Margaret Llewelyn Davies

Ruth Cohen


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The Merlin Press Ltd
31 March 2020
ISBN: 9780850367591
256 pages

From the publisher

Margaret Llewelyn Davies (1861-1944), a co-operator, feminist and socialist, was well known in her time as the outstanding leader of the Women's Co-operative Guild. This first full scale biography chronicles her life and achievements, intertwining activity among working class women with her personal story. Margaret Llewelyn Davies' system of education, discussion and campaigning opened doors. Women became impressive activists, committed to change both in the co-operative movement and the wider public world. As one Guild member put it, 'from a shy, nervous woman the Guild made me a fighter'. The Guild flourished, developing what has been termed a distinctively working class feminism. By 1914 the Manchester Guardian could describe it as 'probably the most remarkable women's organisation in the world'. The Guild pressed for boycotting 'sweated' goods, supported trade unions, battled for a minimum wage, fought for the vote, new divorce laws and for state maternity benefit to be paid to the wife. Cohen draws on original research: in newspapers, the women's pages of the Co-operative News, Guild records, unpublished papers, and more. This book breaks new ground, providing not only compelling insights into Margaret Llewelyn Davies' life and politics, but a fresh perspective on working class women's activism, rediscovering their words, lives, ideas and campaigns.