The Vote Before The Vote - Leeds women and the 19th century march towards the vote


Isabella Ford was born on 23 May 1855 at St John’s Hill, Springfield Mount in Leeds; The Mount, an NHS Mental Health facility occupies the site today.

She was the youngest child of eight (two boys and six girls) of Robert Lawson Ford, a solicitor and gentleman-farmer, and Hannah Pease.

The family were Quakers and, through her mother, Isabella was connected to all the great campaigning Quaker families of the 19th century.

Her father had private means but trained and practised as a solicitor in Leeds. His eldest son, John Rawlinson Ford, joined him and the firm still exists today in Leeds as Ford & Warren

The family moved to Adel Grange, designed by Alfred Waterhouse (a fellow Quaker) in 1864. The house is now a residential home for the elderly.

The daughters were educated at home by governesses and were all fluent in French and German and played musical instruments to a professional standard.

Robert and Hannah were engaged in all the liberal causes of the age. In the 1850s they funded a night school for mill girls in the East End of Leeds founded by a shoemaker; Hannah and her younger daughters all taught in the school.

Hannah was a founding member of the Leeds Ladies’ Educational Association, promoting higher education for middle-class girls. She served on their committee to organise lectures and examinations, and arranged lectures on health from Catherine Buckton. In 1871, Hannah was a founding member of the Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society.

On her 12th birthday Isabella made a vow to dedicate her life “to the improving of the state of the world.”

The Mount Hotel on the corner of Springfield Mount and Clarendon Road

Springfield Mount

From 1850 to 1865, this was St John’s Hill, the home of Robert and Hannah Ford, and the birthplace of their youngest daughter, Isabella Ormston on 23 May 1855.

At that time the house had large gardens and adjoining fields, two of which were rented by Robert to graze his children’s ponies.

The Mount Hotel was taken over by the NHS and used as a Nurses’ Home before being demolished and replaced by an NHS Community Health Trust facility.

“If you were a Gurney, a Fry, a Wedgwood, a Bright…it was not such a very great misfortune to be born a woman …you would be allowed and expected to be educated and intelligent, and you would be considered an equal in family life, and might, if you chose, take up occupations and interests of your own…we get charming glimpses of the young men and women of these [Quaker and Unitarian] families talking, and talking earnestly, together about the subjects which youth enjoys …we see them reading German literature together and sitting at the feet of Carlyle, attending scientific congresses and enjoying a companionship and an intellectual exchange which has a distinctly modern flavour”

Ray Strachey, The Cause [1929] (Virago, 1978)

“When did I begin to take an interest in working girls? I don’t know. Some people are born that way. My father and a shoemaker named Greenwood…began more than sixty years ago the first night school in England. That was in Spitalfields, down the Bank [in Leeds] and it was for the benefit of mill girls … So you see, I am amongst those who were born that way.”

'Some Eminent Trade Unionists: Isabella Ford’, Leeds Weekly Citizen, 12 June 1914

FROM 1865 TO 1922

It is a large property in seven acres of grounds with landscaped gardens and lawns down to an ornamental pond – almost a lake – with rustic walks laid out through an orchard, herbaceous border and rose gardens.

The house has a library, drawing room, dining room, eleven bedrooms and all the most modern conveniences including spacious quarters for the six live-in servants. Outside there is stabling and cottages for the families of the coachman, gardener and under-gardener. Later, when Emily Ford began to paint seriously, a studio was built for her.

Robert Ford also purchased Beck Farm, with a tenant famer. With 17 acres of land, it serves as a home farm to the Grange, ensuring fresh produce at all times of the year.

Adel Grange

Isabella Ford as a Young Woman

Carte de Visite

Isabella Ford carte de visite

Isabella Ford
Picture from the Factory Times

Isabella Ford from Factory Times


This brief chronology tries to reflect Isabella Ford’s main preoccupations of socialism, suffrage and pacificism.

1883 Isabella and her sister, Bessie, are early members of The Fabian Society founded by their cousin, Edward Pease
1885 Isabella helps to form a Machinists’ Society (early Trades Union) for tailoresses in Leeds.
She and her sisters, Bessie and Emily are invited to join the Leeds Socialist League by Tom Maguire and Alf Mattison
1886 Isabella sets up a Workwomen’s Society for Tailoresses and textile workers in Leeds.
After her mother’s death, the Ford sisters inherit Adel Grange.
1887 Isabella is approached by Tom Maguire & Alf Mattison to work more closely with the Leeds Socialist League, assisting in the mediation of industrial disputes such as the tramwaymen dispute.
1888 During the female weavers’ strike at Wilson’s Mill, Isabella persuaded to speak in public for the first time. She also donated £50 per week to the strike fund. This was the start of her lifelong friendship with Ben Turner of the General Union of Textile Workers.
1889 23 January Isabella addresses the meeting which forms the Leeds’ Women’s Liberal Association. Her speech was published in Women’s Gazette on 2 February.
1889 April Isabella assists in establishing the first branch of the Co-operative Women’s Guild in Leeds
1889 July Leeds Mercury publish a series of articles by Isabella Ford on the work & wages of textile workerstd>
1889 16 October There is a large public meeting to set up a Leeds Tailoresses’ Union. The audience is addressed by Isabella and Tom Maguire and Isabella is elected President of the Union, a post she holds until 1899.
1889 19 October start of the Tailoresses’ Strike at Arthur & Co.
1890 17 January: Isabella Ford and sisters re-form the Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society. They work to re-connect the Society with the local working women.
Isabella is made honorary life member of the Leeds Trades Council.
She publishes her first novel, Miss Blake of Monkshalton - “Full of social realism”
1890-1891 Isabella is involved in the Manningham Mills dispute, Bradford
1891 Isabella joins the Women’s Emancipation Union. It encourages women to stand for election to local administrative bodies.
1893 Isabella becomes a founder member of the Independent Labour Party when it is formed in Bradford.
1895 Isabella is elected as the first woman Parish Councillor for Adel-cum-Eccup
She is appointed as a delegate to the International Textile Workers’ Congress in Ghent - and then attends every annual Congress until 1914,
Her second novel On the Threshold is published.
1896 Isabella is a delegate to the Congress of the second Socialist International in London where she meets Eleanor Marx.
She is also a delegate from the Tailoresses’ Union to the Trades Union Congress
1897 Isabella is a delegate to the International Textile Workers’ Congress held in Roubaix
1898 Isabella Ford is elected as a member of the executive committee of the Humanitarian League.
She is also elected to the Executive Committee of the Women’s Trade Union League.
The Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society joins the newly created National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. The President, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, is a close friend of the Ford sisters.
1900 The Ford sisters join the Leeds branch of the South Africa Conciliation Committee founded by Alf Mattison to oppose the Boer wars in South Africa. Isabella addresses peace meetings across the West Riding, facing abuse and violence from hostile crowds.
In December, she attends an anti-conscription meeting organised by the Co-operative Women’s Guild.
1901 Isabella’s third novel is published, Mr Elliott
Isabella organises the Yorkshire & Cheshire Women Textile Workers suffrage petition; 33,184 female textile workers in Yorkshire sign.
1902 Isabella travels to London with the delegation to present the petition to Parliament. That evening she speaks at a public meeting organised by Keir Hardie. She publishes an article “Women and the Franchise” in Labour Leader (1 March 1902) about the experience and how the delegates reacted to the lukewarm reception received from Liberal MPs
1903 Isabella is a delegate from the Independent Labour Party to the Annual Conference of the Labour Party Representation Committee. At the Conference, she is elected to the National Administration Council of the Independent Labour Party – a position she holds until 1907.
1904 Independent Labour Party publishes Isabella’s pamphlet Women and Socialism.
The Ford sisters are among the first members of the Leeds Arts Club. Isabella is elected to the management committee. Through the Club, they meet a wide range of writers and thinkers, including George Bernard Shaw, G.K. Chesterton and W.B. Yeats.
Isabella introduces her friend Ethel Annakin to Philip Snowden, Chairman of the Independent Labour Party, at a meeting of the Leeds Fabian Society. Ethel converts Philip to the cause of women’s>
1905 Isabella is a witness at the wedding of Ethel Annakin and Philip Snowden at Otley Registry Office. He is elected MP for Blackburn.
1906 March Christabel Pankhurst stays at Adel Grange when she visits Leeds to address the Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society. Isabella Ford introduces her to Mary Gawthorpe, a new member of the committee.
1906 19 May Isabella Ford and Ethel Snowden are among the Women’s Suffrage delegation, with Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst, to Prime Minister, Henry Campbell-Bannerman. He advises “patience”.
Mrs Pankhurst and her Women’s Social and Political Union embark on their first “militant” campaign. The Daily Mail coins the word “suffragette” intended to belittle them. They adopt the name with pride. Mary Gawthorpe joins the WSPU.
1907 Isabella becomes Vice-President of the Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society. She decides not to seek re-election to the National Administration Council of the Labour Party because of its negative attitude to women’s suffrage.
1908 13 June: The Ford sisters and Ethel Snowden take part in the Grand Procession of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies/b> in London; the march involves over 10,000 women and 42 suffrage organisations.
Isabella is delegate to the Annual Congress of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance in Amsterdam
1909 June Isabella and two NUWSS members take a 2 month long caravan tour of Yorkshire, holding suffrage meetings in towns and villages including Whitby, Kirkby Moorside, Pickering, Helmsley, Harrogate, Thirsk, Keswick and Workington.
1909 August Isabella contracts diphtheria and is unable to work for the rest of the year.
1911 Isabella is elected Chair of the West Riding Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies
1913 June Isabella attends the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance congress in Budapest
1913 July The Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage organised by the NUWSS; women from all over the country marched in separate processions to converge in London for a mass demonstration. Isabella and Bessie with the Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society greeted the marchers in Roundhay Park and organised meetings in the places they passed across the West Riding
1915 Isabella joins the pacifist organisation, the Union of Democratic Control. In April, she resigns from Executive Committee of National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies when it refused to support a delegation to the Women’s Peace Congress at The Hague. Isabella was one of 24 British women delegates prevented from attending by the government who ordered the suspension of all cross-Channel shipping.
1917 Isabella and Bessie form a Leeds branch of the Women’s Peace Crusade
1922 Bessie Ford dies. Isabella and her sister, Emily, sell Adel Grange and move to a cottage, Adel Willows.
1924 Isabella dies at Adel Willows
1930 Emily Ford dies.

“During Miss Anthony’s stay in Leeds she and I were guests of Mrs Hannah Ford at Adel Grange, an old and lovely suburban home, where she met many interesting women, members of the school board, a woman doctor, poor law Guardians and others.”

Adel Grange
Image courtesy of Leeds Libraries and Information Services

“The three daughters of Mrs Ford, though possessed of ample incomes, have each a purpose in life; one [Isabella] had gathered hundreds of factory girls into evening schools, where she taught them to cut and make their garments, as well as to read and write; one was an artist [Emily] and the third a musician [Bessie].”

Extract from E Cady Stanton, The Suffragettes, A Complete History of the Movement in 6 volumes, describing a visit to Adel Grange in October 1883

Isabella Ford blue plaque

Poster Protesting Against Changes in the Factory Acts Restricting Women’s Ability to Work in Mills and Workshops
by Emily Ford

They Have a Cheek

A premium is sometimes put on impropriety of conduct on The women’s part by the foreman. That is, a woman who will submit or respond to his coarse jokes and evil behaviour, receives more work than the woman who feels and shows herself insulted by such conduct, and wishes to preserve her self respect. The pittance earned by some of these women is earned at the expense of more than hard toil. Even when this coarseness is confined to language only, it causes deep suffering to some of the women. They feel that because they are women and therefore regarded as helpless and inferior, they are spoken to as men are not spoken to, and the sting enters their souls.

Isabella Ford Women’s Wages, 1893

Some unions exclude women, and others admit them mostly in order to prevent them from being blacklegs to men. ‘The women must be got in because they undersell us, they injure us’ – it is the old story of the sole object of a woman’s education being to make the women useful to men.

I was thinking of leaving the trade union movement altogether for the antagonism between men and women was widening and I could see no way of interesting women in the movement. Women resent this spirit of antagonism between them and men. Comradeship is the only thing, and who preached it? Who understood it?

Isabella Ford in Why I Joined the Labour Party, 1896

Women Machinists in a Garment Factory

Women Factory Workers

This was categorised as “unskilled” work so the women were paid considerably less than male “skilled” workers. The supervisors were all male. Isabella Ford investigated working conditions for women in Leeds factories and worked to bring them into trade unions such as the Tailoresses Union, the Women’s Trade Union League and the National Federation of Women Workers

Women Workers in Woollen Mills Similar to Those in Leeds

women workers woollen mill

You cannot expect high moral conduct from women over whom a watch is kept by a male overseer to see that they do not visit the lavatories too frequently (they are sometimes fined); such a watch may be necessary but it ought to be kept by women over women. When the male inspector comes round to inspect the sanitary arrangements, the jokes and laughter are horrible. If anything goes wrong, if the sanitary arrangements are neglected and become dangerous, what woman can lay a complaint before the male inspector? If the overlooker’s language is offensive; if he behaves with impropriety, to whom can these poor women complain? A woman inspector would not be so likely to announce her visit beforehand – as has been proved by women on School Boards who pay unexpected visits to schools – and therefore would be able to find out such things.

Who is to help these women if we do not effective measure to relieve some of the burden? It is a horrible thought that so many of the things we use, the stuffs we wear and the food we eat, are made at the expense of many women’s strength and happiness and honour.

Isabella Ford in The Woman’s Herald, 16 March 1894

Women Piece Workers

Sweated trades at home

Women piece workers in the sweated ready-made clothing trade: there were thousands of women working from home in the textile trades in Leeds. Isolated from the factory and workshop, they rarely became involved in trade unions despite subsistence wages. The National Federation of Women Workers was formed in 1906 to campaign for a minimum wage for sweated women workers.

Investigations revealed women sewing button holes and buttons, making matchboxes, envelopes and artificial flowers, paid as little as 1 shilling per thousand, having to pay for their own thread, needles, glue and other equipment.

Certainly trade unions will never flourish amongst women, until on election days the female voice can make itself heard alongside the male trade union voice, and some legal result of trade unionism can come to women, won by their own efforts. It has always been so with men; and men and women are wonderfully alike….that the improved status a vote would give these women would be a large factor in raising their wages, there cannot be the smallest doubt. In the language of the girls themselves about it: “they don’t dare put on a man same as they do on us; not they!” “Of course not” said a man trade unionist, “you see men have a vote.”

From Industrial Women and How to Help Them, 1901

The women’s movement aims to help all classes. If the franchise bills are limited in scope, this is because of tactical reasons. The women’s movement seeks broad social reforms to benefit women and that is why the question is so continually shelved and so intensely disliked by the House of Commons. Not all socialists take the women’s movement seriously but that is short-sighted of them. Whenever a class is taught to accept as privileges what are really its rights, that class becomes demoralised and retards the progress of the whole community. There is no point complaining that women act as blacklegs or undersell male workers; these are the faults to which a class kept in a state of dependence, of political servitude is prone. Women will only become fully responsible when they are able to take part in political life through the exercise of the vote.

Extracted from reports of Isabella Ford’s speech to the meeting in Chelsea organised by Keir Hardie after presenting the textile workers’ petition in February 1902.

Idealised and Sanitised Images of Tailoresses in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century

idealised clothing facrory image Tailoresses in a factory

To work for female factory legislation before demanding full political power for the women workers, so that they themselves may work out their industrial salvation as men have done, is hindering the emancipation of women’s labour more than it is helping it. Perpetually behaving to working women as if they were babies or half-witted persons who do not know what they want would be irritating if it were not ridiculous to those who are acquainted with the working woman as she really is – a wonderful compound of patience, fortitude and stolid endurance.

Isabella Ford in Labour Leader 16 January 1904

I found that it was quite impossible to obtain any help from either of the two political parties…The Liberal Party was the avowed advocate of trade unionism but the Liberal employers were quite as bitter as the Conservatives against any of their female employees who dared to join a trade union…the insolent tone in which the working women who were daring to strike and daring to join unions were referred to showed that sex hatred, or what is even worse, sex contempt on the part of men towards women underlies our social structure.

Isabella Ford, ‘Why Women Should be Socialists’ in Labour Leader, May 1913

Sylvia Pankhurst on Isabella Ford

“During my first year in London I joined the Fulham branch of the I.L.P. and was asked by the branch to debate on Votes for Women with Margaret Bondfield, then an organizer for the Shop Assistants’ Union. Too modest to attempt to uphold our cause against so practised a speaker, I asked Isabella Ford to act in my stead. Miss Bondfield …was eager to score all the points that her youth and prettiness would win for her against the plain, middle-aged woman, with red face and turban hat crushed down upon her straight hair, whose nature yet seemed to me so much kindlier and more profound than that of her younger antagonist…I wished I had fought her myself instead of subjecting our old friend to her shafts.”

Sylvia Pankhurst in The Suffragette Movement, 1931

Isabella Ford addressing an open-air meeting in Leeds, 1915

Isabella Ford Addressing Leeds mtg

Isabella Ford’s friend, Sarah Reddish, a former mill worker, had been one of the main organisers of the Lancashire petition (signed by over 30,000 women textile workers).

She decided to follow this up by launching a second petition among women textile workers in Cheshire and Yorkshire. In the Leeds area, it was Isabella Ford, Agnes Close and Mrs Watson of the General Inion of Textile Workers who knocked on doors or stood outside factory gates collecting signatures.

By March 1902, 33,184 female textile workers in Yorkshire and 4,300 in Cheshire had signed; Agnes Close and Mrs Watson were among the working women who travelled to London to present the petition to a group of MPs.

Isabella went with them and found that although the MPs spoke politely “the usual vagueness of expression employed on such occasions rather opened the women’s eyes…to a better understanding of the size of the battle which lies before them. Their backs began to stiffen a little.”

From Isabella Ford by June Hannam pages 85-86

The National Union of Women Suffrage Societies

NUWSS card

The NUWSS was officially founded on 14 October 1897 to unite the disparate district suffrage societies. The groups who joined recognized the need to present a common front to concentrate their campaigns and to attract new members.

An Executive Committee under the presidency of Millicent Garrett Fawcett concentrated on lobbying Parliament. The individual societies were to build up a nationwide network of local suffrage committees “to press the question of women’s suffrage, irrespective of party, upon every MP and candidate before the next general election. Local party associations should be pressured to select only candidates in favour of women’s suffrage.” (Isabella Ford) Ultimately there would be a branch of the NUWSS in every Parliamentary constituency.

For administrative purposes, the NUWSS divided England into 4 areas. Leeds fell into the North of England. The head office was in Manchester but the Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society under the Ford sisters retained its local autonomy and title. However, the Women’s Franchise League, based in Morley, under Alice Cliff Scatcherd, was absorbed into the Morley Women’s Suffrage Society.

Formation of the NUWSS

Notice of formation of NUWSS 1897 LSE NUWSS Map 1897 LSE

Millicent Garrett Fawcett

Millicent Garrett Fawcett

President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. She was a close friend of Hannah Ford and her daughters.

Millicent was the youngest sister of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the pioneer woman doctor.


13 JUNE 1908 Grand Procession


Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the NUWSS, with Lady Frances Balfour to her left and Ethel Snowden of Harrogate on her right. The elderly lady is Emily Davies, founder of Girton College, Cambridge, with one of her graduates – although women were not granted degrees from Cambridge until 1946

“The Artists’ League are working most beautiful banners for the various societies.

Our Leeds Women’s Suffrage Society has a banner in blue and gold with the Leeds arms and the words “Leeds for Liberty”.

Every banner will be gorgeous and beautiful in colour and design.

It would be a refreshing sight – and a most terrifying one for Mr Asquith – if the women Members of Parliament for Finland could be present. I would like to remind women that the Upper Chamber in Finland has already been abolished, largely I am told, through the action of the women’s vote.”

Letter from Isabella Ford to The Labour Leader (24 April 1908) describing the plans for the NUWSS March in London on 13 June 1908

“Those women’s faces are beautiful – it was quite glorious to see them, they seemed to shine…no, nothing can push it back, women are stirring and rising up everywhere, it’s like a great flood.”

Bessie Ford in a letter describing her reaction to marching in the procession on 13 June 1908

Banner and Commemorative Plate of the International Women's Suffrage Alliance

IWSA banner IWSA plate

IWSA Conference Budapest 1913

Millicent Garrett Fawcett and the Executive Committee of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance at the Congress in Budapest, 1913

Isabella Ford was a delegate.


Bessie Ford

By Alf Mattison

The world is all the poorer by the death of Miss Bessie Ford.

My memory goes back to the time when – over thirty years ago – the late Tom Maguire and myself were deputed to call upon Misses Bessie and Isabella Ford, to invoke their aid in our Socialistic propaganda. That aid was generously forthcoming and from that time their unceasing activities in the Movement are dated.

When the I.L.P. was launched upon the world, Miss Ford and her sister Isabella were of the very first who rallied to the standard. When the Central I.L.P. Club in New Briggate was founded, mainly through the generosity of Miss Bessie, the Movement in Leeds entered upon its palmiest days. What splendid men and women there foregathered.

We mourn her loss.

Isabella Ford

Leeds Weekly Citizen 19th July 1924

In Memoriam
Isabella O Ford
An Appreciation


To the honoured list of our Labour pioneers “who did their deeds and went their way,” who rest from their earthly labours and live in our memories, we have now to add the name of Isabella O. Ford.

To a large number of new Labour adherents, the founders and early apostles of the socialist movement, are known by repute. In the old days the personal contact was closer. They won the affection and loyalty of their disciples by their character and by their unselfish devotion, no less than by the cause.

The cause was great and they were worthy ministers. Hence the Socialist movement of those days was a real fellowship of kindred souls; a band of idealists in the hostile or indifferent world which they were determined to convert and transform.

Miss Ford was one of these steadfast, undaunted workers for a better day.

She had great pity for those who suffered or were wronged. This made her a champion of the poor, it brought her from her comfortable home to help in the seemingly hopeless task of organising the girls in the Leeds Clothing factories of thirty years ago; it brought her into the wider Socialist movement, it led her to join many societies that seek to protect animals against cruelty. Her pity, not restricted to mere physical suffering, covered all those whose lives were stunted because of narrowing connections, it made her a fighter for greater freedom and opportunity for women, and this pity compelled her in her later years to spend her strength in the advocacy of peace – even peace at any price – and the ending of war.

She had pity, but she was no weak sentimentalist. She had great courage and a full share of the shrewdness which members of the Society of Friends are said to possess.

Like Joan of Arc, she believed that with God (or right) on one’s side, failure was impossible. Her mind was clear and direct. She cared but little for tactics, expediency and compromise. Her method was always to advocate exactly what she wanted. However feeble her following, however great the opposing obstacles, she was eager and ready at all times to march onward without turning to the right hand or the left. She was an excellent judge of character and soon detected pretence. Her own straightforwardness made her ill at ease with all those who played to the gallery. At time she may have been a little unjust to them. Her own nature hardly permitted her to know that many people, sincere in the main, have yet a big streak of the humbug in their make up. She worked with them, but her full trust was given to others.

In Miss Ford, Leeds has lost a great personality, the many movements national and international with which she was associated – an untiring apostle. In her mind all these movements were branches of one great tree. She sought to defend and strengthen the weak, to exalt those of low degree, to establish universal brotherhood and equality irrespective of creed, sex or colour, and to make the world a more pleasant place for lower animals too.

Miss Isabella O. Ford passed away at her residence, The Willows, Adel, on Monday last after an illness of several weeks’ duration. Her remains were cremated and afterwards interred at the Friends Burial Ground, Adel, on Thursday. The funeral was attended by a large number of local Labour representatives.

Emily Ford

March 5, 1930 – OBITUARY (extract)

Life Work for Humanitarian and Artistic Interests

Miss Emily Ford 1850-1930

Coming of Quaker stock, she was reared in a home which was a rendezvous for reformers of all sorts and conditions. Some 80 years ago, her mother and father along with a Leeds shoemaker named Greenwood started what was claimed to be the first night school in England, which was for the benefit of local mill girls.

Miss Ford closely identified herself with the non-militant women’s suffrage campaign, and spoke and wrote with unwavering fidelity to the cause. In the early days of the movement as she confessed ,

“It was sufficiently terrifying to a young and highly-strung girl like myself to have to get up and speak, sometimes with a paid bully lounging against the lorry ready to smash your meeting if not your jaw.”

Her interest in the women’s movement inspired her Towards the Dawn, a painting of great vigour, which was presented by Mrs Fawcett to Newnham College, Cambridge in 1890.

The same painting was presented to the University of Leeds by Emily Ford in 1923 and currently hangs in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery.