"My DD has Emmeline in her name, so she'll
Emmeline was a British political activist and leader of the
British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. In
1999, Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most
Important People of the 20th Century, stating: "she shaped an idea of
women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which
there could be no going back."
She was widely criticised for her militant tactics, and historians
disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognised as a
crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain.
"I have always (and will always) vote as a way of
saying thank you to those brave women ... I was particularly moved by
the extract from Davison's diary where she said she was doing what she
was for women who weren't even born yet."
A key activist in the suffragette movement, Emily Wilding Davison
died when she ran in front of King George V's horse in
an attempt to raise awareness of the cause at the
Epsom Derby. It's unknown whether she was intending suicide or
merely to disrupt the race.
"Medieval author and poet. She started writing as a way to
earn money when she was widowed at 25. Some consider her to be an early
Widowed with three children at the age of 25, de Pizan was a writer
at the French royal court during the reign of Charles VI. Her most
successful works included The Book of the City of Ladies - a
celebration of women and their accomplishments in history.
"James Barry was born at the end of the 1700s as a girl. Girls
could not become doctors, so she went to medical school aged 15
pretending to be a boy. She pretended for the rest of her life.
Postmortem, it was discovered that she also had a child at some
Forced by personal circumstances to earn her own money, James Barry
became Inspector General in charge of military hospitals with one of
the highest recovery rates of the war. She performed one of the first
successful caesarean sections in 1826.
"She went to nurse the soldiers in the Crimean War. A
contemporary of Florence Nightingale, but without her
Mary Seacole was a Jamaican-born woman of Scottish and Creole
descent who, using her own funds and without official support, set up a
'British Hotel' behind the lines at Balaclava during the Crimean War.
Known as 'Mother Seacole' by the troops, her reputation rivaled that of
Nightingale at the time.
"An American journalist in the late 1800s who faked
insanity so she could go undercover in a mental asylum and report on
Born Elizabeth Cochran, Bly caused a sensation when, in 1887 while
writing for the New York World, she had herself admitted to an asylum
for 10 days in order to expose the conditions there. The resulting
piece led to lasting improvements in the care of the mentally ill.
It wasn't her only claim to fame - she also managed to travel around
the world in 72 days in 1889 when the paper sent her off to try and
beat Phileas Fogg's fictional feat.
"She rescued hundreds of Jewish children in the second world
Irena was a Polish nurse who, with the help of the Polish
underground resistance, smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the
Warsaw Ghetto and into safety.
In 1965 she was given the honour of
Righteous among the Nations by the Israeli government.
"The first British female Nobel Prize winner, yet much less
known than Rosalind Franklin. Overlooked for the Nobel for years until
Max Perutz won it and started to fight her case."
Dorothy Hodgkin was a British chemist, credited with the development
of protein crystallography. There is now a fellowship in her name at
the Royal Society for "outstanding scientists in the UK at an early
stage of their research career who require a flexible working pattern
due to personal circumstances such as parenting or caring
responsibilities or health issues."
"WW2 heroine. Brave, determined and lived her
life her way. I know someone who met her. At over 90 she drank him
(half her age) under the table!"
Born in New Zealand, Wake ran away from home and eventually made her
way to London, where she trained as a journalist. During the 1930s, she
worked in Paris, where she met and married industrialist Henri Fiocca.
When France was invaded, she became first a courier for the Resistance
and then a Maquis leader. Nancy - aka White Mouse - was one of
the most decorated secret agents of the second world war. At the height
of the war, she was the Gestapo's most-wanted person, with a price of
five million francs on her head.
"The actress Hedy Lamarr invented WiFi back in the
1940s - we know that because she took out a patent on the idea, which
is why a company wanting to utilise her suggestions paid her to do so
as recently as 1998. Bluetooth is based on it. She wanted to support
the war effort at the time; it wasn't meant to make her
Best known for her work as a Hollywood actress, including the title
role in Cecil B De Mille's Samson and Delilah, Lamarr was also an
inventor. Lamarr and her neighbour, composer George Antheil, developed
the idea of using frequency hopping to avoid jamming of
radio-controlled torpedoes. Their patented invention is the basis for
modern tech such as Bluetooth and some WiFi connections.