Violet Brooke-Hunt (1870-1910)
Writer, social worker and political activist: ‘One of the most vivid personalities of her day’.
Violet was just 17 when she decided to get involved in educating working-class boys and young men. Her first act was to set up a reading room for the servants and workers on her family’s Gloucestershire estate.
She was a great believer in the benefits for boys of joining clubs. She worked in London with young soldiers, then overseas during the Boer War (1899-1902). There she set up institutes where the young British soldiers could relax and be entertained.
Back in Britain, Violet became an enthusiastic political activist. She championed women’s involvement in politics, setting up women’s political groups and talking passionately about current issues. It came as a great shock to friends and colleagues when she died suddenly in 1910, aged just 39.
Violet wasn’t only greatly admired for her public work. When she died, The Spectator magazine noted that ‘her private influence was also very great, as no one turned to her in vain for encouragement or advice. She was a centre of enthusiasm, and, denying herself even necessary rest, gave her life for love of and in the service of humanity.’ Her friends raised donations to create a memorial ‘to keep her memory green’.
Violet’s legacy is also alive in her writing. She published several books and pamphlets, including ‘A Woman’s Memories of the War’ about her time in South Africa.