Murphy Molly

Molly Murphy

Molly Murphy was a suffragette in Manchester and then in Sheffield, but discovered that many of her fellow women campaigners were really only interested in opening the professions to women and not in transforming society for the better. Molly resigned in protest when some of the committee members of a suffragette shop objected to the presence of progressive working men who acted as their bodyguards at meetings.
Left: Molly Murphy in 1930; and below right also in the 30s
Molly took up nursing and married Jack (JT) Murphy, the Sheffield Communist when she was 30 years old, after she had become qualified. They went immediately to Moscow in January 1921 where her husband was helping to prepare for the congress of the Red International of Labour Unions. Molly was little involved in the high politics then or when they returned to Moslater but, amongst other things, her memoirs confirm Lenin's legendary warmth and regard for others.
They returned to England for the birth of their only child, Gordon. Jack Murphy was imprisoned as part of the government's preparations for the 1926 General Strike but both he and Molly returned to Moscow after the strike when Jack took his seat on the EC of the Comintern. She and he lived at the Hotel Lux in Moscow from 1926-28. Molly also left the Communist Party in 1932, when, back in England, Jack's proposed strategy regarding the Labour Party was rejected and he resigned.
Molly Murphy served as a nurse in Spain during 1937, based near Madrid, but she was sent home exhausted in July 1937. For years afterwards she was haunted by what she had seen and she became increasingly demoralised. This mood was not assisted when she suffered the loss of her career after she reported a case of rationing corruption she believed she had discovered when working as sister at a mobile medical unit in St. Pancras during the Blitz.
Source: Review of “Molly Murphy: Suffragette and Socialist”, Institute of Social Research, University of Salford, in Capital & Class, Summer 2001 by Emma Wood

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