International Women’s Day, recognised annually on 8th March, celebrates the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women and raises awareness for gender equality. Here are eleven inspirational females – some well-known and some less so – from past and present who we feel deserve attention. What links them? They're all associated with the city of Bath!
Bath is the city that inspired Mary Shelley to finish writing her novel, Frankenstein. 19-year-old Mary Godwin (later Shelley) arrived in Bath in 1816, where she took up residence at 5 Abbey Churchyard, and it was there that she wrote much of her celebrated novel.
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, a brand-new attraction opening in Bath this summer will be a scarily atmospheric, multi-sensory and fully immersive experience, letting you unearth the author’s tragic and complex life and discover the story of Frankenstein by way of themed areas and an escape room.
Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty – now one of the top ten best-selling children’s books and her only published work – lived at Moorland Court off Englishcombe Lane in Bath in 1864. It is said that her novel was greatly inspired by the views from her home. Nowadays, Moorland Court is home to Moorlands Infant and Junior Schools, which, to this day, have Black Beauty as their logo.
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist best remembered for organising the UK's Suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote. Emmeline was a frequent visitor to Bath and Eagle House in the village of North End on the outskirts of the city. This was through her friendship with Mary Blathwayt, who owned Eagle House, which became a sanctuary for Emmeline and other suffragettes who came to recuperate after hunger striking in prison. Emmeline gave several speeches at Bath Pavilion and the Guildhall in 1909 and 1911.
Caroline is celebrated for her significant contributions to astronomy after she discovered several comets, one of which was named after her. She was the younger sister of William Herschel with whom she worked closely at their home in Bath (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy) and where William discovered the planet Uranus.
She was the first woman to ever receive a salary as a scientist and also the first to hold a government position and to publish scientific findings. In November last year, a satellite named after her was launched into space.
Jane Austen famously lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806 and featured the city in two of her published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Her books are known for their sharp prose, strong female characters, exploration of women in society and their role in marriage, capturing the romantic imagination of women across the globe. Her books were actually published anonymously and only her closest friends and family knew she was the author of Pride and Prejudice.
Many of her books have now been brought to life on the big and small screen, one of the most recent being the TV series Sanditon, her unfinished seventh novel which she started writing in 1817. Much of the series was filmed in Bristol, as well as locations including Dyrham Park, Iford Manor and Bowood House & Gardens. Her life in Bath can be explored at the city's Jane Austen Centre.
Chef, food writer, baker and presenter, Mary Berry trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Bath School of Home Economics after attending Bath High School. Mary has a long career of writing over 80 books, judging, running a cookery school and presenting many cookery shows including The Great British Bake Off. In 2012, Mary received an Honorary Degree from Bath Spa University, and in 2020 received the honour of damehood in the Queen’s birthday honours.
Image Credit: Ben Lumley Photography
Team Bath Netball
The Senior Netball team of Team Bath is based at the University of Bath. Netball has a strong presence on the campus, with the team celebrating many successes including winning several Super League finals, All-Star Championships and Super Cups. We wish them the best of luck in the 2021 Vitality Superleague season, where they’ve already smashed through their first three matches!
Jacqueline Wilson is an award-winning children's author. Born in Bath, she is best known for creating the character of Tracy Beaker who was first introduced to the world in The Story of Tracy Beaker (1991), followed by three sequels and two television adaptations on CBBC. Many more of her novels have been adapted to screen on television. Ever-popular with young teens, many of Jacqueline's books revolve around themes of divorce, adoption and mental illness, presenting them through young people's eyes.
Amy is an Olympic gold medallist in the Skeleton, a sport she discovered while a student in Bath. Originally a runner, she began training in Skeleton after trying the sport on a push-start track at the University of Bath. Although unable to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics, she was a member of her nation's team four years later at the 2010 Games, and won a gold medal, becoming the first British individual gold medallist at a Winter Olympics for 30 years and the only British medallist of those specific Olympics.
She has gone on to work as a TV presenter on Ski Sunday and The Gadget Show, and is a great champion for Bath. Amy currently works as a fitness trainer with a local yoga studio.
Professor Carole Mundell
Head of Astrophysics at the University of Bath, Carole Mundell is also Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. She was appointed Professor in 2007, founded the Bath Astrophysics Society in 2015, and was named was named FDM Everywoman in Technology Woman of the Year 2016 – the UK’s biggest programme championing women in technology.
A world-leading scientist, she is a frequent guest speaker at international conferences. She sits on a number of strategic advisory panels for UK and international groups, is a committed communicator of science, and an advocate for diversity in science.
English singer/songwriter Gabrielle Aplin shot to fame in the UK toward the end of 2012 when her haunting rendition of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's hit 'The Power of Love' was used in the Christmas advert for retailer John Lewis. Aplin was raised in the small village of Sutton Benger, Wiltshire, where she learned to play guitar at the age of 11, and also took up piano. She went on to study at Bath College and released her third studio album in January last year.