Thursday, July 16, 2009

Isa Craig - a Victorian feminist in Brockley

Interesting article here about Isa Craig (1831-1903), 'Victorian social reformer, women's rights activist, journalist, poetess and novelist'. Born in Scotland, she moved to London and was active in the campaign for women's employment, writing to The Times that 'in securing her independence the dignity of woman is deeply concerned. The power of independent industry, which saves her from a mercenary marriage, renders her equally free to serve the needs of the world'. She was an early advocate of women's suffrage, joining the Enfranchisement Enfrancisement of Women Committee when it was formed in 1866. At this time her address was 14 Clyde Terrace, Brockley Road.

She wrote for publications including the English Woman's Journal, and published several novels and volumes of poetry. In 1858 one of her poems won the Robert Burns Centenary Competition at The Crystal Palace, which had attracted over 600 entrants. Apparently more than 14,000 people turned up for the Burns celebration at Sydenham, but Craig was not amongst them and didn't realize that she had won until later. Her novels included Esther West.

She became Mrs Craig-Knox after marrying Mr John Knox at St. John's, Lewisham in 1866, but seems to have lived in Hampstead in the 1880s. The 1891 Census though records Ida and her family living at 88 Breakspears Road, Brockley where she remained until her death in 1903.

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