Liberals and women

When the Victorian women's movement emerged in the 1850s and 1860s it attracted women from Liberal families such as Barbara Leigh Smith who had been associated with Liberal crusades for temperance, anti-slavery and the repeal of the Corn Laws. Feminist achievements later in the century owed much to Liberals, notably Josephine Butler's campaign to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts, Eva MacLaren's work for the Women's Local Government Society, and Millicent Fawcett's leadership of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies.

Women’s Liberal Federation

The Women's Liberal Federation was formed between 1886 and 1887 under the presidency of Gladstone's daughter, Catherine and by the turn of the century, the organisation had around 60,000 members and almost 500 local branches.

Journal articles

Women in politics

Review of J. Gottlieb and R. Toye (eds.), The Aftermath of Suffrage: Women, Gender, and Politics in Britain, 1918–1945 (Macmillan, 2013)

Votes for Women (2)

Review of Diane Atkinson, Rise Up Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes (Bloomsbury, 2018); Jane Robinson, Hearts and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote (Doubleday, 2018)

Votes for Women (1)

Conference fringe meeting, 9 March 2018, with Krista Cowman and Jo Swinson MP; chair: Elizabeth Jewkes

Margot in wartime

Review of Anne de Courcy, Margot at War: Love and Betrayal in Downing Street, 1912–1916 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2015)

‘Women who wish for political enfranchisement should say so’

A commemoration the 1866 petition for women’s suffrage, written by the Liberals Helen Taylor and Barbara Bodichon.

Madam Mayor

The first wave of Liberal women in local government leadership 1918–1939.

Women and the Liberal Democrats

Review of Elizabeth Evans, Gender and the Liberal Democrats – Representing Women? (Manchester University Press, 2011).

‘Not so much a question of greatness’

Review of Sheila Gooddie, Mary Gladstone: A Gentle Rebel (John Wiley & Sons, 2003).

Women and the Liberal Democrats

Review of Dr Elizabeth Evans, Gender and the Liberal Democrats – Representing Women? (Manchester University Press, 2011)

Mothers of Liberty

How modern Liberalism was made by women. Report of a Liberal Democrat History Group meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference, 22 September 2012, on the role of women in Liberalism and the Liberal Party. Speakers: Helen McCabe, Jane Bonham-Carter, Jo Swinson; Chair Lynn Featherstone

‘The only being who elects without voting, governs without law’

Review of K. D. Reynolds, Aristrocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain (Oxford University Press, 1998).

Report: The struggle for women’s rights

Report of LDHG meeting of March 1998, with Shirley Williams and Johanna Alberti.

Liberal heroines

Report of Liberal Democrat History Group meeting of March 2003, with Baroness Liz Barker and Diana Wallis MEP

‘Women’s rights and women’s duties’

Review of Ursula Masson, Women’s Rights and Women’s Duties: The Aberdare Women’s Liberal Association, 1891-1910 (South Wales Record Society, 2005).

The Liberal Party and womens suffrage, 1866-1918

Analysis of the relationship between the Liberal Party and the campaigns for womens suffrage.

The yellow glass ceiling: the mystery of the disappearing Liberal women MPs

Only six women ever sat as Liberal MPs, and most only for very short periods. This article examines why.

Selecting women candidates: a critical evaluation

The Liberal Democrat record in selecting and supporting women candidates.

From WLF to WLD: Liberal womens grassroots campaigning

The evolution of the Womens Liberal Federation into Women Liberal Democrats.

The role of women in merger

A personal view of women in Alliance politics.

Welsh women Liberals

It was not just Lloyd George’s daughters …


Mothers of liberty: how modern liberalism was made by women

Thanks to their exclusion from the right to vote and to stand for Parliament before 1918, the role of women in Liberal history is often overlooked. Yet many women played crucial roles, from the earliest days of Liberal history, as organisers, campaigners and theorists. This meeting analysed and celebrated the importance of women to the […]

The struggle for women’s rights

What did the Party and its predecessors achieve for women’s rights, from the suffragettes onwards?