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Josephine Butler (1828-1906)

Josephine Butler was born on 13th April 1828 in Northumberland. The daughter of John Grey, staunch advocate of social reform and campaigner against the slave trade, Josephine grew up to become a leading British social reformer who played a major role in improving conditions for women in education and public health.

Josephine married George Butler in 1852 and went on to have four children, one of whom died aged 6. The grief Josephine suffered spurred her on to embark on charity work. She campaigned against child prostitution, lobbying for the age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16, and went on to campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts. Despite the stigma of a woman addressing sexual matters, Josephine successfully toured the country holding speeches on the subject and 1883 the acts were suspended, to be revoked altogether just three years later.

Josephine also took a great interest in women's education, leading to the creation of the all-women college at Newham, Cambridge, and was appointed president to the North of England Council for the Higher Education of Women in 1867.

She passed away on 30 December 1906.

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