From Edith J. Morley (1875-1964)

Scope and Content

Letters sent from Edith J. Morley to Edith Mary (Dorrie) Collingwood.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edith Julia Morley was born in 1875 and later recalled that she had not liked being a girl, being impatient of the restrictions placed on her activities by Victorian notions of decorum. In 1892, she took a course at King's College Ladies Department, where her abilities were noticed and it was suggested that she transfer to the Oxford Honour School of English and English Literature. Along with the few other women at Oxford University in that period, she was kept rather isolated, with limited access to the university's resources, and was awarded an ‘equivalent’ degree rather than a standard Oxford degree. She was a champion of women's rights, arguing that marriage and motherhood were used to hold women back from professional careers. Morley was an active although not an exhibitionist suffragette. She refused to pay her taxes in protest at having no vote and had her goods seized by the authorities. She also refused to take part in the 1911 census for the same reason and she spent the night of the census with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. In 1908, Morley was appointed Professor of English Language at University College in Reading, thereby becoming the first woman appointed to a chair at an English university-level institution. She held this post until 1940. She died in 1964.