Mary Carpenter (3 April 1807 – 14 June 1877) was an English educational and social reformer. The daughter of a Unitarian minister, she founded aragged school and reformatories, bringing previously unavailable educational opportunities to poor children and young offenders in Bristol.
She published articles and books on her work and her lobbying was instrumental in the passage of several educational acts in the mid-nineteenth century. She was the first woman to have a paper published by the Statistical Society of London. . She addressed many conferences and meetings and became known as one of the foremost public speakers of her time. Carpenter was active in the anti-slavery movement; she also visitedIndia, visiting schools and prisons and working to improve female education, establish reformatory schools and improve prison conditions. In later years she visited Europe and America, carrying on her campaigns of penal and educational reform.
Carpenter publicly supported women’s suffrage in her later years and also campaigned for female access to higher education. She is buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol.