontario, leaving behind her third husband, Theobald Coleman, and her children. An audacious role model, an accomplished writer and a woman who fought for her rights, Kathleen Blake Coleman forged a path in a male-dominated profession. She was designated a person of national historic significance in 2011.
To learn about another feminist journalist, see E. Cora Hind or to read about other women writers, see Thinker and Wanderer: Newfoundland’s Margaret Duley and A Poet Laureate in Retrospect : Isabella Valancy Crawford in the archives of This Week in History.
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