by Octavia Hill
Octavia Hill was born in December 1838 into a large family of ultimately nine children. Her father was a corn merchant, but after he suffered from mental issues, he was no longer able to support his family, so his wife, Caroline Southwood Smith and her family, financially supported the family. Much of her family was deeply interested in alleviating poverty in urban settings, which influenced Hill throughout her life. Her own circumstances changed as well, having gone from comfort to poverty after her father’s illness. At the age of 13, Hill was accepted into a co-operative guild, which training in glass-painting. The guild was designed to provide employment opportunities for impoverished women. She soon began managing the guild, and heartbroken over the extreme poverty she saw her fellow child workers experienced, she began working within other organizations as well to address poverty. As part of her experiences, she was put in charge of managing three neglected homes, in hopes of improving their condition, the quality of lives of the low-income tenants and making them attractive for investment as well. This work focuses on Hill’s experiences in managing these properties, and her thoughts on how to eradicate poverty and improve the quality of life for all Londoners.Hill was very successful, and her program grew tremendously and took on other paid female professionals. She had some interesting beliefs, such as not supporting women’s suffrage and also not being supportive of welfare benefits, even for the elderly and infirm, preferring only the concept of self-sufficiency. Hill died from cancer on August 13, 1912 at the age of 73.