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 117 statues recorded in the database.
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Photo: courtesy of Matthew Jarron
Helen Halyburton Symers (1831-1906) was a noted philanthropist in Dundee, who gave large sums to many local causes including St Paul’s United Free Church, University College Dundee, Royal Victoria Hospital, the Convalescent Home and the Salvation Army Rescue Home. She donated the site for the Arthurstone Branch Library and set up a Fund for Indigent Females with a donation of £10,000. She was also president of the Dundee Ladies’ Union, treasurer of the Female Society for Visiting & Relieving Aged Females in Distress, a member of the Industrial Schools Society and the Home for Reformation of Females. In 1899, she became only the third woman to be made a Burgess of Dundee. This bronze relief and the Arthurstone Library were designed by the Dundee architect, James Thomson. The relief is dated 1905 and it was unveiled in that year.
Designer: James Thomson (1852–1927)
Maker: T.& E. Nicholls
Location: Entrance to Arthurstone Library, Dundee, Scotland.
Photo: Ian S. geograph.org.uk
Violette Szabo (1921-1945), British/French undercover agent, Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII, captured on her second mission to France, shot at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, she was 24 years’ old, posthumously awarded the George Cross and the French Croix de Guerre. The memorial is a portrait bust, bronze on polished granite plinth, unveiled 2009.
Sculptor: Karen Newman (b.1951)
Location: In front of Lambeth Palace, Albert Embankment, South Bank, London SE1.
Photo: © Antony Dufort 2007
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (1925-2013) was a Conservative politician. She was MP for Finchley 1959-92 and the first woman to become leader of a major political party in the UK. The longest serving British Prime Minister of the twentieth century, she was also the first woman to hold that office. Her statue in bronze was unveiled on 21 February 2007.
Sculptor: Antony Dufort FRSS SPS (b.1948)
Founder: Bronze Age Foundry, Limehouse
Location: Members' Lobby, Palace of Westminster, London.
Photo: John Owen Smith geograph.org.uk
Flora Thompson (1846-1947), postal worker, novelist and poet, best known for her trilogy, Lark Rise to Candleford, much of her writing is autobiographical. She lived in Liphook. Her portrait bust in bronze was unveiled in 1981 outside the Sorting Office, then after being vandalised, it was recast and re-sited inside Liphook Library in 1995.
Sculptor: Philip Jackson (b.1944)
Location: Liphook Library, Hampshire.
Photo: © Christine Charlesworth
Greta Thunberg (b. 2003), Swedish environmental activist, who campaigns about climate change and holds world leaders to account. She instigated School Strikes for Climate, spoke both at the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference and the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. In 2019 she was the youngest ever Time Person of the Year. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.Thunberg is depicted standing on a block of Purbeck stone, one hand clenched, her right arm stretched in front as if persuading people, her face looks as though she will speak with confidence. Charlesworth wanted to show that someone who had problems in life and who found mixing with people difficult, could still talk in public. The statue is designed to inspire other students, who may have their own problems, to take courage. Winchester University is one of the greenest in the country and this statue, called Make a Difference was funded through a percentage for art scheme from the costs of the new building. It was unveiled on 31 March 2021 and is believed to be the first full-size statue of Thunberg.
Sculptor: Christine Charlesworth
Founder: Milwyn Casting, Molesey, Surrey
Location: Outside the main entrance to the new building, West Downs Centre, Winchester University, Hants.
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.