Born Joan Shaw she joined the Communist Party in or around 1945. In 1953, she married fellow-Communist, Ron Bellamy (see separate entry). During this period, Joan worked full-time for the Communist Party. She was an area, or city, secretary, probably for Leeds in the Yorkshire district. In 1956, she participated in the Commission on Inner-Party Democracy.
For a time, she was on the staff of the International Department of the Communist Party at its headquarters in King Street. She and Ron lectured in both Moscow and Ghana in the early 1960s. In 1966, she was a contributor to the South African Communist Party’s `The African Communist’ journal [Number 27 Last Quarter 1966] in an article entitled `Testing time for Ghana’.
Having been a lecturer in English Literature, for much of the latter part of her career, Joan Bellamy was a staff tutor and then Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Open University and Founder and Director of its Women in Humanities Research Group.
A supporter of the Communist Party of Britain at the time of re-establishment of the Party in 1988, she was a member of its Executive Committee for a number of years. At the November 1995 national congress, Joan was one of the candidates for the new executive committee who had been on the election preparation committee (EPC) list who was nonetheless not elected by delegates. (Ron Bellamy, Pete Ritman and Tony Chater were others; Chater was removed from the final recommendation from the EPC.)
In her retirement she spent a decade researching `More Precious Than Rubies’, a biography of Mary Taylor, a friend of the Brontes, which also analyses her writings.
Joint editor `Women, Scholarship and Criticism C. 1790-1900’
`More Precious Than Rubies’ (2002)
`Unite Against Racialism: Defeat the Immigration Bill’ Communist Party pamphlet, (1971)
Editor with John Saville of MacMillan’s ongoing `Dictionary of Labour Biography’.
`A Lifetime of Reviewing: Margaret Oliphant on Charlotte Brontë’’