The feminism and political radicalism of Helen Taylor in Victorian Britain and Ireland

Smith, Janet (2014) The feminism and political radicalism of Helen Taylor in Victorian Britain and Ireland. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

Janet Smith Final PhD Thesis.pdf - Accepted Version

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Abstract / Description

This thesis offers an examination of the feminism and political radicalism of Helen Taylor. Despite the growth of interest in the political and social campaigns of nineteenth century women, Helen Taylor has remained a marginal figure of historical enquiry, referenced mainly in terms of her relationships with her contemporary English feminists and step-father, John Stuart Mill. Divisions in the women’s suffrage movement have been blamed on her difficult personality with no examination that it was her socialist anti-imperial feminism which was at the heart of the antagonism. Her important contribution to Victorian social and political life has been largely ignored. The study will examine the significance of her work across a wide range of political and social organisations from 1876 onwards; namely the London School Board, the Irish question, land reform, the Social Democratic Federation, her attempt to become the first woman MP and her membership of the Moral Reform Union. This work will illustrate how the political ideology of her feminist mother Harriet Taylor and her step-father John Stuart Mill remained at the heart of Helen’s political throughout her public life. It will further consider how the organisations she joined were gendered and how she attempted to negotiate and contest this. It will ask why she was able to successfully resist the middle class ideal of separate spheres for men and women. Finally it offers further evidence to challenge the claim made by some historians that all British Victorian feminists were imperialist in nature.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Taylor, Helen, 1831-1907; Moral Reform Union; feminists; political radicalists; socialists; 19th century feminism; 19th century political radicalism; 19th century socialism; British women; United Kingdom
Subjects: 300 Social sciences
300 Social sciences > 320 Political science
900 History & geography > 940 History of Europe
Department: School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
School of Social Sciences and Professions
Depositing User: Mary Burslem
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2016 10:24
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2021 16:03


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