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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’.

Shayne Aaron Legassie

, in the placement of domestic objects, concerns and scenarios onto the space of the pilgrimage road, that The Book of Margery Kempe makes conjugal rape legible as such; in the narrative of life on the road, the reader is offered a discomfiting new perspective on life in the home. To similarly jarring effect, the Book states that before these pilgrimages, Margery realizes that she would rather ‘etyn or drynkyn þe wose, þe mukke in þe chanel’ than have conjugal relations with her husband.30 This statement is made at the very moment of the Book’s most sustained focus

in Roadworks
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Maureen Wright

first woman ever to speak from a public platform on the sensitive topic of conjugal rape, and her pamphlet Women and the Law refashioned the discourse surrounding female bodily autonomy in order to link the issue of ‘consent’ to maternity to ‘consent’ in matters of government.2 She argued that ‘enforced maternity’ should be criminalised and, in addition, linked the potential sacrifice of life risked by every mother in childbirth to that offered to the state by the male citizen-soldier. The ‘special dignity and worthiness’ possessed by mothers was ‘superior to that of

in Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement