Literary life began early…at birth!, for Tehani Wessley when her Mum decided to give her the exotic literary name of a Polynesian Princess from James Mitchener’s ‘Hawaii’. Tehani is a Tahitian name meaning ‘the soft caress of flowers’ which is quite ironic for Tehani Wessely’s latest project. The soft caress of flowers doesn’t sound like something the fearless females she is compiling in her book would be interested in. The women Tehani profiles in her book are ‘cranky ladies’, women that wanted to impact on their communities and the world.
The women canvassed come from diverse backgrounds, international and national with a variety of careers, ethnicities and beliefs. Some of them are well known, others are unfamiliar but have made no less a potent contribution to history, one example being Queen Kristina of Sweden who dressed as a man during her reign and was friends with the Pope of the time.
Tehani works in Canberra by week, as a History and English teacher, and then returns on weekends to her Launceston home where she has been living since 2012.
Through the process of crowd funding by ‘Crowbar'(A new crowd funding incentive of Arts Tasmania that offers a lift, as its name suggests, up to $2000 dollars in support of projects to Tasmanian artists. Tehani ‘s cranky ladies will have original stories by selected authors on very original women from history who rearranged and changed the normal understanding of the role of a woman. They are ladies that assumed a powerful influence by going against the grain, and social norms to do and achieve what they wanted in spite of what others told them they were capable and eligible to do!
This inspiring collection garners involvement from the public by their choice of contribution and gaining ‘rewards’ for their contribution, including some lucky contributors choosing what ladies will have an illustration in the book. Award winning author Tansy Rayner Roberts also a Ph.D. classicist specialising in Roman history takes on the role of co-editor for the project.
Tehani says her definition of cranky is not derogatory, but rather denotes a passion for getting things done, and if that is the definition to go by Tehani herself with her passion to bring this project to fruition by her own admission is bit of a cranky lady herself ; )