Influential female figures to celebrate this month

We are celebrating female pioneers in social justice, politics, the arts and literature this month as part of women’s history month.

Below we highlight a group of pioneering women, all with a link to Morley, who we celebrate for their innovation and creativity.

Join us in celebrating…

Virginia Woolfe 1882 to 1941

Virginia Stephen, more famously known for her later name as Virginia Woolfe, was born into an affluent household in South Kensington, London.

She was just 23 when she came to Morley, when she was invited to become a voluntary teacher. In July 1905, Virginia wrote a description of her work at Morley, which gives us a very personal insight into the College and its students.

In 1941 then Principal Eva Hubback invited Virginia to give a lecture on Literature in a series called To-Day and To-Morrow. Virginia declined but wrote,

I have very happy memories of Morley College.”

Eva Hubback (1886 to 1949), Morley College Principal (1927 to 1949)

An early English feminist and Suffragette, Eva became principal of Morley College in 1927 and made her mark on the college with more comfortable chairs and better lighting to improve its atmosphere! Among her many innovations were open days, the first of which in 1929 attracted more than 2,000 people! She was a formidable letter writer, with many of her letters still existing in the college archives! Eva was also president of the National Union for Equal Citizenship and was elected to the London County Council. Her portrait can be found outside the Waterloo Centre as one of the famous Morley mosaics.

Nancy Seear 1913 to 1997, College council 1970-94

Beatrice Nancy Seear was a British social scientist and politician. Nancy came to Morley in 1970 as Chairman of the College council. She took an active role at Morley and chaired many important meetings, as well as being active in the campaign to save adult education. She was also a key player in the fund raising for the Community Building, which still stands at Morley today, bearing her name.

Caroline Martineau

Born in 1844, Caroline was one of the earliest teachers at Morley College and was principal from 1891 until her death in 1902. She was always known for her generosity and keen sense of social purpose. Her last and most generous gift to the college was a physics laboratory. Caroline’s portrait can be seen outside the Waterloo centre in the form of a mosaic painting, literally putting her mark on Morley as an important female figure of our history.

Maggi Hambling, artist and tutor

Maggi Hambling, is a leading British artist, whose art can be found in the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Collection and British Museum and her sculpture ‘Scallop’ celebrating Benjamin Britten can be seen on Aldborough Beach in Suffolk. Maggie continues to teach and mentor students at Morley, something she has done for over 20 years.

Eva Piotrowska OBE Morley College Principal

A daughter of immigrants from Poland that had seen her father flee Nazi persecution and her mother evacuated from a concentration camp by the Americans, Eva went onto have a successful career in education in London, successfully setting up community outreach including family classes in Brixton which piqued her interest in working with marginalised and adult groups. After a career teaching adults for 20 years, she moved to become and Ofsted inspector before joining Morley.

One of the things she loved most about her time at Morley was watching student’s confidence build when they performed or showcase their work.