As one of the most prominent Victorian writers of non-fiction prose, and the only feminist of the period who wrote regularly in periodicals,
published prolifically in a range of genres from reportage and travel writing to social criticism, theology, and ethics. As a professional journalist she wrote more than a hundred periodical essays, and above a thousand anonymous newspaper leaders. She published, at a conservative estimate, eighteen books and innumerable tracts. A key figure in the Victorian women's movement, she produced ground-breakingly trenchant as well as frequently witty analyses of women's social and political disabilities, representing womanly duty as feminist praxis. All her social writings are grounded in her life-long effort to promulgate a nondenominational theistic system of ethics. In her later career she dedicated herself to fighting animal vivisection (a cause she characterized as an abolitionist crusade analogous to anti-slavery) and the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts. For the anti-vivisection campaign alone she produced considerable journalism and at least two hundred tracts. Her theology, ethics, feminism, and anti-vivisection converged in her argument that sympathy—beyond as well as within the human community—was an index of true civilisation.