Women leaders who emerged during the nineteenth century were each remarkable and idiosyncratic individuals, not inclined to accept the status quo. Experience as a biographer has taught me that there are certain signifiers which are strong indicators of potentiality for leadership in this period. An emergent woman leader is likely to come from a politically articulate family who can facilitate the process of learning how to ‘work’ the existing civic machinery. She needs access to money, sufficient at least to devolve domestic work on others. She needs access to a fairly high standard of education. She needs the ability to travel and move freely, which is to say, that she will not be prevented from doing so by family convention. She should have no children, and probably it will be helpful if she has no husband either. As we shall see, the profile of Elizabeth Hughes maps very well on to these general indicators.