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The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb: Founder of Save the Children [Paperback]

Clare Mulley
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2010
This is an unconventional biography of an unconventional woman who did not care for children, but dedicated her life to establishing Save the Children and promoting her revolutionary concept of human rights. In this award-winning biography, Clare Mulley brings to life this beautiful, charismatic, and passionate spinster in a brown cardigan, who helped save millions of lives and permanently changed the way the world treats children.
All royalties from this book will be donated to Save the Children

Frequently Bought Together

The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb: Founder of Save the Children + The Spy Who Loved: The secrets and lives of Christine Granville, Britain's first female special agent of WWII
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; 1st edition (1 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185168722X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851687220
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clare Mulley is the award-winning author of two biographies:
- 'The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville, Britain's First Female Special Agent of the Second World War', and,
- 'The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb, Founder of Save the Children'.

Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, was the first, and the longest serving, female special agent working for Britain in the Second World War. A Polish countess and beauty queen, in 1939 Christine swapped the comfort and security of life as a diplomat's wife to make an extraordinary contribution to the Allied war effort in occupied Europe and beyond, where she often had a life expectancy of just a few months. Making love to the cream of Polish and British special agents while fighting the Nazi advance, she was perhaps one of the most loved as well as one of the most successful female agents of the war. For her enormous courage and achievements she was awarded to OBE, George Medal and Croix de Guerre. Only now can her amazing story, hidden in secret service files and the unpublished memoirs of her many friends and lovers, be told in full.

Eglantyne Jebb was the in some ways unlikely founder of Save the Children. Never a mother herself, Jebb was not fond of children whom she referred to as 'the little wretches', and yet after the First World War she found herself facing private censure and public arrest as she fought for the starving children of Austria and Germany. 'The Woman Who Saved the Children' won the Daily Mail Biographers' Club prize. In pleasingly unlikely agreement, then PM Gordon Brown also called it 'a truly brilliant book'. All royalties from the book go to the Save the Children.

In 2010 Clare contributed to the 'Arvon Book of Life Writing'. She is a seasoned public speaker and occasionally writes and blogs for various websites, and papers including History Today, The Express and The Church Times, perfect titles for a historically-minded, left-wing atheist.

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Product Description


"This biography of Eglantyne Jebb, who established the charity to look after children in the chaos that followed the end of the First World War, brings to life a charismatic woman who changed the way the world treats children." (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

"Unusual and perceptive... all credit to Clare Mulley, a past winner of the Daily Mail Biographers' Club prize." (Daily Mail)

"A valuable account of a forgotten life." (The Sunday Times)

"A fascinating new book." (Western Mail Series)

"A most interesting account of a life full of colour and curiosity" (Bury Free Press series)

"Admirably researched...Clare Mulley has done Eglantyne proud. Her informative and sensitively written biography will put SCF's founder, and through her SCF itself, well and truly on the global map." (Church Times)

"An interesting biography of a fascinating person who deserves to be better known and appreciated for her work." (Oxford Times)

"Crisp, masterly biography." (The Good Book Guide)

"A very readable story which will strike a chord for many." (The Times online)

"A pleasure to read... a combination of Jebb's own mischievous attitude and Mulley's lively style." (The Times Literary Supplement)

"Meticulously researched... a testimony to Jebb's remarkable humanitarianism." (Oxford Today)

'Meticulously researched... a testimony to Jebb's remarkable humanitarianism.' (Oxford Today)

"A very good read, telling an extraordinary story." (The Guardian)


"This book tells the tale of one of the twentieth century's most inspirational women... I'd urge anyone to pick up this book and be inspired." (Paul O'Grady)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible story of an incredible lady 30 Aug 2010
This is a thoughtful and interesting biography of a wonderful woman who achieved wonderful things. Eglantyne Jebb, a name I had never come across before is most famous for founding the now well loved and internationally recognised charity, Save the Children, a charity which does so much good in the world I could not do it justice in a short paragraph. So it is fantastic that Clare Mulley, in her debut biography, has paid homage to this remarkable champion of children's rights.

Eglantyne herself was almost unbelievable. In an age where war and women's rights should have been enough to occupy the cares and worries of this woman, she selflessly devoted her efforts to raising awareness of the situation of deprived children and changing ingrained attitudes to children's rights.

But alongside a saintly career saving the children, Eglantyne was also a fascinating person. She actually was fairly rude about children, `I don't care for children' she said in 1900 and Mulley revels in her reference to children as `little wretches'. Eglantyne never had any children of her own. She was in love with Marcus Dimsdale, the sixth son of Baron Dimsdale, but he married Elsbeth Philipps in 1902. She then had a passionate affair with a woman, Margaret Hill nee Keynes.

Eglantyne is an extraordinary woman and Clare Mulley had done a fantastic job conveying that to the reader. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in charities or children's rights, with a love of good biography, or with even an ounce of feminist pride. This was one amazing lady.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enthralling Read 30 Aug 2010
It is a shame, as Clare Mulley writes, that Eglantyne Jebb is all but forgotten today. She deserves more than this. She deserves our recognition, our admiration and our thanks. In the aftermath of World War One Eglantyne was the champion of the children. She helped to save the lives of millions of children in Europe and Russia who were left starving in the wake of one of the worst wars in history. It is unfathomable how she had the determination and the strength of character to do this, and yet she did, and in an age where women were struggling for their own rights and trying to make their own voices heard, let alone the rights of children.
Clare Mulley has a delightful and sophisticated style and a flair for writing which prevents this biography from becoming dry or repetitive. Arguably she has a fantastic subject for the job, yet praise must be bestowed on Mulley for this enthralling book, which at last does justice to a woman who changed national and international attitudes to child protection and founded one of the greatest children's charities in the world. A first-rate read and highly recommended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating portrait of a fascinating woman 30 Aug 2010
Clare Mulley's captivating and excellently researched biography is a pleasure to read. With all the over-hashed books on historical figures in the 19th and 20th century, like Queen Victoria, Churchill or Stalin, it is always refreshing to read a biography of someone unsung; someone whose story has not be told and retold into tedium.
Eglantyne Jebb is a woman whose life and work immediately enthralled me. Why did such a beautiful, striking woman never marry? Why did she not want children yet ploughed all her energies into improving the conditions and rights of the young? Eglantyne Jebb is a forgotten national treasure, a pioneer of the early 20th century. She founded Save the Children, now a charitable phenomenon and a life force for hundreds of underprivileged children. She secured one of the most successful UN charters ever introduced, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. She was also interesting on a human level. She had great and tragic love affairs, very real character flaws, and, in my opinion, an understandable aversion to having children of her own... "the little wretches".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an amazing story 6 Sep 2013
By Richard
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
an amazing book and a good read this is truely enspiring you will like it if you are interested in this sort of thing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read 3 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bought this on a whim and found it very interesting!Great true story which reflects the social conditions and expectations of the times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 20 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A wonderful book about a remarkable woman who lived in interesting times. It could have been so easy for this educated Edwardian lady to have lived a comfortable life; instead she chose to make a difference, a decision which has benefitted countless children across multiple generations. The book has one substandard chapter, where it explores Eglantyne's spiritual experiences, but maybe that's there to showcase how good the rest of this book is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why have I never heard of Eglantyne Jebb before? 30 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As she was the founder of a such a large charity I cannot believe I'd never heard of Eglantyne Jebb before!

As other reviewers have said so much research has gone into this book - in fact if I am allowed a negative comment it would be that there was almost too much detail of Miss Jebb's life. It made parts of it a little tedious, but it does set the back-drop so I'm probably in the minority in my thinking.

I am amazed how forward-thinking Miss Jebb was - how many of her ideas are still being implemented by more than just Save the Children; a woman way ahead of her time!

I was fortunate to get this onto my Kindle for just 99p but I would recommend it whatever the price. I haven't stopped quoting Eglantyne Jebb's ideas and ideals since I read it!
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