Born in Low Fell, Gateshead, Constance Leathart was one of Britain's first female pilots. She had to disguise her gender on the application for flying lessons at Cramlington Aerodrome. In the Second World War, Connie achieved the rank of Flight Captain in the Air Transport Auxiliary.
Women in History Month (March)
A few of the notable Women from the history of Northern England
Further information...
Constance Leathart (1903 - 1993)
In 1906 Ethel Williams became the first woman to found a general medical practice in Newcastle, and she was reportedly the first woman to drive a car in the North of England. Ethel was active in the North East Society for Women’s Suffrage and in the national suffrage movement.
Ethel Williams (1863-1948)
Ellen Wilkinson (1891 - 1947)
Ellen Wilkinson was a union activist and politician. She was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough East (1924-31) and MP for Jarrow (1935-47). Ellen played a prominent role in the Jarrow March of 1936 and served as Minister of Education from 1945-47.  
Emily Wilding Davison was a militant suffragette and member of the Women's Social and Political Union. She was jailed 9 times and force-fed whilst on hunger strike. On 4th June 1913 she stepped in front of the King's horse at the Epsom Derby. She died a few days later and was buried in Morpeth in Northumberland.
Emily Davison (1872 - 1913)
Images:  click on images on the subsequent pages for source and licence information. Sources include Newcastle Libraries, TWAM and Beamish Museum. 
Simon Cotterill Co-Curate North East and Cumbria
20 Women from the History of Northern England
Grace Darling (1815-1842)
Grace Horsley Darling was born in Bambrugh in 1815. Grace was a lighthouse keeper's daughter and spent much of her life living on the Farne Islands. Grace became became the nation's heroine for her rescue of survivors from the Forfarshire, which was shipwrecked off the Farne Islands on 7th September 1838.
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926)
Gertrude Bell was born on 14th July 1868 in Washington New Hall, County Durham and spent most of her childhood in Redcar. She had a remarkable life as an archaeologist, a linguist, traveller, and was the greatest woman mountaineer of her age. She played a major role in establishing the modern state of Iraq. 
Sarah Losh was born in 1785 in Wreay, near Carlisle in Cumberland. In addition to being a land owner, she was a notable artist, architect and designer. Sarah designed St Mary's Church and other buildings in Wreay. Sadly, none of her papers or drawings survive.
Sarah Losh (1785 - 1853)
Mabel Philipson (1886 - 1951)
Under her maiden name, Mabel Russell, worked her way up from being a chorus girl to become a famous musical comedy actress. In 1923 she was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Berwick-upon-Tweed - the North East's first female MP and only the 4th female to be elected in the UK.
Catherine Cookson (1906 - 1998)
Catherine Ann Cookson (née McMullen) was born in Tyne Dock, South Shields, later moving to Jarrow. Her family was very disadvantaged. Initially Catherine was a laundry worker, before taking to writing. Catherine published over 100 novels and was made a Dame in 1993. She was also a generous philanthropist. 
Barbara Collingwood was born at Cartmell Fell in 1887 and spent most of her adult life in Coniston in the Lake District. After studying art, she became a successful sculptor, noted for carving a centenary bust of John Ruskin in 1919. She also carved the war memorials at Coniston, Hawkshead and Otley.
Barbara Collingwood (1887-1961)
Elizabeth Moulton-Barrett was born in 1806 at Coxhoe Hall in County Durham. She became one of the most renowned poets of the Victorian era who influenced many of the prominent writers of that time. Elizabeth also campaigned for the abolition of slavery and helped influence reform in the child labour laws.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Margaret Bondfield was a trades unionist, women's rights activist and political leader. In 1923 she was the first woman to chair the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). In 1926 she was elected Labour M.P. for Wallsend, and became Britain's first female cabinet minister in 1929 (Minister of Labour).
Margaret Bondfield (1873 - 1953)
Alice Schofield Coates was a suffragette, and was vice president of the Women’s Freedom League. She became the first woman councillor for Middlesbrough in 1919, where she served up to 1935. Alice was instrumental in establishing a child welfare centre and a maternity hospital in Middlesbrough.
Alice Schofield Coates (1881 - 1975)
Bella Reay (1900-1979)
Was from Cowpen in Northumberland. Bella became a famous football player during the First World War. She was centre forward for Blyth Spartans, who won the Munitionette’s Cup, and later for England. She scored 133 goals in one season. But in 1921 the Football Association banned women football from it’s grounds.
Dolly Peel (1782-1857)
Dorethy (Dolly) Peel from South Shields hid on a Royal Navy ship after her husband and son were press-ganged into service, during the Napolionic Wars. She ended up looking after wounded sailors on the ship. A local heroine, she wrote poetry and was also reputedly a smuggler and hawker!  
Elinor M. Brent-Dyer (1894 - 1969)
Elinor M. Brent-Dyer was an author who wrote over a 100 children's books including her famous "Chalet School" and "La Rochelle" series. She was born in South Shields in 1894 and educated there, before training as a teacher in Leeds. Elinor later moved to Hereford, where she took up writing.
Marion Coates Hansen (1870 - 1947)
Was an early member of the WSPU and a founder member of the Women's Freedom League. She was agent for George Lansbury (later the Labour Party leader) for the 1906 election, and influential in his taking up the cause of votes for women. In 1919 she was elected to Middlesbrough Borough Council.
Josephine Butler (1828-1906)
Josephine Butler, born in Milfield, near Wooler in Northumberland, was a social reformer. She wrote over 90 books and pamphlets campaigning for women's suffrage, the right to better education for women, and for the end to the human trafficking of young women and children, who were forced into prostitution.
Kathleen Brown
Kathleen Brown was a Suffragette from Newcastle who went on hunger strike in Holloway Prison after being jailed for throwing stones in Whitehall. In 1909, she was involved in the ‘Battle of Newcastle’, where protesting women threw stones at the Chancellor, Lloyd George, and his party who were visiting the city.  
In the past, written history and photography has been biased towards individuals from wealthy and privileged backgrounds. So lets briefly celebrate the notable lives of ‘ordinary’ women with some 19th and early 20th century photographs from Northern England!
19th century (Hartlepool & Cullercoats)
Women took on many traditionally male roles during the First World War. This had a lasting impact on the perceptions and expectations of women in society.
Women in the First World War
Some women aged over 30 got the right to vote in 1918. But It wasn’t until 1928 that all women got the vote.
Lady Anne Clifford (1590 - 1676)
Lady Anne Clifford was the last of one of England’s great medieval land owning families. She fought a 40 year legal battle for her right to inherit her father’s estates. Anne was a patron of the arts, built alms houses, and following the English Civil War, restored several castles and churches in Westmorland.