A BLUE Plaque celebrating the life of Wirral author, public speaker, and key figure in the suffragist movement Agnes 'Maude' Royden has been unveiled at her childhood home.

The honour was revealed at Frankby Hall, situated in Frankby Cemetery, by Mayor, Cllr Tony Smith.

Described by Good Housekeeping in 1928 as "the best-known woman preacher in the world" Maude, as she liked to be known, was born in Mossley Hill, Liverpool in November 1876.

She later lived at Frankby Hall with her parents and seven siblings before studying at Cheltenham Ladies College and Oxford University, where she obtained a degree in history and went on to become a lecturer at Oxford, gaining prominence internationally as a dynamic and influential speaker on women's rights.

In 1911 she became a member of the executive committee for the London Society of Women's Suffrage.

Maude founded the Society for the Ministry of Women in 1929 and became Britain's first Doctor of Divinity in 1931 via Glasgow University and was given an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Liverpool in 1935.

She died at home in London on July 30, 1956.

Paying tribute at the blue plaque's unveiling was Maude's relative, Liverpool-born historian, author and lecturer Mike Royden.

He told the Globe: "Maude was such a pioneering lady who achieved so many great things in her life, at a time when 'women should have known their place' as people said in those days.

"I've taught about the suffragette movement over the years and it's all about the Pankhursts, which is fair enough because they were a militant faction.

"Maude had gone off the scale in terms of the popular view of history. But within the academic field she is very highly regarded and very well known.

"Ecumenical colleges wanted to know about her as pioneering woman, especially in the '90s when we were getting women wanting to get into the church and become priests.

"They would look back to people like Maude as an inspiration."

Her name is listed, along with 58 other people who supported women's suffrage, on the statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett which was unveiled in London last year.

Among those attending the blue plaque unveiling was local resident Andy McCluskey - known to music fans as the co-founder and lead singer of Wirral's Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

He is a member of Frankby Conservation Group and lives in the former home of Maude's sister.

He told the Globe: "This is a fascinating story of an incredible lady and it's been a long time coming getting recognition for all the things that Maude Royden did.

"She was a champion of women's rights and pacifism, was a suffragist and first women preacher in the cathedral in Liverpool.

"She was a first in many ways and so in this year of Wirral's Borough of culture, a great opportunity has been taken to celebrate her life."

And Maude's life is the subject of a soon-to-be released book.

Mike Royden continued: "I have been working on a book on Maude's life for decades and am quite excited because I've now got funding and a publisher and hopefully, the book's going to come out at the end of the year.

"It's not just about Maude, of course, it's about the Royden shipbuilding family, which is what she was part of.

"So, consequently we will have Frankby Hall, which is the family estate and Hillbark next door, which was the son's house. Andy McCluskey's place, which was Maude's sister's house, also features. So Andy is part of Maude's history"

Funded by Wirral Council as part of its programme as Borough of Culture for the Liverpool City Region, the blue plaque is supported by Peter Bolt from Conservation Areas Wirral, which administers the Blue Plaque scheme in the borough.

Paying tribute to his great-great aunt, Sir John Royden, Baronet, MBA CFA said: "She's 'great-great' to me, but also the world at large. Her life was great on so many counts.

"She chose to spend her life trying to make the world a better place for all; by working hard to enrich the lives of women with a journey that still continues today in terms of building equality for women.

"Her book Sex and common-sense broke taboos and was a pioneering publication in its day.

"Her plaque is more than a memory of Maude Royden. It will be an inspiration for all of us who follow in her steps and try, to greater or lesser degree, to make the world a better place for humanity.

"I hope it spurs us all on to greater achievements in our lives and in the lives of others."

Councillor Christine Spriggs, cabinet member for culture and tourism, said: "It is an honour for everyone who has been involved with recognizing Maude and her astonishing achievements.

"The blue plaque will live on in her memory in Wirral, where she will always be a part of its history."