Hidden Heroines: The story of Elaine Morgan who changed the world from her desk in Mountain Ash

  • Gareth Morgan said: "My mother would say it is about every woman acknowledging their heroism"

Sitting on a sofa and remembering his mum's dual role as a world-changing theorist and a devoted mother, Gareth Morgan says Elaine Morgan is "still changing lives".

She was a remarkable figure whose contributions included the realms of television, and evolutionary theory, all from her desk in Mountain Ash, Wales.

Recalling how she was as a mother, Mr Morgan said: "Growing up with her you wouldn't have known (that she has changed the world). She would get our tea and put clothes in the washing machine and do all the things that mum's do.

"Then she'd disappear with her writing pad. She changed to some degree, the world of television. For thirty years she wrote television scripts, and nobody could touch her really".

Gareth and Morien Morgan unveiling their mother Elaine Morgan's statue in Mountain Ash. Credit: Molyneux Associates

He added: "She changed the outlook of the scientific establishment in anthropology. Of course, by the time she had published her book, it was not only a global best seller, it was not only the book of the month in America, three months in a row. It has now been translated into 26 languages and it's still in print and it's still changing lives."

Born into a modest mining family in 1920, Ms Morgan's intellect and determination propelled her from the valleys to the halls of Oxford University.

She dedicated three years to teaching with the Workers’ Educational Association before venturing into television writing in the 1950s to support her family.

As a pioneering female screenwriter in a male-dominated industry, Elaine Morgan broke barriers with her compelling scripts, a feat made all the more impressive considering she did not own a television when her first scripts were accepted.

Gareth Morgan with his mother Elaine Morgan Credit: Gareth Morgan

When asked where did she get this inspiration from, her son said: "She got her way of approaching the world from her dad Billy and they'd do all kinds of (scientific) experiments.

"But I think it kindled in her the wanting to know. If you want to know, if you work hard enough and you keep looking then you can find the answer. Also, if it's an answer that doesn't suit the establishment that is different to anybody else then who cares - the answer is the answer."Elaine Morgan's legacy extends beyond her written work. Her contributions were recognised with an OBE in 2009, and she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature the same year.

  • Gareth Morgan on what special message would Elaine Morgan give young girls

Talking about the impact she has had on women, Mr Morgan said: "She was able to project herself into the situation of our ancient primitive ancestors. A few things occurred to her, such as, if there were men and we talked about manhunters then there were also women, there were also babies and they have to be taken into consideration.

"Looking at a feminine and a mother's perspective, the world looks very very different. She had that realisation that that side of the story had been lost and never even being considered."

He added: "Mum cared about women. Here is a housewife, my mother, a valley's housewife who has taken the establishment and completely rewritten the history of the human race in a way that it makes sense instead of being male-dominated."

On 18 March 2022, Elaine Morgan's statue was unveiled in Mountain Ash. It depicted her amidst a symbolic wave of her achievements, serving as a lasting tribute to her influence and her unwavering connection to her Welsh roots.

When asked how it felt to be at the unveiling of his mother's statue, Mr Morgan said:"It was quite extraordinary. I couldn't believe how many people had turned up from all over the country. There was this wonderful children's choir, singing and then speeches from all the good and great that knew her. It was a marvellous day.

"It was a fabulous moment. It brought her very close (to reality). It looks like she is sitting on a crest of a wave at the peak of her career and churning out page after page. The wave splashes across her lap and it turns into paper and with all little quotes from all the stuff she has written over the years.

"Even if you look lower down then there are animals down in the wave and little sea creatures that she has written about in her book on evolution later in her life. "

Elaine Morgan's story is not just about individual brilliance but also about the enduring power of curiosity, according to Gareth.

Adding that the Welsh monumental women project recognises the "role of women in general".

He said: "I know my mother would say that and she would see that. This isn't about me, this is about every mother and every wife and every woman and every girl, to acknowledge their heroism."

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