Madonna: Which one? The singer and sometimes actress? The mother of Jesus? The image of Mary and other saintly mothers in medieval paintings? Yes, Madonna is the number one woman of history searched for year after year on the Net – even if the searches are certainly in favour of the singer.
2. Marilyn Monroe
Actress Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jeane Mortensen on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. During her all-too-brief life, Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become of the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbols. Monroe died of a drug overdose on August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old.
Cleopatra’s family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years before she was born around 69 B.C. The stories and myths surrounding Cleopatra’s tragic life inspired a number of books, movies and plays, including Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. Cleopatra has become one of the most well known ancient Egyptians.
4. Anne Frank
Born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam with her family during World War II. Fleeing Nazi persecution of Jews, the family went into hiding for two years; during this time, Frank wrote about her experiences and wishes. She was 15 when the family was found and sent to the camps, where she died. Her work, The Diary of Anne Frank, has gone on to be read by millions.
5. Diana, Princess of Wales
Born Diana Spencer on July 1, 1961, Princess Diana became Lady Diana Spencer after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975. Diana, Princess of Wales – known as Princess Diane – captured hearts around the world with her fairy-tale romance, her marital struggles, and then her untimely death in a car accident on August 20 1997 in Paris.
6. Emily Dickinson
Born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson left school as a teenager to live a reclusive life on the family homestead. There, she filled notebooks with poetry and wrote hundreds of letters. Dickinson’s remarkable work was published after her death in 1886. She is now considered one of the towering figures of American literature.
7. Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans,” was born in 1412 in Domrémy, France. A national heroine of France, Joan of Arc led the French army to victory over the British at Orléans, at age 18. Captured a year later, Joan was burned by the English and their French collaborators as a heretic. She was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint 500 years later, on May 16 1920.
8. Oprah Winfrey
Media giant Oprah Winfrey was born in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted a hit television chat show, People Are Talking. Afterward, she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show. She later became the host of her own, wildly popular program, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired for 25 seasons, from 1986 to 2011.
9. Mother Teresa
“Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”, was born in kopje, Macedonia. Mother Teresa taught in India for 17 years before she experienced her 1946 “call within a call” to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. Her order established a hospice; centres for the blind, aged, and disabled; and a leper colony. She was summoned to Rome in 1968, and in 1979 received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work.
10. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter, who using her own unique “folkloric” style of painting, painted the diary of her life. Each painting, whether it be a self-portrait or a still life, captures a moment in her life. They reflect the emotions of her turbulent relationship with her husband, the lifelong physical and emotional pain she endured as a result of a tragic bus accident, and her inability to have children. During her life time Frida created some 200 paintings, drawings and sketches related to her experiences in life.