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Margaret Sibthorp and Amazonian Shafts


“Light Comes to Those Who Dare to Think.”


Meet Margaret Shurmer Sibthorp, editor of Shafts: A Paper for Women and the Working Classes, which ran between 1892 and 1899. Its emblem was an Amazon archer, shooting shafts of knowledge at women, the poor and unfranchised: its slogan was ‘Light Comes to Those Who Dare to Think.’  It cost just one penny a week. Although its readership was probably lower middle-class women in white-collar employment rather than the working classes the publication was affordable and concerned with education across existing social divisions.

The first issue included, typically, an article entitled  ‘Type-Writing as an Employment for Women’. A complex synthesis of feminism, socialism, and more occult lore related to Theosophy, the journal was prominent in support of access to birth control, anti-vivisection, and universal suffrage.

Margaret Shurmer was raised in Scotland. She married Stephen Sibthorp, who ran a chemist’s shop, in 1873.  Before moving to London, where she founded Shafts, the couple lived first in Liverpool and then Wolverhampton and had two children.  Later, in 1909, Shurmer Sibthorpe  became a founding member of the League of Isis, which campaigned for women’s rights to a healthy sex life, birth control, and medical care in and after pregnancy.



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