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Dr Maureen Wright

Associate Lecturer in Modern History

B A (Hons) (Portsmouth), P G Dip Soc. Res., PhD (Portsmouth), P G Cert (Higher Education), FHEA.

Maureen Wright is an Associate Lecturer in the Department of History. She holds a B A (Hons.) in History, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Research Methods and a PhD in History. She also holds a Post-Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and was elected a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in August, 2011.

My current research is focused in the area of women’s and gender studies, specialising in the history of women’s emancipation (and men’s response to it) in Britain during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

In 2011 Manchester University Press published my inaugural biographical study of the important activist Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, a radical feminist whose contribution to constructing an egalitarian discourse of social, sexual and political rights was crucial in securing an increased role for women in the public sphere and who, as a feminist theorist, helped transform the ideals upon which citizenship for women were based.

Other publications in peer reviewed journals have included tracing the development of Wolstenholme Elmy’s theory of citizenship through the texts and deeds of the Women’s Emancipation Union (2010); the theoretical implications of writing historical biography both through the lens of Wolstenholme Elmy’s life (2009) and (with June Purvis) that of other ‘militant’ suffragettes, by applying the auto/biographical texts of the Pankhurst family – leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union (2005).

My current work departs from the biographical genre to focus on the construction of cultural expressions of gender equality across social classes in Britain during the late-nineteenth century, and the challenges this posed to the role of the state as the legislator of moral values. 

By analysing the texts of the Vigilance Association for the Defence of Personal Rights (PRA) (founded 1871) I make an assessment of how conflicts and disputes arose among the ‘feminist’ male sympathisers of the House of Commons, and their ‘anti-feminist’ colleagues – who asserted that the work of the PRA was “scarcely needed in a country like England”.

The PRA’s texts are almost completely under-researched, and the collaboration between the men within its circle and their ‘First-Wave’ feminist colleagues highlight distinctive discourses of collaboration and respect between the sexes hitherto unexplored.

Find out more at: 

Follow me on Twitter @womenspolitics 


Undergraduate Teaching

  • Studies in Gender and History (Level 4)
  • Writing Women’s Histories (Level 5)




Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy and the Victorian feminist movement: the Biography of an Insurgent Woman, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2011).

Peer Reviewed Journals

‘The Women’s Emancipation Union and Radical-feminist politics in Britain, 1891-99’, Gender and History, Vol.22, No.2, 2010, pp.382-406.

‘An Impudent Intrusion?’: Assessing the Life of Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, First-Wave feminist and social reformer (1833-1918). Women’s History Review, Vol.18, No.2, 2009, pp.243-64.

June Purvis and Maureen Wright, ‘Writing Suffragette History: the contending autobiographical narratives of the Pankhursts’, Women’s History Review, 14, (3 & 4), 2005, pp; 405-434.

Projected Publications

A reputation ‘[a]s black as the Devil himself’: the radical life of Benjamin J. Elmy, secularist, anti-eugenicist and ‘First-Wave’ feminist (1838-1906). Paper submitted to Journal of British Studies, awaiting response to requested revisions. (August 2012)

Campaigns “Scarcely Needed in a Country like England”?: the Personal Rights Association and late-Victorian civil rights, 1868-1892. [Current work-in-progress]

Shorter Writings

‘Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy: Manchester’s Free Love Advocate and Secular Feminist’. April, 2012.

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