• A Woman in Law by Celia Wells - book cover

A Woman in Law

Reflections on Gender, Class and Politics

by Celia Wells, Foreword by Nicola Lacey


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Celia Wells always felt like an outsider. Her unconventional early life was shaped by her Communist Party parents, she grew up as ‘town’ not ‘gown’ in Oxford, surrounded by books but living in a council house. She has uncovered an intriguing backstory with a bigamous grandmother, a convicted forger cousin transported to Australia in the 1840s, and the rise and fall of landed gentry.

The author describes her parents’ bohemian friends and their coded language and uses their original wartime correspondence to produce a picture of a fascinating heritage which ran against the grain and shaped an inquiring mind. A Woman in Law shows how the post-war political landscape provided opportunities for women yet failed to shift many entrenched advantages of gender and class.

Tracing the rocky path to becoming Cardiff University’s first female law professor, the author shows how her distinctive academic research led to different approaches to teaching criminal law as well as contributing to key reforms described in the book. As she asserts, ‘I wanted to write about my rather confused political and cultural background, and to relate it to my professional and personal life, to my academic writing, to my relationships, and my beliefs, my experiences of suicide and addiction in my close family.’

A frank and revealing account which distils the essence of women’s career challenges and highlights the issues women continue to face.


‘Well written and beautifully composed in terms of the strands [the author] interweaves so successfully’– Andrew Ashworth CBE

‘Beautifully written and searingly honest… a rare resource… emotionally articulate and deeply considered’–Nicola Lacey


Celia Wells is Emerita Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Bristol. An early exponent of the need to understand law in wider contexts, in 1995 she became the first woman law professor at Cardiff. She is the author of Corporations and Criminal Responsibility (2001), Negotiating Tragedy (1995) and Recon­structing Criminal Law (with Nicola Lacey, latest edn. 2010). Awarded the OBE in 2006, she is a past President of the Society of Legal Scholars.

Additional information

Weight320 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 12 mm

Foreword author

Nicola Lacey


Waterside Press




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Place of origin

United Kingdom

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