Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience

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Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience
When women demanded the vote in the years before the First World War, they promised to use political rights to remake their country and their world. This is the story of the woman who best fulfilled that pledge. Eleanor Rathbone cut her political teeth in the suffrage movement in Liverpool, spent two decades crafting social reforms for poor women and children, and was for seventeen years the most effective woman member of the House of Commons. Remembered today for her long and successful campaign for children's allowances and for her brilliant contributions to feminist and economic thought, she also played a critical role in imperial policymaking and in the opposition to appeasement. The last decade of her life was given to strenuous efforts to rescue Spanish republicans and Jews threatened by Hitler's rise to power. Susan Pedersen's important book restores Eleanor Rathbone to her rightful place as the most sophisticated feminist thinker and most effective British woman politician of the first half of the twentieth century. Pedersen provides a moving account of the intense family dynamics of Rathbone's childhood, and provides a vivid portrait of the worlds of Oxford idealism, Edwardian feminism, and provincial liberalism in which she first moved. Pedersen also uncovers the crucial importance of Rathbone's lifelong partnership with the Scottish social worker Elizabeth Macadam to her emotional life and many achievements. 'This book triumphantly pulls off something that most biographies do not even attempt let alone achieve: it fuses a deeply empathetic and compellingly readable portrait of one exceptional woman with a tough-minded analytical account of some of the knottiest issues in twentieth-century history.' Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History & English Literature, Cambridge University '... this wonderfully written, magnificently researched biography.' Peter Stansky, Stanford University Susan Pedersen taught British history at Harvard University for many years before joining Columbia University as Professor of History. She is an established author.
Publication Date: 
March 5, 2004