Our History

Millicent Garrett Fawcett was a woman ahead of her time, who dedicated her life to securing women the vote. At the age of 19, she organised signatures for the first petition for women’s suffrage, though she was too young to sign it herself.

In 1897, she became President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (the NUWSS) – a position she held for over 20 years. Her powerful and peaceful mass campaign was instrumental in securing the vote for the first women in 1918.

Millicent worked alongside the Suffragettes, who employed different, and more militant, tactics in their campaign. Her skill was to navigate the case for women’s suffrage through Parliament using her intimate knowledge of the democratic process, hard-headed rational thinking and constant good humour. Millicent campaigned on many issues and was also a published author.

From the beginning, Millicent took an interest in women’s empowerment in its broadest sense and argued that achieving women’s rights was integral to achieving social justice. The suffragette colours were green, white and violet which stood for Give Women Votes. The suffragist colours, by contrast, reflected their broader concerns: green, white and red or Give Women Rights.

Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett died in 1929, a year after women were finally given equal voting rights. Her work has continued ever since, with The London Society for Women’s Suffrage renamed as The Fawcett Society in her honour in 1953.

Listen to a documentary about Millicent Fawcett below.

A Timeline of Fawcett’s History

Information collected by Dr Jane Grant.

Further reading

The oldest biography of Millicent Fawcett is Ray Strachey’s Millicent Garrett Fawcett, London: John Murray, 1931.

Other useful books are:

Leslie Parker Hume, The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, 1897-1914, New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1982.

Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle, London: Francis Boutle Publishers, 2002.  Chapter 6, ‘Citizenship’, has a lot about Millicent.

Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928,  London: Routledge, 1999.

These books may be consulted at The Women’s Library@LSE.