I've been thinking a lot about the life of the actress Helen McCrory since the news of her death a couple of weeks ago.

I'd always very much enjoyed and admired her work in the theatre and on screen and I've been inspired, but saddened, by the articles reporting her strength of character, and her joy of life.

One of the stories that has been told repeatedly is her determination to attend the Drama Centre school in London.

Despite failing the audition, she recognised that it was where she needed to be, so wrote to the director to say that she would apply every year until they accepted her, even sending him copies of the places she had won on other courses but had turned down waiting for his acceptance.

This determination and perseverance, and also a clear sense of destiny, is also apparent in the women who feature in my reading this week.

Beatrix Potter had a privileged but lonely upbringing, and had to contend with certain expectations of how she would live her life. But she recognised that she had created something very special with her stories for children, and she pursued publishers until they saw it too.

Lee Miller wanted first to be a model, then a photographer, and then a war reporter for Vogue magazine. Not able to secure a job, she attended the studio every day until they offered her work. She subsequently made an astonishing contribution to the magazine and invaluable historic records of that time.

How marvellous to be so sure of your goal and to be so confident and single-minded in its pursuit.

Thank you for reading.