Women Who Made History
The role of women in shaping the course of English history has often been overlooked. Their stories need to be told.
Below we highlight the stories of some of the women who played a key part in historical events, left their mark on society and shaped our way of life – from an Anglo-Saxon abbess who ruled over a monastery of men and women to the world’s first computer programmer.
Join the discussion and learn more about the remarkable women who shaped history on Twitter @englishheritage #WomensHistoryMonth
Who inspires you?
Women in history were movers and shakers, creators, innovators, and more. Let us introduce you to a few of them.
We challenged a group of students to think about their future. We asked them if there were any historical women who might be role models ... Here’s what they discovered.
Click on the images below to find out more about some inspiring women from history. All of them are closely linked with places looked after by English Heritage, or are commemorated in London by our blue plaques scheme.
Sister Nivedita Honoured
The London home of Margaret Noble, or Sister Nivedita as she was known, was commemorated with a new blue plaque in 2017. The plaque pays tribute to her work as a staunch campaigner for women's education and Indian independence.
The plaque was unveiled by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Madame Mamata Banerjee. The installment has also attracted praise from Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who acknowledged the plaque as the 'first public recognition of Sister Nivedita in London'.Find out more about Sister Nivedita
The English Heritage blue plaques scheme commemorates some of the most inspirational women from London’s past. From the very first female medical professionals to the photographer who ventured into enemy territory during the Second World War, women from all walks of life have helped pave the way for female emancipation. Read about their stories and track down the blue plaques marking their former London homes.
If you know of more inspiring women from London’s past who haven’t yet been honoured by the English Heritage scheme, find out how to propose them for a plaque.Discover London’s pioneering women
Find out more about some of the most significant women in English history.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen in turn of two great medieval European powers, France and England. Read more about her life and the very active role she played in the politics of her day.
Discover the story of Margaret Cavendish, one of the most prolific writers of the 17th century, and how her works of philosophy and science inspired future generations of writers.
Find out about Queen Victoria and how her reign of over 63 years shaped England during a period of immense political, social and cultural change which saw a great expansion of the British Empire.
Isabella de Fortibus
Countess Isabella de Fortibus was one of the greatest heiresses in 13th-century England. Her life story illustrates how powerful women of noble birth could become in the Middle Ages.
Read about the remarkable life of Henrietta Howard, owner of Marble Hill House, and how she overcame personal adversity to become an extraordinary figure in Georgian court society.
From our blog
FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF WOMEN WHO MADE HISTORY
Use our guide and take a walk to discover the places where historical women lived, worked, and made a difference.
19 THINGS DONE BY INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN IN ENGLISH HISTORY
Some people achieve incredible things, fight for change, and break the mould. Here are just a few things done by women linked to our sites and schemes.
Why women disappeared from history
Women occupy just 0.5% of recorded history, and are often stereotyped. Bettany Hughes explores why women were written out of history.
Servants who broke the mould
Women once made up about 80% of household servants. Read about some of the women who made a successful career out of domestic service.
Nurses in the First World War
Find out about the lives of some of the women who worked as nurses at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire when the house was transformed into a hospital.
The Role of Women on Hadrian’s Wall
It’s often forgotten that hundreds, if not thousands, of women lived around Hadrian’s Wall during the Roman period. What do we know about them?
1066: The power behind the throne
Find out about the roles of three women in the period around the Norman Conquest who helped shape the events of 1066.
Why was Elizabeth I so important?
Tracy Borman examines what the accession of Elizabeth I – who famously remained unmarried – meant for women in positions of power.