Writing was very important to Elizabeth. Writing in many forms; letters, pamphlets, essays, poetry, journal articles and educational materials to name but a few. At one point in her life she was writing around 300 letters a day, all by hand until she was gifted a newly invented typewriter by a cousin of Oscar Wilde. She wrote to friends and acquaintances, which included many of the important movers-and-shakers of her time, as well as to almost every Member of Parliament at some point. Her given nickname ‘the Parliamentary Watchdog’ was well-deserved.
Her letters and publications numbered well in excess of seven-thousand items and were received in places as far flung as Cape Town, Chicago and Wellington, New Zealand. Only now are we beginning to realise that her fame was not just restricted to this country but was international.
For her pamphlets and her journalistic contributions she often wrote just under the names of Ignota (unknown woman) or simply ‘E’.
Her personal, meticulously kept archive of letters from friends such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Emily Davies, Josephine Butler and Harriet McIIquham, was, very sadly, destroyed shortly before her death in 1918 – ironically recycled to assist the war effort.
Sadly one of the most important things destroyed was her unpublished autobiography “Some Memories of a Happy Life”. Although this is a great loss there are still collections of her work in several places in the UK such as the British Library, as Elizabeth prudently sent out regular bundles of her letters and journals during her lifetime.
Although in her age she was a noted poet we now have access to only two pieces of her verse
Elizabeth’s Group intends to carry out further research to bring together more of Elizabeth’s work and make it more easily accessible here in one place.