Nellie began her political activism in 1909 at the age of fourteen when she joined the nightly protests against force-feeding outside Winson Green Prison. Nellie's involvement in he Women's Suffrage movement was influenced by her parents, particularly her mother Martha who was one of the original six women who formed the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903.
Nellie worked for the WSPU in Birmingham from 1911 to 1913 until she was arrested for throwing a brick through the car of Prime Minister Herbert Asquith on 21 July 1913. She was sentenced to three weeks in prison but was released after eight days suffering from mumps. She then moved to London and continued her activism culminating in her arrest in 1914 along with her mother and sister for concealing an arsenal of pebbles and "window smashing equipment" in their Maida Vale flat for which she was sentenced to three months.
In 1920 Nellie married a schoolmaster and settled in Warwickshire but in 1928, through the intervetion of Flora Drummond she was persuaded to act as secretary and liaison officer for Emmeline Pankhurst whom she nursed through her final illness. Following Emmeline's death, Nellie and her family emigrated to Canada in 1929.