Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett (1847–1929) was a leading campaigner for women’s rights in Britain, in particular women’s suffrage (right to vote). For over 20 years, she led the country’s largest suffrage organisation, the NUWSS, playing a key role in the successful campaign that led to women’s universal suffrage in 1928. Find out more about this intelligent and dedicated lady, and use our collection of printable resources below to test your knowledge.

Millicent Fawcett

Fun Facts:

Millicent’s sister, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, was the first English female doctor, as well as the first female mayor and magistrate. Talent ran in Millicent’s family. Her daughter, Philippa, was the first woman to gain the highest score ever in a mathematics exam at Cambridge University – a subject considered at the time to be ‘inappropriate’ for women.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women (over 30) gaining the right to vote in 1918, a statue of Millicent Fawcett has been commissioned for Parliament Square in London, the first statue of a woman in the square. Other statues include Churchill, Lloyd George, Mandela and Gandhi.

Millicent Fawcett Quotes

“Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”
Millicent Fawcett, following the death of the suffragette Emily Davison

“I can never feel that setting fire to houses and churches and litter boxes and destroying valuable pictures really helps to convince people that women ought to be enfranchised.”
Millicent Fawcett

A Short Biography of Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett was born in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England in 1847 to a wealthy, middle-class family. She was the eighth of eleven children. Her father, Newson, ran a successful corn and coal merchant business.

When Millicent was 12, she went to boarding school in London – an experience that sparked her interest in education. At 19, her sister Louisa took her to a lecture by the MP John Stuart Mill who supported women’s suffrage. Inspired by the cause, Millicent began collecting petition signatures, which Mill presented to parliament, and the following year, she became secretary of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage.

Mill introduced Millicent to other women’s rights activists of the time, including Henry Fawcett, a Liberal MP and professor of political economy at Cambridge University. Although he was 14 years older, and had been blinded in a shooting accident, the pair married in 1867.

Millicent worked as Henry’s secretary as well as writing books of her own. She ran homes in Cambridge and London, and their only child Philippa was born in 1868. Millicent also raised four of Philippa’s cousins orphaned at a young age, with the help of her sister Agnes.

In 1869, Millicent spoke at London’s first public suffrage meeting. With her clear expressive voice she became a well-known speaker at a time when women rarely took to the public stage. Millicent’s passion for education also saw her co-found Newnham College, Cambridge in 1871 – a women-only college with an admissions system that saw more and more women eligible to apply.

But Millicent’s life changed in 1884 when Henry died of a lung disease, leaving her widowed at 37. Millicent sold both family homes, moving in with her sister Agnes. She devoted more time to campaigning and when suffrage societies merged to form the National Union for Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) in 1897, Millicent became their leader, aged 50. She also co-founded the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) in 1904.

Millicent wrote letters and pamphlets, organised petitions and chaired committees. She believed in peaceful campaigns, as opposed to suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst, who used violent methods. Millicent thought politicians would respect law-abiding women. She also created free groups so that working-class women could join. For the first time, women from different classes were drawn together with a common purpose, and by 1913 the NUWSS had 50,000 members.
 
The outbreak of war in 1914 was a key turning point in the suffrage campaign. While men went to fight, women took their jobs, and the government came to recognise their value. Women (over 30) were granted the right to vote in 1918, and were granted equal voting rights with men (at 21) in 1928. Millicent recalled her ‘extraordinary luck in having seen the struggle from the beginning’. She died a year later, aged 82.

The NUWSS was disbanded in 1918 but Millicent began encouraging young women to carry the movement forward. She became a Dame in 1924 and, in 1953, her memory was preserved when the London Society for Women’s Suffrage became The Fawcett Society, a charity that still campaigns for women’s rights to this day.

Our Millicent Fawcett Resources

Design an Award for Millicent Fawcett

Design an Award for Millicent Fawcett

Millicent Fawcett was the first woman to be honoured with a statue in London's famous parliament square - can the children design their own medal to celebrate her achievements? 

Millicent Fawcett Colouring Page

Millicent Fawcett Colouring Page

Our simple colouring pages are a great way to introduce famous people to younger children - this colouring page features the suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

Millicent Fawcett Comprehension

Millicent Fawcett Comprehension

Our comprehension worksheets are designed with older children in mind. Can they read the text, then answer some questions to demonstrate their understanding of what they've just read? This worksheet is all about British feminist and suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

Millicent Fawcett Factsheet

Millicent Fawcett Factsheet

Millicent Fawcett was a leading British campaigner for women's rights and played a key role in helping women gain the right to vote. Learn a little more about her life and achievements by reading our factsheet.

Millicent Fawcett Interview Worksheet

Millicent Fawcett Interview Worksheet

Wouldn't it be great if we could interview famous people from the past? This worksheet asks the kids to imagine that they can do just that - what if they could interview Millicent Fawcett? Can they think of some good open questions?

 

Millicent Fawcett Newspaper Writing Prompt

Millicent Fawcett Newspaper Writing Prompt

This Millicent Fawcett newspaper writing prompt is great for all kinds of writing projects. Could the children write about the life and achievements of this inspirational woman perhaps? 

Millicent Fawcett Notebooking Page

Millicent Fawcett Notebooking Page

Useful for taking notes and writing down everything you have learned, our Millicent Fawcett notebooking page comes in two versions - one with space for a picture or diagram, and one lined throughout.

Millicent Fawcett Poster

Millicent Fawcett Poster

Here's a poster featuring a simple drawing of Millicent Fawcett, to print out and use in displays and project work.

Millicent Fawcett Poster 2

Millicent Fawcett Poster 2

When I look at this photgraphic portrait of Millicent Fawcett, I see a gentle woman of her time - not a determined, dynamic suffragist, fighting throughout her life for women's rights. What an amazing woman she was.  

Millicent Fawcett Quote Poster

Millicent Fawcett Quote Poster

This inspiring poster features a quote taken from a speech by suffragist Millicent Fawcett shortly after the death of fellow campaigner Emily Wilding Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby. 

Millicent Fawcett Quote Worksheet

Millicent Fawcett Quote Worksheet

Our quote worksheets are designed to encourage children to think about the meaning of a famous quote, and then try and rewrite it in their own words - this worksheet features a quote by leading suffragist Millicent Fawcett.

Millicent Fawcett Story Paper

Millicent Fawcett Story Paper

This story paper is perfect for writing about Millicent Fawcett. The kids can write about her interesting life or collect some facts. Choose from either our lined or handwriting lined versions.

Millicent Fawcett Worksheet

Millicent Fawcett Worksheet

Here's a simple worksheet asking children to fill in some facts about Millicent Fawcett, her life and her achievements, and to think about whether they would like to meet her and what they would talk about if they did.

 

Millicent Fawcett Writing Page

Millicent Fawcett Writing Page

Use our writing page to write down what you've learned about Millicent Fawcett - choose our colour version, or black and white if you'd like to colour in the picture too.

Another Campaigner for Women's Rights...

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