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Quaker Studies

Abstract

Historians of the early British women's movement have frequently drawn connections between the theology and practice of Quakerism and the involvement of female Friends in nineteenth-century 'women's rights' campaigns. These connections are usually expressed in terms of religious, organizational and environmental factors particular to Quakerism, and embody the assumption that the cultural milieu of Quaker women was peculiarly conducive to the development of 'feminist consciousness'. This article examines the complexity of these assumed links, through an exploration of the life and writings of Anna Deborah Richardson (1832-1872) of Newcastle Monthly Meeting. Through her close association with Emily Davies, who established the first women's college at Cambridge, Anna was part of the first organized British women's movement in the 1860s. The article considers how far her feminist activities were motivated and inspired by her membership of the Society of Friends, or whether factors outside her religious community exercised a more significant influence.

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