Journalist, columnist and author, Penny Haw is set to launch her new work of historical fiction, The Invincible Miss Cust, this month.
The story is based on the real life of Aleen Isabel Cust, who defied her family and society to become Britain and Ireland’s first woman veterinary surgeon in the early 1900s.
Born in Ireland in 1868 to an aristocratic English family, Aleen knows she is destined to work with animals, even if her family is appalled by the idea of a woman pursuing a veterinary career. Going against their wishes but with the encouragement of the guardian assigned to her upon her father’s death, Aleen attends the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh, enrolling as A I Custance to spare her family the humiliation they fear. At last, she is on her way to becoming a veterinary surgeon. Little does she know her biggest obstacles lie ahead.
Through meticulous research, riveting storytelling, and elegant prose, Aleen’s story of ambition, determination, family, friendship, and passion comes to life.
It is a story that, even today, women will recognise, of battling patriarchy and an unequal society to realise her dreams and pave the way for other women in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds to become a perfect role model for young women today.