Selina Cooper was born in Callington, Cornwall in 1864. Her father was a construction worker, who died of typhoid leaving his family destitute. They moved north to Barnoldswick, on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border, in 1876 and Selina was employed part-time in the local textile industry. At the age of thirteen, she left school to work full-time in the mill. After spending several years looking after her bed-ridden mother, Selina returned to the textile industry and joined the local trade union in Nelson. She became active in the union, fighting the cause of female employees.
Selina began to attend classes at the Women’s Co-operative Guild and became interested in politics and such things as birth control. When the Independent Labour Party was formed in 1892 in Nelson, Selina joined. It was there she met her future husband, Robert Cooper. In spite of the increased demands of a growing family, Selina continued to fight for women’s suffrage. In 1901, she was asked by her local party to stand as a candidate in the Poor Law Guardian elections. In spite of opposition from the local press, she was elected.
Throughout her life, Selina continued to be involved in local politics. She was a member of the town council and a local magistrate. She campaigned against military conscription, facism and many other issues in addition to women’s rights. She died in 1946.