Eleanor Rathbone, 1872–1946

Bob Holman

in Champions for children

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9781861343536
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301653 | DOI:
Eleanor Rathbone, 1872–1946

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Eleanor Rathbone never had children and never married. She came from a wealthy family and never lived alongside poor ones. Yet Rathbone devoted much of her life to improving the material conditions or poor families by campaigning for children's allowances to be paid directly to their mothers. Before she died, she contributed in the House of Commons to the enactment of the Family Allowances Act of 1945. This chapter looks at how a privileged Victorian woman became a children's champion. Much of its content is drawn from an interview with Margaret Simey, a friend of Rathbone's and now a distinguished elder stateswoman of social reform. The chapter also discusses Rathbone's involvement with the Central Relief Society and the Victoria Women's Settlement, her election as an Independent to Liverpool City Council, her dedication to the nature and effects of poverty on women and children, her role in the Liverpool branch of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Family Association during World War I, and her election to Parliament as the member for the Combined English Universities (a constituency that no longer exists).

Keywords: Eleanor Rathbone; children; poverty; Liverpool; Combined English Universities; Family Allowances Act; Margaret Simey; Central Relief Society; Victoria Women's Settlement; Parliament

Chapter.  9241 words.  Illustrated.

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