Student, wife and mother of four, pioneer, tramp, undercover investigator and social reformer.
A fictionalised account of the true life story of a woman at the forefront of many things we now take for granted, told through the eyes of her undercover campanion.
Over one hundred and twenty years ago, Reverend Higgs brought his wife Mary and their four children to live in Oldham. This was an era when women were not expected to become involved in issues outside the home. However, had been a student, college lecturer and teacher before her career had been cut short by marriage. She wasted no time in devoting herself to social and environmental issues in the town. One of her early initiatives was to set up of a "rescue home" for homeless women.
I first heard of Mary Higgs when I was looking for a research topic for a dissertation. A member of staff at Oldham Local Studies Library suggested that Mary would make an interesting subject. When I started to read books, articles and letters written by Mary, I was surprised that the name of this remarkable woman was not more widely known in the town. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that she dressed as a tramp and stayed in workhouses and common lodging houses in the early 20th century. This was 30 years before George Orwell's experiences Down and Out in Paris and London.