Jeanie, an 'Army of One'

Mrs Nassau Senior, 1828-1877, the First Woman in Whitehall

By Sybil Oldfield

This first full biography of Mrs. Nassau Senior tells how an extraordinary woman escaped from the constraints of Victorian domesticity to become the first woman in Whitehall and one of Britain's great social reformers. An ardent Christian Socialist radical, Jeanie Senior pioneered social work with Octavia Hill, co-founded the British Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian war, and battled on behalf of exploited workhouse girls. She was ferociously attacked for advocating the fostering of all pauper orphans rather than their incarceration, and for indicting workhouse 'barrack' schools for producing prostitution fodder. Her fight to defend her findings against male hostility politicized her, and she became an icon for the late 19th-century women's movement. Florence Nightingale told her she had been 'a noble Army of one' and later grieved that her 'premature death was a national and irreparable loss.' Jeanie Senior was considered by many, especially in the feminist movement, as an outstanding example of the positive effect of the employment of women in a position of responsibility. She had realized Sara Josepha Hale's vision of women as 'the great civilizers in so far as they help humanity to become more humane.'

348 pages

Publication Date: 2/1/2008
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781845192532

Available in other formats