The ‘great mole’ of the women’s movement: 1883–90<sup>1</sup>

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 ‘great mole’ of the women’s movement: 1883–901

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This chapter investigates Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy's ‘single-handed’ campaign to secure guardianship rights for mothers to their own children. It also demonstrates her broad challenge to every aspect of patriarchal dominion—even the effects on children of the ‘dead hand’ of their father's will. The way Elizabeth elected to describe the inauguration of the infants' campaign provides a different insight into her character from that ‘loyal unselfishness’ with which she was often credited by her friends. The Guardianship of Infants Act provided a catalyst to rejuvenate the campaign for the parliamentary vote. Elizabeth continued to support the women's suffrage campaign. The Women's Franchise League's (WFrL) campaign strategy sought the removal of the effects of inequality of opportunity for women. It promoted ‘a communion of middle-class and working-class women in their shared labour, both productive and reproductive’.

Keywords: Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy; Guardianship of Infants Act; Women's Franchise League; gender inequality; mothers; children

Chapter.  12206 words.  Illustrated.

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