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 115 statues recorded in the database.
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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
Photo: Æthelred, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Lady Wulfrun (d.after 994) was an Anglo-Saxon noble woman and landowner with several estates in Staffordshire. She was granted a charter for Hēatūn, Anglo-Saxon for ‘high or prinicpal farm of enclosure’ by Aethelred II (Aethelred the Unready) in 985. She endowed a collegiate church there in 994, which is the site of St Peter’s Church where this bronze statue stands. It was erected in 1974 to celebrate the centenary of the Express and Star Newspaper. Lady Wulfrun is depicted holding the charter, a scroll with a large seal attached, which granted land to the monastery at Hēatūn. An extract from the charter is inscised into the steps below. After this generous donation, the town took on the name of its benefactor and became known as ‘Wulfrun Heantun, By 1070 it was known as Wolverenehamptonia, which is now the city of Wolverhampton. Lady Wulfrum is therefore regarded as the founder of Wolverhampton.
Sculptor: Sir Charles Wheeler KCVO CBE PRA (1892 –1974)
Location: St Peter's Church, Wolverhampton, West Midlands.
Photo: SkymasterUK Wikimedia Commons
Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823-1901), novelist, editor, biographer, essayist, journalist and writer of textbooks, whose work spread the influence of the Oxford Movement. She lived in Otterbourne, near Eastleigh (the parish which she named) all her life. Her statue, in bronze resin, seated on bench was unveiled in 2015.
Sculptor: Vivien Mallock (b. 1945)
Location: Eastleigh, Hants.