Dagenham-raised grandmother publishes book on pioneering suffragette Lucy Deane
PUBLISHED: 10:18 31 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:20 31 August 2018
An author who grew up in Dagenham has released a book on one of the suffragette movement’s lesser-known pioneers.
Black Country-born Lisa Wright moved to Becontree in 1943 when she was nine, moving to East Ham, then the States, before returning to London to settle in Streatham.
Over the past four years, using the diaries of distant relative Lucy Deane, she’s retold the story of one of the first female factory inspectors.
“Lucy was a relation of my husband, a cousin of his grandmother,” she said.
“When she was 28 she was picked out by the home secretary Herbert Asquith, who decided there needed to be more women factory inspectors because working-class women weren’t being looked after.
“She kept diaries of the five years she was an inspector, and when she died, those diaries went to her cousin, who handed them to us.”
Lisa, a keen playwright, decided to use Lucy’s records to write a book on her life. She said that despite Lucy’s well-off background, her connection with the working classes surprised her.
She said: “She was just sent off by herself by the home secretary with no help or training at all, having to go into district factories where nobody liked her.
“The male inspectors didn’t think she was going to last and the factory owners didn’t like her. The women got such little help from anybody, except from other women, who wanted her to succeed.
“A lot of spinster ladies from working-class areas, like East Ham, were running girls clubs who helped out women like Lucy. She learnt an enormous amount from them.”
This is only the second book Lisa’s written, although the 85-year-old said she’s been writing plays all her life.
“When I worked my first job as a teacher in the US, my mother used to write letters every week,” she said.
“They were very funny, like a social history of East Ham at the time.
“I made her letters into a book and a one-woman show which I took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.”
Lisa said Lucy’s story is probably the last book she’ll write, although the former drama teacher has masses of plays which she’s written over the years which she said she may try to get published.
‘A most unladylike occupation’ is available now from bookstores and on Amazon.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Barking and Dagenham Post. Click the link in the orange box above for details.