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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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.
Photo: Poorlyglot Wikimedia Commons
Dame Gracie Fields, DBE (1898-1979) was an actress, singer and comedian. This bronze statue was unveiled in September 2016 to local acclaim. Rochdale was Fields’ hometown, and although she retired to the island of Capri in Italy, she never forgot her roots and often returned.
Sculptor: Sean Hedges-Quinn (b.1968)
Location: Town Hall Square, Rochdale, Lancashire.
Photo: Ian Yarham Wikimedia Commons
Dame Margot Fonteyn, DBE (1919-1991), prima ballerina. The statue depicts her as the water sprite, Ondine, which was her favourite role. She was professionally paired for some years with the Russian dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. Fonteyn was President of the Royal Academy of Dancing. The bronze was unveiled by Fonteyn herself in 1980, it was commissioned by her international fans. Fonteyn was born in Reigate.
Sculptor: Nathan David FRBS (1930-2017)
Location: Outside Watson House, London Road, Reigate, Surrey.
Photo: public domain
Elizabeth Frink (1930-1993), sculptor and printmaker. This sympathetic portrait statue in bronze by a fellow artist was purchased by the Harlow Art Trust in 1957. The work is Grade II listed and Historic England note that it is unusual to find a public sculpture of a woman artist at this date and that it was an early acquisition for the Trust.
Sculptor: Frederick Edward McWilliam CBE, RA (1909 -1992)
Location: West Walk, Harlow, Essex.
Photo: Rock drum, CC BY-SA 3.0
Elizabeth Frink (1930-1993), sculptor and printmaker. A second cast of the Harlow statue, this bronze was made using the original moulds in 1965. This statue was shown at the Herbert Gallery in an exhibition called ‘Metamorphosis’. It was then placed on permanent display outside the entrance in 1966.
Sculptor: Frederick Edward McWilliam CBE, RA (1909 -1992)
Location: Outside Herbert Gallery, Coventry, West Midlands.
Photo: © Nigel Mykura CC BY-SA 2.0
Ekaterine (Kate) Frolov (1986-2000), a poignant memorial to a fourteen year old Russian girl, who was studying English at a language school in the town. She died when she fell from nearby cliffs in the fog. Her family erected this bronze statue which stands over Ilfracombe Bay in 2009.
Location: Capstone Hill, Ilfracombe, Devon.
Photo: Richard200 Wikimedia Commons
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), prison and social reformer, and philanthropist. This marble statue was erected in 1912 in the Old Bailey, which is the site of the former Newgate Prison.
Sculptor: Alfred Briscoe Drury (1856-1944)
Location: Grand Hall of the Old Bailey, London EC4.
Photo: Marion Dutcher / Gaskell Memorial Tower, Knutsford, Cheshire /
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), Victorian novelist, biographer and writer of short stories. Gaskell lived in Knutsford with her aunt and later was married there. Her portrait bust is in a niche on Gaskell Memorial Tower. It is a copy of a bust made in 1897 by Hamo Thornycroft (1850-1925), now at the University of Manchester Library, which itself was a copy of a plaster bust by David Dunbar (1792-1866), which was executed c.1829. The marble (?) bust was in place on the Tower by 1913.
Sculptor: after Hamo Thornycroft (1850-1925)
Location: Gaskell Memorial Tower, King Street, Knutsford , Cheshire.
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), Victorian novelist, biographer and writer of short stories. Gaskell lived in Knutsford with her aunt and later was married there. This bronze portrait relief of Gaskell by the Italian sculptor, Achille D’Orsi, was originally on the front of Knutsford Post Office, but has now moved to right side of Gaskell Memorial Tower.
Sculptor: Achille D'Orsi (1845-1929)
Location: Gaskell Memorial Tower, King Street, Knutsford, Cheshire.