Second World War agent among six women honoured with new blue plaques

A female Second World War agent will be commemorated with a blue plaque by English Heritage, which has admitted the proportion of women celebrated by the scheme is “still unacceptably low”.

Artist Dame Barbara Hepworth and Britain’s “first Muslim war heroine” Noor Inayat Khan are also among the new names announced.

Some 14% of over 950 London blue plaques celebrate women, a figure which the charity said was “still unacceptably low”.

But its “plaques for women” campaign has sparked a dramatic rise in the number of public nominations and English Heritage has now announced six plaques to honour women in 2020.

This year’s list includes Christine Granville, who died in 1952, and “was one of the most remarkable secret agents of the Second World War”.

She was Britain’s longest-serving female agent in the war, undertaking several successful missions in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Her plaque will be unveiled at the west London hotel where she lived for the last three years of her life.

A plaque remembering sculptor Dame Barbara, who died in 1975, will mark the north London address where she created one of her earliest Mother And Child sculptures.

Ms Khan, who died in 1944, was renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, and she was the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France.

She was killed by the Gestapo in 1944 and was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

Another plaque will mark the building where Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, botanist and one of the leading figures in the first women’s corps in the military, lived for nearly 50 years.

Anna Eavis, curatorial director and secretary of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel, said: “Our efforts to address the gender imbalance within the London Blue Plaques scheme are starting to yield some strong results and we are delighted to be able to announce these six new plaques.

“It is a long road but we are well on our way to receiving equal number of public nominations for men and women.

“There are now more women shortlisted than men, and 2020 will see more plaques to women than we have unveiled in 20 years.”

Plaques will also mark women’s suffrage with The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, which was formed in 1897, and the Women’s Social And Political Union, formed in 1903.

The London Blue Plaques scheme was founded in 1866.

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