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Anstey, Rhoda (1865–1936), promoter of women's physical education, was born at Jurishayes Farm near Tiverton, Devon, on 15 April 1865, the seventh of nine children and second daughter of John Walters Anstey, a yeoman farmer, and his wife, Susanna Elizabeth, née Manley. She was a natural countrywoman with a great love of the county of her birth; in 1891 she was managing the dairy on the family farm. Little else is known of her early life before she attended ...

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Barham, Francis Foster [known as Alist Francis Barham] (1808–1871), transcendentalist, was born on 31 May 1808 at Leskinnick, Penzance, Cornwall, the youngest of the five sons of Thomas Foster Barham (1766–1844), musician and writer, and his wife, Mary Ann, daughter of the ...

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Bensusan, Samuel Levy (1872–1958), journalist and author, was born on 29 September 1872 at Dulwich, London, the second of five children of Jacob Samuel Levy Bensusan (1846–1917), feather merchant, and Miriam (1848–1926), the daughter of Moses Levy Bensusan and his wife, Emily. His parents were Orthodox Sephardi Jews of Spanish descent whose ancestors had held high office in the courts of the ...

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Annie Besant (1847–1933) by Hayman Selig Mendelssohn © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Besant [née Wood], Annie (1847–1933), theosophist and politician in India, was born at 2 Fish Street Hill in the City of London on 1 October 1847, the only daughter of William Persse Wood (d. 1852), underwriter, and his wife, Emily Roche Morris (...

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Bibby, Joseph (1851–1940), animal feed and soap manufacturer, was born on 12 January 1851 at Conder Mill, Vale of Conder, Lancashire, the second of the three sons of James Bibby, farmer and miller, and his wife, Amelia Barnett. He attended an elementary school until 1861 and the ...

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Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (1831–1891), founder of theosophy, was born at Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine, at midnight on 30–31 July 1831, the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn (d. 1873), descended from the counts Rotenstern-Hahn of Mecklenburg, and of his wife, Helena Pavolovna Fadeev. She was a petted, wayward, invalid child whose mother, a novelist who advocated women's emancipation, died when she was small. From girlhood onwards she was a beguiling story-teller. On 7 July 1848 she married an older man, ...

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Bonwick, Theodora Ellen (1876–1928), educationist and women's rights activist, was born on 27 December 1876 at 60 Coningham Road, Shepherd's Bush, London, the daughter of William Priessnitz Bonwick, a schoolteacher, and his wife, Sarah, formerly Beddow, an executive member of the Women's Liberal Federation...

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Burrows, Herbert (1845–1922), socialist organizer, was born on 12 June 1845 in Redgrave, Suffolk, the son of Amos Burrows, tailor and Chartist leader, and his wife, Ann, formerly Thompson, a dressmaker. He educated himself using Cassell's shilling handbooks, and became a pupil teacher at the age of thirteen. He then became an ...

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Alan Dudley Bush (1900–1995) by Elliott & Fry, 1946 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bush, Alan Dudley (1900–1995), composer, was born in Dulwich, London, on 22 December 1900, the son of Alfred Walter Bush (1869–1935), director of W. J. Bush & Co., manufacturing chemists, and his wife, Alice Maud Brinsley (1870–1951). He was educated privately, then at ...

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Codd, Clara Margaret (1876–1971), suffragette and theosophist, was born on 10 October 1876 at Pill House, Bishops Tawton, Barnstaple, north Devon, the eldest of ten children of Henry Frederick Codd (d. 1899) and his wife, Clara Virginia, née Botto (1853–1927). She was educated at home by governesses, and at fifteen rejected Christianity and declared herself an atheist. When she was twenty-three her father, a school inspector, died and the family moved to ...

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Cousins, James Henry Sproull (1873–1956), writer and educationist, was born on 22 July 1873 at 29 Cavour Street, Belfast, the son of James Cousins (d. 1920), a sailor, and his wife, Susan Davis (d. 1915). His parents were both Wesleyan Methodists; his father retired from a sailing career to work for the ...

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Cousins [née Gillespie], Margaret Elizabeth (1878–1954), social reformer and women's activist, was born on 7 November 1878 at Boyle, co. Roscommon, Ireland, the first child of Margaret Shera and her husband, Joseph Gillespie (d. 1930). Her father was the clerk of petty sessions in the ...

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Alfred Deakin (1856–1919) by Swiss Studios, 1900 by permission of the National Library of Australia

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Deakin, Alfred (1856–1919), prime minister of Australia, was born on 3 August 1856 at 90 George Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, the younger child of William Deakin (1819–1892), business manager, of Towcester, Northamptonshire, and his wife, Sarah, née Bill (1822–1908), of Llannarth, Cardiganshire. Deakin's parents were married in October 1849 and left ...

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Dowding [née Albino; other married name Whiting], Muriel, Lady Dowding (1908–1993), animal rights campaigner, was born on 22 March 1908 at 74 Castellain Mansions, Paddington, the elder of the two daughters of John Angelo (Jack) Albino, goldsmith, and his wife, Hilda Gertrude, ...

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Eyles [née Pitcairn; other married name Murray], (Margaret) Leonora (1889–1960), novelist and journalist, was born on 1 September 1889 at 5 Eastcott Street, Swindon, the eldest of three children of Andrew Tennant Pitcairn (1861–1905) and his wife, Rosa, née Bevan (1863/4–1902). Her family were ...

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Florence Beatrice Farr (1860–1917) by unknown photographer, c. 1905 [with her Dolmetsch psaltery] courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

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Farr [married name Emery], Florence Beatrice [performing name Mary Lester] (1860–1917), author and mystic, was born on 7 July 1860 at Southlands, Bromley, Kent, the last of the eight children of William Farr (1807–1883), medical statistician, honorary MD, and FRS, and his second wife, ...