Just like every month, May offered up a slew of inspiring and accomplished women who could have been honored with a Doodle . . . but weren’t. Here are just five who stood out to me:
— Judith Scott, born May 1, 1943, was a world-class artist working in fiber and mixed media, creating sculptures and large-scale works, and a pioneer in the field of “outsider art.” Scott was born with Down Syndrome and was deaf, but because her deafness was not diagnosed until she was much older, the educational system deemed her “uneducable.” At age 7, Scott was institutionalized, separated from her family and twin sister Joyce. When they were grown, Joyce became Judith’s legal guardian and fought for new opportunities for her sister; Scott became involved with programs at San Francisco’s Creative Growth Art Center, which provided art classes, materials, and studio space for artists with disabilities. Following a class on fiber art, Scott’s talent flourished and she began a career that would result in over 200 pieces of fiber sculpture. Scott’s works became internationally recognized, and some of them are on display at such museums as the Museum of American Folk Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
— Dorothy Hodgkin, born May 12, 1920, was a British chemist and Nobel Prize winner. Hodgkin is credited with furthering the techniques and applications of X-ray crystallography to uncover the structure of proteins and other biological molecules. These techniques allow an understanding of the structure of molecules and, thus, their function, and Hodgkin’s work uncovered the structure of insulin, penicillin, vitamin B12, and others. In addition to the Nobel, Hodgkin was also honored with Fellowship in the Royal Society, the Lenin Peace Prize, and recognition in the British “Women of Achievement” stamp series.
— Lorraine Hansberry, born May 19, 1930, was an author and playwright who wrote A Raisin in the Sun about an African American family’s experiences in 1950s Chicago. The play opened on Broadway in 1959, and eventually became a touring show. It won New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play in its debut year, and was nominated for 4 Tony awards, including one for Hansberry’s writing. The play was adapted into two films, including a 1961 version that was written by Hansberry and was nominated for Golden Globe awards. A Raisin in the Sun was revived on Broadway in 2004 and won a Tony. Hansberry was the first African American woman to have her work produced on Broadway, and was the youngest playwright to win several awards. Hansberry died of pancreatic cancer at only 34 years old.
— Alicia de Larrocha i de la Calle, born May 23, 1923, was a Spanish pianist. She is considered one of the greatest pianists who ever lived, and started touring internationally by her early 20s. de Larrocha is credited with growing the international audience for, and popularity of, Spanish composers whose work she performed. She was the winner of many Grammy Awards, the Franz Liszt Award, and the UNESCO Prize (the first Spanish artist to bring home that honor). The video below features de Larrocha performing Antonio Soler’s Sonata in g minor, No. 87.
— Hibari Misora, born May 29, 1937, was a Japanese star known both for her acting and singing in the enka genre. She started recording when she was only 12 years old, and quickly became a national hit. Over the course of her career, Misora sold over 80 million records and appeared in over 150 films. For her contributions to Japanese culture, she was awarded a Medal of Honor and the People’s Honour Award.