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: Kim Traynor Wikimedia Commons
Jackie Crookstone (1768-1797) is depicted here in a public sculpture entitled The Tranent Massacre Memorial. She was an activist associated with the riots which led to this massacre and she was one of its victims. Her bronze statue was unveiled in 1995. The figure of the boy was added later for stability.
Sculptor: David Annand (b.1948)
Location: Civic Square, Tranent, East Lothian, Scotland.
Photo: Margaret Ferguson Burns Wikimedia Commons
CC BY-SA 3.0
Dr Helen Crummy (1920-2011) was a social activist, writer and the founder of the Craigmillar Festival Society in 1962. The bronze statues of Crummy and her son (2013-14) are mounted on a concrete base with a Jesmonite doorframe, the sculpture was unveiled on 21 March 2014. For full description and discussion see Ray McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh, vol.1, LUP 2018, pp. 310-12.
Sculptor: Tim Chalk (b.1955)
Founder: Powderhall Bronze
Concrete casting: Creagh Concrete
Location: In front of the East Neighbour Centre, Niddrie Mains Road, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photo: © the artist. Photo credit: Susan Dawson/Art UK
Emily Wilding Davison (1872-1913), the militant suffragette, who was knocked over by King George V’s horse, when she ran on to the racecourse at the 1913 Epsom Derby and later died from her injuries. This steel statue depicts Davison on hunger strike in prison emptying the food from her bowl. The steel scrolls are inscribed: VOTES / FOR / WOMEN; and: SHE KNEW. / KNEW THEY WOULD COME / WITH A FUNNEL AND PIPE / THAT THEY WOULD COME / MOB HANDED. / RESTRAINING HER BODY BUT / STRENGTHENING HER / CONVICTION. / THEIR MISGUIDED METHODS. / SMALL BRUTAL VICTORIES / ACHIEVING THEIR GREATER / DEFEAT. / AND SHE WAS CONTENT. Davison’s parents both came from Morpeth and she is buried in the family plot there in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin. The statue was commissioned by Northumberland County Council and Morpeth Town Council and was unveiled on 11 September 2018.
Sculptor: Ray Lonsdale (b.1965)
Location: Carlisle Park, Morpeth, Northumberland.
Photo:© Mike Longhurst
Emily Wilding Davison (1872 – 1913) The militant suffragette, sits on a pale granite bench. She is depicted in the hat she wore when she was knocked down by the King George V’s horse, and later died, after running on to the racecourse at the 1913 Epsom Derby. Beside her on the bench are three of her favourite books and her mortarboard, which she always wore when marching with the suffragettes. She wears her hunger strike medal with seven bands to indicate the number of times she was imprisoned. She also wears her Royal Holloway and her suffragette badges. She is turned towards whoever sits down beside her on the bench as if she is in conversation, with her one hand ready to be held and her other hand holding the census form for the Palace of Westminster that was completed by the clerk to include her name after she had spent the night hiding there to avoid being added to it. The statue was unveiled on 8 June 2021, the anniversary of the day she died.
Sculptor: Christine Charlesworth
Founder: Milwyn Casting, Molesey, Surrey
Location: Epsom Market Square, Epsom, Surrey.
Photo: (c) Alison McCall womenofscotland.co.uk
May Donoghue (1898-1958) found a decomposed mollusc in her ginger beer, which made her ill and she was diagnosed with gastroenteritis, as a result she sued the manufacturer, Stevenson, and the case was settled out of court in 1932. The internationally renowned legal case ‘Donoghue v Stevenson’ lay the foundation for the modern law on negligence and became known as ‘the snail in the bottle’ case. The bronze statue entitled ‘Dear Duty’ depicts Donoghue holding her twin granddaughters on their christening day, which the sculptor intended to symbolise the scales of justice. The statue, which is sited close to the café where Donoghue found the snail in her drink, stands on a plinth decorated with hand-coloured bronze spirals which represent the snail. The memorial was erected in September 2018.
Sculptor: Mandy McIntosh
Founder: Powderhall Bronze
Location: Wellmeadow Street, Paisley, Scotland.
Photo: Brian Robert Marshall Wikimedia Commons
Diana Dors, born Diana Mary Fluck (1931-1984), film and television actress and singer. This bronze statue was unveiled in 1991. Dors was born in Old Town, Swindon and spent her early childhood there.
Sculptor: John Clinch (1934-2001)
Location: Shaw Ridge Leisure Park, Swindon, Wiltshire.
Photo: LesleyMitchell CC BY-SA 4.0
Isabella Elder (1828-1905) was a benefactress and philanthropist, who promoted education, especially among women and was concerned with the welfare of the people of Govan. She built the Elder Free Library, a School of Domestic Economy, the Cottage Hospital and a Nurses’ Training Home. She created Elder Park, where this statue is sited. The bronze statue shows her in academic robes on a granite plinth. The statue, unveiled on 13 October 1906, was erected by public subscription. It is very rare to find a statue to a non-royal woman at this period.
Sculptor: Archibald McFarlane Shannan (1850-1915)
Granite cutters (to Shannan's patterns): DH & J. Newall of Dalbeattie
Founder: J.W. Singer & Sons, Frome, Dorset
Location: Elder Park, Govan, Glasgow, Scotland.
Photo: Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0
George Eliot (1819-1880) was the pseudonym adopted by Mary Ann Evans in order for her writing to be taken seriously and published at a time when the idea of a female author would have met with disapproval. She is a renowned novelist, her works which reflect provincial life in the Victorian era are perceptive in characterisation, displaying sharp psychological insight. She wrote several novels Middlemarch, Silas Marner and Mill on the Floss being perhaps among the best known. She was also an essayist, journalist and poet. Eliot was born at Arbury which is near Nuneaton. This bronze statue was commissioned by the George Eliot Fellowship and unveiled on 22 March 1986. There is a second later cast of 1996 outside the George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Sculptor: John Letts (1930-2010)
Location: Newdegate Square, Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
George Eliot (1819-1880) was the pseudonym adopted by Mary Ann Evans in order for her writing to be taken seriously and published at a time when the idea of a female author would have met with disapproval. For more detail of her life see previous entry. This is a second later bronze cast of the statue in Newdegate Square, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, which was unveiled on 29 August 1996.
Sculptor: John Letts (1930-2010)
Location: George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, GBE (1847-1929) was a politician, writer and feminist, who campaigned for women’s suffrage through legal change and was not a militant. From 1897 to 1919, she led the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), which was Britain’s largest women’s rights association.
Sculptor: Gillian Wearing CBE, RA
Location: Parliament Square, London SW1.