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Anne Knight 1786 - 1862 was a social reformer noted as a pioneer of feminism.

Family Background

She was the daughter of William Knight, a Chelmsfordmarker grocer and Priscilla Allen, daughter of the non-conformist radical. The family were Quakers and took an active part in temperance and anti-slavery movements.

First Work & Early Frustrations

In 1831 she wrote Mary Grey: A Tale for Little Girls.

Anne founded a branch of the Women's Anti-Slavery Society in Chelmsford and worked closely with Thomas Clarkson.

A village, Knightsville, was named after her in Jamaicamarker.

When women were prevented from participating in the World Anti-Slavery Convention in Londonmarker in 1840, Anne was outraged, and started to campaign for women's rights. A few women were included in the painting of the convention with Knight; these were Elizabeth Pease, Amelia Opie, Baroness Byron, Mary Anne Rawson, Mrs John Beaumont, Elizabeth Tredgold, Thomas Clarkson's daughter Mary and right at the back Lucretia Mott.

In 1847 Knight produced what is considered the first leaflet for women's suffrage. Her efforts to impress the importance of women's suffrage on such reform leaders as Henry Brougham and Richard Cobden proved of little use, as did her efforts with the Chartist leadership.

Move to France

She moved to France in 1846 and participated in the revolution of 1848. With Jeanne Deroin she challenged the banning of women from political clubs and the publication of feminist material. In 1851, she worked with Anne Kent to form the Sheffield Female Political Association, the first British organisation to call for women's suffrage.

Death & Legacy

She never married and died in Waldersbachmarker, near Strasbourgmarker, Francemarker on November 4, 1862.

One of the student accommodation 'New Houses' buildings at the University of Essexmarker 'Anne Knight House' is named after her. In January 2005 the Colchester Quaker Housing Association opened a hostel for young people in Chelmsford, her birthplace, and named it Anne Knight House in her honour.


  1. The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, accessed 19 July 2008

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