Margery Spring Rice: Pioneer of Women’s Health in the Early Twentieth Century - cover image


Lucy Pollard

Published On





  • English

Print Length

220 pages (xx+200)


Paperback156 x 15 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.6" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 19 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.75" x 9.21")


Paperback939g (33.12oz)
Hardback1324g (46.70oz)



OCLC Number





  • BG
  • BGT
  • MBNH4


  • BIO000000
  • BIO022000
  • BIO017000
  • BIO032000


  • HQ1595.S65


  • Margery Spring Rice
  • women’s health
  • family planning
  • suffragist
  • North Kensington birth control clinic
  • birth control
  • biography
  • letters
  • diaries
  • family tree

Margery Spring Rice

Pioneer of Women’s Health in the Early Twentieth Century

  • Lucy Pollard (author)
This book vividly presents the story of Margery Spring Rice, an instrumental figure in the movements of women’s health and family planning in the first half of the twentieth century. Margery Spring Rice, née Garrett, was born into a family of formidable female trailblazers – niece of physician and suffragist Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and of Millicent Fawcett, a leading suffragist and campaigner for equal rights for women. Margery Spring Rice continued this legacy with her co-founding of the North Kensington birth control clinic in 1924, three years after Marie Stopes founded the first clinic in Britain.

Engaging and accessible, this biography weaves together Spring Rice’s personal and professional lives, adopting a chronological approach which highlights how the one impacted the other. Her life unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of the early twentieth century – a period which sees the entry of women into higher education, and the upheaval and societal upshots of two world wars. Within this context, Spring Rice emerges as a dynamic figure who dedicated her life to social causes, and whose actions time and again bear out her habitual belief that, contrary to the Shakespearian dictum, ‘valour is the better part of discretion’.

This is the first biography of Margery Spring Rice, drawing extensively on letters, diaries and other archival material, and equipping the text with family trees and photographs. It will be of great interest to a range of social historians, especially those researching the birth control movement; female friendships, female philanthropists, and feminist activism in the twentieth century; and the history of medicine and public health.


This biography reveals the complex and unconventional life of the social campaigner Margery Spring Rice in fascinating detail. Spring Rice is known as a pioneer in the women’s health and family planning movement, and author of Working Class Wives, an important insight into inter-war social conditions. This biography weaves her many professional achievements and occasional set-backs into her often tumultuous and sometimes tragic private life, informed by the backdrop of the first and second world wars and the considerable social changes across the period. It is impossible not to become captivated by the story of this obstinate but remarkable woman.

Dr Alice Reid

Director, The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure


Here all is drama – love, death, affairs, court cases, divorce, blighted lives – set alongside the achievements of a life spent working to improve the lot of working-class women [...] This [contraception] was a subject shunned by the medical profession but one which she recognised as an imperative if poor women were to retain their health and any ability to care properly for the children they did bear.

Elizabeth Crawford

"Lock-Down Reviews: The Lives And Work Of Two Garrett Cousins: ‘Endell Street’ and ‘Margery Spring Rice’". Woman and Her Sphere, 2020.

Full Review

Additional Resources

[website]Fighting for Women's Welfare

Lucy Pollard (Robertson 1962) reflects on the achievement of her pioneering grandmother Margery Spring Rice (Garret 1907) published for The Year, 2019-20, pp. 27-30


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