The 8th of March marks a pivotal moment in the year— one that recognises the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, past and present, across the world.
In honour of International Women’s Day, the Divas take a look back at influential females who have called NW3 their home.
Hailed among the world’s most successful children’s storytellers of the 20th century, Enid Blyton led a remarkable career. Her intrepidity saw her work with a range of fictional genres that complemented, even surpassed, the creative nature of her male counterparts.
As a keen naturalist it is little wonder Enid sought out the expansive greens of Hampstead, where she retired her pen for a more tranquil lifestyle. After passing away in 1968, Enid’s literary legacy continues to live on in her charming and timeless stories.
Among Hampstead’s artistic associations is none other than Russian prima ballerina,
Anna Pavlova. Paving her career as a principle artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes, Pavlova’s poetic movement made her the most-celebrated dancer of her time.
After leaving Russia, Pavlova moved to England in 1912, settling at the palatial Ivy House on North End Road, Golders Green, where she lived for the rest of her life — her innate artistry heavily influencing the development of British ballet. The house now stands as the London Jewish Cultural Centre, a blue plaque marks its place as Pavlova’s beloved Hampstead home.
Daphne du Maurier
Romantic novelist and playwright Daphne du Maurier held a sentimental attachment to Hampstead, which she often expressed within her fiction.
It was at Cannon Hall, a magnificent property on the edge of Hampstead Heath where
Du Maurier spent most of her childhood and where she began to cultivate her enduring reputation for storytelling craft. In some of her most famous works, allusions of the great house can be found in evocative descriptions of grand stairwells and family heirlooms.
Du Maurier’s Gothic romances have been since been adapted into highly successful films, lending a visual dimension to her captivating, larger-than-life stories.
A notable English social reformer, educationist and author, Dame Henrietta Barnett’s innovative spirit paved way to the founding of Hampstead Garden Suburb. Inspired by the model housing development movement, Barnett sought to preserve the character and amenities of the Hampstead area.
Today, Hampstead Garden Suburb is both a setting of international significance and a lasting homage to 20th century domestic architecture and town planning. Additionally, in a move to improve girls’ education, Barnett founded the Henrietta Barnett School in 1911. It stands today as a testament to Barnett’s commitments in accelerating gender parity.
Born in 1932 at her family’s home in Heathwood, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Elizabeth Taylor’s British/American dual citizenship lent to her unfaltering transatlantic charm.
Taylor’s privileged upbringing saw her family mingle in eminent social circles that included some of London’s finest artists and leading politicians. Although they had wished to make England their permanent home, the family returned to the United States in 1939 after warnings of the coming war against Germany.
Jacqueline du Pré
Considered as one of the most talented and notable cellists of the second half of the 20th century, Jacqueline du Pré was a Hampstead resident in the early 1970s.
Achieving mainstream popularity at a tender age, Du Pre’s hauntingly beautiful performances proved the universal and timeless quality of classical music. An elegant sculpture depicting her playing a cello can be seen at the Burgh House & Hampstead Museum.
More commonly known by the name of ‘Gluck’, Hannah Gluckstein stirred the art world with her resonating oil paintings and defiant cross-dressing. Believing the sex of a painter was irrelevant, Gluckstein often blurred the boundaries between art and life, male and female, in her work created from her eccentric Bolton House studio in Hampstead.
For legendary crime novelist Agatha Christie, life imitated art in the 1940s when she found herself living amongst Soviet spies in Hampstead’s Lawn Road flats.
It is speculated that the impressive details in her only spy novel N or M? is of too much a coincidence, drawing literary critics to believe she conducted clandestine research on spy tradecraft.
Whether or not this speculation holds truth, one thing is certain: Agatha Christie’s contribution to literature was profound.
If, like these inspirational women, you would like to make Hampstead your home, then let Property Divas find you your perfect property.