Honouring Edinburgh’s women with memorial campaign gathers pace

Flowers are laid at the "Woman and Child" statue in Festival Square to mark the passing of Nelson Mandela. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Flowers are laid at the "Woman and Child" statue in Festival Square to mark the passing of Nelson Mandela. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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THE Evening News campaign to erect a monument in honour of one of our city’s female champions has gathered pace since it was launched on Monday.

Responses have poured in from supporters and the campaign has been backed by top Scottish female politicians including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Tory chief Ruth Davidson.

Our quest to honour women who have made an impact in Edinburgh focuses on commissioning a new, self-standing statue.

But some efforts to pay tribute to inspirational women in the Lothians have already been made.

Joining Queen Victoria as the second female monarch to take the plinth, a public statue of Mary, Queen of Scots was unveiled at Linlithgow Palace in 2015.

The seven-foot bronze monument looks out over the palace where she was born in December 1542, just six days before the death of her father, King James V of Scotland.

The statue was commissioned after several years of fundraising by the Marie Stuart Society, which promotes further study of her life and was created by sculptor David Annand.

On the corner of Albyn Place and North Charlotte Street sits a monument to Edinburgh children’s author Catherine Sinclair.

Loosely modelled on the Scott Monument, of which she had been a major contributor of funds, the barely legible inscription reads: “She was a friend of all children and through her book ‘Holiday House’ speaks to them still.”

Born in 1800, Ms Sinclair began writing children’s books to entertain her nieces and nephews. Her realistic portrayal of the mischievousness of childhood meant her books remained a nursery favourite for a century.

The popular writer also gave her time to charity work, including the establishment of cooking depots, drinking fountains and public seating.

And on Lothian Road at the south-west corner of Festival Square stands a modern statue remarkable in its depiction of a woman, by a woman.

Scottish sculptor Anne Davidson was commissioned by the city council to create a piece of public art symbolising the Capital’s stand against apartheid.

Made from foundry cast bronze African Woman and Child was unveiled on July 22, 1986 by a then-exiled member of the African National Congress, Suganya Chetty, who was living in Edinburgh.

A plaque in the Edinburgh University’s Old College on South Bridge honours the astonishing tale of a 19th-century doctor.

Dr James Barry was born in 1795 and the Army surgeon and Inspector General of hospitals in Canada carried out the first successful caesarean section in South Africa.

Dr Barry worked to improve the diet and lodgings of the soldiers, and fought for the construction of more sophisticated sewage and drainage systems.

But it wasn’t until the doctor, who studied medicine at Edinburgh University, died in 1865 that it was discovered she was a woman and therefore the first female graduate of the institution.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk