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Three hundred years ago, coal drove the industrial revolution, propelling Britain into the premier industrial nation of the world. This would have been impossible without the drudgery of the men and women who mined it.

Throughout history, through toil, strikes and lockouts, women have underpinned Britain's greatest industry.

During the 1926 general strike and lockout, Herbert Smith, President of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, reported that half the attendees at union meetings were women, "And these are always the toughest half".

In a combination of historical narrative, fiction and biography, The Toughest Half gives a voice to those women whose role has often been diminished. It is acknowledgement and tribute to their lives and contribution to history.

Elizabeth Stewart was born in Troon, Scotland, then moved gradually southwards via the Derbyshire coalfields and eventually to London where she trained as a nurse.

The primary focus of her work was women's health, and she undertook tertiary education in Women's Studies and counselling.

Elizabeth moved to Australia in 1969. Now retired, she is a mother and grandmother and lives with her Australian husband in Melbourne.

The Toughest Half is her literary debut.


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