International Women’s Day – I’d nominate Lady Henry Somerset as a forgotten heroine of social reform

As we celebrate the achievements of women around the world, on International Women’s Day, we should not forget the pioneers of women’s rights in Victorian times. We all remember the suffragettes but there were thousands more women who actively campaigned for women’s suffrage without resorting to physical violence or drastic measures.

Lady Henry Somerset was one such person. 

Her social status and position as President of the British Women’s Temperance Association gave her a platform to promote all women’s issues. She used it very effectively. Her view was that women were very skilled at running the home, in many cases managing the family finances and caring for others, and these were skills which the country as a whole needed. She proved that women could manage big organisations, run newspapers and create a truly international movement – the World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Her oratory was reknown throughout Britain and America, where she addressed crowds of several thousands.

She had a big following amongst the working class women. She was far more than a “Lady Bountiful”. She really believed in making a difference and appreciated that it was often the small things which mattered most to people. She also understood it was better to help people to help themselves than just to hand out money.

About rosblack

I am a freelance writer & author of 4 social history books, featuring female social reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century. In a previous life I managed a housing charity. I also give talks.
This entry was posted in A Talent for Humanity, Feminism, Lady Henry, Lady Henry Somerset, Temperance, Victorian Do-Gooders, World Woman's Christian Temperance Union and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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