THE extraordinary life of Boltonian Alice Foley will be celebrated in her hometown.

The suffragist, as well as being remembered as part of the 100 years of women's suffrage, is being celebrated to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the trade union movement in Manchester .

Her life, dedicated to equality and improving the lives of both sexes, will be celebrated by readings from her autobiography, "A Bolton Childhood" .

Born into poverty in 1891 but introduced to the benefits of education through her drink-loving father, Miss Foley was a leading figure in British trade union history — becoming the first women to become a full time trade union official in the Lancashire cotton industry to improve the lives of workers, men and women.

She was elected General Secretary of the Bolton Weavers in 1949 and worked for the Bolton Weavers since 1913 first as a sick visitor and since 1917 in the trade union office.

Miss Foley, who met Gandhi, faced a great deal of prejudice from the male committee,where she felt she was "tolerated but not accepted".

And her autobiography A Bolton Childhood tells the story of her early life and how she overcame poverty and educated herself.

The book has been described as a "classic account of working class life and one of the finest female working class autobiographies written in the twentieth century".

Alan Fowler of The North West Labour History Society said: "Alice Foley was chosen by the TUC as part of the 150th celebrations and to celebrate her life, as an example of working women helping to change the world.

"The event will take place in Bolton her hometown."

Mr Fowler often used her autobiography as a "set text" for his students when a lecturer of economics and social history at what is now Manchester Metropolitan University. So popular was the book, students would recommend it to different generations of their family.

He said: "I came across her when I was the Nelson Weaver's Office in the 1970s and came across the autobiography and have been a fan ever since.

"A Bolton Childhood is a story of family life, a story where people like Alice are raising themselves above poverty. It's also a contrast between the steadiness of the mother and the difficulties of father but who would still bring imagination to the family.

"It is a story of hard times but also about people seeking a better future and that is what continues to capture the imagination of people.

"She was the first full time official in the cotton industry where the majority of workers were women and for the first time had representation from a woman, in that way she was a pioneer.

"Today the TUC secretary is a woman, it is a different world today which Alice contributed to."

The reading will take place place on September 22 in Bolton Central Library.