Margaret, Lady Rhondda, lived a life of wealth and privilege but she was not afraid to stand up for her beliefs as well as support them financially. An only child, she was strongly influenced by her parents Sybil Haig – an active suffragette and David Thomas a Welsh businessman and long standing liberal MP. She was Secretary of the Newport branch of the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) and she joined in with a number of militant and even violent actions, including protest marches and attempting to blow up a postbox. She spent a brief spell in prison before being released after going on hunger strike. Continue reading Margaret Haig Thomas, Lady Rhondda
The information about Inez Milholland which appears here is kindly taken from the InezMilholland.org website with their permission.
Inez Milholland was an Icon of the New Women in the early 1900’s. She was always known and publicized for her beauty and her brilliance. She was raised by socially-conscious parents and educated at Vassar where she became active in the Women’s suffrage movement and advocacy for the poor.
A rare woman, she earned a Law degree at NYU and promptly became involved with the labor strikes of the Women’s Garment Workers and the Triangle Shirtwaist factory struggle. Throughout her life, Inez worked and fought for the underrepresented and the oppressed. Continue reading Inez Milholland
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.
Continue reading Esther Roper
Sophie Duleep Singh was an Indian princess, turned rebel suffragette, who marched alongside Emmeline Pankhurst and dedicated her life to the cause of votes for women.
Sophia was born on 8th August 1876, at her family’s stately home in Suffolk. But she was no normal English aristocrat; her father was Maharaja Duleep Singh – the last king of the Sikh empire, who was withdrawn from his throne (after the British Empire conqured the Punjab), and was exiled from India to England a couple of years later when he was still just a teenager. He brought with him the famous Koh-i-noor diamond, which now sits in the crown jewels. He converted to Christianity and enjoyed the favour of Queen Victoria. When Sophia was born she (the Queen) became her godmother. Continue reading Sophia Duleep Singh
This post by Eileen Luscombe first appeared on Women Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
Eileen Mary Casey (1881-1972) suffragette, translator and teacher, was born on 4 April 1881 at Deniliquin, New South Wales, first child of Dr Phillip Forth Casey, surgeon, and Isabella Julia Agnes Raey. Continue reading Eileen Mary Casey
I was honoured to be invited to speak this week at the policy launch in Birmingham for the Women’s Equality Party. I made sure to namecheck a bevvy of wonderful Sheroes! Below is a transcript of my speech (with hyperlinks added for further info.)
“When I was first asked to give a short talk this evening and share the stories of some inspiring Sheroes of history many women came to mind. Should I talk about a woman who rallied for social change, as we are attempting to do, like Emmeline Pankhurst or Margaret Bondfield? Or maybe I should speak about a great historical female leader like Boudica or Cleopatra?
Katherine Mary Harley nee French, sister of Sir John French, (leader of the British army at the outbreak of World War 1,) and Charlotte Despard, was born on May 3rd 1855, less than three months after the death of her father. Her childhood was blighted by her mother’s ill health and by the age of ten she was an orphan. Katherine was sent to boarding school and then travelled to India to stay with her sister Maggie. There she met and married George Ernest Harley, a soldier. A little over a year later still in India she gave birth to her first child Florence.[i]
Charlotte Despard was a woman of many passions, she fought for the vote, for Irish freedom, for peace & for animal welfare. She formed, or was part of, many political groups & movements paving the way for others committed to these freedoms.
Born in 1844 Charlotte’s upbringing wasn’t easy. Her father died when she was young and her mother was mentally ill and hospitalised. Charlotte was sent to London to live with relatives.
Constance Gore-Booth was born on 4th February 1868, the oldest of five children. Her father was a landowner in County Sligo, Ireland.
Constance is most well known for her role in Irish politics, but long before then her first passion was art. In 1892 she went to London to study painting. While there her political beliefs began to take shape and she joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). From London she moved to Paris to continue her studies. It was there that she met her soon-to-be husband, a Polish Count.
Margaret Bondfield was a leading trade unionist, a camaigner for women’s rights and the first female member of the British Cabinet.
Margaret was born in Somerset in 1873. She came from a big family and was the eleventh child! Her parents were textile workers, and her father was known for his radical political views.
When she was just 14 Margaret left home to go and work in a fabric shop in Hove. While working there she became friends with Louisa Martindale, who was part of the women’s rights movement. Louisa invited Margaret to her house and let her borrow books about working people’s rights and socialism which began to really inspire young Margaret’s mind.