Iconic Women of 20th century

Some of the most iconic women of the Twentieth Century

Diana, Princess of Wales

dianaOne of the most photographed persons ever Princess Diana combined the appeal of a Royal princess with her humanitarian charity work. Although her marriage to Prince Charles was overshadowed by affairs on both sides; her popularity remained undimmed as many were inspired by her natural sympathy with the poor and mistreated. Her death in 1997 was a major shock to the whole world and sent the world into an unprecedented collective mourning. Biography Diana, Princess of Wales

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey_HepburnAudrey Hepburn was one of Hollywood’s most iconic actresses. She was often voted as the most beautiful women of the century. Her elfin, angelic figure helped create a legend. Audrey Hepburn retired from acting to devote more time to humanitarian charities such as working for the Red Cross.

Katharine Hepburn

KatharineHepburnAn iconic figure of twentieth Century film Katharine Hepburn won 4 Oscars and received over 12 Oscar nominations. Her lifestyle was unconventional at the time and through her acting and life, she helped redefine traditional views of women’s role in society. Biography Katharine Hepburn

Mother Teresa

MotherTeresaDevoting her life to the service of the poor and dispossessed Mother Teresa became a global icon for selfless service to others. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace and became one of the most respected figures in the world. Biography Mother Teresa

Florence Nightingale

Florence_NightingalePerhaps more associated with the nineteenth century. Florence Nightingale helped to change attitudes towards nurses, hospitals and women around the turn of the century. Her work and example made her a national figure of pride and led to changes in the way medical services were implemented. Biography Florence Nightingale

Coco Chanel

coco-ChanelOne of the most innovative fashion designers Coco Chanel was instrumental in defining feminine style and dress during the 20th Century. Her ideas were revolutionary; in particular, she often took traditionally male clothes and redesigned them for the benefit of women. Listed by TIME magazine as one of the top100 influential people of the Twentieth Century. View: Coco Chanel

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline_PankhurstA British suffragette, Emily Pankhurst dedicated her life to the promotion of women’s rights. She explored all avenues of protest including violence, public demonstrations and hunger strikes. She died in 1928, 3 weeks before a law giving all women over 21 the right to vote. Biography Emily Pankhurst


Marie Curie

Marie-curieMarie Curie was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize and the first person to win it for 2 separate categories. Her first award was for research into radioactivity (Physics 1903). Her second Nobel prize was for Chemistry in 1911. A few years later she also helped develop the first X ray machines. Biography of Marie Curie

Rosa Luxemburg

rosa-luxemburgA leading Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was a friend of Lenin who fought passionately to bring Social revolution to Germany. In the lead up to the First World War, she wrote fiercely against German imperialism and for international socialism. In 1919, after her attempts to herald a Communist revolution in Germany failed, she was murdered by German soldiers.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor_RooseveltWife and political aide of American president F.D.Roosevelt. In her own right Eleanor made a significant contribution to the field of human rights, a topic she campaigned upon throughout her life. As head of UN human rights commission she helped to draft the 1948 UN declaration of human rights. Eleanor Roosevelt bio

Amelia Earhart

Amelia_earhartAmelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928, just one year after the first ever crossing made by Charles Lindbergh. It was a significant achievement in itself but also significant for being achieved in a male-dominated field.

 

Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy_HodgkinAwarded the Nobel prize for chemistry Dorothy Hodgkin work on critical discoveries of the structure of both penicillin and later insulin. These discoveries led to significant improvements in health care. An outstanding chemist Dorothy also devoted a large section of her life to the peace movement and promoting nuclear disarmament.

Billie Holiday

Given the title “First Lady of the Blues” Billie Holiday was widely considered to be the greatest and most expressive jazz singer of all time. Her voice was moving in its emotional intensity and poignancy; an intensity probably fuelled by her tempestuous private life. Despite dying at the age of only 44 Billie Holiday helped define the jazz era and her recordings are widely sold today. Billie Holiday biography

Indira Gandhi

Indira-gandhiFirst female prime minister of India. She was in power from between 1966-77 and 1980-84. Accused of authoritarian tendencies she only narrowly avoided a military coup by agreeing to hold an election at the end of the “emergency period” of 1977. She was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards. He murder was in response to her decision to storm the Sikh golden temple, which left many innocent Sikh pilgrims dead. Indira Gandhi 

Eva Peron

Eva_PeronEva Peron was widely loved by the ordinary people of Argentina. She campaigned tirelessly for both the poor and for the extension of women’s rights. At the same time, she was feared by some in power for her popularity. She was also criticised for her intolerance of criticism; with her husband Juan Peron they shut down many independent newspapers. She died aged only 32 in 1952. Biography Eva Peron 

Betty Friedan

Betty_FriedanLeading feminist figure of the 1960s. Her book “The Feminine Mystique” became a best seller and received both lavish praise and intense criticism. Betty Friedan campaigned for an extension of female rights and an end to sexual discrimination.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret_ThatcherThe first female Prime minister of Great Britain, Mrs Thatcher defined a decade. In particular, she is remembered for her emphasis on individual responsibility and lack of belief in society. She presided over a successful war in the Falklands, reduced the power of trades unions and her economic policies led to two major recessions in the UK. Mrs Thatcher Biography

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn_MonroeBorn Norma Jean Baker, she rose from childhood poverty to become one of the most iconic film legends. Her films were moderately successful but her lasting fame came through her photogenic good looks and aura of glamour and sophistication. Biography – Marilyn Monroe

Anne Frank

Anne_FrankAnne Frank’s diary is one of the most widely read books in the world. It reveals the thoughts of a young, yet surprisingly mature 13-year-old girl, confined to a secret hiding place. “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank Biography

Germaine Greer

Germaine_GreerLeading feminist icon of the 1960s and 1970s Germaine Greer enjoys raising contentious issues. In particular her book “The Female Eunuch” was a defining manifesto for the feminist movement, which proved influential from the 1960s onwards. Biography Germaine Greer

Billie Jean King

billie-jean-kingOne of the greatest female athletes Billie Jean King was one of the greatest female tennis champions who battled for equal pay for women. She won 67 professional titles including 20 titles at Wimbledon. Biography Billie Jean King

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir_BhuttoBenazir Bhutto was the first female prime minister of a Muslim country. She helped to move Pakistan from a dictatorship to democracy in 1977. She sought to implement social reforms, in particular helping women and the poor. She was forced out of office on corruption charges; charges she continues to deny. Biography Benazir Bhutto

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah_winfreyInfluential talk show host Oprah Winfrey was the first women to own her own talk show host. Her show is tremendously influential, usually focusing on issues facing American women. Biography Oprah Winfrey 

Madonna

MadonnaMadonna is the most successful female musician of all time. She has sold in excess of 250 million records. In addition to being a great pop musician, she has rarely been out of the limelight.

Rosa Parks

rosa parksRosa Parks. By refusing to give up her seat on a bus, Rosa Parks launched one of the most successful non-violent protests against discrimination in America. Rosa Parks became a modest but courageous figurehead for the civil rights movement and helped to achieve lasting change

Related pages

MariecurieWomen who changed the world – Famous women who changed the world. Features female Prime Ministers, scientists, cultural figures, authors and royalty. Includes; Cleopatra, Princess Diana, Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, and Joan of Arc.

womenFemale biographies – A list of 100 famous women from Sappho and Cleopatra to Marilyn Monroe and Angela Merkel.