Dr Elizabeth Darling
The Heroines of the Canongate project aims to produce an inclusive, innovative and inter-disciplinary history that highlights the significant role played by women of all classes in reforming urban environments and their formative contributions to debates about the form – social and spatial – of modern Scotland. It focuses on the voluntary social activism of a diverse group of Edinburgh-based women and foregrounds hitherto overlooked protagonists, rather than discussing state-led slum-clearance programmes, or the reform work of the urbanist Patrick Geddes, as most existing scholarship has done. It shows how New-Town-based elite and middle-class professional women worked collectively alongside working-class women. Together they developed a distinctive approach to the re-use of existing buildings and spaces, and created new medical, educational, welfare and domestic environments which would enable the Old Town’s population, young and old, to lead fuller lives and participate fully in Scottish society. This philosophy had a longer influence across the twentieth century and feeds into contemporary debates about public health, sustainability and urban development.
Elizabeth Darling PhD is Reader in Architectural History in the School of History, Philosophy and Culture, Oxford Brookes University. Her research focuses on inter-war modernism, the environments of social welfare reform, and gender and very often the intersections among all these things. Her publications include Re-forming Britain: Narratives of Modernity before Reconstruction (Routledge, 2007), Women and the Making of Built Space in England, 1870-1950 (Ashgate, 2007, co-edited with Lesley Whitworth), Wells Coates (RIBA Publications, 2012) and Suffragette City, Women, Politics, and the Built Environment (Routledge, 2020; co-edited with Nathaniel Walker) as well as numerous articles for journals including the Journal of British Studies and Gender and History. Between 2014-2027 she collaborated with Dr Lynne Walker on AA XX 100, a project to commemorate the centenary of women’s admission to the Architectural Association School of Architecture, which resulted in an exhibition, international symposium and the book AA Women in Architecture 1917-2017. She serves as adviser to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on widening the coverage of women architects.