THE steadfast coursing of the stars,
The waves that ripple to the shore,
The vigorous trees which year by year
Spread upwards more and more;
Bessie Rayner Parkes
About Bessie Rayner Parkes
Bessie Rayner Parkes was born on June 16, 1829. She was an English feminist who fought for women's rights. She was also a poet, essayist, and journalist.
Parkes wrote pamphlets on women's rights with Barbara Bodichon, who ran a progressive school in London. One of the pamphlets was Remarks on the Education of Girls (1856). A couple years later, these two women founded The Englishwoman's Review, where Parkes was the editor. It was used to fill a need Parkes and Bodichon felt there was for educated women. Parkes made it very clear in her writing that there was a need to improve education for girls, as times were changing and they were no longer all being supported by husbands or fathers.
In 1866, Parkes and Bodichon formed the first Women's Suffrage Committee. A petition they created was presented to the House of Commons.
Parkes married Louis Belloc when she was 38, and they lived in France. Their marriage lasted five years until her husband's sudden death in 1872. Parkes and her children moved back to London after Belloc's death. Dealing with her husband's death was hard on her, and she lost interest in fighting for women's rights.
Both of her children, Marie Belloc Lowndes and Hilaire Belloc, went on to be writers. Ironically, her son was against women's rights. He didn't not believe they should have the vote or experience higher education.
During her lifetime, Parkes published 14 books, all in varying genres, a booklet on women's rights, and dozens of articles. Her work was well received during her lifetime.
Bessie Rayner Parkes passed away on March 23, 1925.
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