Margaret Bondfield was one of very few working class women who rose to the top of the suffrage movement.
Born in Chard, Somerset, in 1873, the second youngest of eleven children, she became an apprentice at a drapers in Brighton aged 14.
There she saw how the daily grind wore down the women workers and affected their self-respect. She observed they were left with little time or energy to pursue interests away from work, with many girls seeming intent on getting married as early as possible in order to escape the drudgery.
Ms Bondfield left Brighton and went to live with her brother in London – working, again, in a shop. She became an active trade unionist and was shocked by the working culture of long hours, low wages, poor diet and requirement to “live in” in often dismal dormitories.