‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Monday, 21 October 2013

Anniversary of the first woman to sit in the Lords

Today is the 55th anniversary of the day when the first woman took her seat in the House of Lords.

The first female to sit in the Lords was actually born in Greece, worked in India and was the widow of a Jewish Marquess.

She was born Stella Charnaud, later to be known as the Marchioness of Reading or Stella Isaacs (due to her marriage to Rufus Isaacs, first Marquess of Reading, from 1930 to his death in 1935) and eventually taking her seat in the Lords as Baroness Swanborough on 21 Octobner 1958. Her arrival was made possible under the terms of the 1958 Life Peerages Act. (Hereditary peeresses in their own right had to wait until the passing of the 1963 Peerage Act before they were allowed to take their seats.)

Baroness Swanborough was the founder of the Women’s Voluntary Service and a governor of the BBC.  She died in 1971, but should be remembered for her ground-breaking arrival in the Lords 39 years after the first woman took her seat in the Commons.

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