Papers of Emily Faithfull: autograph letters

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 7EFA
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 A box (1 volume of 125 items)

Scope and Content

The archive consists of one album containing 125 autograph letters written to Emily Faithfull (and a few to her father, the Revd Ferdinand Faithfull) over the period 1830s-1890s. The letters are from a wide range of individuals, including prime ministers and statesmen, medical men, artists, scientific and literary figures, clergymen and philanthropists. All undated letters have been given a default circa date of c.1890.

A volunteer transcribed these letters in Jan 2004. Transcriptions are included in the item descriptions below.

Administrative / Biographical History

Emily Faithfull (1835-1895) was the youngest child of Reverend Ferdinand Faithfull, rector of Headley in Surrey, and his wife, Elizabeth Mary, on 27 May 1835. She was educated both at home in Headley, Surrey and at a boarding school in Kensington, from the age of 13 before being presented at court in 1857, aged 21. She was a member of the Langham Place Group. Emily had a keen interest in women's employment that later led her to write and give lectures on the subject. In 1859 she was a co-founder of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women, together with Jessie Boucherett, Barbara Bodichon and Bessie Rayner Parkes. Emily also served as secretary to the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science's Committee in Nov 1859. Bessie Rayner Parkes was also a member of this committee and it was she who introduced Emily to the printing press. Emily founded her own printing house, The Victoria Press, in Mar 1860. It was a printing office for women typesetters, housed in Great Coram Street, later in Farringdon Street and then Praed Street, London. Emily being appointed Printer and Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty in 1862 acknowledged its success. From 1863 to 1880 she published and edited the 'Victoria Magazine' that became a voice for those championing women's employment. In 1864, due to her close friendship with his wife, Helen Jane, she was involved in the public scandal of the divorce case of Admiral (Sir) Henry Codrington that affected her public reputation. Emily became one of the first women to join the Women's Trade Union League, founded in 1875 by Emma Paterson. She also served as Treasurer to a girls' club in Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury and on moving to Manchester, ran the local branch of the Colonial Emigration Society. In 1872 Emily made her first visit to the United States where her talks were well received, she re-visited in 1882 and 1883-4 and produced a book entitled 'Three Visits to America' (Edinburgh, 1884) which compared the movements for women's work in England and America. She also published two novels. In 1874 Emily was involved in establishing the Women's Printing Society and a few years later, in founding 1877, the 'West London Express', which unfortunately only lasted eighteen months. Emily was on also the staff of the 'London Pictorial'. Ownership of 'The Victoria Press' was transferred to the Queen Printing and Publishing Company in Apr 1881. In the same year Emily helped found the International Musical, Dramatic and Literary Association, which was concerned with securing better protection through copyright. Emily was fortunate to receive £100 from the royal bounty in 1886 and from 1889 received an annual civil-list pension of £50. After suffering for many years with asthma and bronchitis, Emily died 31 May 1895 in Manchester aged sixty.


Not yet sorted, weeded, arranged or catalogued

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

A gift of the Friends of The Women’s Library. (Purchased in 2001)

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Related Material

Further correspondence of Emily Faithfull is held in Boston Public Library.