Mary Macarthur, Righting the Wrong
Mary Reid Macarthur was a British suffragist and Scottish trades unionist. She was the general secretary of the Women's Trade Union League and was involved in the formation of the National Federation of Women Workers and National Anti-Sweating League. In 1910 Mary led the women chain makers of Cradley Heath to victory in their fight for a minimum wage and led a strike to force employers to implement the rise.
There has been no full-length biography of Mary Macarthur since the one written by Mary Agnes Hamilton in 1925. As we approach the centenary of Macarthur’s death, it is time for a fresh look at this extraordinary woman and a focus not just on her work for the Union she founded but on the life that she led and the difference that she made.
Cathy Hunt is a former university lecturer who, in 2015, decided to leave academia to become an independent historian. Her background is in women’s local political activism, including trade unionism. As well as this continued interest, she is also exploring lots of new avenues and enjoying new challenges. Her most recent publication is A History of Women’s Lives in Coventry between 1850 and 1950, published by Pen and Sword last year.
Her interest in Mary Macarthur began when she wrote a history of the National Federation of Women Workers, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. Her biography of Mary Macarthur, the union’s founder, is due out this summer. www.historywm.com
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