As well as authors, inspirational older women can be found in all walks of life all around us, from health to education, music to activism. Enjoy this list of inspirational older women past and present from all over the world, brought together by our creative advisory group made up of a group of diverse older women from very different places and backgrounds, who now all work closely together across various arts organisations.
Explore the categories below and learn more about these inspirational women by clicking on their photos.
Learn more about the advisory group here.
Politics and Law
Health, Education, Science and Social Services
Stage, Film and Television
Visual Arts and Fashion
Music and Dance
The Advisory Group
Born within the sound of Bow Bells in London to Guyanese/Mauritian working-class parents, Sharmilla has worked in publishing since 1994, training at Virago and on Heinemann’s African and Caribbean Writers Series. For eleven years she was Deputy Editor of Wasafiri, the Magazine of International Contemporary Writing. In 2010 Sharmilla’s first novel, Echoes of a Green Land, was published in translation in Spain as Ecos de la tierra verde. She edited the academic collection Continental Shifts, Shifts in Perception: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe (2016); and, with Sarah White and Roxy Harris, co-edited A Meeting of the Continents: The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books — Revisited (2005). Sharmilla is a Trustee of Carcanet Publishers, Modern Poetry in Translation magazine and the George Padmore Institute, an archive housing unique collections of material from pioneering Black British political and cultural organisations of the last seventy years. In 2019 Sharmilla became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Born in Bristol and growing up there and in York, Lucy Davies is the Director of 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, Brixton, where she has worked since 1999. Prior to this she lived in Kingston, Jamaica where she studied Fine Art and then taught at Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts. She was trained in painting at Slade School of Art and New York Studio School, USA and gained a PGCE in Art and Design at Goldsmiths College. She developed the Creative Learning programme at 198 in response to the needs of young people in the area and has been instrumental in the strategic development of the artistic programme by developing local, national and international partnerships and building relationships with artists, curators, and thinkers. Most recently Lucy has been responsible for leading the capital redevelopment of 198 which was completed in 2021, adding two new floors to the space.
Born and brought up in the south-west of England, Lucy Hannah specialises in setting up and delivering international creative initiatives. She is founder and director of Untold Narratives CIC, a development programme for writers marginalised by community or conflict. She also founded and led Commonwealth Writers which operates across fifty-three countries, particularly in areas with little or no creative infrastructure. While at the BBC, she established BBC Writer’s Room which discovers, develops and champions new writing talent across the UK. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London, and a Director of the BOCAS LitFest in Trinidad.
Dominique Le Gendre
Born and brought up in Trinidad, Dominique Le Gendre trained as a classical guitarist in Paris, France while studying Musicology at the Sorbonne. London-based for over thirty years, she has composed extensively for theatre, dance, television and award-winning indie films and radio drama for BBC Radio 3 and 4. A former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, her chamber works and operas have been commissioned and performed by numerous UK and international ensembles, including Royal Opera House soloists, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Manning Camerata, the Ibis Ensemble, Metamorphosis Dance and Calabash Foundation for the Arts. Dominique is the Artistic Director of the arts charity, StrongBack Productions. Dominique’s new piece of music was specially commissioned for the Not Quite Right for Us digital tour.
Born and brought up in Stoke on Trent, Sarah has worked in literature for 24 years. After graduating from Leeds with a specialism in Political Theatre, she moved to London and had various permanent positions at large organisations including The National Theatre and BBC Education, as well as marketing jobs at several publishers, running her first national book tour for The X Press in 2001, one of the only black-led, black fiction houses at the time. She ran the first few years of the Arts Council Writers’ Awards and a series of poetry tours around the UK featuring artists such as Francesca Beard and Skorpio the Nemesis. As the Literary Events Director of PEN International she and Sharmilla promoted writers whose languages were being lost, authors and journalists who appeared on stage at great personal risk, as well as world-renowned writers such as Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.