Born the daughter of a wealthy Quaker banker, Elizabeth Fry’s start in life was unremarkable. Until, at eighteen, she began her own school in the laundry room. At twenty she wed Joseph Fry and, over their marriage, bore him eleven children.
But it was a charitable visit to Newgate Prison that changed the course of her life, and of history, forever.
Unable to ignore the plight of the female convicts, she determined to do everything within her power to right the injustices of the age…
She would become famous amongst royalty, government and women on the street alike; a friend of William Wilberforce; and influencer of Florence Nightingale.
This biography, told with verve and pace, and interwoven with extracts from Elizabeth’s private diaries and letters, will inspire and move you with the turn of a page.
‘A thought-provoking and beautifully written book’
‘Fascinating and inspirational...A warm, affectionate and very human biography’
Lancashire Evening Post
‘Lively and engaging’
‘A real insight into how she lived her life and how her legacy lives on’
Norwich Evening News
‘An inspiring and thought-provoking biography written with charm and clarity’
“It was January 1817 and in the gloomy hall outside the women’s yard at Newgate prison, two guards argued with a strangely dressed lady. It was cold and grey but the lady was obstinate and stood her ground. She had a permit from the Governor and would not be deterred.
As they argued a woman prisoner rushed wildly out of a doorway in the yard beyond them and with shrieks of furious laughter snatched off the caps and headgear of every woman she could reach.
‘And she wouldn’t stop at doing that to you, ma’am. Tear off your things – scratch and claw you – that’s what they’d do, ma’am,’ warned one of the turnkeys. The guards felt it would be inappropriate to describe all that could be done by these harpies to a lady who ventured alone into their midst. They never went in alone, always in pairs; even the Governor himself was well protected when he visited. The lady smiled, gave the men a little money and talked to them with unconscious authority. ‘I am going in – and alone. I thank you for your kind intentions, but you are not to come with me.’
They begged her to at least leave behind the gold watch chain which glittered on the simplicity of her dress.
‘Oh, no, I thank you. My watch goes with me everywhere. I am not afraid. Open the gate for me, please!’
With trepidation the turnkeys pressed open the gate against the noisy, surging crowd and the lady went inside. Instantly there was silence. Then every woman in the yard pushed forward and suddenly she was surrounded and the guards could no longer protect her.”
"In this lively and engaging account of the life and work of Elizabeth Fry, Averil Douglas Opperman reminds us that Fry's achievements were born of an unshakable determination to relieve suffering wherever she found it."
"Mother, wife and dedicated social reformer: a remarkable woman is brought vividly to life in this timely and engrossing biography.”