Black, Clementina (1854–1922)

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Black, Clementina (1854–1922)

English trade unionist and writer. Born in Brighton, England, in 1854; died at her home in Brighton in 1922; daughter of David Black (a solicitor) and Maria (Patten) Black (a successful portrait painter); never married; no children.

Selected writings:

A Sussex Idyll (1877); (novel) An Agitator (1895); (novel) The Princess Desirée (1896); (novel) The Pursuit of Camilla (1899); Sweated Industry and the Minimum Wage (1907); (novel) Caroline (1908); Makers of Our Clothes: a Case for Trade Boards (1909); (novel) The Linleys of Bath (1911); Married Women's Work (1915).

Clementina Black was born in Brighton, England, in 1854. Her father David Black was Brighton's Town Clerk, but when Clementina was small he became seriously ill and lost the use of both his legs. In 1875, her mother Maria Black died from a rupture caused by lifting her invalid husband. After a number of years spent caring for her invalid father and seven younger brothers, Clementina Black arrived in London to teach and write. She was immediately concerned with the issues of work and wages for women and in 1886, befriended by Eleanor Marx , became secretary of the Women's Protective and Provident League. She also created a Consumers' League, supported the London Match Girls' Strike in 1888, and initiated the Equal Pay resolution at the Trade Union Congress that same year.

Resigning from the League, Black joined the new Women's Trade Union Association and took up the cause against sweatshop labor. In 1894, she became a founding member of the Women's Industrial Council of which she would later serve as president. She was also vice-president of the National Anti-Sweating League. Later in her career, Black became a member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Society and editor of the Common Cause. In 1906, she initiated the suffrage petition. Though much of Black's writing was in support of labor rights, she also authored five novels.