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Friday, 22 October 2010

Emily Faithfull

In 1859 Emily Faithfull joined with, Jessie Boucherett, Bessie Rayner Parkes and Barbara Bodichon to form the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. Her biographer, Felicity Hunt claims that: "The group pressed for legal reform in women's status (including suffrage), explored new areas for women's employment, and campaigned for improved educational opportunities for girls and women. Emily Faithfull was at the heart of this multi-faceted campaign and identified with all three dimensions, although she is best known for her work in women's employment. Her public support of the enfranchisement of women developed later from her investigations and practical campaigns surrounding employment, but from the beginning she was actively involved in the successful movement led by Emily Davies to have the university local examinations opened to women."

Faithfull became secretary of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women and In March 1860 the women established the Victoria Press at Great Coram Street, London. At the time this was a skilled trade that was almost wholly confined to men. Bessie Rayner Parkes bought a small printing press, and she and Faithfull employed a compositor, Austin Holyoake (brother of George Jacob Holyoake), to give instruction in composing.

On 23rd July 1860 The Times published a letter from Faithfull: "I think many will be glad to hear, so great is the success of this office, that I have more work at this moment than my 12 women compositors can undertake, and I shall therefore be glad to receive six or eight girls immediately. They must be under 16 years of age, and apply personally at my office next week."

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