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Emily Davies


Dates: April 22, 1830 - July 13, 1921

Occupation: educator, feminist, women's rights advocate

Known for: founding Girton College

Also Known as: Sarah Emily Davies

About Emily Davies:

Emily Davies was born in Southampton, England. Her father was a clergyman and her mother a teacher. She was privately educated -- typical for young women of that time.

In her twenties, Emily Davies' friends included Barbara Bodichon and Elizabeth Garrett, advocates of women's rights. In 1861, when her father died, Emily Davies moved to London. There, she edited a feminist publication, The Englishwoman's Journal, for a time.

Soon after moving to London, Emily Davies began working for the admission of women to higher education. She advocated for the admission of girls to London University and to Oxford and Cambridge.

She also became involved in the wider women's rights movement, including advocating for women's suffrage. She helped organize for John Stuart Mill's 1866 petition to Parliament for women's rights. That same year, she also wrote Higher Education for Women.

In 1869, Emily Davies was part of a group that opened a women's college, Girton College. In 1873 the institution moved to Cambridge. It was Britain's first women's college. From 1873 to 1875, Emily Davies served as mistress of the college, then she spent thirty more years as Secretary to the college. (This college became part of Cambridge University and began granting full degrees in 1940.)

She also continued her suffrage work. In 1906 Emily Davies headed a delegation to Parliament. She opposed the militancy of the Pankhursts and their wing of the suffrage movement.

In 1910, Emily Davies published Thoughts on Some Questions Relating to Women. She died in 1921.

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