London

Women 'feature on only 13% of London's blue plaques'

blue plaque Image copyright Lucy Millson-Watkins/English Heritage
Image caption Georgette Heyer was born in Wimbledon

Only 13% of blue plaques in London are dedicated to women, English Heritage has revealed.

The organisation (EH) is appealing for people to nominate more notable women for the plaques, of which there are currently 902 around the capital.

The appeal comes as Women's History Month gets under way, and in the blue plaque scheme's 150th year.

According to a survey by EH, 40% of people think women had less impact on history than men.

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Image copyright Mike Seaforth/English Heritage
Image caption Mary Seacole lived in Soho Square

Film star Ava Gardner, ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn and the cookery writer Elizabeth David are among the latest people to be awarded plaques.

'Dead for 20 years?'

"Our scheme relies entirely on public nominations so we're calling on people to get in touch and tell us who they think deserves a plaque," said Anna Eavis, curatorial director for EH.

"Is the person a significant figure who made a positive and lasting public impact? Does the London building where the person lived or worked still stand? And has the person been dead for more than 20 years?"

A spokeswoman said EH did not want to "sway nominations towards particular women, so we haven't put together a list of women who don't have plaques.

"This will mean that we can assemble a full list of really diverse nominations.

"We need to have people helping us dig for them."

EH took over the blue plaque scheme in 1986, following the abolition of the Greater London Council. The first plaque was erected in 1867, for Lord Byron.

Lesser-known women commemorated on blue plaques:

  • Dame Maud McCarthy, the Army Matron-in-Chief during World War One, lived at 47 Markham Sq, SW3
  • Violette Szabo, who died fighting for the French Resistance, lived at 18 Burnley Rd, SW9
  • Lilian Lindsay, the first qualified female dentist, lived at 3 Hungerford Rd, N7
  • Hertha Ayrton, inventor of a fan that dispersed poison gas from trenches during WWI, lived at 41 Norfolk Square, W2
  • Frances Mary Buss, founder of the first modern girls' secondary school, was headmistress at Camden School for Girls in Sandall Rd, NW5

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