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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 13:00 GMT
Who's having lunch with the Queen?
JK Rowling
Harry Potter author JK Rowling is one of the UK's top earners

The Queen is holding a "girl power" lunch to celebrate successful women. BBC News Online profiles some of those attending.

JK Rowling started writing Harry Potter after the idea occurred to her on an interminable Manchester to London train journey.

By the time she got off at King's Cross station, Harry's story was conceived as a seven book series and many of the characters in the books had already been invented.

In June 1997, five years after its conception, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published to great critical acclaim.

Last year Ms Rowling, who is currently writing the sixth Harry Potter book, became the world's best paid author.

Erin Pizzey founded the Chiswick Women's Refuge, the world's first shelter for domestic violence victims, in 1971.

She was hailed around the world as a feminist icon until she revealed 60% of the women in the shelter were as violent as the men they had left.

Kanya King
Kanya King heads the Mobo organisation

Some radical feminists were so opposed to Ms Pizzey's claim that women could be violent that they threatened her with death.

She is now a heroine to men's rights campaigners.

Music of Black Origin (Mobo) awards organiser Kanya King is one of nine children, as was her Irish mother.

Her father was Ghanaian, and growing up in north London Kanya was exposed to a wide variety of musical influences.

As a drama student at Goldsmith's College in south London, she pitched the idea of an annual awards show for black music to the chief executive of London Weekend Television.

Ms King's first show was a low-key dinner at the Connaught hotel in 1996, last year her seventh annual Mobos ceremony was held at the Albert Hall and reached a worldwide television audience of more than 200 million.

Hannah Dadds became Britain's first female Tube driver when she took up her post on the District line in 1978.

The blokes were very supportive
Britain's first female Tube driver Hannah Dadds

She told the Evening Standard newspaper: "I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a driver.

"The blokes were very supportive and I can't think of any reason why women should not consider driving trains for a living."

Ms Dadds will travel from retirement in Spain to attend.

The daughter of Evening Standard theatre critic Milton Shulman and Brides magazine editor Drusilla Beyfus, Alexandra Shulman studied social anthropology at Sussex University.

She left for a secretarial job in the A&R (Artists and Repretoire) department of a record company but was sacked after five months "because I didn't take drugs".

Lesley Garrett
Lesley Garrett was awarded the CBE for services to music in 2002

Turning to journalism, Ms Shulman spent five years at Tatler magazine before becoming the Sunday Telegraph's women's page editor and, later, deputy editor of the paper's picture-led tabloid, Seven Days.

After a spell as editor of men's magazine GQ, she moved to Vogue as features editor before becoming editor in 1992 .

Lesley Garrett was born in Thorne, a village near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, in 1955. Her father, who was a railway signalman at the time of her birth, decided to make the uncommon step-up to becoming a schoolmaster.

After studying music to A-level, Ms Garrett spent six years at the Royal Academy of Music, where singer Annie Lennox was a contemporary, studying to be a soprano.

Times were hard and, as a student, she paid her way by becoming an artists' model before graduating and winning the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Prize in 1981.

Debuting as Dorinda in Handel's Orlando at the Wexford Festival, Ms Garrett enjoyed engagements with Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Glyndebourne, before joining English National Opera in 1984 and becoming Principal Soprano a year later.

In 1997, at the age of 27, Vogue accessories editor Tamara Mellon saw a pair of shoes she liked so much she bought the company.

They were made by a little known Malaysian cobbler called Jimmy Choo, who made two pairs a day from a workshop in London's East End.

Cherie Blair
Cherie Blair is a high-flying lawyer

Last year the company reported a turnover of 25m, and it is predicting a 50% increase in 2004.

Married to multi-millionaire Matthew Mellon II in 2000, Tamara's short-lived affair with Oscar Humphries, the 22-year-old son of Dame Edna Everidge creator Barry, became public in September 2003 after he wrote a newspaper article detailing his seduction by an anonymous older woman.

Cherie Blair was born into a working class, Roman Catholic family in Bury, Lancashire in 1954.

Her father, the actor Tony Booth, who later became famous for his role in the BBC comedy Till Death Us Do Part, walked out when she was two.

A hard-working and conscientious student, she earned a first in her law degree at the London School of Economics and came top of her year in the bar exams.

An active supporter of the Labour Party, Mrs Blair fought and lost the no-hope seat of Thanet North in Kent at the 1983 general election. In the same year her husband, Tony, won his safe seat in Sedgefield, County Durham, and began the long climb to government.

Royal women outing for JK Rowling
04 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
Genetic clue to 'girl power'
05 Nov 02  |  Science/Nature


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