The conflict between the Liberal party and the House of Lords was only one of the problems bequeathed by the Victorians which intensified in the early twentieth century. At least three others have been identified by historians, from Halevy and Dangerfield onwards, as reaching a climax in the Edwardian/Georgian years after 1910: the problems of women’s rights, organised Labour and the struggle for Irish Home Rule. According to Dangerfield, the three movements shared common features which challenged the middle-class liberalism of Victorian England and threatened the existence of the Liberal government in 1914. The question of the interrelationship of the movements will be considered in due course. This chapter will be concerned specifically with the changing position of women in late-Victorian and Edwardian Britain, with the emergence of a women’s movement and the campaign for ‘Votes for Women’ in the Edwardian period, and the nature and extent of the challenge which suffragism and feminism presented to the prevailing attitudes and habits of the men and women of the day.
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