Lady Florence Dixie journalist and feminist 1856

This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series Intriguing Women

Lady Florence Dixie Journalist and Feminist 1856

Lady Florence Dixie Journalist and Feminist born 1856 was a remarkable woman ahead of her time. She was the daughter of the Marquess of Queensbury. She was at turns, an author, journalist, traveller and adventurer. Passionate about sport and totally committed to the emancipation of women, she also supported Irish home rule. She led a truly inspiring life, full of eccentricities, passion and intellect and died in 1905, just fifty years old having suffered with extreme arthritis. 

Lady Florence Dixie, author and feminist

Lady Florence Dixie

The life of Lady Florence Dixie:

  • Born in Cummertrees Dumfries 1856, she had a twin brother ‘Jim’ who was devoted to her,
  • Converted to Catholicism by her mother, she hated the oppressive teachings of the Catholic church
  • Married Sir Alexander Beaumont Churchill Dixie 1875: Lady Florence wrote “For some time past I have been fighting against the terrible consequences of my husband’s immense losses on the Turf and at gambling . . It was a great blow to me to find that the last remnant of a once splendid fortune must at once go to pay this debt. Ruin … Beau … has been so accustomed to have heaps of money at his command that he cannot understand that it is all gone …. By selling Bosworth and the property these (debts) could be met” Her husband’s family seat had come from the success of the family in the 17th Century with past Lord Mayors of London it was all sold to settle the debts.
  • 1877 published her first book ‘Abel Avenged: A Dramatic Tradgedy
  • Weary of life  at home in 1878 – 79 she travelled to Patagonia with her husband and two of her brothers, she flung herself into the experience and on her return, bringing with her a jaguar as a pet, she wrote a book ‘Across Patagonia.
  • In 1881 she was appointed field correspondent of the London ‘Morning Post’ to cover the 1st Boer War and the aftermath of the Anglo Zulu War. This included an interview with Zulu King Cetshwayo, who was held in detention by the British.
  • She sympathised with the Zulu cause and her reports and books ‘A Defence of Zululand and it’s King’ and ‘In the Land of Misfortune’ helped restore Cetshwayo to his throne
  • 1886 she wrote ” Why You Should be a Home Ruler” in support of Irish Home rule with reference to speech by Lord Randolph  Churchill, Winston Churchill’s father. ” I appeal therefore to the Roman Catholics of England and Scotland to come boldly forward and espouse the just cause of Ireland— a cause sanctified by the adhesion of the entire Catholic hierarchy”
  • 1891, her twin Jim, committed suicide
  • 1895 Florence became president of the ‘British Ladies Football Club’ 

    Lady Dixie President of British ladies Football Club from 1895

    British Ladies Football Club Lady Dixie was President from 1895.

  • A writer of letters to newspapers on all things liberal, she supported Irish Home Rule but fell foul of the Fenians, who attempted to assassinate her
  • Florence had strong views on the rights of women, equality in education, dress, inheritance and suffrage. She wrote and spoke widely on the subject.
  • Her death in 1905 cut short the life of a truly visionary thinker.
Resources about Lady Florence Dixie
  1. Her online bibliography and publications
  2. World Catalogue entries for Lady Florence Dixie
Intriguing Connections:
  1. Lady Dixie was one of the women with whom Charles Darwin corresponded during his lifetime. Entries in the Darwin Online database support this.
  2. Women’s football clubs were established during the 1890’s, the press and the ruling classes began their assault on the game and the light that Florence had ignited for women’s football was extinguished.
  3. Florence’s eldest brother, the 9th Marquess of Queensbury, had a passion for boxing and ‘The Queensbury Rules For Boxing’  took their name from him
  4. Her nephew, Lord Alfred Douglas, had an affair with Oscar Wilde and it was this relationship which would prove to be Wilde’s downfall.
  5. Advocate for Irish Home rule: Florence had an Irish grandmother, she became an advocate for the cause of Irish Home Rule. She was critical of Irish Land League and her efforts both inspired and helped Scotland’s crofters in their struggle to obtain security of tenure. She was  was attacked and stabbed for her efforts. Queen Victoria at nearby Windsor Castle sent   John Brown to investigate, sadly he caught a chill and died in the process. Quite unreasonably Queen Victoria blamed Florence for his death.
  6. Was it the work of Florence in the 1st Boer War that made the involvement of feminists and campaigners, Millicent Fawcett and Emily Hobhouse acceptable in the 2nd Boer War?
  7. Who at the London ‘Morning Post’ was insightful enough to encourage Florence to South Africa as a war correspondent………………………………

Find out about some more intriguing Women in British History here or explore some more of our Intriguing People here.

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