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Margaret Grace Bondfield

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Margaret Grace Bondfield

by Walter Stoneman
bromide print, 1930
6 1/4 in. x 4 1/2 in. (160 mm x 113 mm)
Commissioned, 1930
Photographs Collection
NPG x165335

Sitterback to top

  • Margaret Grace Bondfield (1873-1953), Trade unionist, campaigner for women's interests and politician; MP for Wallsend, Northampton and first woman cabinet minister. Sitter in 9 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Walter Stoneman (1876-1958), Photographer. Artist associated with 18527 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 95 Read entry

    Margaret Grace Bondfield (1873-1953) was a trade unionist, campaigner for women and Labour politician, described on a blue plaque in Chard, Somerset, where she was born, as having ‘devoted her life to improving the lot of the downtrodden’. Her father, a foreman laceworker, supported working women’s rights and encouraged his daughters in that. Apprenticed in the drapery trade, Bondfield worked as a shop assistant, joining the National Union of Shop Assistants in 1896. Under the pen-name Grace Dare, she wrote in the Women’s Industrial Council journal, The Shop Assistant, and the Daily Chronicle about shopworkers’ dire working conditions, and rose steadily through various offices and achievements. In 1899 she was the sole woman delegate at the annual Trades Union Congress (TUC); she co-founded the National Federation of Women Workers, and in 1923 chaired the TUC – the first woman to do so. She was Labour MP for Northampton (1923-4), then Wallsend (1926-31), and was appointed Minister for Labour in 1931 – thereby becoming Britain’s first female cabinet minister. Her extraordinary career prepared the ground for other women in public life.

Events of 1930back to top

Current affairs

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Art and science

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Stalin orders the 'liquidation of the kulaks (wealthy farmers) as a class' in a violent attempt to centralise control of agriculture and collectivise farming.

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