Victorians: Eglantyne Jebb

On this page you will find a new song about Eglantyne Jebb (the social reformer, economist and political activist) who lived in Cambridge and campaigned for better sanitation and housing conditions in the early 1900s at the end of Queen Victoria's reign.  

She was a woman of her time, campaigning for better life expectancies for working families and children, joined the suffragette marches, then went to the Balkans during and after the first world war and organized to alleviate the plight of refugees in the aftermath of war, and then campaigned for the rights of children which she fought to have codified in the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child, and her work has a further legacy today from her co-founding the charity, still very active, called Save the Children.  You can find out more about Eglantyne here on our Histories section of the Creating My Cambridge website here.

Eglantyne Jebb lyrics to celebrate the story of her life and achievements and her work in Cambridge and internationally have been composed by Helen Weinstein who commissioned  CBBC's Horrible Histories chief songwriter, Dave Cohen, to partner her to compose this song.  Scroll down to find these resources.

Composer: Dave Cohen with history researched and story lines by Helen Weinstein, which we've written into song verses telling the story of Eglantyne's long list of achievements!

MY DARLING EGLANTYNE – to tune of the ballad from the late 1800s called “Oh My Darling Clementine”

This audio file is a recording & edit by Historyworks as a guide for children and teachers to learn the song:

Also, if you want to listen to the melody and lyrics of the original song, please do find a rendition of the traditional ballad on youtube here.



Cambridge daughter, cleaned the water, 
Took disease from out the brine
Helped the nation’s sanitation 
And her name was Eglantyne.

Eglantyne Jebb, Eglantyne Jebb 
Once she’d made the water fine,
She created Save The Children, 
Oh my darling Eglantyne

Born around the reign of Queen Vic
She grew up on an estate
Not the normal kind, this one had, 
Butlers and an iron gate.

Though she had a wealthy background
Spent her life helping the poor
Thought that furniture showed you’re greedy
So she sat upon the floor.

Eglantyne Jebb Eglantyne Jebb
Poverty was a disgrace
Spent her life helping the needy
Made the world a better place

Then she came to live in Cambridge
With its students, quads and wealth
What she found beyond the colleges
Was a town in awful health

Poor were forced to fetch their water
From the filthy River Cam
She taught hygiene, how to keep clean
All her own work, thank you ma’am

Eglantyne Jebb Eglantyne Jebb
Pioneer and suffragette
Did so much, we’ve still to mention
Greatest Jebb achievement yet…

Just before the first world war she
Went abroad and saw disease
Back in England helped to raise funds 
For the children refugees.

After four years, war is over
But the children suffer still
No one cares or tries to help them
Only Eglantyne Jebb will.

Eglantyne Jebb Eglantyne Jebb
And her sister don’t despair
So they start up ‘Save The Children’
Now the whole world is aware

Every church and every city
Joins the cause to give kids hope
Save The Children does exactly that
And she gets to meet the Pope

Still there’s more she does ensure that
Children get to have a say
League of Nations declaration
Still lives on to this day

Eglantyne Jebb Eglantyne Jebb
We’re forever in her debt
Helped the poor, a great reformer
And a name we won’t forget


Victorians: Eglantyne Jebb


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