Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement

The biography of an insurgent woman

By Maureen Wright

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-8477-9762-9
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: July 2013
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies, History & Archaeology, c 1500 onwards to present day, European history, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History, Modern History
  • Series: Gender in History


This book provides the first full-length biography of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833-1918) - someone referred to among contemporaries as 'the grey matter in the brain' of the late-Victorian women's movement. A pacifist, humanitarian 'free-thinker', Wolstenholme Elmy was a controversial character and the first woman ever to speak from a public platform on the topic of marital rape. Lauded by Emmeline Pankhurst as 'first' among the infamous militant suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union, Wolstenholme Elmy was one of Britain's great feminist pioneers and, in her own words, an 'initiator' of many high-profile campaigns from the nineteenth into the twentieth century. Wright draws on an extensive resource of unpublished correspondence and other sources to produce an enduring portrait that does justice to Wolstenholme Elmy's momentous achievements.


1. The making of a feminist: 1833-62
2. Headmistress: The Education Campaign 1863-October 1867
3. The "Parliamentary Watch-Dog": November 1867-October 1874
4. Calvary to resurrection: October 1874-82
5. The 'Great Mole' of the women's movement: 1883-90
6. The Women's Emancipation Union: 1891-July 1899
7. 'The Cold Dark Night is Past': August 1899-May 1906
8. 'At Eventide There Will Be Light': June 1906-March 1918
Poem: 'New Year's Day', 1900
Cast of characters
Select bibliography


Maureen Wright is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Chichester

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