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Amazing black women making a difference, part 2

SHINING BRIGHT: Naomi Campbell

IN THE second part of our series on black women who have made strides we can all be proud of, Rianna Raymond-Williams looks at some lesser-known figures as well as names that are still very much a part of popular culture today.

To read part 1 of this piece, click here.

FANNY EATON (JUNE 23, 1835 – MARCH 4, 1924)

Fanny Eaton was a Jamaican-born artists' model and domestic worker. She is best known for her work as a model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their circle between 1859–67. Her public debut was in Simeon Solomon’s The Mother of Moses which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1860. She was also featured in works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Joanna Bryce Wells, Rebecca Solomon, and others. Eaton was born Fanny Antwistle or Entwhistle on June 23 1835 in St. Andrew, Jamaica. Her mother was Matilda Foster, a woman of African descent, who may have been born into slavery. No father was named on Eaton’s birth records suggesting that she may have been illegitimate. Eaton and her mother made their way to England sometime in the 1840s. By 1851 she is recorded as living in London, with her mother and working as a domestic servant. In 1857 she married James Eaton, a horse cab proprietor and driver, who was born on February 17, 1838 in Shoreditch. They had 10 children together.


Tessa Sanderson is a British former javelin thrower and heptathlete. She is one of only five women in history to have thrown the javelin (old model) over 73 metres and in addition to being a six-time Olympian in the javelin (1976–1996), she won the gold medal in 1984 for Great Britain and in 1996 she became the second track and field athlete, after discus thrower Lia Manoliu, to compete at six Olympics. Sanderson was the UK’s leading javelin thrower from the mid-1970s, winning silver in the 1978 European championships and gold in the Commonwealth Games three times (1978, 1986, 1990), but was eclipsed during the 1980s by the up-and coming Fatima Whitbread, with whom she shared a long-standing rivalry. When Sanderson won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in the javelin, she became the first British woman ever to win Olympic gold in this event.

EVELYN MARY DOVE (1902-1987)

Evelyn Mary Dove was one of the true pioneers of the booming cabaret age of the 1920s. She thrilled audiences around the world and her exquisite stage costumes helped to make her one of the most glamorous women of her time. Dove was a black British siren who toured Europe throughout the 1920s and 1930s, courting admirers and fans wherever she performed. Her mesmerising movie star looks and grace captivated those in her presence. The public and press couldn’t get enough of the rising star who went on to replace Josephine Baker as the star attraction in a revue at the famous Casino de Paris. In 1936, amidst a frenzy of public interest, she became the first black British singer to try and conquer America, 25 years before Shirley Bassey.


Zadie Smith is an British novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Smith was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, a year later she was included on Granta’s list of 20 best young authors in addition to being named among the top 20 most influential people in British culture in a 2004 BBC poll. As a child, Smith was fond of tap dancing and in her teenage years, she considered a
career in musical theatre. While at university, Smith earned money as a jazz singer and wanted to become a journalist. Despite earlier ambitions, her commitment to literature has made her one of the most successful black writers of all time. Smith won the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2006 and her novel White Teeth was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. In 2010 she joined New York university’s creative writing programme as a tenured professor. Her most recent book is Swing Time, published in 2016.


Naomi Campbell is a British model and actress. During her early years, Campbell lived in Rome, where her mother worked as a modern dancer. Following their return to London, she was left in the care of relatives while her mother travelled across Europe with the dance troupe Fantastica. From the age of three, Campbell attended the Barbara Speake Stage School and at 10 years old, she was accepted into the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, where she studied ballet. Campbell was recruited by a top model agency at the age of 15. She went on to establish herself among the top three most recognisable and in-demand models of the late '80s and
'90s and was one of six models of her generation declared 'supermodels' by the fashion industry. While pursuing her career as a model Campbell has embarked on other ventures, including an R&B-pop studio album, several acting appearances in film and television, and its international offshoots. Campbell is also involved in charity work for various causes including Fashion For Relief.

To read part 1 of this piece, click here.

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