A new TV pilot will showcase the life of a remarkable Victorian woman who worked to become a “lover and protector” of women in Wakefield.
The pilot tells the story of Clara Clarkson, who was born in the city in 1811, and focuses on her struggles as an unmarried woman.
Titled Clara, the episode was commissioned by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield (FWW), a team of volunteers seeking to tell the stories of the women who helped to shape our city.
Through their research, the team have uncovered the stories of dozens of women, but believe Clara’s is one of the strongest.
Sarah Cobham, who founded the group, said: “This is about power and control and women finding their place in an oppressive Victorian society.
“Clara didn’t achieve anything because she couldn’t. “What she did do is she described what life was like for women in Victorian times.
“That shone a real spotlight on how awful it was for them.
“She set up a literary society, a music society, these safe spaces for women who never married for one reason or another.”
Though there is no proof that Clara was gay, she left many hints in her diary, and never married. Following her death in 1889, she left large amounts of money to Ann Ashton, who is believed to have been her life partner.
Based on research conducted by Helga Fox, the pilot includes details from Clara’s diaries and follows a script by Caleb Shepherd. Directed by Ana Arsentyeva, it has been filmed in Wakefield and produced by students from the University of York.
More than 40 people have been involved in the production of the 30 minute episode.
Sarah is now in talks with production companies about the pilot, and says she hopes to produce a film and TV series about Clara’s life.
The pilot will premiere at the Mechanics’ Theatre on Sunday, March 8, 2020 - International Women’s Day.