Comment: ‘Our celebration of history is one-sided’

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Edinburgh is steeped in history. Everywhere you turn there are reminders of the great men who helped shape the life of the city and the world beyond.

From the Scott Monument to the Alexander Graham Bell pub, the Usher Hall to Colinton’s new statue of Robert Louis Stevenson, there are wonderful evocations of many of the brilliant minds that have helped make Edinburgh the great city that it is today.

But our celebration of history is a little one-sided – to say the least.

While the great men of Edinburgh’s past are all around us, there is very little sign of its great women. Queen Victoria is the only woman to whom a statue has been erected in the Capital.

This newspaper supports the on-going campaign to see a statue built of the city’s greatest heroine Elsie Inglis. The fact there is no such memorial makes the restoration of her final resting place all the more pressing.

With the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital and the Elsie Inglis Nursing Home both closed, there is a real risk that she will be relegated to a place in dusty history books.

Her courage in the face of official indifference – the government official to whom she first offered her medical services told her “My good lady, go home and sit still” – are an example to us all. Her campaign for universal suffrage helped change the lives of millions.

The fact that she is the city’s greatest heroine – as an eminent panel of experts assembled by this newspaper declared earlier this year – only goes to make the lack of a proper memorial all the more glaring. The approach of the centenary of the First World War in which her heroism first earned her fame is the perfect time to put things right.

It might be public funds through a grant towards centenary commemorations or some kind of private appeal. Either way, the city’s commemorations of this anniversary would be incomplete without a fitting memorial to Elsie Inglis.