Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth Shane

I saw an advertisement in the Letchworth Comet in 2020 about female voices in Letchworth, a new project run by Imajica Theatre group. I was interested and decided to join in with their zoom meetings and discussions.

One of the topics involved finding out information about inspirational women in Letchworth and write something about that person. I did some research and came across Elizabeth Howard (nee Bills) There wasn’t a great detail available but what I did take from the research was what an instrumental part Elizabeth Howard played by helping Ebenezer Howard’s vision of Letchworth become reality, through practical support securing a donation as well as her own fund raising.  Elizabeth Howard also gave a platform for suffragettes and other women to have a voice.

I was extremely inspired by Elizabeth Howard and felt I would like to honour her contributions to Letchworth and women by writing a poem. I hope it enables those who do not know much about this amazing lady to have more of an insight about her.

My name is Lizzie Howard, a wife, and a mother
But I am a woman quite like no other
I married a husband whose vision had grown
To put Letchworth on the map and make it well known

I didn’t just bake and keep children clean
My role as a woman was there to be seen
I was active in organising as Ebenezer’s wife
Taking on the financial side of his life
I campaigned, I rallied and managed alone
To raise fifty pounds funds all on my own
My role was quite key in Ebenezer’s book
To finally be published and get a well-deserved look

I am determined and resolute to help women gain skills
Not only for employment to help with the bills
But to set an example for young girls today
To give them the confidence to find their own way
With education, learning and providing a choice
To allow them the chance to each have a voice

I was quite lucky, my life started well
Growing up in a family who ran a hotel
I used my years wisely and did well with learning
But deep down inside I still had a yearning
To be my own woman in fashion and right
I once wore a hat made of feathers so bright
My meetings in Letchworth and social gatherings with tea
We’re not just about wearing puffed skirts and sleeves
This was a haven for women to speak
To air their injustice in a safe place each week
In suffragette meetings, women gathered in herds
Their motto stands firmly, ‘with deeds and not words’
I listened and spoke and encouraged them all
In the place built in my name, Mrs Elizabeth Howard Hall

Even though my life’s busy with lectures and talks
I still find the time to go on my walks
In the fresh air of Letchworth with family in tow
Exchanging pleasantries with town folk, and all who we know
A few of the treasured memories of mine
With my three daughters and son who is now nearly nine
Our life may be simple with money quite tight
But I love to watch their faces each night
As we sit round the table to eat our meat stew
It’s important we have our family time too

Ebenezer is calm, even tempered, and gentle
His role as my husband has been instrumental
In paving the journey to find a new way
To celebrate women for having their say
What a difference it makes when we believe we are strong
Grants a world full of freedom where we belong

© Written by Elizabeth Shane – April 2021

This page was added on 10/05/2021.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

  • Although known as “Lizzie’, the correct name of Ebenezer Howard’s first wife was ELIZA.

    By Philippa Parker (11/10/2021)