When my mum first handed me the book, The Life and Times of Kitty Wilkinson by Michael Kelly, I’ll be honest, I had no idea who she was. But after reading it from cover to cover in a matter of days I will forever cherish her memory as one of my heroines.
Kitty may have been born in Ireland, but it is the lives of the residents of Liverpool that she had the most impact on. She is now memorialised in a statue at St George’s Hall in the city centre in celebration of her achievements. Being from Liverpool myself, I’m so happy that I came across her story.
During the 1930s in the midst of the cholera epidemic, Kitty opened up her home to the local community and allowed others to use her boiler to wash infected clothing and bedding. Her actions pioneered Britain’s first public washrooms and public baths and created a legacy that still stands today. By becoming a voice for the poor and the poverty stricken, she saved numerous lives.
Sadly, Kitty’s actions are largely unheard of, especially outside of the city of Liverpool. This is why it is so important to share her story. Her compassion and benevolence as a person and her strength in the fight for public health and education is why she so deserves a place in history as a heroine. Her actions go to show that you don’t need to have much yourself to make a difference to others, just a bit of human decency and the drive to be heard.
Girl Museum Inc.