The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

Helen Mary Wilson

(1864-1951), Physician and social campaigner

Sitter in 1 portrait
Born into a politically radical family, Wilson was able to use her experience as a physician to support her campaigns concerning women's rights and laws relating to prostitution. After studying at the London School of Medicine, Wilson was house surgeon at the London Temperance Hospital, before working in private practices in Sheffield. In 1905, she retired and became the secretary of the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene and editor of its journal The Shield. Her attitudes towards prostitution were progressive and like her father, she campaigned against its state regulation. In 1909 she became the president of the Sheffield Women's Suffrage Society, although she did not agree with the militant tactics of the suffragettes.

Tell us More

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Make a donation Close

List Thumbnail

Helen Mary Wilson, by Elliott & Fry - NPG x181915

Helen Mary Wilson

by Elliott & Fry
half-plate glass copy negative, 1942
NPG x181915

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this person? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license an image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

Penny Rea

25 November 2015, 10:17

Helen Mary Wilson (1864-1951) was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. She was the daughter of Henry J Wilson (1833-1914), MP for Holmfirth, and Charlotte Cowan. Helen was educated at Sheffield High School for Girls, Bedford College London and the London School of Medicine for Women. She became House Surgeon to the London Temperance Hospital in 1892 and then entered private practice in Sheffield where she worked from 1893-1906. In addition to her medical career, Helen Wilson carried on her father's campaigning work against the state regulation of prostitution and was Honorary Secretary and President of the Association for Moral & Social Hygiene. Her other voluntary activities included settlement and probation work and serving as a JP. In addition, Helen Wilson was President of the Sheffield Women's Suffrage Society, which was a branch of the North of England Suffrage Society.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.


Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

Test your skill

Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

Play today

Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the Elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

Start now