30/10/2018ENGLISH HERITAGE WANT MORE BLUE PLAQUES FOR WOMEN
With only 14 per cent of blue plaques dedicated to women, English Heritage is calling on the public to nominate more females
English Heritage wants to address the imbalance of men and women represented in its London blue plaques scheme.
Currently just 14 per cent of blue plaques celebrate women and the Charity doesn't think it's good enough.
Since 2016, when English Heritage launched its 'plaques for women' campaign, more than half of the people awarded plaques by its expert panel have been women. This includes the botanist Agnes Arber whose blue plaque will be unveiled on Thursday in Primrose Hill.
But of the 119 nominations received from the public since 2016, only a third were for women. Nominations are the life blood of the London blue plaques scheme but the Charity needs your nominations if there is to be a significant increase in the number of women represented.
Anna Eavis, Curatorial Director and Secretary of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel, said:
'The London blue plaques scheme is over 150 years old and the dominance of plaques to men reflects a historic blindness to both the role women have played in our society and the type of roles deemed worthy of celebration.
'At English Heritage we've long recognised this and have been doing what we can to address it, but the blue plaques scheme relies on public nominations, and we need their help.
'This year's centenary of the first votes for women has brought about an increased urgency to rebalance the record of women's contribution to history. We really hope this enthusiasm will be translated into lots more nominations and ultimately more blue plaques for women.'
HOW TO GET A LONDON BLUE PLAQUE
The London blue plaques scheme celebrates the link between significant figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked.
In order to receive a blue plaque, figures must be judged to have met a number of criteria, including the following:
- they should have made a great and lasting impact on society
- they should have been dead for more than 20 years
- the London building in which they lived or worked should still survive
WOMEN AND BLUE PLAQUES
Women awarded blue plaques since 2016:
- Agnes Arber (1879-1960) - publishing eight books and more than 90 scientific papers on the field of botany, the first female botanist to be elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society
- Elizabeth David (1913 - 1992) - cookery writer who is credited with introducing post-war England to Mediterranean food
- Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919 - 1991) - dominating the world of ballet for more than 40 years, Fonteyn is widely regarded as the greatest ballet dancer of her generation
Women due to receive blue plaques (subject to permission from the buildings' owners):
- Margaret Lockwood - starring in many films including Alfre Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, Lockwood is one of Britain's most popular film stars of the 1930s and 1940s
- Noor Inayat Khan - a British heroine of the Second World War and the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France
- Gertrude Bell - a traveller, archaeologist and diplomat who became highly influential to British imperial policy-making
- The London Blue Plaques scheme was founded in 1866
- The first plaque to a woman was erected in 1876 and honoured the actress Sarah Siddons, although this no longer survives
- By 1905, just five women – one actress and four writers (including George Eliot) – had been commemorated with a plaque
- By 1986, when English Heritage took over the London blue plaques scheme, the number of blue plaques celebrating women was 45
- Since then, English Heritage has unveiled more than 80 London blue plaques to women – 60% of the total blue plaques to women – including plaques to Ada Lovelace, the pioneer of computing, Rosalind Franklin, the scientist who helped discovered DNA, and Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in parliament.