Celebrate the famous women born in Devon and Dorset this International Women’s Day

Agatha Christie, the most successful crime novelist of all time. 

Agatha Christie, the most successful crime novelist of all time. - Credit: Archant Library

The theme of this year's International Women’s day is Choose to Challenge. So, in the spirit of Challenge, here are some fantastic famous women from Dorset and Devon who have either defied societal expectations or have had tremendous success in their field. 

Agatha Christie  

Agatha Christie, the most successful crime novelist of all time. 

Agatha Christie, the most successful crime novelist of all time. - Credit: Archant Library

Agatha Christie is a literary legend due to her impressive output of detective novels, totalling at 66 and the fact that she is currently the world's bestselling author, having sold over two billion books. Christie was born in Torquay to a middle-class family and was subjected to six rejections from publishers until The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the novel that introduced the world to her most famous creation, Hercule Poirot. 

Elisabeth Scott 

Bournemouth born Architect Elisabeth Scott was the first woman to design a culturally significant public building in England. The premise in question is none other than the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (formally the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre) in Stratford-upon-Avon. Scott became the designer of the theatre when in 1928, she beat 71 other applicants in a competition to design a replacement theatre after the original structure was destroyed in a fire.  

Mary Anning

Fossil collector and Palaeontologist born and raised in Lyme Regis. Anning became world-famous for her discovery of Jurassic period fossils on the beaches of her hometown.

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Due to her religious stances and gender Anning was excluded from the scientific societies of the 19th century as they were heavily populated by Anglican men. On many occasions, Anning didn’t receive proper credit for her findings; however, in recent times, she has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to the field of science. 

Marguerite “John” Radclyffe Hall 

Bournemouth born poet and novelist Radclyffe Hall is often omitted from the British literary canon because she was a lesbian and a gender non-conformist, often going by John rather than Marguerite.

Her most famous work, The Well of Loneliness, was considered obscene on publication despite containing no explicit content. In 1928, the book stood trial for obscenity, and as a result of the court’s ruling, all copies were subsequently destroyed. However, in recent years Radclyffe Hall’s seminal book is widely read and studied as an important piece of Queer fictions, and the author has also become something of a cultural icon within the LGBTQ+ community.  

Angela Rippon 

The I Care conference at the John Innes Centre. Angela Rippon with Georgina and Paul Wakefield. Photo: Paul Hewitt...

Angela Rippon at the I Care conference at the John Innes Centre in 2009 - Credit: Paul Hewitt

Rippon was born in Plymouth and made history when she became the first female journalist to present the national news on the BBC in a regular capacity. During this time, she became a national icon and has gone on to publish 14 books and present a variety of TV shows, such as the popular Rip Off Britain, which Rippon has co-hosted since 2009.

Click the link for more information about International Women's Day 2021 and how you can participate https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

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