The ‘parliamentary watchdog’: 1868–Spring 1874

Maureen Wright

in Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780719081095
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700037 | DOI:
The ‘parliamentary watchdog’: 1868–Spring 1874

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The years between 1868 and 1874 were among the most demanding when considering Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy's lifelong commitment to feminism. She took a leading role in securing for married women the ownership of their personal property. Her work for the Married Women's Property Committee (MWPC) remained for many years the only area of her life that could never be entirely subsumed by those who saw her as a marginal figure in women's politics, so great was her part within it. Elizabeth believed that the role of the state was to protect the innocent and wronged, not to interfere in the personal liberties of adult, reasoning individuals. She eventually had found love and was contemplating motherhood, but she had lost treasured friendships with Emily Davies and Lydia Becker.

Keywords: Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy; feminism; Married Women's Property Committee; women's politics; Emily Davies; Lydia Becker; motherhood

Chapter.  11132 words.  Illustrated.

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