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The biography of an insurgent woman

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy (1833–1918) was one of the most significant pioneers of the British women's emancipation movement, though her importance is little recognised. Wolstenholme Elmy referred to herself as an ‘initiator’ of movements, and she was at the heart of every campaign Victorian feminists conducted — her most well-known position being that of secretary of the Married Women's Property Committee from 1867–82. A fierce advocate of human rights, as the secretary of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights, Wolstenholme Elmy earned the nickname of the ‘parliamentary watch-dog’ from Members of Parliament anxious to escape her persistent lobbying. Also a feminist theorist, she believed wholeheartedly in the rights of women to freedom of their person, and was the first woman ever to speak from a British stage on the sensitive topic of conjugal rape. Wolstenholme Elmy engaged theoretically with the rights of the disenfranchised to exert force in pursuit of the vote, and Emmeline Pankhurst lauded her as ‘first’ among the infamous suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union. As a lifelong pacifist, however, she resigned from the WSPU Executive in the wake of increasingly violent activity from 1912. A prolific correspondent, journalist, speaker and political critic, Wolstenholme Elmy left significant resources, believing they ‘might be of value’ to historians. This book draws on a great deal of this documentation to produce a portrait that does justice to her achievements as a lifelong ‘Insurgent woman’.

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Sexuality, Irish moral politics and capitalist crisis,1920–40
Michael G. Cronin

independence. The key organisations involved in this campaign, the Irish Vigilance Association and the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, pre-dated independence, but from 1923 began to remobilise after the interruption to their activities created by the years of war. The subsequent years also saw a gradual switch in their main activity away from ‘vigilance’ directed at the activities of individual importers, publishers and newsagents, and towards campaigning and lobbying for action by the new state.5 Other pre-independence organisations also expanded their membership and

in Impure thoughts
Mark O’Brien

to cure this festering sore’.29 Around the same time, the Irish Vigilance Association and the Catholic Truth Society were reactivated. At the centre of this renewed crusade was Revd Richard S. Devane, a passionate promoter of legislation devoted to, as his obituary put it, ‘moral protection’. This legislation included the Censorship of Publications Act (1929), the Public Dance Halls Act (1935) and the Criminal Law Amendment Act (1935), section 17 of which banned the sale of contraceptives.30 Devane was nothing if not prolific in his writings on indecent literature

in The Fourth Estate
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Maureen Wright

. Introduced women’s suffrage amendment to the Conservative Reform Bill, 1866. Subscriber to the Married Women’s Property Committee, 1868. Supporter of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, 1867. Member of the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage, resigned 1868. Lost parliamentary seat 17 November 1868. Florence Fenwick Miller (1854–1935). Elected as a Liberal to the Hackney Division of the London School Board, 1876. Member of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights, 1880s. Joined Women’s Franchise League, 1889. Editor and

in Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement
Laura Schwartz

CD repeal movement in the 1880s. Social purity activists engaged in rescue work, agitated to increase the age of consent, and in some cases, campaigned for the closure of brothels and prosecution of brothel owners. The social purity organisation the National Vigilance Association (NVA) supported the Criminal Law Amendment Act (1885), which allowed for the forcible closure of all brothels and the prosecution of anyone renting accommodation to a

in Infidel feminism
1868–Spring 1874
Maureen Wright

profession, taking up, instead, an offer to become the first professional employee of the women’s movement at a salary of £300 per annum.1 As Secretary of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights (VADPR) her duties were to study and analyse all legislation as it affected individual privileges, and to act as a political lobbyist, with particular attention given to issues relating to women and children. Elizabeth termed her work as being that of a ‘scrutiniser’ of parliamentary practice and it necessitated her removal to London, where she rented a suite

in Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement
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John Privilege

willingness of the Government to bow to ecclesiastical pressure Legacy 199 were evident in the campaign against immoral literature. The Vigilance Committees now had influence beyond their size and began lobbying for the Government to underwrite their campaign of censorship. In February 1922, Father J. S. Sheehan of Blackrock College told a meeting of the Irish Vigilance Association that the Free State should have a central bureau to censor the moral content of films, plays and publications. All films alien to Catholic and Irish ideals should be banned along with films

in Michael Logue and the Catholic Church in Ireland, 1879–1925
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Sarah-Anne Buckley

NSPCC was involved in placing children in schools, but also that monetary gain was at the heart of many inspectors’ and managers’ actions. Chapter 5 looks at ‘hidden’ Ireland, in particular the issue of incest and sexual immorality. In 1908, the Punishment of Incest Act was passed by the British parliament, and incest became a criminal offence in Britain and Ireland. Credit for the passing of the act was given to the NSPCC and the National Vigilance Association (NVA) in Britain, both of which had been campaigning for legislative change from the mid-1880s. In 1922

in The cruelty man
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Maureen Wright

well known. She wrote, for example, for W.T. Stead’s pacifist-themed War Against War and Review of Reviews. She also authored a fortnightly column in Stanton Coit and J.A. Hobson’s Ethical World in the early 1900s and, as shown in Chapter 5, her contributions to the Journal of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights were partly responsible for a schism in that organisation’s ranks during the mid-1880s. As such, these lesser known publications highlight both the varied audiences to which Wolstenholme Elmy addressed her feminist concerns, and her

in Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement
English newspapers, correspondents, travellers
Richard Philips

earlier on – in 1802 by Napoleon – and the French had an equally long history of resistance from which the English were able to learn. Butler, who worked with colleagues in France, Belgium, Switzerland and elsewhere, advised her countrywomen and men to learn languages and acquaint themselves with ‘the efforts and conflicts of reformers of other lands’. 21 The leader of the National Vigilance Association (NVA), a leading English purity campaign group, ‘found that to keep the work on watertight national lines would at best

in Sex, politics and empire