In this, the first biography of Alice Henry (1857-1943), Diane Kirkby presents us with an intelligent, formidable woman of great energy who was a pioneer in both the Australian and American labour movements early this century and a feminist who fought for the rights of millions of women in both countries. After a childhood largely spent in the Australian bush, Alice Henry became a journalist and suffragist in Melbourne, where she witnessed the growth and upheavals of the Australian labour movement and consequent experiments in state regulation of industrial relations. During her 28 years in America she became a prominent figure in the Women's Trade Union league and campaigned for the rights of wage-earning women using her powers of 'pen and voice' as a writer and lecturer. Through empathising with Alice Henry, readers can increase their understanding of a critical period in history, when progressive networks were far more international than might be expected and women played a central role in the creation of the welfare state.
"With insight, skill, and empathy, Kirkby contextualizes the life of a representative woman of the educated middle class who embraced the need to be self-supporting...In recovering Henry's 'industrial feminism,' Kirkby has made a major contribution to the debate over what constituted early twentieth-century feminism." The Journal of American History