Most Inspiring Famous Women throughout History

There have been many courageous and amazing women throughout history, and a few seem to hold a special place in our hearts. Some because their stories are bold , brilliant and fearless, and some because of the tragedies they have had to endure and the strength they have displayed during hard times.

Some, like Marie Curie, shine through because they are visionaries, and their persistence and determination to follow through on their passions and discoveries has changed the world in some way.

But what is it that makes a person inspirational?  Who are the women that make us want to emulate their life or actions in some way?  Are they the people who inspire us through heroic deeds or actions, such as Grace Darling, the daughter of an English lighthouse keeper, who rowed out to sea in a terrible storm to save people from a shipwreck?  Or those who give us hope through their courage during terrible times in history such as Anne Frank?   Is it the powerful words and wisdom of Maya Angelou, or the lifelong anti-slavery campaigning of Harriet Beecher Stow, which set our hearts on fire?

Of course to many of us the inspiration in our life may come from someone a lot closer to home, such as our mothers.

Whoever it may be, a common factor in all women we find inspirational whether it be by their actions, words or deeds, is that they all provide us with strength and motivation, not just in our times of need, but often on a daily basis.  They provide us with something extra which makes us say to ourselves ’I can do this’ or in the words of Gloria Gayner; ’I will survive’.

In addition to those named above, the following is a handpicked list, in no particular order, of just some of the other famous women throughout history who have provided inspiration to others.

I am sure you can make your own list.


(Born 30 AD Died approx. 61 AD, Britannia)

If you are looking for true warrior spirit and resolve, then look no further than one of the first queens of the original Britons.   Boudica, sometimes referred to as Boadicea, was the warrior queen of the Iceni people and she fought off Roman invaders successfully for years before she was finally defeated. During this time she endured great suffering for her cause, including being flogged by the Romans and having her daughters raped in front of her.

The original freedom fighter, Boudica was certainly a heroine of history.   It is believed she took her own life before the Romans could capture her, and in this way she never let them conquer her.

Many years after her death, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, she was to become one of the first feminist role models and symbols.

Helen Keller


(Born June 27 1880, Alabama, USA – Died June 1 1968, Connecticut, USA)

Helen Keller was a truly remarkable woman, who despite being deaf and blind, managed to overcome her adversities and live a life of purpose inspiring many others along the way.   Not only was Helen the first deaf blind person to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, she was also a prolific author and anti-war political activist.   She also campaigned for women’s suffrage and worked tirelessly on behalf of deaf and blind people.

She was an intrepid traveler having traveled to some 35 countries covering five continents, and even at the age 75, Keller embarked on a 40,000-mile, five-month trek across Asia.

Helen traveled the globe giving speeches and making appearances and by doing so, brought inspiration and encouragement to millions of people worldwide.  Keller died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, just a few weeks before her 88th birthday.

During her extraordinary life, Keller showed to others how determination, hard work, a positive attitude, resolve and imagination can allow anyone to triumph over adversity.

Florence Nightingale


(Born May 12, 1820, Florence, Italy.  Died August 13, 1910, London UK)

Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing.

Nightingale’s parents were initially against her going into nursing due to her class and position.  This was because nursing was not an appropriate role for upper class women of the time and was not considered a profession.  Nevertheless, she followed what she felt was her ‘calling’ and she eventually trained as a nurse.

During service as a nurse during the Crimean War, she tended to many wounded soldiers and came to be known as “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making her rounds at night.

After the war she set up the Nightingale Training School and published ‘Notes on Nursing’ which included many of her theories which were hugely influential in establishing practices in nursing which are still in existence today.

In short, not only did Florence Nightingale establish nursing as a respectable profession for women, but she also greatly improved the medical conditions and facilities for soldiers on the frontline, and thereby substantially reducing the mortality rate.

Aung San Suu Kyi


(Born June 19, 1945 Yangon)

Aung San Suu Kyi is considered by many to be one of the most courageous women in modern day political history.  She is famed for being held under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 years until her release in November 2010.   Despite being under house arrest, she continued her nonviolent campaign against the brutal rule of dictator U Ne Win, and her ongoing struggle won her the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991,

Throughout her detainment Suu Kyi was informed that if she agreed to leave the country, she would be set free.  Suu Kyi never took up the offer, instead insisting that her struggle would continue until the junta released the country to civilian government and that all political prisoners were freed.

Suu Kyi’s determination for the betterment of the country and people she loved eventually paid off, and she was elected to parliament in May 2012.

Dame Anita Roddick


(Born October 23, 1942 Littlehampton, UK.  Died September 10, 2007 Chichester, UK)

Anita Roddick was the founder of The Body Shop which was one of the first companies to fully embrace ethical consumerism.  Not only did her company prohibit the use of ingredients that were tested on animals in their products, but also promoted the concept of fair trade with third world countries.

Roddick was not only a successful British business women but she was also a human rights activist and environmental campaigner.  She inspired many young women to go into business and follow their dreams. Anita fervently believed that businesses had the power to do good and this was the doctrine on which she ran her own business.

In addition to her many charitable and environmental work, she founded a charitable organization which helps disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe and Asia.  In 2003, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen.

In 2004, Roddick was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to contracting hepatitis C from a contaminated blood transfusion back in 1971. She was to pass away on 10th September 2007, but in true Anita style, not before campaigning on behalf of the Hepatitis C Trust to raise awareness of the disease.

About the author

Eleanor Goold

As well as being an avid reader, Eleanor is also a big time animal lover; especially of dogs. If you have a tail, four legs and you bark…. you’re in! In her spare time she enjoys swimming, and vegetable gardening… but not at the same time (it can get a bit messy).


Click here to post a comment

  • When I read these kind of stories, I feel happy I am healthy and really appreciate everything around me. Thank you for reminding me on that feeling. Now I feel I can do everything! :)