Victorian Women’s political publishing

Between the 1850s and the 1930s in Britain, women political writers and journalists saw a dramatic development in the opportunities available to them. As Victorian censorship laws changed in the mid century and as divorce and property laws became ever more contested and unjustifiable, political writing that linked women’s civil rights with their political rights abounded. The first titles for women that were not written by men or that were more than merely a lady’s column in a national newspaper emerged. The extent to which this writing was truly egalitarian and aimed at women of all social classes,

Lydia Becker

not just ‘ladies’ was very limited. The suffrage movement did not for the most part embrace a particularly classless ethos and the question of votes for the working classes divided the movement. As the 19th Century came to an end, however, publications such as Votes For Women, edited by Emmeline and Frederick Pethwick Lawrence, were far more explicit in their ideological content and their arguments, whereas earlier publications such as Barbara Bodichon’s English Woman’s Journal were forced to skirt around the topic of suffrage altogether.

For more on the suffrage movement and its journals watch the video below:


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