chapter  6
27 Pages

Chartist Women

WithMalcolm I. Thomis, Jennifer Grimmett

The emergence of women as determined Chartists in 1838 was no eruption of self-confident females looking for fresh fields to conquer and moving with enthusiasm into the new sphere of politics. The variety of their activities was also very great. To some extent women, even within their political organisations, continued to perform activities associated with the stereotype, the knitting of scarves, the stitching of caps of liberty, and the sewing of banners. The reform movement of 1819 had interested small numbers of women from a few areas of England, the anti-Poor Law movement had brought in greater numbers over a bigger geographical area on the one specific issue; but Chartism, besides increasing numbers enormously and securing nation-wide participation, also focused attention as no other movement had ever done on the whole social and economic structure of the country and its relationship to politics.