What connects Winston Churchill, women’s trades unions, Irish independence, an early 20th century magazine opposing traditional gender concepts and a suffrage petition long enough to carpet a railway platform?
The answer is Esther Roper: suffragist, labour organiser and pioneering writer on gender and sexuality.
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Frances Power Cobbe dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of women, children and animals. She spoke out about domestic violence and founded the first organisations to campaign against animal testing.
Frances Power Cobbe was born in Dublin in 1822. She came from a well known family with quite a religious background; her ancestor, Charles Cobbe, had been the Archbishop of Dublin in the 1700s, a very important position at the time.
Frances was the only girl in her family and had four older brothers. While they were allowed a proper education Frances remained at home for most of her childhood, reading everything she could lay her hands on and educating herself. She was sent to a school in Brighton for a couple of years when she was 14, but this was more of a finishing school for girls and she said it did her no good whatsoever. She was pleased when she returned home and could once again return to her books.
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