Leslie Howsam

Published On


Page Range

pp. 129–146


  • English

Print Length

18 pages

8. Who was Eliza Orme?

The closing chapter draws together the threads of evidence in the context of Leslie Howsam’s memories of a prolonged investigation and her informed speculation about Eliza Orme’s ambitions. It describes Howsam’s return, after retirement and during the Covid pandemic, to the study of Orme in the dual context of a transformed (digital) research environment and a renewed academic interest in women’s professional lives. One such thread is ‘Loyalty, logic, and strategy: the case of Charles Dilke’s divorce scandal’, where the strong circumstantial evidence of Orme’s professional involvement is discussed. Another is ‘Speculation: Eliza’s thwarted ambition’ which adduces the argument that Orme might have been aiming for election as part of the first cohort of women members of Parliament. Turning to the questions of identity that have framed the book as a whole, the following sections ask: ‘Who was Eliza to her friends and family?’, ‘Who was Miss Orme to lawyers (then and now)?’ and ‘Who was she to posterity?’.

The chapter concludes that Eliza Orme was an independent single professional woman in public life; she described herself as ‘hopelessly practical’ while aiming to do first one, and then another unthinkable job for a woman of her time, initially to be a lawyer, and perhaps also to be a politician, on equal terms with men.


Leslie Howsam

Emerita Distinguished University Professor at University of Windsor
Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Digital Humanities at Toronto Metropolitan University

Leslie Howsam is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Emerita Distinguished University Professor at the University of Windsor (as well as Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Digital Humanities at Toronto Metropolitan University). Her most recent book is the Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book (2015); her best-known book is Old Books & New Histories: An Orientation to Studies in Book and Print Culture (2006). For further information please see