Alison Hill’s brand new biography, Pauline Gower, Pioneering Leader of the Spitfire Women, tells the story of the amazing woman who led the 164 Spitfire women during WW2 and left a huge legacy for women in aviation. On 21 October, Alison will be joining Lucinda to talk about Pauline’s life – from convent school ‘glittering figure’ to pioneering pilot and beyond; she set up the first female joyriding business in 1931 with high-achieving engineer Dorothy Spicer and took up over 33,000 passengers over six summers. In 1939 Pauline was appointed Commandant of the women’s section of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and achieved equal pay for her women pilots. She enabled them to fly ‘Anything to Anywhere’, including Hurricanes, Wellingtons and – their firm favourite – the Spitfire.
Author and poet Alison Hill was awarded an Arts Council grant for her third poetry collection, Sisters in Spitfires, which celebrates the lives and flights of the women pilots of the ATA. In 2018, she was delighted to be flown to the Isle of Wight to meet Mary Ellis and hear her first-hand memories of Pauline, and to talk to other ATA pilots Joy Lofthouse and Molly Rose. Alison’s previous collections include Slate Rising, Lyrical Beats and Fifty Ways to Fly (ed.), which featured a poem by Pauline Gower. She is an RSA Fellow and a member of the Spitfire Society.