The old adage that hard times breed strong people is certainly true of the women in Peaky Blinders, who, having endured the horrors associated with World War One, are as tough as they come.
The post-World War One period was an extremely significant time for gender equality in England, with great strides being made towards the emancipation of women, facilitated by many strong and courageous heroines. The strong female characters in Peaky Blinders are certainly representative of the robust women in post-war Birmingham and are among the strongest women of any television series.
10 Tatiana Petrovna
Having escaped to England after the Bolshevik Revolution, Russian royalty Tatiana Petrovna and her family begin dealings with Tommy Shelby on his wedding day in the first episode of season 3. Tatiana is the primary facilitator of the dealings, acting as the stern business representative for her family.
Tatiana’s courage and quick wit place her as one of the strongest women in Peaky Blinders, typified by her role in helping Tommy mastermind the jewel heist in the season 3 finale. Although Tatiana betrayed her family and stole their treasures, she did so for love, which took incredible bravery and strength.
9 Gina Gray
Gina Gray is the scheming season 5 antagonist from across the Atlantic who marries into the Shelby family through Michael Gray. Gina is certainly ambitious, and after seeing the vast potential in Shelby Company Limited, she begins to plot with Michael about taking the business from Tommy.
Standing up to the Peaky Blinders takes guts, and Gina takes on the Shelby family with little fear. She even continues with her plot to overthrow Tommy after he threatened her in classic Peaky Blinders fashion, which shows how incredibly strong a person she is. However, how successful Gina is at maintaining her tough demeanor remains to be seen, with season 6 of Peaky Blinders on the horizon.
8 May Carleton
Coping with the ɗᥱαꚍɧ of a spouse is no easy process, but May Carleton does so with great aplomb in Peaky Blinders, running her own very successful racehorse-training business as a widow. May is one of the most revered racehorse trainers, thanks to the social connections she has through her wealthy background.
As a female business owner in post-war Birmingham, May is strong by necessity and does not allow the powerful men in the horseracing industry to take advantage of her. May even garners the respect of Tommy Shelby, who hires her to train his racehorse, knowing that she is the best person for the job.
7 Esme Shelby
Having grown up as part of the infamous Lee family, Esme Shelby is naturally going to be one of the strongest women in Peaky Blinders. After marrying into the Shelby family through John Shelby, Esme showcases her toughness on numerous occasions throughout the series by holding her own against the men of Small Heath.
Esme and the other Shelby women display great spirit in “Episode 4” of season 3 by joining the worker’s strikes and leaving the Shelby betting shop unstaffed. This act of rebellion against the Shelby men showcases how strong and fearless Esme is and provides the opportunity for an epic shot of her defiantly walking out of the shop.
6 Lizzie Shelby
To be the wife of Tommy Shelby, you have to be immensely strong, both mentally and emotionally, and Lizzie certainly is as strong as can be in this regard. Lizzie has been through a lot, both before the events of Peaky Blinders and during the show, yet her ability to remain resilient is a testament to her incredible strength.
Lizzie is also not afraid to stand up to Tommy and does so on multiple occasions to try and keep him from spiraling out of control. A character standing up to Tommy is a rare occurrence in Peaky Blinders, thus highlighting Lizzie’s courage.
5 Linda Shelby
Linda Shelby is undoubtedly one of the strongest women in Peaky Blinders, mainly evidenced by the impressive way that she deals with her husband, Arthur Shelby, during the series. Arthur is portrayed as profoundly troubled throughout Peaky Blinders, requiring those who care about him to be mentally and emotionally resilient.
Linda showcases just how strong she is while helping Arthur through his sobriety, all while imposing her influence on the Shelby family, which is no mean feat. The climax of Linda’s character arc typifies her strength and courage, as she takes it upon herself to separate from Arthur, despite the dangerous implications of leaving the Shelby family.
4 Grace Shelby
Grace Shelby was the courageous and intelligent wife of Tommy Shelby and the love of his life. As an undercover operative for the police, Grace is tough by trade and showcases her strength on numerous occasions throughout Peaky Blinders.
Following her introduction in season 1, Grace quickly establishes herself as a force to be reckoned with by posing a genuine threat to the Shelby family. Despite the danger involved with the Peaky Blinders, Grace stays strong and does not stray from her mission objective, giving Inspector Campbell the whereabouts of the stolen guns and proving herself to be one of the strongest women in Peaky Blinders.
3 Ada Thorne
Ada Thorne undergoes vast character development over the course of Peaky Blinders, starting out as a relatively naïve young woman and blossoming into one of the strongest women in the series.
Ada undergoes her fair share of trauma throughout Peaky Blinders, losing her husband, Freddie Thorne, and having to raise her child alone, which was no easy task in 1920s England. Ada shows herself to be resilient and quick-witted in almost every situation she finds herself in. Her talents are ultimately recognized by Tommy, who gives her a senior role in Shelby Company Limited.
2 Jessie Eden
Jessie Eden is a union convener and prominent activist who challenges Tommy Shelby over the pay of his female factory workers. Her character is based on a real-life historical figure with the same name and provides an excellent portrayal of how significant and groundbreaking the real-life Jessie Eden was.
As an outspoken feminist in post-war England, Jessie Eden is necessarily one of the strongest women in Peaky Blinders. She holds her own during multiple interactions with some very powerful men, one of which is Tommy Shelby, who is very impressed by Jessie’s drive and spirit.
1 Polly Gray
Polly Gray, portrayed by the wonderfully talented Helen McCrory, is undoubtedly the strongest woman in Peaky Blinders. As the matriarch of the Shelby family, Polly is intelligent, stern, and compassionate, often acting as the glue that holds the highly dysfunctional family together.
In her perpetual endeavor to keep the members of the Shelby family safe, Polly proves time and time again that she is a formidable foe to anybody who crosses her. Anyone who can keep the members of the Shelby family in line must, by definition, be ruthless and intelligent, while maintaining an unmatched strength of mind and emotion, which is something that Polly does throughout the entire series.