Monday, December 19, 2011

Jane Cunningham Croly: A Market Harborough feminist heroine

Jane Cunningham Croly (1829-1901), says the Encyclopaedia of World Biography, was probably the first female American journalist. For over forty years she held various editorial positions on newspapers and magazines.

New York World 1863 tells us more about her career:
in 1869, she and other female journalists were denied tickets to hear Charles Dickens speak in New York City. This spurred her to form the famous women’s club, Sorosis – a “centre of unity” that had neither a charitable nor socio-economic purpose, but sought “collective elevation and advancement.” As women’s clubs began forming across the country, they became a center of educational advocacy and a sort of college for older women who wanted to learn.
She went on to form the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1890 and wrote a History of the Woman’s Club Movement.

Reader's voice: But why is all this, admirable as it is, or interest to Liberal England.

Because New York World 1863 begins its article:
Janu Cunninhgam Croly was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, the fourth child of Jane Scott and Joseph Howes Cunningham, a Unitarian preacher. Her father’s unpopular beliefs reportedly led to the stoning of their house and the impetus for the family’s move to the United States in 1841.
I can't find any reference to Joseph on the web and I don't know of a Unitarian congregation in Market Harborough, so the stoning may have take place elsewhere.

But the Unitarians were immensely strong in Leicester and, as we saw in Kibworth the other day, there is a strong tradition of more general Dissent in the area.

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