Mary Lily Walker’s birthplace celebrated by plaque

Victorian social reformer Mary Lily Walker, known for improving the lives and living conditions of her fellow Dundonians, is to be commemorated by the University of Dundee and Historic Scotland next week when they unveil a plaque at the home in which she was born.

The memorial plaque will be placed upon 152 Perth Road at 2pm on Tuesday, 5th July by Lesley Nicoll from campus services at the University, English Tutor Eddie Small and Dundee City Councillor, Lesley Brennan.

Born in the 1860s, Mary was one of the first graduates of University College Dundee and one of the first women in Scotland to be taught in the same classroom as men, turning her attention to housing and the health of women in Dundee when graduating.

Known as a shy social reformer, Mary Lily Walker is also attributed with being a driving force behind the social work infrastructure of Dundee. The comprehensive and damning evidence she collected on the conditions of the poorer quarters of Dundee, looking at housing provision, sanitary conditions and how people survived, was attributed with improving the health of families across the city.

Sitting opposite Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, 152 Perth Road was one of many homes Mary Lily Walker lived in throughout her life in Dundee.

Eddie Small, author of ‘Mary Lily Walker: Forgotten Visionary of Dundee’, said, “Mary Lily Walker is an unsung heroine, she shunned approbation and there is only one known photograph of her.

“Yet as one of our alumna of the University of Dundee, Mary deserves our respect. Some might argue that, given the social and gender constraints of the time she lived in, she did more directly for the welfare of Dundee's neediest than any other person.”

The commemorative plaque will be uncovered on Tuesday, 5th July by representatives of both the University of Dundee and Dundee City Council.

This conincides with the release of The Four Marys by Eddie Small, a radio version of his iconic and sell out play, now created in collaboration with staff and students across the University, developed by Eddie Small for the Mary Slessor Centenary.

(Image courtesy of University of Dundee Archive Services)

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