Henry Fawcett; Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett (née Garrett)

1 portrait

Henry Fawcett; Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett (née Garrett)

by Ford Madox Brown
oil on canvas, 1872
42 3/4 in. x 33 in. (1086 mm x 838 mm)
Bequeathed by Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, 2nd Bt, 1911
Primary Collection
NPG 1603

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This Watts frame with its very fine punched v…

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), Painter and designer. Artist associated with 13 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Henry Fawcett, who was blinded in a shooting accident in 1858, had a distinguished career as professor of political economy at Cambridge, (1863-84), and as a Member of Parliament. He was active in the passing of the 1867 Reform Bill and was particularly concerned with the position of women in employment. In this intimate portrait by Ford Madox Brown, Fawcett is seen together with his wife Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and appears to be dictating to her. A leading feminist, she was an active campaigner for women's suffrage and joined the first women's suffrage committee in 1867, the year of her marriage. In 1897 she became president of the influential National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, which opposed the more militant suffragettes active in the early 1900s. She retired from the presidency after women gained their first, restricted, voting rights in 1918.

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Events of 1872back to top

Current affairs

The (Secret) Ballot Act is passed. By ending open voting in local and general elections, the act reduced the scope for intimidation at hustings, an important step towards democracy. Previously, voters had to mount a platform and announce their choice of candidate to a recording officer, so although most working men had already been enfranchised, employers were able to punish workers who did not vote for their preferred candidate.

Art and science

George Eliot's novel Middlemarch is published. Exploring the impact of the 1832 Reform Act on provincial England, and charting the changes in class, politics, art and science in the nineteenth-century, Eliot's novel is widely perceived to be one of the best examples of the English realist novel.


The Metaphysical Club is formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by William James (brother of author Henry James), Oliver Wendel Holmes Jr, and Charles Sanders Peirce. The group begins to develop the American philosophy of pragmatism, which held that ideas were simply mental constructs that people formed to help them cope with the world, but which did not exist in an ideal realm.

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