Mary Carpenter was an English educational and social reformer. The daughter of a Unitarian minister, she founded a ragged school and reformatories, bringing previously unavailable educational opportunities to poor children and young offenders in Bristol. She was also active in the anti-slavery movement.
She published articles and books on her work and her lobbying was instrumental in the passage of several educational acts in the mid-nineteenth century. She addressed many conferences and meetings and became known as one of the foremost public speakers of her time. She also travelled to India, where she visited schools and prisons and worked to improve female education, establish reformatory schools and improve prison conditions. In later years, she also visited Europe and American to campaign for penal and educational reform.
Carpenter supported the movement for the higher education of women, and had always supported the feminist cause but for most of her life would not do so publicly, believing that the unpopularity of the movement for women's suffrage might damage her educational and penal reforms. But she did in 1877, the year of her death, appear on a public platform in Bristol, supporting the Bristol and West of England Society for Women’s Suffrage.
She never married, but she did adopt a five year old girl, Rosanna, in 1858. She died, in her sleep, on 14 June 1877 and was buried at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol. Her funeral cortège was half a mile long.
Photographed by T. R. Williams of London. Considered by many of his contemporaries as ‘first among equals’, he was frequently lionized in the photographic press of his day.
A slip of paper bearing the inked inscription of the sitter has been pasted across the lower margin of the mount.
condition: The print presents a few small imperfections in the area of the background.
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