The current state of Constance Naden’s grave is shameful. Its disrepair is indicative of the way women’s lives are so often erased by history – how can an individual who was so well-known and well-respected in her lifetime have been so comprehensively forgotten?
Naden, a pioneering Victorian thinker whose work spanned poetry, philosophy, science, and politics, deserves a final resting place that celebrates her achievements and restores her place in Birmingham’s dynamic past.
The Constance Naden Trust is raising funds to replace her gravestone. Read ‘Our Story’ below for more information about the life of this pioneering Birmingham woman and the Trust’s £4000 goal.
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Constance Naden (1858-1889) is one of Birmingham’s most illustrious daughters. Hers was a uniquely interdisciplinary Victorian voice. Naden’s insightful and witty poetry and polemical prose writings regularly drew upon her wide-ranging scientific education at Mason College (now the University of Birmingham) where she was honoured as the first female Associate. A gifted poet, philosopher, and scientific thinker, Naden was at the forefront of women’s intellect progress at the end of the nineteenth century. Her memory and her work live on in the University of Birmingham where the Constance Naden Medal is awarded.
Yet her gravestone and memorial, in the Jewellery Quarter’s Key Hill Cemetery, lie in a sad disarray of broken fragments as can be seen from the photo above. It is clear that it is past the point at which restoration can be undertaken, and a new memorial has to be created.
This renewal of Naden’s grave site is no more than she deserves, cementing her place as a notable Victorian thinker and daughter of Birmingham. To facilitate the replacement of this broken memorial, the Constance Naden Trust has been formed.
The Trust is inviting donations in order to raise the £4,000 needed for this important contribution to Birmingham’s cultural and intellectual history.
The replacement memorial will bear an inscription that contains all of the original text (which also memorialises her mother and grandparents) and provides some additional information about Naden and a line from her poem ‘The Pantheist’s Song of Immortality’ (1881).
This appeal is organised by:
Margaret Mary Hall, Naden’s great-niece
Julian Rees, Naden’s great-nephew
Dr Clare Stainthorp, whose book on Naden is forthcoming with Peter Lang
If you are interested in lending your support to this appeal or finding out more, please fill in the form below.