Biographical Information

The daughter of George Price Simcox and Jemima Haslope Simcox (1816-1897), Edith Jemima Simcox was born on August 21, 1844.  She helped establish trade unions, was involved in the co-operative movement, was a representative to the International Trade Union Congress, promoted women's suffrage, lectured for the Socialists and other groups, and was elected to represent the Radicals in the London School Board.  She was well-acquainted with the leaders of these movements and with many other intellectual, political, and literary leaders and figures.  She was also a friend and admirer of the novelist, essayist, and poet George Eliot.  Simcox was herself a regular contributor to the major periodicals and the author of three books.

Top:  Suffrage pin; Bottom:  Trades Union Congress building in London near British Museum

 

Although she never married, Simcox did carry familial responsibilities:  she managed the Simcox household, describing herself paying bills, recording finances, taking care of repairs, hiring and firing servants, etc.  Her brothers, who both attended Oxford University, are George Augustus Simcox (1841-1905) and William Henry Simcox (1843-1889).  William married Annie Ludlam in 1875 (she died on January 15, 1885).

Oxford did not admit women until 1920; therefore, Edith did not attend.

House Simcox lived in with her mother in 1895

Guise House in Aspley Guise

 

Among her other contributions, Simcox was a successful shirtmaker with Hamilton and Company, established in July, 1875 in collaboration with Mary Hamilton.  The company was a cooperative that hired only women.  Located first at 68 Dean Street, the company eventually moved to 27 Mortimer Street.  Simcox signed a "release" on January 25, 1884, ending what was called "Eight Years of Cooperative Shirtmaking" in an article of the same name in Nineteenth Century, June, 1884.
Location of Hamilton and Company

at 27 Mortimer Street

 

Simcox became friends with George Eliot (born Mary Ann Evans). Together the women were friends with Elma Stuart (1837-1903), who is buried beside George Eliot; Barbara Smith Bodichon (1827-1891), who established the English Women's Journal in 1858; Bessie Rayner Parkes Belloc (1829-1925); and Maria Bury Congreve (d. 1915).
George Eliot's grave

Highgate Cemetery

 

Edith Jemima Simcox died on September 15, 1901 at the age of 57, leaving all of her effects to her older brother Augustus. (simcox's grave)

 

  • Shirtmaker and Businesswoman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Readings about Edith Simcox

Gillian Beer, "Middlemarch and the Woman Question," in her George Eliot.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.  147-199.

Gordon Haight, George Eliot: A Biography.  London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Gordon Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978. VIII: xviii-xix; IX: 190-324.

Patricia Hollis, Women in Public 1850-1900: Documents of the Victorian Women's Movement.  London: Allen & Unwin, 1979.

K. A. McKenzie, Edith Simcox and George Eliot.  London: Oxford University Press, 1961; Westport, Conn.: Greenwood  Press, 1978.

Diderick Rolle-Hansen, The Academy, 1869-1879: Intellectuals in Revolt.  Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger, 1957.

Geoffrey Tillotson, A View of Victorian Literature.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978. 

Laurie Zierer, "Edith Jemima Simcox," in Prose by Victorian Women: An Anthology, edited by Andrea Broomfield and Sally Mitchell.  London & New York: Garland, 1996.  523-525.

(Some of these references are taken from the entry on Edith Jemima Simcox on the Literature Resource Center site, a part of Gale Group, which is a Thomson Corporation Company.)

Books, Articles, and Conferences by Constance M. Fulmer:

Books:

A Monument to the Memory of George Eliot: Edith J. Simcox's Autobiography of a ShirtmakerNew York and London:  Garland, 1998.  Edited with Margaret E. Barfield.  View this book on Amazon.com 

George Eliot:  A Reference Guide.  Boston:  G.K. Hall, 1977.  An annotated bibliography with more than 2,000 entries. 

Recent Articles:

"Edith Simcox (1844-1901)."  Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers:  A Bio-Bibliographical Critical  Sourcebook.  Edited by Abigail Burnham Bloom.  Westport, Connecticut:  Greenwood Press, 2000.

"Edith Simcox:  Feminist Critic and Reformer."  Victorian Periodicals Review 31.1 (Spring 1998):  105-121.

"A Nineteenth-Century 'Womanist' on Gender Issues:  Edith Simcox in Her Autobiography of a Shirtmaker."  Nineteenth-Century Prose 26.2 (Fall 1999):  110-126.

Review of The Critical Response to George Eliot edited by Karen L. Pangello for George Eliot--George Henry Lewes Studies.  September 1995:  83-85.

Presentations:

"Women Who Practiced What They Preached:  The Victorian Periodical Press As A Pulpit For Advocating Employment For Women," Conference on Victorian Encounters:  Publishers, Editors, and Readers, Birkbeck College, University of  London, July 2000.

"An Ordinary Mind on An Ordinary Day:  The Private Life of Edith Simcox," National Women Studies Association Conference, Simmons College, Boston, June 2000.

"Bringing Edith Simcox Out of Silence Through Collaborative Editing," National Women Studies Association   Conference, Simmons College, Boston, June 2000.

"Edith J. Simcox:  British Victorian Scholar and Social Reformer," Conference of the Western Association of  Women Historians, The Huntington Library, Pasadena, June 2000.

"Edith J. Simcox:  Feminist, Scholar, Reformer and Economist," Conference on Wealth, Poverty and the Victorians, Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, Great Britain, July 1999.

"Love and Pain:  Women's Friendships in Edith J. Simcox's Autobiography of a Shirtmaker," Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British Women Writers Conference, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, March 1998.

"Edith J. Simcox's Autobiography of a Shirtmaker.  A Narrative of Crossing Borders in Victorian Britain,"  National Women's  Association Conference, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, June 1996.

"Introducing Episodes in the Lives of Men, Women, and Lovers, 1882:  Autobiographical Fiction by Edith J. Simcox (1844-1901),"  Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British Women Writers Conference, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, March 1996.

"Reflections on Editing Edith Simcox's Autobiography of A Shirtmaker," Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century  British Women Writers Conference," Notre Dame University, West Bend, Indiana, March 1995.

"A Nineteenth-Century 'Womanist on Gender Issues:  Edith Simcox in Her Autobiography of a Shirtmaker,"  Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British Women Writers Conference, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, April 1994.