See D. Bennett Emily Davies and the Liberation of Women, 1830-1921 (1990).
In 1862, after the death of her father, Davies moved to London, where she edited a feminist publication, The Englishwoman's Journal, and became friends with women's rights advocates Barbara Bodichon, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and her younger sister Millicent Fawcett. Davies became a founder member of a women's discussion group, the Kensington Society.
Davies began campaigning for a woman's right to education. She was active on the London School Board and in the Schools Inquiry Commission and was instrumental in obtaining the admission of girls to official secondary school examinations.
She also became involved in the Suffrage movement, which centred on a woman's right to vote. She was involved in organizing for John Stuart Mill's 1866 petition to the British Parliament) which was the first to ask for women's suffrage. That same year, she also wrote the book The Higher Education of Women.
In 1869, Davies led the founding of Britain's first women's college, Girton College at Hitchin, Hertfordshire. In 1873, the institution moved to Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. From 1873 to 1875, Davies served as mistress of the college, where she then served as Secretary until 1904. The college did not become part of Cambridge University and begin granting full degrees until 1940.
Davies also continued her suffrage work. In 1906, she headed a delegation to Parliament. She was known for opposing the militant and violent methods used by the Suffragette part of the women's suffrage movement, led by the Pankhursts.
In 1910, Davies published Thoughts on Some Questions Relating to Women. She died in 1921.