Emily Davies England

Biography of Emily Davies

Letter to the Senate from Emily Davies accepting her honorary LLD
Letter to the Senate from Emily Davies accepting her honorary LLD

Sarah Emily Davies (known as Emily) was a promoter of higher education for women and one of the first women to be awarded an honorary LLD by the University of Glasgow (1901).

She was born 22 April 1830 in Southhampton to John Davies, a vicar, and Mary Hopkinson. As an upper-middle class woman in the mid 19th century she did not receive a formal education and was instead educated in the home. She and her family lived in Southampton, Chichester and then moved to Durham in 1839.

After the death of her father in 1862 Davies and her mother moved to London and she became more involved in women's rights campaigns. She had previously founded a Northumberland and Durham branch of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in 1860. After her move to London she wrote and edited for a number of publications that promoted women's rights like the English Woman's Journal, lobbied for Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams to be opened to women and in March 1865 formed a ladies debating group "The Kensington Society" which began to work for women's suffrage. In 1866 she published her first book The Higher Education of Women which argued for the opening of university courses and professional careers to women. In October 1873 Davies and a committee she formed raised enough money to build the first Cambridge college for women, Girton College.

Her manifesto "Women in the Universities of England and Scotland" 1896 criticised the separatist arrangement of women's higher education in England and praised the universities of Scotland and Wales for granting degrees to men and women on equal terms. 13 Jun 1901 as part of the Ninth Jubilee celebrations of the University of Glasgow she was awarded an honorary LLD. Two of the other women to be honoured, Jessie Campbell of Tulliechewan Castle and Isabella Elder, were also pioneers of women's higher education.

She died in her home at 17 Glenmore Road, Belsize Park, London 13 July 1921.


Other Online Resources


Emily Davies
Honorary Graduate

Born 22 April 1830.
Died 13 July 1921.
GU Degree: LLD, 1901;
University Link: Honorary Graduate
Occupation categories: Author; political activists; Suffragist
Record last updated: 19th Jun 2018

Country Associations

England England
Place of Birth

University Connections

University Roles

  • Honorary Graduate