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Older news! The fourth annual MatchFest was on 2nd July this year, select MatchFest above for details

Cover of the book

Louise Raw’s book on the Bryant & May matchwomen’s strike of 1888, "Striking a Light", was published in Paperback version on March 2011 and is already close to selling out, with a probable re-print coming. .

First published by Continuum in May 2009, it celebrates the achievement of the remarkable young East End women who took on a ruthless cartel, and proves conclusively that they changed the entire course of British labour history, and were in fact the mothers of the modern union movement.

The life histories of matchwomen like Eliza Martin and Mary Driscoll, who were instrumental in the strike, are told for the first time.

"Striking a Light" is available online from The Book Depository and Amazon UK.

Praise for Striking a Light:

The women on strike outside the match factory, July 1888
The women on strike outside the match factory
July 1888

‘In a careful reconstruction of events, Raw exposes inaccuracies in the standard accounts . . . [She] tells a great story with a terrific cast of characters . . . parts of the book read like a detective story, with Raw ingenious in tracking down the strike leaders.’ - Times Higher Education.

‘Well-conceived and researched . . . this is a book that deserves the opportunity to overturn [the] traditional interpretation.’ - International Socialism.

‘This is a good example of revisionist historical writing which gives full credit to an important and usually misunderstood event.’ - Contemporary Review.

‘[This] is a major contribution to Labour and Social history. Incredibly well researched and written . . . an absolute must for serious historians.’ - Terry McCarthy, former director of the National Museum of Labour History.

‘Raw’s book is infused with a desire to right an historical wrong, and to give credit to those who through enduring hardship deserve it... Raw’s primary motive is that the true contribution of the matchwomen be given proper respect in trade union history. She convinces me.’ - Reviewed in the Tribune 13th May 2011 (UK).

The book has been chosen by BBC History Magazine for their Reader’s Book Club.

- See BBC History Magazine, April 2009 edition for a feature article on Louise’s research.

- Louise talks to BBC History’s Sue Wingrove about the matchwomen on a podcast recorded for the BBC History Magazine website.



Thanks to those who came along to sold-out readings in Manchester, St Albans, and Bookmarks and Housmans in London. It was great to meet you all.

New Book!

Cover of the book

"Class and Gender in British Labour History"
Renewing the Debate (or starting it?)

Edited by Mary Davis

Politics constructs gender and gender constructs politics: this is a central theme in this collection of essays which seek not only to write a history that focus on women’s experiences but seeks also to analyse those dynamic forces that have shaped that history.

It examines the ‘making’ of the other half of the working class - women - as workers, trade unionists and political activists, and seeks to weave together intricate relationship between class and gender, particular within the process of industrialization.
It features contributions from leading and up-and-coming women labour historians, including

Louise Raw: Bryant & May Revisited

Is now published by Merlin

For other forthcoming author events, booking and venue information, click the News bar above.