1852 Black and White photograph of Edward Rudolf with two children

Edward Rudolf was born on 11 April in Lambeth, London. His younger years were not easy, but they revealed a determination and ability that served him well in later years, as head of The Children's Society. Due to his father's failing eyesight, he became the family's main wage earner in his early teens, working as an office boy in a Blackfriars business. Unable to continue his schooling, he spent his spare time and money on teaching himself French, German, natural philosophy and mechanics.


He passed the Civil Service's first open examinations and obtained a post in the Office of Works. He went on to become official private secretary to the First Commissioner, G J Shaw-Lefevre (later Lord Eversley), and to his successor, Lord Rosebery.


Edward Rudolf founded The Children's Society and worked unceasingly to ensure its success. He was the prime mover in all its activities, arranging and attending fundraising events, encouraging supporters and setting up new children's homes. In addition to all this, he visited the homes regularly and was very involved in planning for the children's care and monitoring their progress. Remarkably, he combined this activity with his Civil Service work until 1890.

1884 – 1893

His work for children was not confined to his own organisation. Over these nine years he was involved with Benjamin Waugh in the establishment and early work of the NSPCC. He also became an important campaigner for the welfare of children in political and social circles, giving evidence to numerous parliamentary committees - including Lord Shaftesbury's enquiry in 1885 into the plight of children employed by circuses - and contributing to press and conference debates on children's issues.


Rudolf decided to concentrate solely on The Children's Society and become its first paid director.


In later life, Rudolf became a clergyman and was ordained as a deacon


Rudolf was ordained as a priest.


Rudolf was made a prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral.


Rudolf remained at the heart of The Children's Society's affairs until 1919, when he retired because of poor health. He continued to serve on several committees for many years after.


He received a formal accolade for his work when he was made a CBE. Later in the same year, the University of Oxford awarded him an honorary degree.


Edward Rudolf died at the age of 81.

His life work stands as testimony to someone dedicated to helping children and young people.