Campaigning for Life: A Biography of Dorothy Frances Buxton

By Petà Dunstan

The first biography of the early twentieth-century social reformer who was instrumental in founding the charity Save the Children.

ISBN: 9780718895396
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Dorothy Buxton (1881-1963) led a remarkable life. In an era when women struggled to make their voices heard in the public arena, she spoke out effectively for the refugee, the destitute and particularly for children. An advocate of honest reporting during the First World War, in the aftermath she refused to accept the widespread famine that followed. In the face of scepticism and hostility, she campaigned to provide food for starving children in post-1918 Europe and pioneered the charity Save the Children. Her efforts saved thousands of lives.

In later years, she was one of the first to raise awareness of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, courageously confronting Herman Göring himself in Berlin in early 1935. She was tireless in her fight for those suffering from prejudice and discrimination. Her story is unusual, from her unconventional upbringing in rural Shropshire, to studying at Cambridge to emerging as an indefatigable campaigner. Dorothy was a complex and compelling character, somewhat of an enigma even to her family. Campaigning for Life is the first biography of this remarkable woman, which examines both her public and private life in detail, and crucially acknowledges her considerable achievements in one of the most turbulent periods of European history.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 284
Illustrations b&w

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Trade Information LGENPOD

About the Author

Dr Petà Dunstan is a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. She lectures and writes in the field of modern church history.




Genealogical tables:
Jebb family tree
Buxton family tree

1. Jebb family life
2. A soul mate
3. Married life and politics
4. Experiencing the struggle
5. Saving the children
6. Battling the personal
7. Ultimate questions
8. Exercising influence
9. To face loss again
10. Obedient to the end
11. Not yet silenced?

Appendix: Charlie’s praise for Dorothy

Bibliography for use with the footnotes


Endorsements and Reviews

It’s always a delight to get a book recommended by someone you esteem, so I am glad to pass on a tip for summer reading from James Carleton Paget, the brilliant Cambridge scripture scholar. It’s Campaigning for Life: A Biography of Dorothy Frances Buxton, one of the co-founders of Save the Children, by Petà Dunstan. Her sister, Eglantyne Jebb, usually hogs the credit for founding the charity but now Dorothy has emerged from the shadows – and what an extraordinary figure she turns out to be. Not many English ladies got to badger Hermann Göring about the treatment of Christians and Jews, and yet was pilloried for being pro-German. What a woman.
Melanie McDonagh, in The Tablet 6 July 2019