Maureen Wright
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The ‘great mole’ of the women’s movement 1883–90
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This chapter investigates Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy's ‘single-handed’ campaign to secure guardianship rights for mothers to their own children. It also demonstrates her broad challenge to every aspect of patriarchal dominion—even the effects on children of the ‘dead hand’ of their father's will. The way Elizabeth elected to describe the inauguration of the infants' campaign provides a different insight into her character from that ‘loyal unselfishness’ with which she was often credited by her friends. The Guardianship of Infants Act provided a catalyst to rejuvenate the campaign for the parliamentary vote. Elizabeth continued to support the women's suffrage campaign. The Women's Franchise League's (WFrL) campaign strategy sought the removal of the effects of inequality of opportunity for women. It promoted ‘a communion of middle-class and working-class women in their shared labour, both productive and reproductive’.

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