Eleanor Florence Rathbone was born in London in the year 1872. She was born into a prominent political family. William Rathbone, Eleanor’s father, was a Liberal member of the British Parliament. Eleanor was the second to last of the ten children that Emily Acheson Lyle raised. She grew up in Liverpool and was taught at home. She later convinced her family to allow her to attend Somerville College in Oxford. There, she was known as “the philosopher” because she studied philosophy. After her studies at Somerville College, she moved on from philosophy and worked with her father as an investigator of the industrial and social conditions of the city of Liverpool. She helped her father but he died later in 1902. The next chapter of her life still included her interest in social reform and women’s rights, but she focused these matters in Liverpool, which had social, economic, and political problems. Eleanor noticed this and became interested in the predicament of widows under the Poor Law. As she investigated this situation, she learned that a mother could not support her children and she felt the weight of this heavy situation.
Eleanor wrote a book in 1924, The Disinherited Family, that introduced this subject. Sixteen years later, she published The Case For Family Allowances. This book brought her to legislation and then, five years after publishing it, a law on family allowances was passed. However, her accomplishments did not stop here. Eleanor continued to strive for more change. Earlier in her lifetime, she became a volunteer for the Liverpool Central Relief Society. The Liverpool Central Relief Society dealt with impoverished families and they helped them overcome their poverty. Eleanor was even elected as an independent Liverpool city council member. With this position, she indulged her interest in housing problems resulting from World War I. Apart from doing this, she also participated in the women’s suffrage act where she held the position of president. With this position, she worked more on legislative reforms for women.
In 1929, Eleanor Rathbone ran as the first female member of the British Parliament. In the British Parliament, Eleanor represented the Combined English Universities, which she represented for twenty years. Her focus during her term was that she wanted to expand the voting privileges of the women in India. Additionally, she wrote Child Marriage: The Indian Minotaur, which corresponded with this issue. She published this in 1934, just five years into her position.
In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler was a dictator, and he wanted to get rid of the Jews, which is what led to World War II. After the war, Eleanor helped the surviving Jews. She even wrote two books titled, Rescue the Perishing, a commission report in 1943. The following year, she published, Falsehoods and Lies About the Jews. Eleanor Rathbone died in her home city, London, on January 2, 1946.
"Eleanor Rathbone." Encyclopedia of World Biography Online, Gale, 1998. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/K1631005463/BIC?u=cama55402&sid=BIC&xid=759a3203. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019.