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Women and Nineteenth-Century Politics

Seminar Questions

  • What opportunities were there for women to participate in local government?
  • Was women's political activity in this period unusual?
  • Was women's involvement in politics in the gift of men?
  • Did women take an auxiliary role in party politics?
  • Are women engaged in politics more naturally Liberal or Socialist than Conservative?
  • How did women's experience in party politics shape their attitdues and approaches to the suffrage movement?
  • What do you learn from researching women's lives (see suggestions below) about their experience of party politics and/or local government in the period before they received the parliamentary franchise?

Key Reading

1) Can you research the person allocated and consider their contribution to public life, ideology and motivation for entering politics.

2) Look also at one piece of secondary literature below related to the political party your allocated person was connected to.

Margaret Ashton, Caroline Bridgeman, Jane Cobden-Unwin, Millicent Fawcett, Sophia Fry, Louisa Knightley, Lily Maxwell, Margaret McMillan, Martha Merington, Hannah Mitchell, Meresia Nevill, Anna Maria Priestman, Maud Selborne, Enid Stacy, Flora Stevenson.

Further Reading

Murray Goot and Elizabeth Reid, 'Women: if not apolitical then Conservative', in Janet Siltanen and Michelle Stanworth (eds), Women and the Public Sphere

Claire Hirschfield, 'Fractured faith: Liberal Party women and the suffrage issue', Gender and History, 2 (1990)

David Jarvis, 'Behind every great party: women and Conservatism in twentieth century Britain', in Amanda Vickery (ed.), Women, Privilege and Power

David Jarvis, 'The Conservative party and the politics of gender', in Martin Francis and Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska (eds), The Conservatives and British Society

Joni Lovenduski, Pippa Norris and Catriona Burness, 'The party and women' in Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball (eds), Conservative Century

L. Maguire, 'The Conservative Party and Women's Suffrage', in Myriam Boussahba-Bravard, Suffrage Outside Suffragism

Jane Rendall, 'Who was Lily Maxwell?', in June Purvis and Sandra Stanley Holton, Votes for Women

Jane Rendall, Equal or Different

J. Schneer, ‘Politics and feminism in “Outcast London”: George Lansbury and Jane Cobden's campaign for the first LCC’, Journal of British Studies, 30 (1991)

Pat Thane, 'Women in the Labour Party and Women's Suffrage', in Myriam Boussahba-Bravard, Suffrage Outside Suffragism

P.Vervaecke, 'The Primrose League and Women's Suffrage, 1883-1918' in Myriam Boussahba-Bravard, Suffrage Outside Suffragism

Linda Walker, 'Liberal Women's Organisations', in Myriam Boussahba-Bravard, Suffrage Outside Suffragism

All in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

June Hannam and Karen Hunt, Socialist Women

Patricia Hollis, Ladies Elect

Gerry Maguire, Conservative Women

Pat Thane, 'Women, Liberalism and Citizenship' in Eugenio Biagini, Citizenship and Community

Primrose League