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Higgs, Mary

Mary Higgs, née Kingsland (1854-1937), attended the Hitchin College for Women and Girton College, Cambridge.  Higgs was the first woman to take the Natural Science Tripos, becoming Assistant Lecturer in Natural Science, Girton. On marrying she went to live in Oldham and was a suffrage activist. Her major interest was in housing for working-class women.  Higgs went to live on the streets, disguised as a homeless woman, and then wrote books and pamphlets about her experiences, notably "Where Shall We Live?" (1910), with Edward Heyward. This polemic on the housing options available to women, in particular the new class of clerical women workers, increased the visibility of the National Association of Women's Lodging Houses, (which Higgs co-founded), and encouraged an active campaign for a new type of working women's lodging houses.  Higgs also turned her own home, Bent House, into a women's lodging house, a centre for the Guild of Help and a School for Mothers. (Cheryl Law, 'A Modern Political Dictionary' 2000).

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