The lives of eight incredible Scottish women

From scientists and athletes to singers and socialites, we take a look at the lives of eight great Scottish women.

Scottish singer Annie Lennox (with the Eurythmics at that time) in Edinburgh for the preview of the film Brand New Day in August 1987.

Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville (1780 - 1872), scientist, born in the manse at Jedburgh.

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She found fame by translating scientific works into language that ordinary people could understand, and published a number of books herself on the science of mathematics and astronomy.

Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville and Caroline Herschel, sister of Sir Herschel, the astronomer who discovered Uranus, were the first women to be admitted to the Royal Astronomical Society, in 1835.

Indirectly Somerville became the first ‘scientist’, when William Whewell invented the term in a review of her 1834 tract ‘On the Connexion of the Sciences’.

Oxford University’s Somerville College is named after her.

Dame Isobel Baillie

Heritage poster at the Mary Somerville exhibition at the Heritage Centre, Burntisland.

Dame Isobel Baillie (1895-1983), soprano, born in Hawick.

Her signature work was Handel’s Messiah, which she performed over 1,000 times.

She was the first British performer to sing in the Hollywood Bowl, in 1933.

Annie Lennox

Eurythmics at the SECC Glasgow pictured Annie Lennox.

Annie Lennox, singer-songwriter born in Aberdeen in 1954.

She created the Eurythmics with Dave Stewart in the 1980s, and in 2003 won an Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘Into the West’, which she co-write for the end credits of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Vicki Nelson - Dunbar

Vicki Nelson - Dunbar, tennis player, born in 1962.

She took part in the longest women’s tennis match in history, which lasted six hours and 31 minutes, during the ‘Ginnys of Richmond’ tournament in Virginia in 1984.

Her opponent was Jean Hepner, and although the match only went to two sets, the second-set tie-break, won 13-11 by Nelson - Dunbar, included a rally of 643 strokes lasting 29 minutes.

Joyce Anstruther

Joyce Anstruther (1901-53)

Pen name Jan Struther, was an author and hymn-writer and granddaughter of Sir Robert Anstruther, 5th Baronet.

She wrote a column fot the Times newspaper in which she introduced the character Mrs Miniver, who would give an account of her everyday life. In 1939 Struther published the columns in a book that became a bestseller in the United States. She followed this up with a series of letters written by Mrs Miniver, and her running commentary on life in Britain for an ordinary family in the early years of the Second World War is given considerable credit for helping persuade the Americans to enter the conflict.

Mrs Miniver was made into a film by MGM in 1942 starring Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson as lead character. It wonsix Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director, Struther also wrote several hymns, of which the best known is ‘Lord of all Hopefullness’.

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Great Scottish women throughout history

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), playwright and author born in Manchester, who married Dr Swan Burnett of Washington DC in 1873. She is remembered for much-loved children’s novels such as Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) - Fauntleroy’s attire, long curls, velvet suit and lace collar, was based on Oscar Wilde’s mode of dress - A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911).

Meg Farquhar

Meg Farquhar (1910 - 1988), born 1910 and appointed as assistant professional at Moray Golf club in 1929, was the first woman professional golfer.

Margot Asquith

Margot Asquith (1864 - 1945), wife of Prime Minister Henry Herbert Asquith, was born Margot Tennant on the Tennant family estate in Peeblesshire.

The Tennants were wealthy industrialists. Margot Asquith was noted for her glittering social life, acerbic wit and outspokenness.

Memorable quotes:

‘Lord Kitchener - if not a great man he was, at least, a great poster’.

‘What a pity, when Christopher Columbas discovered America, that he ever mentioned it.’

‘He could not see a belt without hitting below it’ (Of Lloyd George)