The very first woman to have been made a peer, Burdett-Coutts was also given the honour of being named baroness by Queen Victoria, for the efforts she made in working for the poor. Despite inheriting the shares and wealth of her grandfather, Thomas Coutts, Angela spent her time working in such fields as philanthropy. She was also regarded as a pioneer in the area of social housing, having built homes for the financially disadvantaged, as well as having financed a number of projects, such as East London’s redevelopment.
English philosopher and writer Mary Wollstonecraft promoted liberation and education for women. Published in 1792, her book, entitled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, became regarded as a key text in the area of contemporary feminism. Written against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the book makes the case for equal rights between men and women. Wollstonecraft died 11 days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Shelley, who would go on to write the classic novel, Frankenstein. Mary left several manuscripts behind at the time of her death, at just 38 years of age.
Sex educator and birth control advocate, Edinburgh-born Marie Stopes studied science at London’s University College. In 1918, she published Married Love. Another book came shortly after. This text, Wise Parenthood, dealt with contraception. Stopes was controversial, especially when it came to her opinions on eugenics. She was a key figure, however, in promoting her cause. In 1921, she set up her first birth control clinic in a poor area of north London. She also brought women the world over the opportunity to have a planned pregnancy.
Boudicca was queen of the Iceni tribe when Britain was occupied by the Romans. Around 60 AD Boudicca brought together various tribes in a Celtic revolt against the occupiers. With her army, she was successful in removing the Romans from modern-day Colchester (which was the capital of Roman Britain at the time), Verulamium (St Albans), and London. As a result of Boudicca’s success, Roman emperor Nero considered leaving Britain altogether until was finally defeated by Roman governor Paullinus in the West Midlands. Boudicca died shortly afterwards, probably either through illness or by suicide.
Diana, Princess of Wales
In 1981, Miss Diana Spencer married Charles, Prince of Wales, the heir apparent to the British throne. The television broadcast of the wedding was watched by over 700 million people around the world, and Diane continued to be a media darling after the couple’s divorce in 1996. For instance, she was a leader of fashion in both the ‘80s and ‘90s. More importantly, she also became known throughout the world for the work she did for ill children, the banning of landmines, and raising awareness about those suffering from mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. Extensive public mourning and media attention occurred after she died in a car crash in 1997. Diana’s legacy had a deep impact on the royal family, as well as on Britain as a whole.