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UK Publisher: Doubleday

You have probably not heard of Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon but you certainly should have done.

Name any ‘modern’ human rights movement, and she was a pioneer: feminism, equal opportunities, diversity, inclusion, mental health awareness, Black Lives Matter. While her name has been omitted from too many history books, it was Barbara that opened the doors for more famous names to walk through. And her influence owed as much to who she was as to what she did: people loved her for her robust sense of humour, cheerfulness and indiscriminate acts of kindness.

This is a celebration of the life of the founder of Britain’s suffrage movement: campaigner for equal opportunity in the workplace, the law, at home and beyond. Co-founder of Girton, the first university college for women, a committed activist for human rights, fervently anti-slavery, she was also one of Victorian England’s finest female painters.

Jane Robinson’s brilliant new book shines a light on a remarkable woman who lived on her own terms and to whom we owe a huge debt.


‘Jane Robinson is brilliant at putting the women back into history and her biography of Barbara Leigh Bodichon, a Victorian feminist we should all be grateful to, is as entertaining as it is necessary.’ – Daisy Goodwin

‘As a long-serving head of the pioneering ‘College for Women’ I thought I had the measure of our flamboyant co-founder. I was wrong. Barbara Bodichon, artist, educator, influencer and more, was a driving force for an age of reform. Full of fab facts and inspiring incidents this book tells the remarkable story of a social outsider whose clear-sighted vision, disregard for convention, selfless support for others, and relentless pursuit of justice was game-changing for women’s inclusion in political, professional and public life.’ – Susan J, Smith FBA, Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge 2009-2022

Jane was born in Edinburgh in 1959 and from the age of six was brought up and educated on the...