Dame Millicent Fawcett

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Dame Millicent Fawcett

by Walery, published by Sampson Low & Co
carbon print, published September 1889
9 7/8 in. x 7 1/8 in. (250 mm x 181 mm) image size
Acquired, 1970
Photographs Collection
NPG x9121

Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

  • Sampson Low & Co, Photographers. Artist or producer associated with 152 portraits.
  • Walery (active 1884-1898), Photographer. Artist or producer associated with 197 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 123 Read entry

    Sister of the pioneer of women's medicine Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and wife of the blind Liberal statesman Henry Fawcett, Dame Millicent was prominent in the women's suffrage movement from its earliest years in the late 1860s. She worked unremittingly for the cause, but as president from 1897 of the influential National Union of Women's Suffragettes she opposed the militant suffragettes (1905-14), led by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel. During the 1880s and 1890s, in addition to her work for women, she visited Ireland repeatedly, and was active in opposition to Home Rule, and in 1901 went to South Africa as leader of the ladies' commission of inquiry into Boer concentration camps.

    This serene portrait, which appeared in Walery's monthly series Our Celebrities (published by Sampson Low & Co.), dates from about 1890, in which year Dame Millicent's daughter Philippa, a student at Newnham College, Cambridge, was placed above the (male) Senior Wrangler (top first class degree) in the mathematical tripos, an achievement which materially advanced the cause of higher education for women. Walery's studio was at 164 Regent Street, London. Like Barraud, he was a superb technician, and his carbon prints derive much of their fascination from the great clarity of image which he obtained. So sharp indeed was the definition that they often needed cosmetic retouching, and Dame Millicent's complexion owes much of its perfection to the art of the stippler rather than to nature.

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Events of 1889back to top

Current affairs

The London Dock strike takes place resulting in a victory for the dock workers striking over pay and conditions.
Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, allowing legal intervention between children and parents for the first time.
Charles Booth, the English social scientist, publishes the first volume of Life and Labour of the People, an extensive survey into the living conditions of London's East End working class communities.

Art and science

George Gissing's The Nether World, a dark account of the lives of the urban poor in Clerkenwell, is published. Gissing absorbs the French naturalist style of writers such as Emile Zola to produce a harshly realistic observation of life in London at the end of the nineteenth century.


The Eiffel Tower is erected, designed by the French engineer and bridge builder Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition. At 300m high, it was the tallest manmade structure in the world at the time.
The Second International organisation is formed at a Congress in Paris by various socialist and labour parties, with the intention of working together for international socialism. It also declared 1 May International Labour Day.

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