Autumn 2022: An online course on Radical Women, 1914 to 1978

Emmie 2

In the autumn I  will be teaching an online course using Zoom on Radical Women, 1914 to 1980. I am a  freelance historian and have been researching and writing about  radical   women  for many years and have  been running online courses using Zoom since  March 2020.

My published work includes “Up Then  Brave  Women” : Manchester’s Radical Women  1819-1918 and “For the sake of the women who are to come after:” Manchester’s Radical women, 1914-1945

The course   will last 10 weeks and will be held in the evenings, starting on Monday 3rd October 2022. The course fee will be £60.

The format is that I speak about the evening’s topic and we then have a discussion. Afterwards I will send out a handout and suggest some further  reading. Sometimes I suggest a video for course members to watch beforehand.

For more information or to reserve  a place, please email me, Michael Herbert :

Course outline

The course will include the following

The First World War

  • Response of suffragist and suffragette organisations to  the declaration of war
  • Effect of war on women’s employment
  • Campaigns for the rights of women war workers
  • The Christmas letters between British and German women
  • The International Women’s Congress in the Hague in 1915
  • The No Conscription Fellowship
  • The Women’s Peace Crusade in 1916 and 1917
  • The end of war and the Treaty of the Versailles.

The 1920s

  • What happened to women workers after the end  of the war ?
  • Women in the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement
  • Campaigns for equality  and the Equal Rights Procession, July 1926
  • Women’s International League
  • Peacemakers’ Pilgrimage, 1926
  • the campaign to make birth control available
  • The General Strike


  • Women and mass unemployment
  • Women in the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement
  • Women  and the fight against the fascist Blackshirts
  • Women and the Spanish Civil War

Ruby Loftus

The Second World War

  • Evacuation, September 1939
  • Women war workers
  • Woman and  the ATS
  • Ellen Wilkinson’s war
  • The Women’s Parliaments 1941 and 1942

Post-war 1945-51

  • Ellen Wilkinson’s peace
  • The Equal Pay Commission
  • Women and work after the war
  • The squatting movement 1946
  • Bessie Braddock and Barbara Castle

The 1950s

  • Women and work
  • Leisure
  • Sex and Marriage
  • Equal pay
  • Peggy Duff and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Claudia Jones
  • Ann Jellicoe and Shelagh Delaney

Shrew front cover October 1969

The 1960s and  1970s

  • Social and cultural change
  • The Permissive Society
  • The Underground
  • The women strikers at Ford and Equal Pay
  • Patricia Veal and the United Nurses’ Association
  • The Leeds Textile Workers strike, 1970
  • Women’s Liberation movement, 1969 to 1978

Online History course: Radical Manchester in the C19th



Sarah Parker Remond

I will be teaching 10 week course this autumn, starting on the evening of Tuesday 28th September, conducted via Zoom.

 This course  will be an introduction to the  radical political ideas and movements in Manchester in the C19th.   Manchester and the surrounding  district  was at the centre of the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution which  gave birth to a number  of  important radical  working class social and political  movements.

The course  will include the following:

1. The Radicals of the 1790s.  Inspired by the  radical political ideas outlined by  Thomas Paine in  his hugely popular book  The Rights of  Man  groups of radicals  emerged in 1792 calling for  reform of the Constitution, including universal suffrage. They came under sustained  legal attack  by the government.

2. The Luddites. In 1812 groups of workers in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire attacked the machinery they saw as taking away  their work. There were also outbreaks of food rioting. The government  responded by sending thousands of troops  into the North. In the trials that  followed many were imprisoned, while some Luddites and rioters  were  hanged.

3. Peterloo. On 16th August 1819 armed cavalry and soldiers attacked a peaceful  meeting in Manchester held to call for the reform of Parliament, resulting in at least 18 deaths  and hundreds of  injuries.

4. Richard Carlile and the Manchester Republicans of the 1820s. Inspired by  ideas in Carlile’s publication The Republican (which he  edited from prison), groups met in Manchester to support Carlile,  discuss radical   politics and hold dinners to celebrate Thomas Paine’s birthday.

5. Owenite Socialism. From the late 1820s groups of working women and  men set up Co-operative Societies.  inspired by the ideas of Robert Owen. They began to call themselves “Socialists.”

6. The Anti-Poor Law Agitation/ Factory Reform/1832 Reform Act. In the 1830s there were campaigns  against the punitive Poor Law amendment of 1834 which set up Workhouses; for a limit on the excessive  working hours in factories;  and for the reform of Parliament.

7. Chartism. Chartism was a mass movement,  at its height between 1838 and 1848,  which called for the implementation of the People’s Charter whose proposals included universal suffrage, secret ballots and payment of MPs.  The movement  organised three mass petitions to Parliament which were rejected. Instead the government responded  with mass arrests and prison for many of the leaders.

8.  Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in Manchester.  Frederick Engels worked in the family firm  – Ermen and Engels – in Manchester for 20 years, sending money to support Karl Marx and his family in London whilst Marx worked on Capital.  Marx visited Engels in Manchester  on a number of occasions.

9. Black radicals in Manchester. We will look at the visits  of black Americans  camapigning against slavery such as as Henry Brown,  Frederick Douglas,  Charles Lennox Remond  and Sarah Parker Remond.

10. The Irish in Manchester. There was substantial migration from Ireland which led to the establishment of  an Irish community in the New Cross and St Michael’s area.  The Irish took part in  trade unionism  and Chartism,   as well as organising movements  for the independence of Ireland such as Fenianism.

The course consist of a weekly lecture by myself  followed by a discussion amongst  course members. I  will be providing handouts and suggestions  for further reading  and  a guide to  online resources.

The cost of the course will be £60 payable  in advance. It will take place  in the evening starting in the autumn.  To book a place or for more information, please email me :

About me

I have been researching and writing about  radical history of Manchester for many years and have an MA in History of Manchester. My published work includes:

Never Counted Out! the Story of Len Johnson, Manchester’s Black Boxing Hero and Communist (1992)

”The Wearing of the Green, ” a political history of the Irish in Manchester (2000)

Up Then Brave Women : Manchester’s Radical  Women 1819-1918 (2012)

For the sake of the women who are to come after”:  Manchester’s Radical Women 1915 to 1945 (2019)

In 2020 I took part in this BBC Sport item on Len Johnson (filmed in my back garden !)

Michael Herbert


The English Civil War of 1968: my review of “The Day The Queen Flew to Scotland for the Grouse Shooting”by Arthur Wise (1968)

The Clash“When Johnny comes
Marching home again
He’s coming by bus or underground
A woman’s eye will shed a tear
To see his face so beaten in fear
An’ it was just around the corner in the English civil war
It was still at the stage of clubs and fists
When that well-known face got beaten to bits
Your face was blue in the light of the screen
As we watched the speech of an animal scream
The new party army was marching right over our heads
There you are, ha ha, I told you so
Says everybody that we know
But who hid a radio under the stairs
An’ who got caught out on their unawares?
When that new party army came marching…”
“The English Civil War”, The Clash (1979)
For  a traumatic event which  led  to  tens of thousands of deaths   and  the destruction of much  of the North of England, and whose aftermath – political, social,  constitutional –  continues to be felt right up to the present day,  the English Civil War of 1968 has left virtually no trace  in popular memory. The song by the punk rock band The Clash quoted above is one of the few references that can be found – and that  was written  over  forty years ago. (A live  performance can be seen here)
 It is as though  the people of both  parts  of the divided country –  the victorious South  and  the defeated North – took a   decision to forget, a collective amnesia aided and abetted  by the curious lack  of histories of the conflict. The leaders  of the North are either dead or  have disappeared,   while the politicians and generals  of the South  have barely referred to the Civil War, if at all,  in their memoirs.  No official history was ever issued as it was not considered an official  war in the sense of the First or Second World  World Wars.
Arthur Wise The Day the QueenIn this context Arthur Wise’s  The Day The Queen Flew to Scotland for the Grouse Shooting (the meaning of the title will become apparent later), is unique, written as it was just months after the end of the war (indeed, at  the time of  its publication  in Ireland,  Wise was in Cell 4,  Debtors’ Prison,  York).
The book  was banned for a  number of years  in England under the Sedition Act, one of a series of very  repressive measures passed by the Southern government  in 1969 known as “The Ten Acts” .  Never reprinted, it remains  very hard to get hold of (second hand copies reputedly change hands at high prices)   but it is well worth seeking out for its  unique account, including a number of  episodes for which this is the only source.
Although the author called it “a document,” he  adopted  the form of a novel, explaining in  his introduction  :
This document is an attempt to piece together the disastrous events of the past year, from existing reports and from personal interviews. Where it has seemed to me the most effective way of giving the reader a clear undertanding of the situation, I have simply set down the bald facts. In other places, where I have had supporting evidence  from interviews, I have attempted to reconstruct actual conversations and  events in such a way as to convey the total feeling of them…
In one or two places I have to suppress some of the facts, simply to make my own position,  and that of my friends  in the North, still tenable during the present  period of occupation. This suppression in no way affects the general accuracy of the report.
Leeds Town Hall 1960sWise sets the scene at the outset, trying to convey to the reader the  perceptible change in atmosphere  at the beginning of 1968 that a native returning to a Northern town in Lancashire or Yorkshire  after a period of absence might have sensed:
It was there in the faces of people in the bus queue. If he could put it  into words, what would he say?  He might tell  you there was certain assurance about the place. Arrogance, he might call it. Here is a town, he might tell you, that seems at last to have grasped an indentity, that has come to terms with what it is, that sees itself as a unique identity with life different from that of any other  place on earth. A town  rising up out of the filth and rubble and exploitation of the nineteenth century and opening its eyes for the first time. Self-conscious and aware. Critical and dissatisfied. Bitter, perhaps. Certainly determined to find a place for itself in the sunlight, and in the eyes of God…for there was revolution in the air.
The revolution began, as they often do, with a relatively  trivial event,  the turning down by the Westminster government  in May 1968 of an application  to rebuild  theatres in York  and Manchester,  while at the same  time greenlighting  a similar  application from High Wycombe.
The issue was  taken by up the Northern Development  Council, a  committee set up by  the Westmintser government to advise on planning, a typical 1960s toothless body with no powers.  But it began to acquire power, as Wise outlines:
It had been brought into being as a means of containing the unrest in the North. Instead, it became a rallying point for the area, canalising feelings and aspirations  that had previously been mere subterraneans rumblings. As it grew in power and authority, it clamoured for autonomy and power…It could,  conceivably, have been declared an illegal organisation, but no government  dare have taken such a step  as long as it was so effectively identified with the Northern spirit.
The five members of the Central Committee were Sir Felix Brunton, the driving force behind  the Steller Orchestra in Leeds; Colonel Douglas Fitzwallace, a retired army colonel;  Albert Rubinstein, chair of Granada television in Manchester; Sidney Olsen, a pop impresario;  and Sir Brian Wordsworth, a landowner with extensive interests in textiles.


Chelsea v Millwall - League Division Two - Stamford Bridge

Later that month the Cup Final at Wembley between Newcastle United and Chelsea  erupted into mass violence  between opposing supporters from North and South,   resulting in  dozens of deaths and injuries
The Cabinet met on 13th May to discuss what had happened and  decided to send  a civil servant , Robert Paine,  to speak to the NDC’s Central Council. 
He met them   in Darlington on 19th May. At the meeting the NDC decided to support the theatre project from its own  funds,  but  then Wordsworth  told Paine;   “For two hundred years we have been a depressed race. We still live in conditions that are a scandal in any  country claiming to be civilised- conditions in which no southerner would keep their dog. We’ve produced the wealth of this country and it’s been stolen from us. But we’re going no further with you. This is where slavery ends.”
The NDC presented an ultimatum to Paine that is worth quoting in full:
1. That the six Northern counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire, shall be designated in future as “the North”.
2. That the City of York, as the ancient  capital of the North, shall be given the status of the second city of England.
3. That  the Northern Development  Council be redesignated The Council of the North.
4. That the Central Committee of the Northern Development  Council..shall become the executive body of the Council of the North.
5. That the Council of the North shall have the authority to design and implement  its own consitution, without reference to Westminster.


6. That, under the final authority of Westmintser on matters of foreign policy, The Council of the North shall have power to govern in the North.
The NDC made it clear that if  these  demands were not accepted, they would break off all contact  with London.
The demands were, of course,  completely  unacceptable to the Westminster  government  (whose  Prime Minister was a pipe-smoking  Northerner as it happens, not that it made any difference). But rather than negotiate some degree of increased autonomy for the North he  took the fatal  step of ordered the NDC to be arrested and taken to the Tower of London. But nothing happened, the order was ignored by the police in the North, a sign of how rapidly the situation was developing.
Student march

Northern students marching


On 26th May the Council of the North issued a Declaration of  Separatneess,  repeatedly broadcast on the  Northern independent  television networks and the Pirate Radio ship Radio 38,  while a song commissioned by Olsen from   the pop group The Harlequins, “Free to Live, ” became the Northern independence anthem.  (This  song remains bannned by the way and the fate of the group is unknown).  Young people took to the streets of the North  in same way that  their counterparts were doing in Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Mexico, the USA etc…

In Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Hull, university students, students from the Colleges of Education, the Schools of Arts, the Colleges of Technology, and in some  cases the schools marched through the towns with banners shouting their support and breaking into the chorus of the new song “Free To Live”.  In the University of York, with its large numbers of students  from the South, there was some limited violence. A counter-march by Southern students down Tower Street and Clifford Street, was broken  up in Nessgate by students from the  Technical College and from  St John’s College of Education.
The Southern government (as we must now call it for a time)  responded by declaring a State of Emegency on 27th May  and  the following  morning dispatched   an armed  detachment of Household Cavalry (all Southerners, of course) northwards to arrest the Council of the North and convey them  to the Tower. It seems  London  believed  that  the secessionist movement could be snuffed out with one bold move. How ill-informed they were!

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Online history course : Radical Women: 1914-1980







I will be teaching 10 week  online course on Radical  Women: 1914-1980 using Zoom, starting on 8th February 2021. It take place on Monday evenings at 7pm. The fee will be  £60 payable in advance.

For more information and/or  to book  a place  on the course please email me (Michael Herbert):

The course will include the following:

The First World War

We will look at how the war affected women in terms of work and home and also at the activities of women appalled by the carnage of the  war who wanted to make sure  that it never happened again. They held a Congress in 1915 in Holland which established  the  Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.



We look the post war-war world: work and unemployment; the activities of women’s  organisations  now that women  had the vote eg NUSEC, Six Point Group, Open door Council. We also  at the Women Delegation to Ireland   and  the role of women during and after  General Strike in  may 1926.



Britain  was plunged into an economic slump after 1929, creating mass unemployment. We look at the role of women in the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement; womenwho fought  Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts; and the experiences of women who went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War.


The Second World War

We examine  at the profound impact of the war on women’s   lives  in terms of home and work and how they discussed the war and the future in the Women’s Parliaments.   We also  look at the work of  Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson during the war.


Post war 1945-1951

We look at the career of Ellen Wilkinson as Minster of Education in the Labour government; the housing crisis which led to a squatting movement; and the Royal Commission on Equal Pay.



We look at the role of women  in the developing consumer society; Equal pay;  Mary Stott and the Guardian’s women’s  page; Peggy Duff  and the Camapign for Nuclear Disarmament ;  and the career of  writer Shelagh Delaney.


The Pill, mini-skirts, the Permissive Society;  but just  how much did things really change for women in the 1960s?


Women’s  Liberation Movement

We look at the emergence of  the Women’s Liberation Movement,   firstly in the USA,  and then in Britain,   including the Ruskin Conference in 1970s and the first WLM march in March 1971.


A bit about me…

I have been researching  writing and teaching the history of radical  women for many years ; my pulished work includes Up Then Brave Women”; Manchester’s Radical Women 1819-1918 (2012)  and “For the sake of the women who are to come after: Manchester’s Radical Women 1914-1945 (2019)

This is a short item I filmed some years  for the BBC televison programme The Culture Show

More information on my work  here;

Some comments  from previous course members

I attended this course on 19th Radical women and found it both informative and enjoyable. An excellent course for anyone wanting more information on womens/social history at this time. Jane

Michael’s online course on the history of working class women in the 20th century was one of my early lockdown highlights. The sessions themselves were fun and fascinating with plenty of time for discussion and responses. In between sessions Michael sent out lots of supplementary resources so that we could read, watch and listen in advance, and follow up on the women and events which most interested us. I loved learning about women I’d vaguely heard of and others who were completely new to me – it’s largely a forgotten history which I’m so pleased I now know a bit about. Shereen

I found the course very interesting and enjoyable. It sheds light on the role played by radical women in the 19th century, with particular focus on the North of England, and the challenges they faced. The sessions provided a wealth of information and back-up documents which served as pointers for further research, and identified wider patterns. There was also time for discussion.




Women Republicans in Manchester in the 1820s

In the 1820s there was an active group of Republican women,, followers of Richard Carlile who together with his wife and sister spent five years in prison  for his political writings  and challenge to the political and clerical establishment.

Carlile was born in Devon, the son of a shoemaker who died in 1794, leaving Richard’s mother struggling to support her three children on the income from running a small shop. At the age of six he was sent  for free education to the local Church of England school: at the age of twelve he left school for a seven-year apprenticeship to a tinsmith in Plymouth. In 1813 he  got married to Jane, and shortly afterwards the couple moved to Holborn Hill in London where he found work as a tinsmith. Jane Carlile gave birth to five children, three of whom survived, probably an average for this period.

Carlile became interested in radical  politics  during the economic slump  that followed the end of the Napoleonic war and heard Henry Hunt speak.  He himself was put on short-time working. He says “I shared the general distress of 1816 and it was this that opened my eyes.” In 1817 he went into partnership with William  Sherwin, setting  up a printing business  and opening  a shop in Fleet Street where he sold the works of Thomas Paine, split  into pamphlets so that the working people could afford them. He also sold the Black Dwarf when many feared to do so because of the government crackdown on radical ideas and prosecution of booksellers. Carlile  then began publishing his own radical paper, Sherwin’s Weekly Political Register.

Carlile was present  at the Peterloo Massacre  in Manchester on 16th August  1819 and  wrote  the first published account  of the murderous attack on the peaceful crowd.

In the wake of Peterloo the government  cracked down radical  publishers,  shutting down Sherwin’s  Political Register and seizing the newspapers and pamphlets.

Undaunted, Carlile immediately started publishing a new journal, The Republican,  which survived until 1826. He says “The Habeas Corpus Act being suspended … all was terror and alarm, but I take credit to myself in defeating the effect of these two Acts upon the Press… Of imprisonment I made sure, but I felt inclined to court it than to shrink from it”.

The government  prosecuted  Carlile for blasphemy and for  selling seditious writings such as  the writings of Thomas Paine.  He was jailed for three years in October 1819, being sent to Dorchester gaol, but because he failed to pay a fine of £1500 Carlile actually served 6 years in total. He was not finally released until November 1825. In March 1820 a letter from “a few friends” in Leeds arrived with a subscription of 8 shillings. In July he received £20 from a group of journeyman flaxspinners in Leeds

When Jane  visited her husband  in prison in December   1819  she could scarcely speak for exhaustion,  yet within a matter weeks she re-opened  the shop and starting publishing the newspaper again,  although under constant monitoring by the authorities  Jane was t was charged with  publishing  a libel in The Republican on 16 June 1820  and  tried on 19 January 1821.   In court the Solicitor General said he regretted that a female should be the object of  prosecution “but should not complain, after continuing to give to the world the mischevious work in question, after the warnings which  she had received from previous prosecutions.”

Jane  was found guilty and on 3rd  February she appeared in court for sentencing. She said

I have acted entirely from a sense of conjugal duty without consulting my own interest, or my own ideas, of right and wrong…I must be content to share his suffering, as I  have shared his prosperity. For  better or worse is the motto of the altar and I am happy in giving my husband this instance of my regard and affection. I have already suffered that can befall of wife and mother and I have to entreat your Lordships will not further agonize my mind by separating me from both husband and children,

She was sentenced to two years in Dorchester Gaol, joining Richard in a cell.

Carlile’s sister Mary now  took over the publishing business until she too was jailed in July 1821  on charges of blasphemy for having published an Appendix to the Theological Works of Thomas Paine and also on charges of seditious libel for selling an essay by Carlile on the British constitution which  he compared unfavourably with that of Spain..

Carlile, his wife and sister shared a prison cell. Carlile gave some details of their life in prison in the course a very long letter written to Henry Hunt on 20th  February 1822.  (Hunt also in prison in Ilchester,  by the way.)

Here we are self, wife, and sister locked up in one room in which we have no alternative but to attend to every call of nature in the presence  of each other, or by drawing a curtain across our little water-closet, and at dusk in the evening my sister is removed to a distant part of the Prison, where she is locked up in a small cell with an iron-bedstead to lie on, that is a fixture, and there is no room for another, and there she remains  until  nine o’clock the next morning, not being allowed to walk in the female felons’ yard for fear of corrupting them; such is the alleged precaution, and during this absence of  hers from my apartment, the water-closet is closed up and unlocked when she returns.

Republican Women’s   Support for Jane and Mary-Ann

Groups of women Republicans rallied to the cause of the  imprisoned women.

The Female Reformers of Ashton  wrote to Jane Carlile in September  1821,  the letter being signed by Elizabeth Higson from the Flash Hall area of the town. She had hosted in her home a celebration of Hunt’s birthday in November 1820, Paine’s in January 1821 and Hunt’s again in November 1821. In her letter she expressed sympathy for Jane as “the first female  victim of superstition and despotism” andnoted how the women “were forced to put our infant children  to the drudgery and unhealthy employment  of the cotton manufactory” in order to make ends meet, and even then they were left with “little more than necessaries”. She enclosed a £1 contributed by a number of fellow Republican

On 20th  April 1822 the Female Republicans of Manchester wrote to Jane and Mary-Ann Carlile:

We the undersigned Females, possessing liberal principles and hearts of humanity towards our fellow females in the cause of liberty, now suffering confinement  in Dorchester Gaol for  advocating truth and reason, beg you to accept both our condolence and congratulations: to Mrs Carlile for doing what every honest and virtuous considers to be he duty, namely, to obey the voice of her husband, according with what every married women  promises  in her  marriage ceremony, we offer our thanks for her good example… 

It is the wish of the undersigned females, by subscribing their mites together,  as far as their situation in a land of oppression and taxation will permit, first to shew a token of humanity and respect towards you; and in the second place, to convince our enemies that we approve of your conduct, and glory in your spirit, we are not ashamed to come forward and prove to the people of England that there are yet women  possessed of common sense  of reason. We abhor with detestation and    protest  that is injustice to persecute, imprison and rob under pretence of fine,  any person for publishing his or her principles on any subject. We believe that free discussion on all subjects, both political and religious, is the right of every creature living; and every effort to destroy free discussion is oppressive and tyrannical.

The small trifle of £2 2s enclosed, we wish you to accept it as token of our regard to you for your past conduct; and also with our sincere wishes that Mrs Carlile may be brought through her approaching natural pain and sorrow with safety; and that you may rise triumphant  over all your enemies, is the sincere wish of your Friends, signed on behalf of subscribers, Mary Ann Walker 9 Back-Piccadily Manchester

PS The Female  Committee of Manchester received from the Friends of Bolton the following articles to forward to Mrs Carlile.The Republican,

The items included frocks and silk.  Mary Walker was the leading light in this Manchester group and worked as a boot-closer along with her husband, William.

Jane and Mary-Ann Carlile replied to the women on 4th  May:

Noble-minded women

Your comforting address, with the very pleasing presents that accompanied it, have been duly and thankfully received, and have added much to the satisfaction we previously felt in knowing that though imprisoned, we had done nothing to disgrace ourselves as females.

Mrs Carlile felt an expressible delight   at the provision which you, in conjunction with her friends, the Republican Weavers of Bolton, have made for her yet unborn infant and pledges herself that each article of dress shall always have the preference to any she has provided herself, and shall be first worn…

Would you believe that if either  of us walk out  alone, during the hour we are allowed to walk, a man is appointed to watch us and dog us until we are locked up again. We are not only denied the satisfaction of sympathising with or relieving any  poor female in this place, but we are forbidden to speak or give a compassionate look to any of them, and to effect this object we are always, when unlocked, under the watching of a sentinel.

The two women said that  they wished  the prison chaplain would attempt  to convert them:

…as a matter of amusement for everything is a dull, and often painful sameness here. We find nothing to relieve that powerful curiousity which is not unjustly attributed to our sex….Were we to say we like imprisonment we should not speak the truth ; and being incessantly locked up with Mr Carlile, whose affairs and duties often   require a sort of silence that is not most agreable to us, makes us feel it more than we otherewise would.  

Elizabeth Gaunt from Manchester  wrote to Jane on 29th  April 1822. (Elizabeth had been  arrested at  Peterloo and imprisoned for a time.)  In her letter Elizabeth explained that she was :

one of those who witnessed the blood-stained field of Peterloo and suffered eleven days incarceration in one of the Boroughmongers’  Bastiles because I was exposed to the sabres of a ferocious Yeomanry Cavalry, whilst I was performing what then conceived and now conceive to have been my duty; and even after this, I anticipate the day that will free you from the trammels of our tyrants….

I beg your acceptance of this small present enclosed, being the work of my own hands, which I flatter myself will be more acceptable to you than if they were diamonds from a tyrant.

Jane replied to Elizabeth  on 4th  May:

My warmest thanks accept for the very handsome little Pair of Shoes you have been so kind to send me, of your own manufacture, and be assured that they shall be the first on the feet of my daily-expected infant, whose birth shall be announced to tye Female Republicans of Manchester as early as possible, if everything passes off as well as i hope. 

My spirits and constitutional  strength are good, or  I should  have everything to dread  in such a place  as this where humanity  is marketable commodity, and where, what is worse, I am  one of those excluded from the market place at any price.

My very close confinement has greatly augmented the sufferings of pregnancy, by my humane and very Reverend keepers have nothing but inveterate prejudices for my accommodation. Up this moment we are locked in one room and such seems likely to be the case at the momnet of my  labour.

For the small presents of Cotton and Needles, which  accompanied the Shoes, my thanks are offered wherever they came from.

The pleasure which  is derived from such acts of kindness and affection from Females to whom I can only be known by name, is a complete balance  to the mind from the pain of imprisonment… I was neither a politician  nor theologian before my imprisonment, but a sentence for two years has roused feelings in me that I might never have otherwise possessed.  I have been made to feel the neccessity of reforming the abuses of government; as ia am sure  , that under a Representative  System of Government no Woman would have been sent to Prison for Two Years, for publishing an assertion that tyrants ought to be treated as dangerous and destructive beasts of prey. I have been made to think it, as well as to publish it.

Jane gave birth on 4th  June 1822 to a daughter,  whom she named Hypatia after the  Greek philosopher murdered by Christians  in Alexandria in 415AD.  Carlile later wrote “The season was particularly hot and with the addition of a nurse, and a constant  fire, though we had two rooms by this time, made our situation very painful. We had no current of air and the rooms faced the sun.

Jane was released in February 1823 and went to her father’s cottage near Southampton to collect her children.

On 17th  February 1823  the Female Republicans in Manchester wrote  again to Jane on her release:

Much esteemed sister

WE the undersigned Female Republicans of Manchester; in behalf of the whole, congratulate you on the expiration of the vindictive sentrenc eof imprisonment; and your liberation from the Christian  Bastile of Dorchester after  the lapse of 3 years imprisonment to your imprisonment to your brave husband, 2 years to yourself  and 1 year to your sister; and after the blessings of Christianity which have since been bestowed on Rhodes, Boyle, Holmes, Tunbridge, and lastly our brave Mrs Wright, who has made such noble stand against the friends of kingcraft, priestcraft, superstition and delusion. After the comforts which  you have received from the supporters of the humble Jesus; the members of those little  Holy Alliances the Bridge Street Gang and the virtuous Vice Society, with the Bishop of Clogher at its head; after they had entered your house, seized upon everything that was calculated to male life comfortable, and left you and your new-born infant to languish and perish, for what they cared; after your frequent  arrests,    long imprisonment, and the inevitable dispersion of your infant family, to support what is blasphemously called the will of God; where is the person of common sense who will say, that Christianity  is  calculated to make people honest and happy ? …

The Female Republicans of Manchester have viewed, with an irrepressible delight and joyful sensation, the bold and heroic part which you have performed in encountering the band of Christian man-tigers and they hope as soon as you have settled your domestic affairs  and can make it convenient, that you will bestow upon them the greatest honour you have in their power, viz. to visit  Manchester where you will be welcome to the best that their humble situation in life will admit, luxuries are withheld from us for the consumption and gratification of our Tyrants, but if you will oblige us we hope to partake of something better than luxuries, a mental enjoyment, such as is preferred by  every honest  and considerate mind, and at all times agreeable to the virtuous female.

Mary Barlow, Rachel Thomson, Mary Walker, Ellen Bottomley, Martha Naseby, Mary Ann Telford, Nancy Wheeler, Ann Bottomley, Jane Gratrex, Abigail Longbottom, Mary Marshall, Ann Betty, Mary Williams, Mary Ann Rhodes

Jane replied from London on 24th  February

I have read your address with pleasure and with grateful feelings, and respond to all its sentiments with approbation. I have returned to London from my family prison and am not ashamed to look any one of my persecutors in the face; conscious that  the cause of my imprisonment was disreputable to none but those who enforced it.

I thank you for the invitation you have given me to visit Manchester, being fond of travelling, I should cheerfully accept it, did not my little family form an obstacle to my wishes. However, should I find it possible, in the course of the approaching spring or summer, to make arrangements for that purpose, I will not fail to apprise you of my capability and intention. I should feel it a pleasure to put my infant, Hypatia, into the hands of those who were so kind as to anticipate her birth by so many useful presents, and to return them thanks in person.  At no period of my life did I ever fell so much delight as in unfolding the parcel which contained them, and I feel satisfied, that it could only be again equalled by the welcome I should find in stepping into each of your houses.

I think but little of luxuries, and much less of formalities and ceremonies; if I can come into the North of England, I shall not come as a stranger, but with the familiarity of a friend, a neighbour and an every day acquaintance.

A few months after  her release, Jane Carlile set off for the north, accompanied by her four children, Richard, aged 12, Alfred, aged 11, Thomas Paine, aged 2, and baby Hypatia, aged 11 months.. She arrived in Manchester on 1th b9 May. A week later she went on to Leeds, then to Huddersfield and Liverpool.  She had to return to Manchester after two of her children caught measles and ended up spending  a month there.

She also went to Bolton  where  on 2nd  September she was given 4 guineas by local Republicans   “to assist in the herculean undertaking of cleaning the more than augean stables of Priestcraft and Statecraft”  as wrote John Cameron to Carlile,  adding:

I cannot conclude without  expressing satisfaction at the pleasure we enjoyed from the company and conversation of Mrs. Carlile. We are extremely sorry that she could not stop longer with us, for in fact, Sir, she gained the affection and esteem of all parties who had the opportunity of being in her company – and to be plain with you, Sir, I think you have never done Mrs. Carlile that justice which she is intitled to, by her merit, for, from  what we have seen, instead of a passive, she must have been a very active agent.

Jane finished her northern tour in Salford in early September where she met with the Salford Reading Group who  gave her a sovereign  raised from subscriptions which were listed in a letter published in The Republican on 30th  September.  Joseph Lawton wrote  that they had given her the money as “ a small tribute of esteem for your having been as Mr Carlile observed a greater sufferer in your mind than himself for the cause of liberty and free discussion and who still bears with great fortitude the heart rending idea of being so far separated from your husband...”




“An Appeal against Female Suffrage,” June 1889





“An Appeal Against Female Suffrage”  was published in the Nineteenth Century magazine in June 1889. It was apparently  organised by the best-selling novelist Mary Augusta  Ward and   signed primarily by women from the upper classes, a good few with titles. Some 2000 women eventually  signed.

The suffragists responded with their  own appeal in favour  of suffrage in Fortnightly Review which also attracted  2000 supporters.

The Women’s Penny Paper   commented tartly  that the  anti-suffrage appeal was based on the premise that  “man is a superior being” and signed mostly  the “wives of  men eminent for intellectual attainments and high character..if only their bit of the world were a sample of the whole, instread of being an exception to the whole,  their views might possibly be sound…”

Mary Augusta Ward

The editor of the Nineteenth Century supported the  anti-suffrage appeal:

“In furtherance of the Appeal –  which has hithero  only been seen privately by a few persons – the accompanying propsed protest is laid before the readers of the Nineteenth  Century, with the request that the ladies among them as agree with it will be kind enough to sign the opposite page,  and return it, when detached,  to the Editor of this magazine.”

“The difficulty of obtaining a public expression, even of disapproval, about such a question from those who entirely object to mixing themselves  up in the coarsening struggles of party political life, may easily become a public danger. Their silence will be misinterpreted into indifference or consent to designs they most dislike, and may thus help to bring them about.”

“It is submitted that for once, and in order to save the quiet of  Home life  from   total disappearance, they should do violence to thier natural reticence, and signify publicly and unmistakably their condemnation of the scheme now threatened.”

“The deliberate opinion of the women  readers of the Nineteenth Century may certainly be taken as fair sample of the judgement of the educated women of the country,  and would probably receive the sympathy and support of the overwhelming majority of their fellow countrywomen. “



An Appeal against Female Suffrage

We, the undersigned, wish to appeal to the common sense and educated thought of the men and women of England against the proposed extension of the Parliamentary suffrage to women.

1.    While desiring the fullest possible development of the powers, energies, and education of women, we believe that their work for the State, and their responsibilities towards it, must always differ essentially from those of men, and that therefore their share in the working of the State machinery should be different from that assigned to men. Certain large departments of the national life are of necessity worked exclusively by men.  To men belong the struggle of debate and legislation in Parliament; the hard and exhausting labour implied in the administration of the national resources and powers; the conduct of England’s relations towards the external world; the working of the army and navy; all the heavy, laborious, fundamental in industries  of the state, such as those  of mines, metals, railways;  the lead and supervision of English commerce, the management of our vast English finance, the service of that merchant fleet on which our food supply depends.  In all these spheres women’s direct participation is made impossible either by the disabilities of sex, or by strong formations of custom and habit resting ultimately on physical difference, against which it is useless to contend. They are affected, indeed, in some degree, by all these national activities; therefore they ought in some degree to have an influence on them all. This influence they already have, and will have more and more as the education of women advances. But their direct interest in these matters can never equal men, whose whole energy of mind and body is daily and hourly risked by them. Therefore it is not just to give women direct power of deciding questions of Parliamentary policy, of war, of foreign or colonial powers, of commerce and finance equal to that possessed by men. We hold that they already possess an influence on political matters fully proportioned to the possible share of women in the political activities of England.

At the same time we are heartily in sympathy with all the recent efforts which have been made to give women a more important part in those affairs of the community where their interests and those of women are equally concerned; where it is possible for them not only to decide but to help in carrying out; and where, therefore, judgment is weighted by a true responsibility, and where, therefore, judgment is weighted by a true responsibility, and can be guided by experience and the practical information which comes from it. As voters for or members of School Boards, Boards of Guardian, and other important public bodies, women have now opportunities for public usefulness which must promote the growth of character, and at the same time strengthen among them the social sense and habit. All these changes of recent years, together with the great improvement in women’s education which have accompanied them, we cordially welcome. But we believe that the emancipating process has now reached the limits fixed by the physical constitution of women, and by the fundamental difference which must always exist between their main occupations and those of men. The care of the sick and insane; the treatment of the poor; the education of children; in all these matters, and others besides, they have made good their claim to larger and more extended powers. We rejoice in it. But when it comes to questions of foreign or colonial policy, or of grave constitutional change, then we maintain that the necessary and normal experience of women – speaking generally and in the mass – does not and can never provide them with such materials for sound judgement as are open to men.

To sum up; we would give them their full share in the State of social effort and social mechanism; we look for their increasing activity in that higher State which rests on thought, conscience  and moral influence; but we protest against their admission to direct power in that State which does rest on force- the State in its administrative, military, and financial aspects – where the physical capacity, the accumulated experience and inherited training of men ought to prevail without the harassing interference of those who, though they may be partners with men  in debate, can in these matters never be partners with them  in action.

2.    If we turn from the right of women to the suffrage – a right which on the grounds just given we deny – to the effect which the possession of the suffrage may be expected to have on their character and position and on family life, we find ourselves no less in doubt. It is urged that the influence of women in politics would tell upon the side of morality. We believe that  it does so tell  already, and will do with greater force as women by improved education fit themselves to exert it more widely and efficiently. But it may be asked, On what does this moral influence depend ? We believe that it depends largely on qualities which the natural position and functions of women as they are at present tend to develop, and which might be seriously impaired by their admission to the turmoil of active political life. These qualities are, above all, sympathy and disinteredness. Any disposition of things which threatens to lessen the national reserve of such forces as these we hold to be a misfortune. It is notoriously difficult to maintain them in the presence of party necessities and in the heat of party struggle. Were women admitted to this struggle, their natural eagerness and quickness of temper make them hotter partisans than men. As their political relations stand at present, they tend to check in them the disposition to partisanship, and to strengthen in them the qualities of  sympathy and disinteredness. We believe that their admission to the suffrage  would precisely reverse this condition of things,  and that the whole nation would suffer in consequence. For whatever may be the duty and privilege of the parliamentary vote for men, we hold that citizenship is not dependent on or identical with the possession of suffrage. Citizenship lies in the participation of each individual in effort for the good of the community. And we believe that  women will be more valuable citizens, will contribute more precious elements to the national life without the vote than with it. The quickness to feel, the willingness to lay aside prudential considerations in a right cause, which are amongst the peculiar excellencies of women, are in their  right place when they are used to influence the more highly trained and developed judgement of men. But if this quickness of feeling could be immediately and directly translated into public action, in matters of vast and complicated political import, the risks of politics would be enormously, and what is now a national blessing might easily become a national calamity. On the one hand, then, we believe that to admit women into the ordinary  machinery of political life would inflame the partisanship and increase the evils, already so conspicuous, of that life, would tend to blunt the special moral qualities of women, and so to lessen the national reserves of moral force; and, on the other hand, we dread the political and practical effects which, in our belief, would  follow on such transformation as is proposed,  of an influence which is now beneficent largely because it is indirect  and gradual.

3.    Proposals for the extension of the suffrage to women are beset with grave practical difficulties. If votes be given to unmarried women on the same terms as men, large numbers of women leading immoral lives will be enfranchised on the one hand, while married women, who, as a rule, have passed through more of the practical experiences of life than the unmarried, will be excluded. To remedy part of this difficulty it is proposed by a large section of those who advocate the extension of the suffrage to women, to admit married women with the requisite property qualifications. This proposal – an obviously just one if the suffrage is to be extended to women at all – introduces changes in family life, and in the English conception of the household, of enormous importance, which have never been adequately considered. We are practically invited to embark upon them  because a few women of property possessing already all the influence which belongs to property, and a full share of that public protection  and safety which is the fruit of taxation, feel themselves aggrieved by the denial of the parliamentary vote. The grievance put forward seems to us wholly disproportionate to the claim based upon it.

4.    A survey of the manner in which this proposal has won its way into practical politics leads us to think that it is by no means ripe for legislative solution. A social change of momentous gravity has been proposed;  the mass of those immediately concerned in it are notoriously indifferent; there has been no serious and general demand for it; as is always the case if a grievance is real and reform necessary; the amount  of information collected  is quite inadequate to the importance of the issue; and the public has gone through no sufficient discipline of discussion. Meanwhile pledges to support female suffrage have been hastily given in the hopes of strengthening existing political parties by the female vote. No doubt there are many conscientious supporters of female suffrage amongst members of Parliament; but it is hard to deny that the present prominence of the question is due to party considerations of a temporary nature. It is, we submit, altogether unworthy of the intrinsic gravity of the question that it should be determined by reference to the passing needs of party organisation. Meanwhile we remember that great electoral changes have been carried out during recent years. Masses of new electors have been added to the constituency. These new elements have still to be assimilated; these new electors still have to be trained to take their part in the national work; and while such changes are still fresh, and their issues uncertain, we protest against any further alteration in our main political machinery, especially when it is an alteration which involves a new principle of extraordinary range and significance, closely connected with the complicated problems of sex and family life.

5.    It is often urged that certain injustices of the law towards women would be easily and quickly remedied were the political power of the vote conceded to them; and that there are matters, especially among working women, which are now neglected, but which the suffrage would enable them to press on public attention. We reply that during the past half century all the principal injustices of the law towards women  have been amended by means  of the existing constitutional machinery;  and with regard to those that remain, we see no sign of any unwillingness on the part of Parliament to deal with them. On the contrary, we remark a growing sensitiveness to the claims of women, and the rise of a new spirit of  justice and sympathy among men, answering to those advances made by women in education, and the best kind of social influence, which we have already noticed and welcomed. With regard to the business  or trade interests of women – here, again, we think it safer and wiser to trust to organisation and self-help on their own part, and to the growth of a better public opinion among the men workers, than to the exercise of a political right  which may easily bring women into direct and hasty conflict with men.

In conclusion: nothing can be further from our minds than to seek to depreciate the position or the importance of women. It is because we are keenly alive to the enormous value of their special contribution to the community, that we oppose what seems to us likely to endanger that contribution. We are convinced that the pursuit of a mere outward equality with men is for women not only vain but demoralising. It leads to a total misconception of woman’s true dignity and special mission. It tends to personal struggle  and rivalry, where only the effort of both the great divisions of the human family should be to contribute the characteristic labour and the best gifts of each to the common stock.

Dowager Lady Stanley of Alderley. Dover Street

Lady Frederick Cavendish, Carlton House Terrace

Lady Wimborne, Arlington Street

Lady Randolph Churchill, Connaught Place

Lady Fanny  Marjoribanks, Piccadilly

The Duchess of St Albans, Bestwood, Arnold, Notts

Lady Alwyne Compton, The Palace, Ely

Lady Louisa Egerton,  Piccadilly

Mrs Goschen, Portland Place

Viscountess Halifax, Hickleton, Doncaster

Lady Revelstoke, Charles Street,  Berkeley Square

Hon. Mrs. Meynell Ingram, Temple Newsam

Mrs. Knox- Little, The College,  Worcester

And many others





Autumn 2020: Online course on Radical Women: from Mary Wollstonecraft to Votes for Women

Mary Wollstonecraft

This 10  week online  course will be an introduction to the history of radical women in Britain.  I usually teach this course at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford but until the public health situation improves it will be held online,  using Google Meet/

I will be teaching the course on Monday evenings from 5th October at 7pm. I will speak about the topic for about 50  minutes, followed by  a discussion  amongst course members on the issues. No previous knowledge is neccessary for this  course.

The fee is £60 which is  payable in advance.

It will include:

Mary Wollstonecraft and the radical  politics of the 1790s, Mary’s  book Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), written against the backdrop of the French Revolution,  is a key text in the story of radical women.

Women’s  particpation in popular disturbances  in 1812 . Against a background of economic depression, the north of England saw an outbreak of organised attacks on mills and food rioting.

Female Reform Societies  and the Peterloo massacre of 1819. In  the summer of 1819  women formed themselves into Female Reform Socities calling for the reform  of Parliament  and issued addresses to the public.  Women were present on the field of Peterloo in Manchester on 16th August 1819 and were among the dead and injured

Women  Republicans in the 1820s.  Women  were active in the Republican movement  which was inspired by the political writings of Richard Carlile who was jailed for five years along with his wife and sister.

Women and  Owenite Socialism.  Women  were active as particpants  and lecturers in the socialist movement of the 1830s whose key theorist was Robert Owen.  A number of women such as Eliza Martin were also active in the  cause of atheisem.

Women and the Chartist movement, 1838-1848.  Chartism was a mass movement which called for the wholesale reform of the political  system  in favour of working people.  Women  were active in  dozens of Female Chartist   Societies.

Women  and trade unionism.  In this section we look at the activities of the Women’s  Trade Union League and the  Manchester Women’s  Trades Union Council.

Votes for Women,  1866-1928. In the final  part of the course we will look at the long campaign for Votes for Women  which began  with a petiton to parliament in 1866 and lasted for sixty years. It will include both consitutional suffragists in the National Society for Women’s  Suffrage  and militant  suffragettes in the Women’s  Social and Political Union.

Some comments  from previous course members

I attended this course on 19th Radical women and found it both informative and enjoyable. An excellent course for anyone wanting more information on womens/social history at this time. Jane

Michael’s online course on the history of working class women in the 20th century was one of my early lockdown highlights. The sessions themselves were fun and fascinating with plenty of time for discussion and responses. In between sessions Michael sent out lots of supplementary resources so that we could read, watch and listen in advance, and follow up on the women and events which most interested us. I loved learning about women I’d vaguely heard of and others who were completely new to me – it’s largely a forgotten history which I’m so pleased I now know a bit about. Shereen

I found the course very interesting and enjoyable. It sheds light on the role played by radical women in the 19th century, with particular focus on the North of England, and the challenges they faced. The sessions provided a wealth of information and back-up documents which served as pointers for further research, and identified wider patterns. There was also time for discussion. Myriam


About me

I have been researching and writing about  the history of radical   women for many years. My  published work includes:   Up Then Brave Women : Manchester’s Radical  Women 1819-1918 (2012) and “For the sake of the women who are to come after”:  Manchester’s Radical Women 1915 to 1945 (2019).  You can find more information on these books  here

This is a short item I filmed some years  for the BBC televison programme The Culture Show

For more information and/or  to book  a place  on the course please email me :

“Rise up women”…Some suggestions on documentaries and drama by or about women to watch during Lockdown

These are some suggestions on things  to watch whilst at home…


The Ascent of Woman

A four part documentary series presented by Amanda Foreman which covers role of women in society from 10,000 Bc to present day

A heartbreaking song  written by Frank Higgins and based on real testimony  given to a Parliamentary Commission   in 1842 by   Patience, a young woman, who worked down  a coal mine.


Shoulder to Shoulder,  BBC 1974 drama  series about the WSPU fight  for Votes for Women. Most episodes are  not available on the net anymore,  but this is a snippet about Annie Kenney  from episode 2.  Annie is played by Georgia  Brown who, along with Midge Mackenzie and Verity Lambert,  created the series. It has  never been issued by the BBC as a DVD.
Fascinating collection of television  and radio clips about the suffragette movement.
A   documentary made by Jill Craigie about  the rebuilding  of Plymouth  after WW2. Jill was a documentary filmaker and sceen writer.
A documentary made  by Jill Craigie in support of equal pay for women and narrated by the actress  Wendy Hiller.

A Girl Comes To London. (1956)

Robert Reid reports on the growing trend of young girls who leave their industrial cities or rural villages behind in search of a better life in London.


The Liver Birds live on Beat Club,  25/9/65

Largely forgotten all women beat group (from Liverpool,  of course).

Written by Nell Dunn and directed by Ken Loach. this was a controversial and mould-breaking TV drama, watched by an audience of nearly 10 million on first transmission. A record 400 viewers complained to the BBC, mostly about the programme’s bad language and depiction of sexual promiscuity – and its results.
Actresses Sarah Miles and Eleanor Bron are among a wide range of women offering views on marriage, relationships and the family.
Directed by Mary Ridge  one of a number of women directors working in British television in the 1960s, the play features Hannah Gordon  as Sally, whose disappointment about married life following her marriage to Chris is told very much from her point of view, with several still image sequences at key points illustrating her growing sense of disillusionment.While the structure makes the play seem rather fragmented, especially early on, the feminist theme – how independent women are forced to give up their freedom after marriage – comes across clearly, not only in Sally’s fantasies of subservience but in her long, rousing speech at the end of the play, in which she refutes the suggestion that young people have it easy today. “It’s not so easy when you’ve been conditioned to act out a role”, she argues in a monologue which occupies the final four minutes, recorded in two long takes
This programme is from a series looking at the lives of the inhabitants of Gibson Square in Islington, north London. Some of the families it follows have working mothers and it explores how they cope with combining their housewifely duties with the demands of employment. We meet an actress, an office cleaner and a mother who chooses to stay at home to look after the children and hear from the narrator about how it is beginning to ‘look like a woman’s world’.

Man Alive: Consenting Adults: The Women  (1967)

A documentary in which lesbians openly discuss their sexuality and lives, something very rare at this time.


Man ALive:  Marriage Under  Stress, 1: Children Male A Difference (1967)

A documentary in which young couples talk openly about the difference children have made to their marriages


Man Alive: Marriage Under  Stress: 2:  Breaking Point (1967)

Desmond Wilcox interviews couples whose marriages have gone wrong for various reasons.
Desmond Wilcox interviews various men and women who are coping with divorce in 1960s Britain.

One Pair of Eyes: Who Are The Cockneys Now? (1968)

Actress Georgia Brown returns to where she grew up in the  Jewish East End  which was changing as new migrants from  East  Pakistan were settling into the same area.


One Pair of Eyes: Margaret Drabble (1968)

Margaret Drabble narrates this documentary about her own life. The cameras follow her as she revisits the places where she grew up and was educated and ponders the events that have led to her present situation. The conflicts and the choices that women, in particular, must make between the freedom to create and the practical need to care for a family are at the centre of this self-portrait of the life of a young author.


Second Wave Feminism: BBC archive.

A  collection of clips on the emergence of  the Women’s Liberation movemnet  in late 60s/early 70s.


Miss World : Beauty Queens and Bedlam. (2020)

A  documentary about the feminist protest at Miss World in  November 1970.


Witness: November  1970

A vivid  account by Sally Alexander of her role in the Miss World protest. She  is now a Professor of History.


A Woman’s Place  (1971)

A documentary made by Sue Crockford  on the first Women’s Liberation conference in 1970 and  the first Women’s Liberation march on 8th March 1971.


Women’s Liberation, 1971

A television piece on  the progress of Women’s  Liberation with a number of interviews, including May Hobbs who led a campaign to unionise  cleaners with the support of a number of Women’s Liberation groups.


Take Three Girls (1969-1971)

A drama series about three single girls sharing a London flat between the end of the ‘swinging’ sixties and the start of the ‘glam’ seventies. Initially  they  were cello-player Victoria Edgecombe (Liza Goddard), failed actress Kate (Susan Jameson) and Cockney art student Avril (Angela Down).

Each week the story concentrated on the ups and downs of one girl in particular. These are the four episodes available on Youtube at present.

Series 1, episode 1 “Stop Acting” about Kate , written by Hugo Charteris

series 1, episode 2 ” Devon Violets”, about Avril, written by Julia Jones.

series 1 episode 10 “Keep Hoping” about Kate , written by Hugo Charteris

series 2, episode 2 “The Private Sector ” about Lulie, written by Carey Harrison.


Take Three Women (1982)

A four-episode sequel, Take Three Women, broadcast  in 1982, shows the original three characters later in their lives. Victoria is a widow with a young daughter, and Avril an art gallery owner, while Kate is sharing her life with her son and his teacher.

Kate (Susan Jameson) written by Huy Meredith

Avril (Angela Down) , written by Julia Jones

Victoria (Liza Goddard) written by Charlotte Bingham and terence Brady,

Victoria, Kate and Avril, written Lee Langley


Man Alive: Women in Prison (1972)

The first documentary about women  in prison. It was produced by Jenny Barraclough  and won a BAFTA Award for best documentary.


Play for Today:  Leeds United (1974)

A drama written by Colin Welland which is  based very closely on the events  in Leeds  in 1970 when thousands of low paid women  textile workers went on strike to to the dismay of the bosses…and  their union….


Justice  (1971 to 1974)

A drama series in which Margaret Lockwood plays a barrister, then still quite rare.   Dated in places and in some attitudes,   but many strong story lines. and a fantastic performance by Margaret.


Play  for Today: A Sudden Wrench by Paula Milne (1982)

Paula Milne’s first single drama came after ten years writing for popular series such as Crossroads (ITV, 1964-88), Angels (BBC, 1975-83), Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-) and Juliet Bravo (BBC, 1980-85). ‘A Sudden Wrench’ has a double meaning, referring to the effort bored housewife Christine makes to get herself out of the domestic rut in which she finds herself, and also to the new career – plumbing – on which she embarks, at the age of 43, in an attempt to reinvigorate her life. Paula went on to write many other plays and tv series.