Senate House Library

50 London female pioneers celebrated in new exhibition - and you're invited to take part

50 London female pioneers celebrated in new exhibition - and you're invited to take part

Senate House Library opened its free public exhibition and accompanying event season ‘Rights for Women: London’s Pioneers in their Own Words’ on Monday 16 July, which runs 15 December 2018.

The season focuses on some of the famous, less known and hidden stories of over 50 women pioneers, from the late eighteenth century to present time, which used London as their platform to make their voices heard and establish equal rights for women.

The exhibition will display the rare and precious books, letters, objects and photos in Senate House Library's collection onsite and online for the public to explore the ground-breaking work that led change in the spheres of politics, employment, education and reproductive rights.

Creating a new platform for women’s voices then, now…and in future

Senate House Library want to ensure a legacy for these pioneering women’s words and continue their hard-won victories to inspire current and future generations. To do this, part of the exhibition will feature ‘Her Story’; a collection of thoughts and works that have influenced contemporary leading women who have helped to develop the exhibition, such as Helen Pankhurst, Stella Dadzie, Amrit Wilson and Naomi Paxton.

Helen Pankhurst, author and great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, who helped shape the exhibition and events, said: “The exhibition includes some rare photographs of my great-grandmother and some letters between her and other suffragettes alongside 50 other female pioneers from the eighteenth century onwards who used London are their platform to secure rights for women. This exhibition and related events is needed now more than ever, to build on the momentum of recent movements to achieve full equality and what better way than through the words of the brave pioneering women of history. This is not to be missed!”

You're invited to ‘Continue her story’…

We're inviting you to contribute to the digital platform to take a snapshot of contemporary women and men today and their thoughts on past, present and future, answering these statements.

Event highlights:

As part of the Rights for Women: London's Pioneers in their Own Words season, we'll be running some exciting events to explore the themes in the exhibition through talks and debates, film and music. 

Women’s Parliament

An event debating the themes of the exhibition in partnership with 50:50 Parliament

Deeds Not Words

Helen Pankhurst will be giving a talk on her book on 20 September 2018

What Would Boudicca Do? Everyday Problems Solved by history’s most remarkable women

Faber & Faber book launch

‘Women on Film’ monthly film screenings

Held in the stunning Periodicals Room of the grade II listed Senate House Library

Rights for Women: London’s Pioneers - Guided walking tours around Bloomsbury

Visiting some of the pioneers’ places of work, home and locations where they fought for women’s rights, led by Camden Tour Guides Association.

For full events listings and to book, please go to:  


This exhibition and events season is part of the University of London’s Leading Women campaign,

celebrating the first nine women to be admitted to university (at the University of London), 150 years ago.