Labour History

“Those Knights of the Pen and Pencil”: Women Journalists and Cultural Leadership of the Women’s Movement in Australia and the United States

Labour History (2013), 104, (1), 81–100.


Journalism has been crucial to progressive political movements, and the work of journalists has provided the cultural leadership necessary for recruiting members and advancing the cause. This cultural leadership is explored through the journalism of three women who in Australia and the United States, wrote for a labour and socialist readership and also edited a periodical. Combining paid work and activism, journalism gave them an occupation that was an example to other women, and a vehicle for publicising women’s rights. Exercising leadership through print media was important in expanding women’s economic citizenship and their political engagement. Through their words and personal example over a century, these three women journalists - Alice Henry, Jennie Scott Griffiths and Della Elliott - provided the leadership that helped construct women in the twentieth century as active political subjects.

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*The author would like to thank the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their comments and suggestions. Google Scholar

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Author details

Kirkby, Diane