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Striking a Light: The Bryant and May Matchwomen and their Place in History

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  40 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In July 1888, fourteen hundred women and girls employed by the matchmakers Bryant and May walked out of their East End factory and into the history books. Louise Raw gives us a challenging new interpretation of events proving that the women themselves, not celebrity socialists like Annie Besant, began it. She provides unequivocal evidence to show that the matchwomen greatl ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 12th 2011 by Bloomsbury Academic (first published 2009)
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Phil Brett
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A superb book which properly recounts the strike of the Matchwomen in 1888. For too long this important struggle has either been ignored or misinterpreted as one of docile working class women following the courageous lead of the middle class reformer Annie Besant. Dr Raw shows that the truth was far from this and it was the women themselves who organised and led the action. Besant had many qualities but leading a strike wasn’t one of them. The women move from being followers to leaders in this n ...more
I realised that one of the famous bits of history in the East End that I didn't know nearly enough about was the "matchgirls strike" of 1888. Despite being mentioned in Fishman's 1888 book it really didn't go into very much detail. I found a copy of this book in our library and then borrowed a copy from Whitechapel. I have to say it was very good! It was a lovely feminist history questioning the presumed assumptions that it was in fact a middle class woman coming in and organising a strike among ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Louise Raw puts the record straight by showing through research, reinterpretation of original records and reports and interviews with relatives of the striking match women. She debunks the received view of most historians that the strike was led by Annie Besant and other middle class socialists rather than the match women themselves. The point is strongly argued if somewhat repetitious. The book also gives a detailed description of the lives of working women in the East End in the 1880s and show ...more
Michelle Birkby
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now obviously I knew about the matchgirls strike - then I read this and realised I knew barely anything. For a start, they're matchwomen - and I only knew the names and stories of the rich and powerful involved - this boo!a talks about those actually involved, the workers themselves, and their stories and their anger ...more
Martin Empson
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Louise Raw's book is a brilliant rescue of the role of ordinary working class women in fighting to improve their lives. It is also a masterpiece of historical study - a model for those of us trying to understand and write about the struggles of the past. I urge you to read it."
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Superbly detailed and meticulously researched (sources cited, which I love) book which uncovers the truth about the Matchwomen's strike, and finally gives voice to the women themselves. It is shocking that it has taken well over 100 years for the historical record to be straightened out and Ms Raw has done this beautifully. Prejudice against the poor, the female and the Irish has led to assumptions about the strike by middle class historians, which has never before now been amended. The independ ...more
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I had been waiting years for this book to be published and was so excited the day it finally arrived in the mail. Was it worth the wait?

Sadly, no.

It seemed padded and drawn-out, like the author was trying to make the book longer than her material provided. It was also badly edited: whole sections were cut and pasted in repetion, as well as several glaring spelling mistakes.

The subject matter is still interesting and makes for a good story for anyone with a passing interest in history, but anyone
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