n South African Journal of Cultural History - Lady Trader - a biography of Mrs Sarah Heckford (second edition), Vivien Allen : book review

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



Nineteenth Century England has produced an impressive line of women who had played a role in changing the face of English society unrecognisably. Their roles had been different and so had been their contributions, but the common denominator had been the fact that they were products of the so-called upper-class. One of these women was Sarah Heckford (née Goff) (1839-1903) who, according to Vivien Allen, "got as far from her comfortable upper-class home in London's West End as a leaky shack on a remote South African farm"., in its obituary of 21 April 1903, described Sarah as "one of the most extraordinary women to whom the British nation has given birth". High class young women were not supposed to do anything but prepare themselves for the social graces expected of them and Sarah, as a teenager, had no idea what she could do to improve the circumstances of the poor. She belonged to a wealthy Anglo-Irish family who's grandfather was once a governor of the Bank of Ireland. When she was ten years old, she contracted a severe infection which left her half paralysed in one leg and with a slight lump in her right shoulder.

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