Many people have been inspired to write about Elizabeth. Here is a selection of stories and other writings about her.

Elizabeth and Education – by Vicki Hesse (Majestical)

Elizabeth and education, by Vicki Hesse

Young, determined and triumphant Elizabeth said goodbye to her brother Joseph in 1846 when he was accepted at Cambridge University. At the time she was denied that same opportunity. Shortly after she begins to campaign for girls to be given the same access to education. And by 1853 she founded a school for girls in Manchester which she later moved to Moody Hall. That building still stands proudly in our home town Congleton to this day 🏫

With the unveiling of ‘Our Elizabeth’s’ statue in Congleton, this is even more significant for us and makes us proud of what Elizabeth achieved for girls across the UK.

‘Elizabeth Hears the News’ by Siobhan Tebbs

A fictional-based-on-fact tale of Elizabeth close to the end of her life, hearing that women have got the vote for the first time. Read the e-book:

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy – on Humanist Heritage

This excellent article about Elizabeth’s life argues that Elizabeth’s atheism and her unconventional attitudes to sex were reasons why her legacy was overlooked for a long time. It quotes fellow free-thinker Zona Vallance who said

“The original author of the enterprise was a lady whom the women of England ought to bless every morning when they rise. I allude to Mrs. Wolstenholme Elmy, whose self-sacrificing life and labours have been a more or less hidden mainspring of the women’s movement during more than thirty years. Through every kind of obstacle she has worked all those years for fourteen and fifteen hours a day; and, tiny woman as she is, has played the part of a giant and of one of the generals of the women’s movement in destroying the vile C. D. Acts, in carrying the Married Women’s Property Act through, and also the act which gave mothers the few rights they now enjoy in regard to the custody and control of their own children. Besides this, our readers will be interested to know that purely human and natural ethics, and not theology, was the source of this pioneer woman’s enthusiasm for justice, even before an Ethical Society had been conceived; and that she joined the Moral Instruction Movement before the League had ceased to be a mere Conference; and has given her services gratis in seeking financial support for this paper and in promoting its spread.”

Zona Vallance, ‘The Women’s Suffrage Convention’ in Ethics, Vol. VI. No. 43, October 24 1903

Click/tap image to read the full Humanist Heritage article

Read the Humanist Heritage Article here

CW12 2DW, by Lily Smith

23 Buxton House.

Who bothers? Peers closely.
Ordinary building: extraordinary history.
A blue sphere of recognition; a cursory stamp bled into red brick
A modest token bestowed by the local civic society.
Another forgotten fragment of English heritage.

23 Buxton House.
Who knows? Inclines to care.
Home sweet 54 year home to an activist driven by equality:
‘The brains of the suffragist movement’.
Heralded by Emmeline Pankhurst- a name
Etched in history, complimenting a name
Whose power and influence have ceased to exist.
The forgotten of the suffragist movement.
Perdita. Oblitus. Ignota.  

23 Buxton House.
Who grants acknowledgement?
Marches and speeches;
1600 petitions and 7000 letters.
A human being with humane beliefs.
For 80 years she fought,
Challenged the patriarchal status quo.
It seems disrespectful
To laud her for ‘women’s lib’, when humanity was what she was fighting for.

23 Buxton House.
Who treasures this history?
Birthplace of the National Society of Women’s Suffrage;
Office of the pioneer crafting the Women’s Emancipation Union;
Residence of one listed on the Millicent Fawcett statue,
Parliament Square, London.
A 185 mile route to equal rights, navigated by determination and rewarded by
Reform rather than recognition.

23 Buxton House.
Who is implicit? Pays homage.
Education. Civil liberty. Marriage.
Our choice. Our freedom. Our truth.
Unattainable luxuries in the 19th Century.
Corset-renouncing crusaders revolutionised tradition and
Freed the female voice.

23 Buxton House.
Who knew? Not me, for shame.
The dawn of change; a mile from my home.
Ironic that the crib for so many letters should be the post office of my mother’s youth.
Buried under sacks of 20th century mail,
7000 ideas started as one.
History shrouded from local women;
Unaware they passed this wellspring of emancipation;
Seeing only simple red brick,
Indebted, but oblivious.

23 Buxton House.
Who knows? Now you do.
One letter.
One belief.
One suffragist.
One blue stamp of approval.
23 Buxton House.
Lost but now found.
Elizabeth Wolstenholme-Elmy.
Constituo. Recordatus. Notissima.

Read on 8th March 2022 at the unveiling of ‘Our Elizabeth’ in Congleton

What does Elizabeth mean to me? By Helen Banks

What does Elizabeth mean to me?

As a young woman who is both politically conscious and dedicated to her education and academic pursuits, Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and her life’s work are an inspiration to me, Elizabeth was a passionate, dedicated woman who spent her life fighting for the causes she believed in, especially the equality of women.

Elizabeth was a leading suffragist and campaigned tirelessly for women to have the right to vote and to be elected into positions of power through the Women’s Emancipation Union, an organisation she herself founded in 1891 which became the forerunner to the Women’s Social and Political Union, led by Emmeline Pankhurst.

However, to me her work in securing education for girls is just as important. I am currently in Year 12, roughly a third of the way through my A-Levels and getting ready to begin my bid for Oxford. These all things that would have been impossible for me in the time in which Elizabeth was campaigning for educational equality, and they would still be impossible for me today without the diligent work put in by generations of strong, powerful women who wouldn’t take no for an answer- of which Elizabeth is one.

After being limited to just two years of formal education herself, unlike her elder brother who was afforded a full and rigorously academic schooling, Elizabeth dedicated herself and much of her life to improving access to education for girls across the country. From becoming the Headmistress of her own girl’s school, which eventually found itself established here in Congleton, to sitting on multiple committees dedicated to discussing female education, Elizabeth had a profound impact on the state of education for women.

Not only did she seek to improve more basic primary education, she also campaigned relentlessly for women to be given equal access to higher education as men, in a time in which the admission of women into our most prestigious universities was either severely limited or entirely out of the question. In fact, in the course of this diligent campaigning, Elizabeth actually became one of the first women to give evidence to a parliamentary select committee, not only proving that women deserved a place in educational settings but in politics too.

Thanks to the work of this brilliant woman, and many others, myself and other British women have the right to vote, the right to a comprehensive education and much greater access to higher education, all of which have had and will have a profoundly positive effect on my life.

Elizabeth is an inspiration to me and therefore, I hope that her statue will raise her profile and that her life and work will go on to inspire many more for generations to come.

Read on 8th March 2022 at the unveiling of ‘Our Elizabeth’ in Congleton

‘Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy’ – the Fiesty Feminist? by Mary Holmes

Author Mary Holmes writes blog posts about aspects of Elizabeth’s life and is also writing a book about Elizabeth. Here you can read some of her stories of Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian Feminist Movement – The Biography of an Insurgent Woman, by Dr Maureen Wright

Dr Wright’s detailed biography of Elizabeth and her contribution to the emancipation of women in the UK is available from all good booksellers.

Click image to buy book on Waterstones

We also have a collection of Schools Materials about Elizabeth