Mary Macarthur 1880-1921 The Working Woman’s Champion

Mary Macarthur 1880-1921 The Working Woman’s Champion



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In 1921 the brilliant and charismatic trade union leader, Mary Macarthur, died aged 40. In her short life, her activism and leadership had been responsible for raising awareness of women’s poor working conditions and encouraging them to speak out against injustice and inequality.

Mary Macarthur is perhaps best known for the prominent part she played in the women chain makers’ strike in Cradley Heath, Staffordshire in 1910. The dispute, which lasted two months, ended in success with the women receiving the country’s first minimum wage. It was a triumph but it was by no means an isolated event and Mary Macarthur, as leader of the country’s first all-female general trade union, the National Federation of Women Workers, travelled the length and breadth of the country making sure that women were strengthened by better pay and working conditions and union membership.

This new biography by historical author Cathy Hunt seeks to understand what motivated this extraordinary individual and why she chose the path that she did, particularly at a time when it was still far from common for a middle-class woman to appear on public platforms. In other words, this is not just an account of Mary the union leader but of Mary the woman – of her travels and friendships, love and marriage, family and motherhood – explored within the context of her times.

Author Cathy Hunt uncovers previously unreported history of this fascinating woman and her pivotal role in the improving the lives of British women.

Cover: Paperback


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