Born in 1853 in Brighton. Trade union campaigner, suffragist, and feminist who used her words to create change. A talented author with a portfolio of published novels. Influential editor of social reform journals. Passionate campaigner for equality who founded numerous campaign organisations to improve the lives of working women.
Home educated, fluent in French and German.
- Carer of her disabled father and younger siblings
- Campaigner on the issue of women’s work and wages
- Active member of the Fabian Society
- Honorary secretary, Women’s Protective & Provident League, later known as the Women’s Trade Union League (1886)
- Founder, Women’s Trade Union Association (1889)
- President, Women’s Industrial Council (1894)
- Editor, Women’s Industrial News (1895)
- Honorary secretary, Women’s Franchise Declaration Committee (1906)
- Vice-president, Anti-Sweating League (1906)
- Vice-president, National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (1911)
- Editor, The Common Cause (1912)
- Vice-president, London Society for Women’s Suffrage (1913)
- 1877 – A Sussex Idyll is her first published story. The majority of her positions were honorary and so her writing was her main source of income throughout her life. Her most successful novel, The Agitator published in 1894, blended fiction and real life to tell the story of the rise and fall of a trade union leader.
- 1886 – as honorary secretary of the Women’s Protective & Provident League she moved the first successful equal pay resolution at the 1888 Trades Union Congress.
- 1887 – founded a Consumers’ League in London, which urged customers to buy only from shops certified as ‘clean’ from paying unfair wages and to boycott Bryant and May. The Consumers’ League was used as a model for similar leagues set up in other countries in the 1890s.
- 1888 – actively supported the Match Girl’s Strike and provided organisation, advice and support to the newly formed Union of Women Match Workers.
- 1889 – founded the Women’s Trade Union Association (later the Women’s Industrial Council) in 1889, organising women in London’s East End to research and campaign for legal reforms andwrote a series detailed reports on the pay and conditions of working women in order to influence public opinion and government policy.
- In 1906 – as secretary of Women’s Franchise Declaration Committee she was responsible for organising the petition demanding the vote that was signed by 257,000 women.
Aside from her journalism and fiction writing she also authored a number of books related to her union activity, including:
Sweated Industry and the Minimum Wage (1907)
Makers of Our Clothes: a case for Trade Boards (1909)
Married Women’s Work (1915)
That women would enjoy working rights.