Emily Faithfull

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Photograph of Faithfull by Elliott & Fry, 1860s

Emily Faithfull (1835–1895) was an English women's rights activist, and publisher.


She was the youngest daughter of the Rev. Ferdinand Faithfull, and was born at Headley Rectory, Surrey. She took a great interest in the conditions of working-women. With the object of extending their sphere of labour, which was then very limited, in 1860 she set up in London a printing establishment for women, called The Victoria Press. From 1860 until 1866, Victoria Press published the feminist English Woman's Journal. Both Faithfull and her Victoria Press soon obtained a reputation for its excellent work, and Faithfull was shortly afterwards appointed printer and publisher in ordinary to Queen Victoria.[1]

In 1863 she began the publication of a monthly organ, The Victoria Magazine, in which for eighteen years she continuously and earnestly advocated the claims of women to remunerative employment. In 1868 she published a novel, Change upon Change. She also appeared as a lecturer, and, with the object of furthering the interests of women, lectured widely and successfully both in England and the United States, which latter she visited in 1872 and 1882.

She was a member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. She considered compositor's work (a comparatively lucrative trade of the time) to be a possible mode of employment for women to pursue. This upset the London Printer's Union, which was male-dominated and claimed that women lacked the intelligence and physical skill to be compositors.

Of her nephews, one was the actor Rutland Barrington[2] and another the Indologist John Faithfull Fleet, ICS. Amongst her friends she counted Richard Peacock, one of the founders of the Beyer Peacock Locomotive Company, to whom she dedicated the Edinburgh edition of her book Three Visits To America with the words to my "Friend Richard Peacock Esq of Gorton Hall" in 1882. She was also the witness to the marriage of Peacock's daughter Jane Peacock to William Taylor Birchenough, the son of John Birchenough another manufacturer cited in Three Visits To America for his treatment of women employees in his silk mill in Macclesfield, at Brookfield Unitarian Church which Richard Peacock built in Gorton.

In 1888 she was awarded a civil list pension of £50. She died in Manchester.[1]

She is the protagonist of Emma Donoghue's 2008 novel, The Sealed Letter, which concerns the Codrington divorce case of 1864.[3]


The archives of Emily Faithfull are held at The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics, ref 7EFA


  1. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ *Barrington, Rutland (1908). Rutland Barrington: A Record of 35 Years' Experience on the English Stage. London: G. Richards. , p. 15, accessed 15 July 2010
  3. ^ Donoghue, Emma. "The Sealed Letter: Author's Note". Picador. Picador. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 


  • James S. Stone, Emily Faithfull: Victorian Champion of Women's Rights. Toronto: P.D. Meany, 1994
  • Emily Faithfull, Three Visits to America. Edinburgh, 1884

External links[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.