Over 100 public statues of women can be found in the UK. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021, the PSSA launched a database of these multifarious sculptures representing women of achievement from past and present. The database includes many well-known figures with a range of attainments: nurses such as Edith Cavell, Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, the pilot Amy Johnson, writers such as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf and George Eliot, performers such as Gracie Fields, Margot Fonteyn, Amy Winehouse and Victoria Wood, activists such as Mary Barbour, Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst, and countless others. These exceptional women lived full and extraordinary lives. The sculptures embody their achievements for posterity, works of art in bronze or stone to commemorate them and further our understanding of their contributions to our own lives and history. The database excludes royal personages, as well as mythological or allegorical female figures, which are in a different category from these representations of people whose successes stemmed from their own endeavours.
We would welcome contributions to the database, if you know of any other statues of women not included here, or if you wish to add information, such as further dates, about the statues on the list. Please use the form to the right. We are aware this is an evolving resource which will expand as time goes on.
There are 112 statues recorded in the database.
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Photo: © Melanie Wilks
Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross, (c.1820 -1913) an abolitionist and political activist was known as the ‘Moses of her people’. An escaped slave from the South, she was a leading figure as a ‘conductor’ on the Underground Railroad, which helped hundreds of slaves to escape to freedom. During the American Civil War she worked as a nurse and cook, then as an armed scout and spy. She was active in the women’s suffrage movement. The Harriet Tubman Memorial was commissioned by Kirklees Council as part of Black history month to mark the hundredth anniversary of the her death. Wilks created the concept for the sculpture working with students from the Netherhall Learning Campus, Huddersfield. The plinth on which the portrait bust sits is carved with reliefs inspired by African art and culture. The work in Maltese limestone is signed and dated. It was unveiled on 1 October 2013.
Sculptor: Melanie Wilks
Location: Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery, Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Twiggy (b.1949) This public sculpture is a realistic scene in which a passing shopper comes across Terence Donovan photographing the model Twiggy near to his Mayfair studio in the 1960s. The bronze sculpture was unveiled in 2012.
Sculptor: Neal French
Location: Outside Bourdon House, Mayfair, London SW1.
Virginia Wade OBE (b.1945) tennis player, who is the only British woman to have won all four major tournaments. In 1977 she won the Wimbledon ladies singles title. Her portrait bust was commissioned to be displayed at Wimbledon.
Sculptor: Ian Rank-Broadley (b.1952)
Location: All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon
Nancy Wake (1912-2011), resistance fighter and secret agent. Portrait bust unveiled in 2008.
Sculptor: Karen Newman (b.1951)
Location: Bar of Stafford Hotel, St James Place, London SW1.
Creative Commons CC BY-SA4.0
Mary Webb (1881-1927), author, best known for her novel Precious Bane. Webb was born in Leighton a small village south of Shrewsbury.
Sculptor: Jemma Pearson
Founder: Castle Fine Arts Foundry in Llanrhaeadr
Location: Outside Shrewsbury Library, Shropshire.
Photo: Simon Smith with the Statue of Kitty Wilkinson; photo credit: Simon Smith
Kitty (Catherine) Wilkinson (1786–1860) was an Irish migrant, known as the ‘The Saint of the Slums’, because she helped save the lives of many during the cholera epidemic of 1832 by inviting them to wash infected clothing and bedding in her domestic boiler. Ten years later with public funds raised through her efforts, a combined washhouse and public baths was opened in Frederick Street, Liverpool. This was the first public washhouse in the United Kingdom and she was appointed the first warden. Her marble statue was unveiled 2012 in St George’s Hall, Liverpool. It was the first sculpture of a woman to be installed there.
Sculptor: Simon Smith (b.1957)
Location: St George's Hall, Liverpool.
Photo: Neil Crump, Wikimedia Commons
Amy Winehouse (1983-2011), singer and songwriter, who won the award for best British Female Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards 2007 and two Ivor Novello Awards. She was the first British woman to win five Grammys. Her statue in bronze, which features her characteristic beehive hairdo, was unveiled on 14 September 2014.
Sculptor: Scott Eaton (b.1973)
Location: Stables Market, Camden Town, London NW1.
Photo: Grim23 Wikimedia Commons
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), writer, founding feminine philosopher, advocate of women’s rights, education and social equality, wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, was her daughter. The memorial is the result of a 10 year project by the Mary on the Green Campaign. The statue of silvered bronze is on a plinth bearing Wollstonecraft’s words ‘I do not want women to have power over men, but over themselves’. It was unveiled on 10 November 2020 at Newington Green, where she lived, worked and opened a Girls’ Boarding School.
Sculptor: Maggi Hambling (b.1945)
Location: On roundabout, Newington Green, London N16.
Photo: Noshplar Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Wood (1953-2016), BAFTA award winning comedian, actress, singer, pianist, writer, composer, producer and director. Wood was brought up in Bury and her bronze statue has been erected opposite her local library. The statue, a joint project between Bury council and Victoria Wood’s Estate, was unveiled on 17 May 2019.
Sculptor: Graham Ibbeson (b.1951)
Location: Library Gardens off Silver Street, Bury, Greater Manchester
Photo: Stu’s Images Wikimedia Commons
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), innovative and influential modern novelist, using internal monologue ‘Stream of consciousness’ genre (Mrs Dalloway and To The Lighthouse) are among her best known works), literary critic, essayist, biographer and conservationist. Suffered mental health problems and committed suicide. She lived on the south side of Tavistock Square (1924-39). Tomlin first suggested sculpting her in 1924, finally she gave six sittings in 1931; this the only sculptural representation of her from life. The bronze portrait bust on Portland stone plinth was erected in 2004. There are replicas of the bust at Monk’s House (NT) Rodmell, Lewes; in lead (1958) at the National Portrait Gallery, London and a third later cast at the British Library (1990).
Sculptor: Stephen Tomlin (1901-1937)
Location: Tavistock Square, London WC1