PIONEERS IN BLOOMERS:                             The True Story of the Pedestriennes -       British Sport's First Female Celebrities

Published in November 2022 in paperback and as an e-book, here's some of the publicity/reviews that the book garnered:


THE COURIER (Scotland):

  "Inspired by their sheer bravery, author Rob Hadgraft has delved deep into the forgotten world of professional female pedestrianism, a pursuit largely confined to the second half of the 19th Century. Ultimately, he concludes that these pioneering Victoria-era ladies laid the foundations for modern women to take part in competitive and professional sport".



 "Rob’s book tells the individual stories of the women who, in spite of barriers and prejudice, achieved prominence in long-distance pedestrianism, becoming the largely unsung trailblazers of women’s sport".


PETER LOVESEY (Award-winning crime novelist & athletics historian):

 "Rob Hadgraft’s new book shows that the female scale of participation in pedestrianism was greater and more significant than any of us realised. Hadgraft is well known for his fine biographies of Deerfoot, Walter George, Alf Shrubb, Arthur Newton and Jim Peters, but this is more of a challenge, wider in scope and arguably more significant. He claims justifiably that “the participation of women was the most positive and important development to come out of the whole Victorian distance-walking vogue.” Scores of them were to prove that assumptions about a weaker sex were unfounded, usually spurred on by the prospect of adding to meagre incomes. The physical challenge of walking a mile each hour, day and night, for six weeks was tough enough, but at any stage these brave women could be required to cope with mockery, sexual assault, legal challenges, drunks and saboteurs, not to mention the Lord’s Day Observance Society. Some carried pistols for protection. A few were stopped by local killjoys after weeks of walking. Their stories come to life in this meticulously researched, entertaining and sometimes moving book. Serious historians of women’s sport can no longer ignore the pioneers in bloomers".


TRACK STATS magazine:

 "This remarkable book is a story of emancipation as well as endurance. [It is]  structured on personalities, their stories nicely encapsulated in chapter titles like Mary McMullen – the Barefoot Granny; Mary Kelynack – Fishwife’s Fabulous Foray; Emma Sharp – Gun-Toting Heroine; Edith Parsons – Daughter of the Regiment; and Madame Anderson – a Born Entertainer. Some women completed the famous 1,000-mile challenge several times. One of them, Margaret Atkinson, made a career of it, travelling the country as ‘Madame Angelo’ and logging up at least 25 such walks between 1866 and 1884, culminating in a walk of 2,000 miles in a thousand hours! She was also the first female athlete of mixed race we know about. It would be worth ordering the book for her story alone".


ANDY MILROY:  ARRS Co-ordinator/founder member, global road-running historian, author, statistician & co-ordinator for Ultramarathon working group:

 "Excellent book . . . thorough research and background is very strong and the book is very readable. Overall, the Hadgraft ‘sporting library’ is a major addition to our sport, preserving the past for the future. A good piece of work. The book reinforced the importance of the weaving mills in developing independent, self-reliant women, especially in Northern England. Good to see the preservation and dissemination of the work of the late David Colquhoun from New Zealand, which could otherwise have been lost, and the Kate Wiltshire story with it.


THE STREAK PODCAST (@streakpodcast):

 "Books just ordered. Enjoyed all the Steve Chilton books so far - Running Hard probably my favourite. Currently on a Rob Hadgraft binge".



 "EMMA Sharp was impulsive, single-minded and not a woman to be messed with. When this 30-year-old Bradford mother-of-three decided she would attempt to cover 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours on foot, there was no chance anybody could persuade her otherwise. Her husband did his best, but the lady was not for turning.  Emma had zero experience of the popular Victorian sport of pedestrianism, and admitted she had been captivated by recent newspaper reports of an Australian woman making an unsuccessful attempt at 1,000 miles in London”.




 To obtain your copy (£9.99 paperback, £4,99 e-book)

use either of the following links:














*  (BELOW) The day I became a magazine  cover star ...... !        Yes, shorts were rather tiny in those days!

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