Millicent Fawcett

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Millicent Fawcett was a British reformer, feminist, and intellectual who was known for leading the fight for women’s right to vote for 50 years. She was known for being fair and peaceful, and she ran the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, which was the largest group fighting for women’s right to vote (NUWSS). People know her for fighting for the rights of women, but she has also done a lot to help education and worker welfare. Only because she never gave up and used legal means did she help women in Britain get the right to vote. During her long fight for women’s right to vote, she wrote a lot and gave a lot of speeches, which show how good a writer and speaker she was.

Early years and childhood

She was born on June 11, 1847, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England, to parents from the upper-middle class, Newson Garret and Louise Dunnell.

Her father owned a ship and was a left-wing politician. He had ten kids, and Millicent was the seventh.
Millicent and her sister went to a private boarding school in Blackheath, London, when they were 12 years old. This is where she first became interested in books and learning.

When Millicent was twelve, her sister Elizabeth moved to London to study to become a doctor. Millicent went to see her often. These trips made her want to learn more about women’s rights.
At age 19, her sister took her to a speech by John Stuart Mill about women’s rights. Millicent was very moved by the speech.

Millicent Fawcett’s Career

At age 19, she became secretary of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage, and J. S. Mill put her in touch with many other women’s rights activists.

She joined the London Suffrage Committee in 1868 and spoke at the first public meeting in London for women’s right to vote in 1869. Henry Fawcett, a liberal member of Parliament and her husband, helped her write and give this speech.

Her excellent speaking skills helped her in politics, school, and issues about women.
Millicent Fawcett worked hard in 1871 to start the Newnham College in Cambridge.
She was also one of the people who started Newnham Hall and was on its Council.

After her husband died in 1884, she took a break from public life and didn’t go back to work until 1885.
In 1890, she became President of the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), the most well-known group fighting for women’s right to vote. She stayed in that position until 1919.

Under her strong leadership, the NUWSS worked on things like stopping the trade in slaves and helping women and children who were hurt by the Boer War.

Things didn’t get better until after the First World War. Before that, there was a lot of noise in the social and political worlds. The Qualification of Women Act of 1918 gave women over 30 the right to vote because so many of them worked hard to help the war effort.

A year after the first woman got the right to vote, she stopped working for women’s rights and spent a lot of time writing books.
In 1928, ten years later, women finally reached the same voting age as men.

She led a moderate campaign for women’s suffrage in the UK and kept her distance from the Pankhursts and the Women’s Social and Political Union, who were more militant and used violence (WSPU).
In July 1901, she went to South Africa to look into the horrible conditions in concentration camps where the families of Boer soldiers were being held.

She helped a lot of different causes, not just the women’s right to vote movement. She worked to stop child abuse, end cruelty to children in the family, end the “white slave trade,” stop children from getting married too young and get India to legalize prostitution.

She also worked to get rid of the Contagious Diseases Acts, which had different rules for men and women.
She wrote “Political Economy for Beginners,” which was published in 1870 and went through 10 editions over 41 years. She also wrote “Janet Doncaster,” a novel, in 1875. In 1920, she wrote “The Women’s Victory—and After,” which was about the fight for women to get the right to vote, and “What I Remember” (1924).

Awards & Achievements

In 1905, St. Andrew’s University gave Millicent Fawcett an Honorary LLD.
After getting the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1924, she became known as Dame Millicent Fawcett.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s name is on the Fawcett Library, which is known for its collections on feminism and the suffrage movement, especially in Great Britain.

The Fawcett Society and Millicent Fawcett Hall, which were built in Westminster in 1929 as a place to talk about women’s issues, honor her. It is now run by the Westminster School’s theater department as a 150-seat studio theater.

Personal History and Legacies

Henry Fawcett, an economics professor at Cambridge University and a radical politician, married Millicent in 1967.
Philippa Fawcett, the couple’s daughter, later taught at the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution.

Henry Fawcett, her husband, died in 1884. After he died, she spent the rest of her life working for the right of women to vote.
On August 5, 1929, she died in London.

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