International Women's Day: 25 Hampstead and Highgate history makers

Victoria Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Tulip Siddiq and Dua Lipa

Victoria Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Tulip Siddiq and Dua Lipa - Credit: PA

To mark International Women's Day (March 8), we have picked out just some of the amazing people from Hampstead and Highgate who have made great contributions to history.

March 8 this year carries a "break the bias" theme, in a bid to help improve our society.

Here we pick out, in no particular order, women who have made their mark.

Helena Bonham Carter 

Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter - Credit: PA

Actor Helena Bonham Carter has roots in northwest London. She grew up in Golders Green and attended South Hampstead High School. She later lived in a £20-million house in Primrose Hill with her ex-husband and director Tim Burton, and now lives in Hampstead after their split in December 2020. She has starred in films from Les Misérables to Alice in Wonderland won the BAFTA for best supporting actress for The King’s Speech (2010) and The Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year in 2011. 

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale - Credit: PA


The “Lady with the Lamp” (1820-1910) was born in Florence, Italy, but is thought to have moved to Hampstead in 1859. She left the area just two years later.  Florence was a foundational and influential philosopher of modern nursing, and she set up the first scientifically based nursing school at St Thomas’ in London.  

Kate Moss 

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Croydon-born supermodel Kate Moss was Highgate’s household celebrity. The model, who has worked for colossal designers Dior, Burberry, Chanel and Versace, lived in a £11.5m home opposite singer George Michael’s former pad for 11 years. But Kate’s London era has come to an end. Just a few weeks ago, she sold her house to relocate to the Cotswolds. 

Dua Lipa 

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa - Credit: PA

Pop sensation Dua Lipa lives in West Hampstead. She attended Fitzjohn’s Primary School in Hampstead and Parliament Hill secondary school in Highgate. The Levitating singer has won three Grammy Awards and has collaborated with Elton John, Calvin Harris and Miley Cyrus.

Agatha Christie 

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie - Credit: PA

The great mystery writer Agatha Christie spent much of the Second World War in Hampstead, living at the Isokon flats – with fur coat, hot water bottle, and pillow over her head to drown out the blitz. Despite having homes in west London, Oxford and Devon, the famous crime writer and her Sealyham terrier James spent 1941 to 1947 in a 25 metre square flat in what was advertised as the "safest building in London".

Dido Belle

EMBARGOED 00.01 WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE: English Heritage has today unveiled six new portraits depicting si

Mikéla Henry-Lowe with her portrait of Dido Belle. - Credit: Christopher Ison/English Heritage

Dido Elizabeth Belle's complex position in society and in history has been recounted on screen, on the stage, in books and by artists. Born into slavery, she was brought to England where she became an heiress, living at Kenwood House.

Eva Gore-Booth and Esther Roper

Irish poet, LGBT campaigner, and suffragist Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926) lived in Hampstead with long term partner Esther Roper and they are buried together in Hampstead Parish Church. The pair published Urania, a radical journal pioneering views on gender and sexuality, and Eva campaigned for prison reform, women's right to vote, and the reprieve of her sister Countess Markiewicz, who took part in Ireland's 1916 Easter Uprising and went on to be the first woman elected to Parliament.

Helen Bamber

Hampstead psychotherapist and human rights activist Helen Bamber (1925-2014) was only 20 when she helped to liberate the Nazi camp Bergen-Belsen. Her experience working with Holocaust survivors in Germany inspired her to help establish Amnesty International, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and the Helen Bamber Foundation to help survivors of human rights violations.

Paula Rego

Born in Portugal in 1935 and trained at The Slade School of Art, Paula Rego now lives in Hampstead with a studio in Kentish Town and is one of our major living female artists, whose sometimes autobiographical work has focused on women's rights, abortion rights, miscarriage and opening up representations of female sexuality.

Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier (right), with father Gerald and sister Jeanne

Daphne du Maurier (right), with father Gerald and sister Jeanne - Credit: PA

Novelist and playwright Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) gave us Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and short stories The Birds and Don't Look Now. She grew up in Cannon Hall, Hampstead, the daughter of actor/manager Gerald du Maurier before moving to Cornwall where she set many of her novels.

Peggy Jay

Peggy Jay

Peggy Jay - Credit: Heath and Hampstead Society

Peggy Jay (1913-2008) was a tireless campaigner for Hampstead causes including saving Burgh House as a community asset, and opening the 1 O'Clock Club on Hampstead Heath. As well as chairing the Heath and Hampstead Society from 1967-1989, then serving as president from 1993-2004, she was a Labour councillor, representing Hackney for the London County Council in 1934 when she opposed Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts. Her sharp political instincts and gift for fighting for her causes – often with direct action – is remembered with a playground and gallery named after her.

Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull 

Marianne Faithfull - Credit: PA

Born in Hampstead in December 1946, Marianne Faithfull is one of the greats of pop and rock history. She had a hit with As Tears Go By, written by Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and a parallel career as an actress on film and stage. Over the decades she has worked with everyone from Metallica to Nick Cave.

Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood 

Victoria Wood - Credit: PA

The Lancashire born entertainer and writer enjoyed a varied and hugely successful career spanning 40 years, before her death in 2016, aged 62. With her home and family in Highgate, Wood was a comedy genius and a British television superstar.

Ruth Ellis

Ruth Ellis

Ruth Ellis - Credit: PA

Ruth Ellis is included in this list as she became the last woman to be hanged in the United Kingdom following the fatal shooting of her abusive partner, David Blakely, near the Magdala pub in South Hill Park. Her execution helped strengthen support for the abolition of the death penalty, which was halted in practice for murder in Britain 10 years later.

Stella Gibbons

Stella Gibbons – journalist, poet and author – was born in Kentish Town and lived for periods in both Hampstead and Highgate. Of her 25 novels, the former journalist's Cold Comfort Farm is her arguably her most famous. She also wrote a semi-autobiographical tale, Enbury Heath, about the time she and her brothers spent living at Hampstead Heath.

Eliza Acton

An English food writer and poet, Eliza Acton was born in Sussex in 1799 and died in Hampstead aged 59. The writer inspired modern day chefs including Delia Smith and Rick Stein. She produced one of Britain's first cookery books aimed at the domestic reader, Modern Cookery for Private Families. The book introduced the now-universal practice of listing ingredients and giving suggested cooking times for each recipe.

Elizabeth Jenkins

An English novelist and biographer of Jane Austen, Henry Fielding, Queen Elizabeth and others, Elizabeth lived to be 104. Her 2004 memoir, The View from Downshire Hill, recounted her decades of living in a Regency architecture home she bought in Hampstead in 1939. She decorated it with Regency-style furniture that she bought cheaply from period houses that had been damaged during World War II. She later said that, based on her decor, "people assumed I was comfortably off, instead of being very hard up".

Lee Miller

American-born Lee Miller (1907-1977) started out as a fashion model and the muse of surrealist Man Ray before becoming a celebrated photographer and photojournalist. She lived in Downshire Hill with artist Roland Penrose and while covering WWII for Vogue, she captured striking images of The Blitz, women working for the war effort, and the liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau. She was famously pictured in Hitler's bath in Munich – she was living in his private apartment when the dictator's death was announced.

Claudia Jones

Claudia Jones

Claudia Jones - Credit: Archant

Claudia Jones (1915-1964) was a journalist, feminist and activist from Trinidad and Tobago who came to the UK after being expelled from the US where she had campaigned for the rights of black women and been imprisoned as a communist leader. She founded Britain's first major Black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette, in 1956, and played a central role in starting The Notting Hill Carnival. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery to the left of her hero, Karl Marx.

Nell Gwyn

Raised by an alcoholic mother who ran a brothel, in her short life Nell Gwyn (1650-1687) rose from selling oranges at the Theatre Royal to become King Charles II's mistress and one of the finest actresses of Restoration comedies - at a time when women were first allowed on stage. Called "pretty witty Nell" by Samuel Pepys, she has links to Highgate's Lauderdale House where it's said she dangled her son from a window to extract a promise from the King.

Henrietta Barnett

Henrietta was a formidable campaigner and social reformer. Together with husband Samuel, she founded the first "university settlement" at Toynbee Hall in 1884. Living next to the Spaniards Inn in Hampstead, they worked to establish Hampstead Garden Suburb in the early 20th century. Henrietta Barnett School is named after her.

Nicole Fahri

Nicole Farhi

Nicole Farhi - Credit: PA

Born in France and now living in Frognal, Nicole Fahri is a former fashion designer, now sculptor. In 2008 she was made an honorary CBE for services to fashion and has also been awarded the Légion d’Honneur by her native country. She married playwright Sir David Hare in 1992, becoming Lady Hare. 

Tulip Siddiq

Tulip Siddiq MP

Tulip Siddiq MP - Credit: PA

Since 2015, Tulip Siddiq has been Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, the seat previously held by Glenda Jackson. She has campaigned in parliament on gender and racial inequality, and is a champion of improved early years provision.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor - Credit: PA

Actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) was born in Hampstead Garden Suburb. She attended Byron House School in Highgate. She relocated to the US with her family in 1939 to avoid the Second World War. She became one of the biggest Hollywood stars with films including Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall - Credit: PA

Dame Jane Goodall is an English primatologist and anthropologist. She was born in Hampstead in 1934 and relocated to Poole before starting high school there. She is best known for her pioneering studies on chimpanzees, after travelling to now-Tanzania aged 26 to study them. Her discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools is considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship.