Women and their fight for equality are the subject of a third and groundbreaking book on history in Watford to be written by a husband and wife from Bushey.

Dr Eugenia Russell and Dr Quentin Russell’s Struggle and Suffrage in Watford will be published next month and focuses on the many areas of female activity in and around the town, both at home and work, in traditional rural employment or in industries such as dressmaking, textiles and silk.

Their lives are put into the context of the national movement seeking to address injustice and inequality, highlighting the difficult lives often endured by those working in domestic service and the impact on women’s lives of bad housing and poverty.

The couple’s two previous books – Watford and South West Herts in the Great War and Watford At War 1939-45 – but the warm reception they received encouraged the couple to tackle a different type of subject.

Watford Observer:

A silk throwing frame from 1843. This was an important industry in Hertfordshire

An historian and author, Eugenia said: “Though there are many books about Watford there was nothing specifically about women. This is the very first book on this important topic.

“With the increasing interest in women’s social history and this gap in the bibliography of the town, it seemed like an opportune moment to delve into this project and write a work about women’s lives in the Watford area.”

Eugenia and her husband, who is an art historian, writer and producer, focus on the period 1850 to 1950, a time that saw huge social change that had a particular impact on women’s lives.

Eugenia said: “The narrative of these changes that eventually gave women increased power over their own lives and through the vote a say in the affairs of the country, leading in the post war period to greater equality, is explored in the book through the lives of local women in three chapters: ‘Mid-Victorians: 1850–1880’, ‘The New Woman: 1880–1914’ and ‘War and Peace: 1914–1950’. A detailed timeline of ‘Important Dates in British Women’s History’ provides the broader historical context.”

Watford Observer:

Local artist Lucy Kemp-Welch's Foward the Guns was used as a World War One recruiting poster

The husband and wife team are long-term Bushey residents and find writing about the area in which they live gives them the chance to write about history in a different way, finding parallels with national trends to provide a deeper appreciation of the local community and its past. And Eugenia has suggested that this book is unlikely to be their last on history in the Watford area.

She said: “There is of course more to be written about Watford and many of these themes are touched upon in this latest book: the area’s industrial heritage, housing and architecture, education and charitable foundations as well as the artistic heritage of Bushey. It is likely that we will pen more works featuring the Watford area.”

Struggle and Suffrage in Watford is due to be published on September 30. It will be available from Pen & Sword, Waterstones and the authors.