Society – Frances Power Cobbe


For our final look back at women who have inspired us throughout history let’s look at the work of an Irish animal rights activist and women’s rights’ campaigner, Frances Power Cobbe; the first female physician from South East Asia to be trained in European medicine, Kadambini Ganguly; and the first British woman to study agriculture at a UK university,  Lady Eve Balfour.

Frances Power Cobbe – December 4, 1822 – April 5, 1904

Image from Wikipedia

Frances Power Cobbe, was an Irish writer who is known today primarily as a pioneer animal rights activist.

Frances Power Cobbe is an almost forgotten nineteenth-century heroine. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Cobbe founded the Society for the Protection of Animals Liable to Vivisection (SPALV) in 1875, , the world’s first organization campaigning against animal experiments, and in 1898, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), two groups that remain active today.

Cobbe was a member of the executive council of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage and writer of editorial columns for London newspapers on suffrage, property rights for women, and opposition to vivisection.

Cobbe supported higher education for women and the reform of poor laws. Her strongest efforts were directed to alleviating violence against women, especially violence by men against their wives.

At the age of 35 she began to teach in Mary Carpenter’s school in Bristol, working with girls released from prison, inmates of work houses, prostitutes, and other unfortunates. At the same time she also campaigned against the use of live animals in scientific research. It is the latter for which she is most widely remembered.

Why is it that the women who fight “within the belly of the beast” are the first women to be forgotten?.


Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

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Published by Maggie


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