Leicester statues – no poets found

The Leicester Mercury, asked their readers to vote on which additional statue should be added to the list of Public Art, according to which Leicester has statues of Gandhi, Thomas Cook, Arthur Wakerley, King Richard III, William Shakespeare, Cardinal Wolsey, John Wycliff, Hugh Latimer, John Biggs, Robert Hall, John Henry Manners and a statue depicting three sportsmen (Sporting Success). There’s also a statue to Queen Ethelfloeda (in the Guildhall courtyard), The Little Seamstress (a generic statue representing the textile industry) and Lady Liberty with one of Alice Hawkins about to be unveiled. Leicester city won’t accept nominations for statues of living people.

The Leicester Mercury options were David Attenborough, Richard Attenborough, Martin Johnson, Kasabian, Daniel Lambert, Gary Lineker, Nelson Mandela, Claudio Ranieri. Their article was closed to comments so there was no option to nominate alternatives or ask why there were no women on the list. I’m still waiting for a response from my letter to the editor. I’m not holding my breath and suspect if a response is ever forthcoming it will be suggested that the poll was a “bit of fun.”

So as not to starve Leicestershire’s daughters of ambition, here are some nominations (to conform to Leicester City Council’s stipulations, all are no longer with us):

Agnes Archer Evans – educationalist (aka Agnes Archer Kilgour)
Caroline Ashurst Biggs – academic
Mary Attenborough – founding member Marriage Guidance Council, Kindertransport supporter
Anne Ayre Hely – nurse
Ruth Banton – social worker helped form Women’s Labour League, involved in Highcross St Infant Welfare Centre & promoted a Municipal Maternity Home
Diane Battenham – sports
Anna Chrysogen Beale headmistress Belmont House School
Mary J. Bell-Richards – Board of Guardians, secretary NUBSO
Kathleen Benson – social worker chair of City Health Committee
Susan Bird – Leicester Hosiery Union, city councillor Humberstone ward
Evelyn Carryer – secretary of the Leicester and Leicestershire Women’s Suffrage Society, founder member of the WSPU in Leicester.
Agnes Spencer Clarke – suffragette and novelist.
Bertha Maria Clarke – founding member of the local WSPU
Doris Connolly – founder member of New Parks Residents’ Association. Connolly Close named after her (and her husband).
Dorothy Davis – teach, sered on the education committee of city council; rebelled in support of Ugandan refugees.
Sarah Louise Donaldson – involved with the formation of the Leicester Health Society, suffragette
Betty Driver – actor
Charlotte Ellis – anti-slavery campaigner on Leicester Board of Guardians
Jennie Fletcher – sports
Emily Comber Fortey – first woman elected as a Labour Councillor in Leicester.
Elizabeth Rowley Frisby – councillor Knighton ward and JP in 1927
Fanny Fullagar – Poor Law Guardian & councillor
Mary Catherine Gittins – secretary National Union of Women Workers, suffragette
Edith Gittins – artist (exhibited at Royal Academy), founded Leicester Women’s Liberal Association, suffragette
May Goodwin MBE – President Leicester Women’s Branch of the Boot and Shoe Union, city councillor
Maggie Gracie (aka Maggie Nandy) – secretary Leicester Campaign for Racial Equality, founded Inter-Racial Solidarity Campaign, teacher
Adelize Grandmesnil (wife of Hugh Governor of Leicester in 11th century)
Elizabeth Heyrick – writer
Violet Holmes – chair Public Baths & Cleansing Committee
Catherine Irwin – JP, Board of Guardians
Constance E. Jackson – city councillor Lord Mayor 1963
Marjory Kempe – Christian mystic
Maria Leafe – first secretary Leicester Railway Women’s Guild, counciller (Aylestone)
Lilian Lenton – suffragette
Mary Linwood – needlewoman
Sarah Eveline Lines (aka Eva Lines) – teacher, suffragette
Isobel Logan – suffragette
Ada Lovelace – mathematician/coder (lived at Kirby Mallory)
Kate O’Mara – actor
Lily Marriott MBE, JP – councillor Abbey ward served on Rent Tribunal, Hillcrest Hospital Committee, Social Serices Committee, Public Assistance Committee. Lord Mayor of Leicester 1975
Phoebe Mason – secretary Seamers and Stitchers Society, first woman delegate to Trades Council in 1875 and first woman to address the TUC (1877)
Bridget Paton – first woman officer Amalgamated Union of Enginers (1975)
Marina (May) Peach – founder member Labour League of Women, helped form Leicester Health Society (1905)
Edith Rimmington – painter
Deborah Ross – suffragette, secretary Leicester Secular Society
Mary Royce – doctor
Agnes Scott – ran a leper colony, thought to be a source of Black Annis myth
Janet Setchfield – councillor North Braunstone, served on Environmental Health and Public Control, Estates and Finance Committee, governor of several local schools and of Southfields Further Education College and was a member of the Leicestershire Health Authority. Lord Mayor 1985 (County Council)
Ellen Sherriff – suffragette
Annie Stretton – National President Railway Women’s Guild, founder member Woman’s Labour League in Leicester
Sue Townsend – writer
Susanna Watts – writer
Mrs Catherine Willson – social worker, executive member Infants’ Nursing Home, secretary Leicester District Committee of Cooperative Guilds
Elizabeth Willson – first woman to sit on Executive Council of NUBSO, co-founded (with Alice Hawkins) Independent National Union of Women Boot and Shoe Workers.

This list is not comprehensive and further suggestions are welcome.

The Institute of Physics Flash Fiction and Poetry Competitions

Open to any writer resident in the UK for a piece of flash fiction or poem of 500 words or fewer where the theme involves physics or a physicist. If you’re not sure if your idea qualifies, email writingcompetition2017 [at] iop.org. Entries restricted to one per person per competition so you can enter one poem, one flash fiction or one poem and one piece of flash fiction, but not two poems or two pieces of flash fiction. Full rules from the email address given.

Prizes in each competition: First Place £100, Second Place £75, Third Place £50.

Closing Date 31 October 2017. Free entry – entries to be sent to the email address.


  • Aspect of a physicist’s life or work
  • Fictional physicist makes a discovery or invention
  • Group of scientists working at a facility such as CERN or an Antarctic base or the International Space Station
  • A real-life physics-related event
  • A technological utopia or dystopia
  • Environments such as space, the deep sea, etc
  • Change a law of physics – what happens?

Judging Panel includes a physicist and fiction judge. I will be the poetry judge.

Leicester Writers Showcase Ella @ 100


Three Questions Not to Ask Writers

Leicester Mercury out of my suit featureThankfully none of them asked by the Leicester Mercury in preparation for their feature on my poetry. But here’s three questions most writers dread:-

Q 1: What inspires your writing?

A: Everything. There is no secret store only available to those genetically destined to become writers, no magic pot of ideas that if only it were to become available to non writers they’d become writers too.

Q 2: What do you write about?

A: You could probably read a collection in the time it would take me to come up with a neat, two sentence summation. Alternatively type my name in a search engine (or follow the links) and read what’s available on-line.

Q 3: When did you start writing?

A: I’ve always written. Even as a toddler I used to make up stories. When I learnt to write, I started writing them. Or did you mean when did I start writing for publication? Or did you mean when did I identify myself as a writer? Or when did someone else recognise me as a writer?

For Question 1, far better to ask what inspired a specific poem or story. Question 2 is incredibily tricky for someone who writes poems, stories and reviews, encompassing fiction and non fiction, sometimes genre sometimes not, to actually pin down and say “I write about x.” Question 3: where do I start? Like any good interview, the best questions are not so hopelessly open-ended I don’t know where to start or are so hopelessly closed I can only answer “yes” or “no”. The best questions are specific and allow for a generous answer.