Amelia Mary Earhart (1897-1937) was a pioneer of aviation, and the first solo female to cross the Atlantic in an aircraft. As well as being a decorated pilot, Earhart was an advocate of women's rights, a best-selling author, a fashion designer and icon, and an aeronautical engineering consultant. During a round the world flying attempt in 1937, Amelia and her plane vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, sparking a decades-long mystery as to where she ended up.
Academic and novelist Madeleine de Scudéry (1607-1701) is widely credited with being France's first woman to publicly achieve a highly educated status. She founded her own salon, the Société du Samedi, and quickly became Paris' leading literary hostess. She was an advocate of classical rhetorical theory and an important figure in the push for female education.
Rosa May Billinghurst was a campaigner and activist within the suffragette movement. Despite having mobility issues, she and her tricycle were common features of marches, and later direct action, as women in Britain fought against the authorities in an effort to have their votes recognised.
Sobekneferu was an Egyptian king who ruled between 1806 and 1802 BC. She is widely credited with being the first woman to take the title of king, and to rule the kingdom alone.
Franziska Scanagatta was a Lieutenant in the Austrian army, serving between 1797 and 1800. She was able to enlist after disguising herself as a boy and taking her brother's place at the military school. She maintained her assumed identity throughout her military career, receiving promotions and medals along the way. Despite being forced to resign her position after the authorities were alerted to her gender, Franziska left the army with a military pension, and more importantly with the respect of her peers and superiors.
Author Murasaki Shikibu is widely credited with writing the world's first novel. The Tale of Genji (源氏物語) was first published in or around 1000. The Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting to the Imperial Court was a talented poet and writer with a flair for story-telling, and her works are still studied by literary scholars and Japanese students more than a millennium later.
Born Elizabeth Cochran in Pittsburgh in 1864, Nellie Bly was a renowned undercover journalist who focused her work on women, vulnerable people and oppressed societies. She is perhaps best known for her work exposing conditions in US asylums, which saw her being voluntarily committed to an institution for ten days. Bly also broke a world record by making it around the world in 72 days, and she was also an inventor, industrialist and charity worker.
Chilonis was a Spartan ruler who married a prince and gave birth to a future king - but she was also a soldier and warrior in her own right and a crucial part of the battle to secure Sparta against her husband's efforts to claim the throne for his own. This assault on Sparta occurred in 272 BC, and ultimately led to Chilonis breaking free of her abusive husband , who was forced into exile after his efforts to conquer the throne failed.
The L'Inconnue de la Seine, or the 'Unknown of the Seine', was an unidentified woman found in Paris' Seine River in the late 1880s. She became an icon in European culture during the turn of the 20th Century, prompting a number of artistic works including stories, sculptures and even a ballet. Her death mask was reproduced and hung in homes all over the continent, and this image of the unknown woman eventually became the inspiration for the modern CPR doll.