(1807–1877), British educational and social reformer whose well-publicized domestic and imperial work made her a role model for late Victorian British feminists. Inspired by Unitarian reformist principles, Mary Carpenter's philanthropic activities covered a host of social issues, most notably the establishment of secular “ragged” and reformatory schools for destitute children and juvenile offenders. Carpenter's imperial reform work, too, attracted a great deal of notice. Her Six Months in India (1868), a report on Indian women, is considered a particularly rich source for understanding women's relationship to empire. In heightening English public interest in Indian women, the book linked Carpenter with the challenge of colonial reform, a link solidified in 1870 when she founded the National Indian Association to promote social reform, including female education, in India.
From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History in Oxford Reference.