A suffragette was a member of militant women's organisations in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for the right to vote in public elections, known as women's suffrage. The term refers in particular to members of the British Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a women-only movement founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst, which engaged in direct action and civil disobedience. In 1906 a reporter writing in the Daily Mail coined the term suffragette for the WSPU, from suffragist, in an attempt to belittle the women advocating women's suffrage. The militants embraced the new name, even adopting it for use as the title of the newspaper published by the WSPU.
Women had won the right to vote in several countries by the end of the 19th century; in 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing country to grant the vote to all women over the age of 21. When by 1903 women in Britain had not been enfranchised, Pankhurst decided that women had to "do the work ourselves"; the WSPU motto became "deeds, not words". The suffragettes heckled politicians, tried to storm parliament, were attacked and sexually assaulted during battles with the police, chained themselves to railings, smashed windows, set fire to postboxes and empty buildings, set bombs in order to damage churches and property, and faced anger and ridicule in the media. When imprisoned they went on hunger strike, to which the government responded by force-feeding them. The death of one suffragette, Emily Davison, when she ran in front of the king's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby, made headlines around the world. The WSPU campaign had varying levels of support from within the suffragette movement; breakaway groups formed, and within the WSPU itself not all members supported the direct action.
The suffragette campaign was suspended when World War I broke out in 1914. After the war, the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave the vote to women over the age of 30 who met certain property qualifications. Ten years later women gained electoral equality with men when the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 gave all women the vote at age 21
|First suffragettes||Women's Social and Political Union|
|Formation||10 October 1903|
|Founder||Emmeline Pankhurst (WSPU)|
|Purpose||Votes for women|
|Methods||Marches, heckling, civil disobedience, direct action, hunger strike|
|Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, Teresa Billington-Greig, Emily Davison, Charlotte Despard, Flora Drummond, Annie Kenney, Constance Lytton, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence|
Although the Isle of Man had enfranchised women who owned property to vote in parliamentary (Tynwald) elections in 1881, New Zealand was the first self-governing country to grant all women the right to vote in 1893 when women over the age of 21 were permitted to vote in parliamentary elections. Women in South Australia achieved the same right and became the first to obtain the right to stand for parliament in 1895. In the United States, white women over the age of 21 were allowed to vote in the western territories of Wyoming from 1869 and in Utah from 1870.
In 1865 John Stuart Mill was elected to be a feminist on a platform that included votes for women, and in 1869 he published his essay in favour of equality of the sexes The Subjection of Women. Also in 1865 a discussion group was formed to promote higher education for women which was named the Kensington Society. Following discussions on the subject of women's suffrage, the society formed a committee to draft a petition and gather signatures, which Mill agreed to present to Parliament once they had gathered 100 signatures. In October 1866 amateur scientist, Lydia Becker, attended a meeting of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science held in Manchester and heard one of the organisors of the petition, Barbara Bodichon, read a paper entitled Reasons for the Enfranchisement of Women. Becker was inspired to help gather signatures around Manchester and to join the newly formed Manchester committee. Mill presented the petition to Parliament in 1866 by which time the supporters had gathered 1499 signatures, including those of Florence Nightingale, Harriet Martineau, Josephine Butler and Mary Somerville.
In March 1867, Becker wrote an article for the Contemporary Review, in which she said:
It surely will not be denied that women have, and ought to have, opinions of their own on subjects of public interest, and on the events which arise as the world wends on its way. But if it be granted that women may, without offence, hold political opinions, on what ground can the right be withheld of giving the same expression or effect to their opinions as that enjoyed by their male neighbours?
Two further petitions were presented to parliament in May 1867 and Mill also proposed an amendment to the 1867 Reform Act to give women the same political rights as men but the amendment was treated with derision and defeated by 196 votes to 73.
The first public meeting on the subject of women's suffrage in UK was held in Manchester's Free Trade Hall in 1868; one of the speakers was Lydia Becker, supported by Dr. Richard Pankhurst among others. Amongst the audience was the 15-year-old Emmeline Goulden, who was to become an ardent campaigner for women's rights, and later married Dr. Pankhurst and adopted his surname as was customary, becoming known as Emmeline Pankhurst.
During the summer of 1880, Lydia Becker visited the Isle of Man to address five public meetings on the subject of women's suffrage to audiences mainly composed of women. These speeches instilled in the Manx women a determination to secure the franchise, and on 31 January 1881, women on the island who owned property in their own right were given the vote.
In Manchester the Women's Suffrage Committee had been formed in 1867 to work with the Independent Labour Party (ILP) to secure votes for women, but although the local ILP were very supportive, nationally the party were more interested in securing the franchise for working class men and refused to make women's suffrage a priority. In 1897 the Manchester Women's Suffrage committee had merged with the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) but Emmeline Pankhurst, who was a member of the original Manchester committee, and her eldest daughter Christabel had become impatient with the ILP and on 10 October 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst held a meeting at her home in Manchester to form a breakaway group, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). From the outset the WSPU was determined to move away from the staid campaign methods of NUWSS and instead take more positive action:
It was on October 10, 1903 that I invited a number of women to my house in Nelson Street, Manchester, for purposes of organisation. We voted to call our new society the Women's Social and Political Union, partly to emphasise its democracy, and partly to define it object as political rather than propagandist. We resolved to limit our membership exclusively to women, to keep ourselves absolutely free from party affiliation, and to be satisfied with nothing but action on our question. 'Deeds, not words' was to be our permanent motto.— Emmeline Pankhurst
The term "suffragette" was first used in 1906 as a term of derision by the journalist Charles E. Hands in the London Daily Mail to describe activists in the movement for women's suffrage, in particular members of the WSPU. But the women he intended to ridicule embraced the term, saying "suffraGETtes" (hardening the g), implying not only that they wanted the vote, but that they intended to get it.
At a political meeting in Manchester in 1905, Christabel Pankhurst and millworker, Annie Kenney, disrupted speeches by prominent Liberals Winston Churchill and Sir Edward Grey, asking where Churchill and Grey stood with regards to women's political rights. At a time when political meetings were only attended by men and speakers were expected to be given the courtesy of expounding their views without interruption, the audience were outraged, and when the women unfurled a "Votes for Women" banner they were both arrested for a technical assault on a policeman. When Pankhurst and Kenny appeared in court they both refused to pay the fine imposed, preferring to go to prison in order to gain publicity for their cause.
Stung by the stereotypical image of the strong minded woman in masculine clothes created by newspaper cartoonists, the suffragettes resolved to present a fashionable, feminine image when appearing in public. In 1908 the co-editor of the WSPU's newspaper,Votes for Women, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, designed the suffragettes' colour scheme of purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity, and green for hope. Fashionable London shops Selfridges and Liberty sold tricolour-striped ribbon for hats, rosettes, badges and belts, as well as coloured garments, underwear, handbags, shoes, slippers and toilet soap. As membership of the WSPU grew it became fashionable for women to identify with the cause by wearing the colours, often discretely in a small piece of jewellery or by carrying a heart-shaped vesta case and in December 1908 the London jewellers, Mappin & Webb, issued a catalogue of suffragette jewellery in time for the Christmas season. Sylvia Pankhurst said at the time: "Many suffragists spend more money on clothes than they can comfortably afford, rather than run the risk of being considered outré, and doing harm to the cause". In 1909 the WSPU presented specially commissioned pieces of jewellery to leading suffragettes, Emmeline Pankhurst and Louise Eates.
The suffragettes also used other methods to publicise and raise money for the cause and from 1909, the "Pank-A-Squith" board game was sold by the WSPU. The name was derived from Pankhurst and the surname of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, who was largely hated by the movement. The board game was set out in a spiral, and players were required to lead their suffragette figure from their home to parliament, past the obstacles faced from Prime Minister H. H. Asquith and the Liberal government. Also in 1909, suffragettes Solomon and McLellan tried an innovative method of potentially obtaining a meeting with Asquith by sending themselves by Royal Mail courier post, however, Downing Street did not accept the parcel.
Sophia Duleep Singh, the third daughter of the exiled, Maharaja Duleep Singh, had made a trip from her home in London to India, in 1903, to see the celebrations for the accession of King Edward VII as emperor of India and was shocked by the brutality of life under British rule. On her return to the UK in 1909, Singh became an ardent supporter of the cause, selling suffragette newspapers outside her apartment at Hampton Court Palace, refusing to pay taxes, fighting with police at protests and attacking the prime minister's car.
1912 was a turning point for the suffragettes as they turned to using more militant tactics and began a window-smashing campaign. Some members off the WSPU, including Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and her husband Frederick, disagreed with this strategy but Christabel Pankhurst ignored their objections. In answer this, the Government ordered the arrest of the WSPU leaders and, although Christabel Pankhurst escaped to France, the Pethick-Lawrences were arrested, tried and sentenced to nine months imprisonment. On their release, the Pethick-Lawrences began to speak out publicly against the window-smashing campaign, arguing that it would lose support for the cause, and eventually they were expelled from the WSPU. Having lost control of Votes for Women the WSPU began to publish their own newspaper under the title The Suffragette.
The campaign was then escalated with the suffragettes chaining themselves to railings, setting fire to post box contents, smashing windows and eventually detonating bombs. Some radical techniques used by the suffragettes were learned from Russian exiles from tsarism who had escaped to England. In 1914, at least seven churches were bombed or set on fire across the United Kingdom, including Westminster Abbey, where an explosion aimed at destroying the 700-year-old Coronation Chair, only caused minor damage.
One suffragette, Emily Davison, died under the King's horse, Anmer, at The Derby on 4 June 1913. It is debated whether she was trying to pull down the horse, attach a suffragette scarf or banner to it, or commit suicide to become a martyr to the cause. However, recent analysis of the film of the event suggests that she was merely trying to attach a scarf to the horse, and the suicide theory seems unlikely as she was carrying a return train ticket from Epsom and had holiday plans with her sister in the near future.
Many suffragettes were imprisoned and refused food as a scare tactic against the government. The Liberal government of the day led by Asquith responded with the Cat and Mouse Act.
In the early 20th century until the outbreak of World War I, approximately one thousand suffragettes were imprisoned in Britain. Most early incarcerations were for public order offences and failure to pay outstanding fines. While incarcerated, suffragettes lobbied to be considered political prisoners; with such a designation, suffragettes would be placed in the First Division as opposed to the Second or Third Division of the prison system, and as political prisoners would be granted certain freedoms and liberties not allotted to other prison divisions, such as being allowed frequent visits and being allowed to write books or articles. Because of a lack of consistency between the different courts, suffragettes would not necessarily be placed in the First Division and could be placed in Second or Third Division, which enjoyed fewer liberties.
This cause was taken up by the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a large organisation in Britain, that lobbied for women's suffrage led by militant suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. The WSPU campaigned to get imprisoned suffragettes recognised as political prisoners. However, this campaign was largely unsuccessful. Citing a fear that the suffragettes becoming political prisoners would make for easy martyrdom, and with thoughts from the courts and the Home Office that they were abusing the freedoms of First Division to further the agenda of the WSPU, suffragettes were placed in Second Division, and in some cases the Third Division, in prisons with no special privileges granted to them as a result.
Peaceful acts of civil disobedience such as chaining themselves to railings, refusing to pay taxes and fines, and hunger strikes were deployed by the suffragettes.
Throughout the suffragette movement, many violent tactics were employed in order to achieve its goals. Throughout Britain, the contents of letterboxes were set alight or corrosive acids or liquids poured over the letters inside, and shop and office windows were smashed. Telephone wires were cut, and graffiti slogans began appearing on the streets. Places that wealthy people, typically men, frequented were also burnt and destroyed while unattended so that there was no risk to life, including cricket grounds, golf courses and horse-racing tracks. Pinfold Manor in Surrey, which was being built for Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, was targeted with two bombs on 19 February 1913, only one of which exploded, causing significant damage; in her memoirs, Sylvia Pankhurst said that Emily Davison had carried out the attack. There were 250 arson or destruction attacks in a six-month period in 1913. There are reports in the Parliamentary Papers which include lists of the 'incendiary devices', explosions, artwork destruction (including an axe attack upon a painting of The Duke of Wellington in the National Gallery), arson attacks, window-breaking, post-box burning and telegraph cable breaking that took place during the most militant years, from 1910 to 1914. Both suffragettes and police spoke of a "Reign of Terror"; newspaper headlines referred to "Suffragette Terrorism".
Suffragettes were not recognised as political prisoners, and many of them staged hunger strikes while they were imprisoned. The first woman to refuse food was Marion Wallace Dunlop, a militant suffragette who was sentenced to a month in Holloway for vandalism in July 1909. Without consulting suffragette leaders such as Pankhurst, Dunlop refused food in protest at being denied political prisoner status. After a 92-hour hunger strike, and for fear of her becoming a martyr, the Home Secretary Herbert Gladstone decided to release her early on medical grounds. Dunlop's strategy was adopted by other suffragettes who were incarcerated. It became common practice for suffragettes to refuse food in protest for not being designated as political prisoners, and as a result they would be released after a few days and could return to the "fighting line".
After a public backlash regarding the prison status of suffragettes, the rules of the divisions were amended. In March 1910, Rule 243A was introduced by the Home Secretary Winston Churchill, allowing prisoners in Second and Third Divisions to be allowed certain privileges of the First Division, provided they were not convicted of a serious offence, effectively ending hunger strikes for two years. Hunger strikes began again when Pankhurst was transferred from the Second Division to the First Division, inciting the other suffragettes to demonstrate regarding their prison status.
Militant suffragette demonstrations subsequently became more aggressive, and the British Government took action. Unwilling to release all the suffragettes refusing food in prison, in the autumn of 1909, the authorities began to adopt more drastic measures to manage the hunger-strikers. In September 1909 the Home Office became unwilling to release hunger-striking suffragettes before their sentence was served. Suffragettes became a liability because if they were to die in custody, the prison would be responsible for their death. Prisons began the practice of force-feeding the hunger strikers through a tube, most commonly via a nostril or stomach tube or a stomach pump. Force-feeding had previously been practised in Britain but its use had been exclusively for patients in hospitals who were too unwell to eat or swallow food. Despite the practice being deemed safe by medical practitioners for sick patients, it posed health issues for the healthy suffragettes.
The process of tube-feeding was strenuous without the consent of the hunger strikers, who were typically strapped down and force-fed via stomach or nostril tube, often with a considerable amount of force. The process was painful and after the practice was observed and studied by several physicians, it was deemed to cause both short-term damage to the circulatory system, digestive system and nervous system and long-term damage to the physical and mental health of the suffragettes. Some suffragettes who were force-fed developed pleurisy or pneumonia as a result of a misplaced tube.
In April 1913, Reginald McKenna of the Home Office passed the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913, or the Cat and Mouse Act as it was commonly known. The act made the hunger strikes legal, in that a suffragette would be temporarily released from prison when their health began to diminish, only to be readmitted when she regained her health to finish her sentence. The act enabled the British Government to be absolved of any blame resulting from death or harm due to the self-starvation of the striker and ensured that the suffragettes would be too ill and too weak to participate in demonstrative activities while not in custody. Most women continued hunger striking when they were readmitted to prison following their leave. After the Act was introduced, force-feeding on a large scale was stopped and only women convicted of more serious crimes and considered likely to repeat their offences if released were force-fed.
In early 1913 and in response to the Cat and Mouse Act, the WSPU instituted a secret society of women known as the "Bodyguard" whose role was to physically protect Emmeline Pankhurst and other prominent suffragettes from arrest and assault. Known members included Katherine Willoughby Marshall, Leonora Cohen and Gertrude Harding; Edith Margaret Garrud was their jujitsu trainer.
The origin of the "Bodyguard" can be traced to a WSPU meeting at which Garrud spoke. As suffragettes speaking in public increasingly found themselves the target of violence and attempted assaults, learning jujitsu was a way for women to defend themselves against angry hecklers. Inciting incidents included Black Friday, during which a deputation of 300 suffragettes were physically prevented by police from entering the House of Commons, sparking a near-riot and allegations of both common and sexual assault.
Members of the "Bodyguard" orchestrated the "escapes" of a number of fugitive suffragettes from police surveillance during 1913 and early 1914. They also participated in several violent actions against the police in defence of their leaders, notably including the "Battle of Glasgow" on March 9, 1914, when a group of about 30 Bodyguards brawled with about 50 police constables and detectives on the stage of St. Andrew's Hall in Glasgow, Scotland. The fight was witnessed by an audience of some 4500 people.
At the commencement of the World War 1, the suffragette movement in Britain moved away from suffrage activities and focused on the war effort, and as a result, hunger strikes largely stopped. In August 1914, the British Government released all prisoners who had been incarcerated for suffrage activities on an amnesty, with Pankhurst ending all militant suffrage activities soon after. The suffragettes' focus on war work turned public opinion in favour of their eventual partial enfranchisement in 1918.
Women eagerly volunteered to take on many traditional male roles – leading to a new view of what women were capable of. The war also caused a split in the British suffragette movement; the mainstream, represented by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst's WSPU calling a ceasefire in their campaign for the duration of the war, while more radical suffragettes, represented by Sylvia Pankhurst's Women's Suffrage Federation continued the struggle.
The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, which had always employed "constitutional" methods, continued to lobby during the war years and compromises were worked out between the NUWSS and the coalition government. On 6 February, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, enfranchising all men over 21 years of age and women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications, gaining the right to vote for about 8.4 million women. In November 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into parliament. The Representation of the People Act 1928 extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21, granting women the vote on the same terms that men had gained ten years earlier.
The 1918 general election, the first general election to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, was the first in which some women (property owners older than 30) could vote. At that election, the first woman to be elected an MP was Constance Markievicz but, in line with Sinn Féin abstentionist policy, she declined to take her seat in the British House of Commons. The first woman to do so was Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor, following a by-election in November 1919.
In the autumn of 1913 Emmeline Pankhurst had sailed to the US to embark on a lecture tour to publicise the message of the WSPU and to raise money for the treatment of her son, Harry, who was gravely ill. By this time the suffragettes' tactics of civil disorder were being used by American militants Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, both of whom had campaigned with the WSPU in London. As in the UK, the suffrage movement in America was divided into two disparate groups with the National American Woman Suffrage Association representing the more militant campaign and the International Women's Suffrage Alliance taking a more cautious and pragmatic approach Although the publicity surrounding Pankhurst's visit and the militant tactics used by her followers gave a welcome boost to the campaign, the majority of women in the US preferred the more respected label of "suffragist" to the title "suffragette" adopted by the militants.
Many suffragists at the time, and some historians since, have argued that the actions of the militant suffragettes damaged their cause. Opponents at the time saw evidence that women were too emotional and could not think as logically as men. Historians generally argue that the first stage of the militant suffragette movement under the Pankhursts in 1906 had a dramatic mobilizing effect on the suffrage movement. Women were thrilled and supportive of an actual revolt in the streets; the membership of the militant WSPU and the older NUWSS overlapped and were mutually supportive. However a system of publicity, Ensor argues, had to continue to escalate to maintain its high visibility in the media. The hunger strikes and force-feeding did that. However, the Pankhursts refused any advice and escalated their tactics. They turned to systematic disruption of Liberal Party meetings as well as physical violence in terms of damaging public buildings and arson. Searle says the methods of the suffragettes did succeed in damaging the Liberal party but failed to advance the cause of women's suffrage. When the Pankhursts decided to stop the militancy at the start of the war, and enthusiastically support the war effort, the movement split and their leadership's role ended. Suffrage did come four years later, but the feminist movement in Britain permanently abandoned the militant tactics that had made the suffragettes famous.
After Emmeline Pankhurst's death in 1928, money was raised to commission a statue, and on 6 March 1930 the statue in Victoria Tower Gardens was unveiled. A crowd of radicals, former suffragettes, and national dignitaries gathered as former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin presented the memorial to the public. In his address, Baldwin declared: "I say with no fear of contradiction, that whatever view posterity may take, Mrs. Pankhurst has won for herself a niche in the Temple of Fame which will last for all time." In 1929 a portrait of Emmeline Pankhurst was added to the National Portrait Gallery's collection. In 1987 her former home at 62 Nelson Street, Manchester, the birhplace of the WSPU, and the adjoining Edwardian villa (no. 60) were opened as the Pankhurst Centre, a women-only space and museum dedicated to the suffragette movement. Christabel Pankhurst was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1936, and after her death in 1958 a permanent memorial was installed next to the statue of her mother. The memorial to Christabel Pankhurst consists of a low stone screen flanking her mother's statue with a bronze medallion plaque depicting her profile at one end of the screen paired with a second plaque depicting the "prison brooch" or "badge" of the WSPU at the other end. The unveiling of this dual memorial was performed on 13 July 1959 by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir.
In 1903 Australian suffragist Vida Goldstein adopted the WSPU colours for her campaign for the Senate in 1910 but got them slightly wrong, thinking they were purple, green and lavender. Goldstein had visited England in 1911 at the behest of the WSPU; her speeches around the country drew huge crowds and her tour was touted as "the biggest thing that has happened in the women movement for sometime in England". The correct colours were used for her campaign for Kooyong in 1913 and also for the flag of the Women's Peace Army, which she established during World War I to oppose conscription. During International Women's Year in 1975 the BBC series about the suffragettes, Shoulder to Shoulder, was screened across Australia and Elizabeth Reid, Women's Adviser to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam directed that the WSPU colours be used for the International Women's Year symbol; they were also used for a first-day cover and postage stamp released by Australia Post in March 1975. The colours have since been adopted by government bodies such as the National Women's Advisory Council and organisations such as Women's Electoral Lobby and other women's services such as domestic violence refuges and are much in evidence each year on International Women's day.
The colours of green and heliotrope (purple) were commissioned into a new coat of arms for Edge Hill University in Lancashire in 2006, symbolising the university's early commitment to the equality of women through its beginnings as a women-only college.
During the 1960s the memory of the suffragettes was kept alive in the public consciousness by portrayals in film, such as the character Mrs. Winifred Banks in the 1964 Disney musical film Mary Poppins who sings the song Sister Suffragette and Maggie DuBois in the 1965 film The Great Race. In 1974 The BBC TV series Shoulder to Shoulder portraying events in the British militant suffrage movement, concentrating on the lives of members of the Pankhurst family was shown around the world. And in the 21st century the story of the suffragettes was brought to a new generation in the BBC television series Up the Women, the 2015 graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst's Amazons and the 2015 film Suffragette.
In February 2019, female Democrat members of the US Congress dressed predominantly in white when attending President Trump's State of the Union address. The choice of one of the colours associated with the suffragettes was to signify the women's solidarity.
Holton, Sandra Stanley (2002). Suffrage Days: Stories From the Women's Suffrage Movement. London and New York: Routledge. p. 253.
The 1906 WSPU march on 19 February 1906 was the first march held in London to demand the right to vote for women in the United Kingdom. Organized by Sylvia Pankhurst and Annie Kenney of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the event saw around 300–400 women march through central London to the House of Commons. It was held to coincide with the King's Speech and the opening of Parliament.Two hundred women from Bow, Bromley, Canning Town and Poplar in the East End marched to Caxton Hall, near the Commons, from St. James's Park tube station. There, Emmeline Pankhurst heard there was no mention of votes for women in the King's Speech and led the women on another march to the Commons Strangers' Entrance. Over the following two hours, the women were allowed to enter in groups of 20 to lobby their MPs. The Daily Mirror reported the event on page 5: "Voteless Women. 3,000 [sic] Demonstrators March Behind a Red Banner. Smiling but Earnest."Emmeline Pankhurst saw the march as the beginning of a militant women's suffrage movement. The women "were awake at last", she wrote. "They were prepared to do something that women had never done before—fight for themselves. Women had always fought for men, and for their children. Now they were ready to fight for their own human rights. Our militant movement was established."Bessie Watson
Elizabeth Watson (13 July 1900 - 1992) was a Scottish child suffragette and piper.Eagle House (suffragette's rest)
Eagle House is a Grade II* listed building in Batheaston, Somerset, near Bath. Before the First World War, the house had extensive grounds.
When Emily Blathwayt and her husband, Colonel Linley Blathwayt, owned the house, it was used, from 1909 to 1912, as a refuge for suffragettes who had been released from prison after hunger strikes. It became known as the Suffragette's Retreat. Emily Blathwayt was a suffragette and member of the Women's Social and Political Union.
Between April 1909 and July 1911, trees were planted in the grounds to commemorate individual suffragettes; at least 47 were planted . Known as Annie's Arboretum, after Annie Kenney, the trees were destroyed in the 1960s when a council estate was built. Only one tree, an Australian Pine planted in 1909 by Rose Lamartine Yates, remains.Emily Davison
Emily Wilding Davison (11 October 1872 – 8 June 1913) was a suffragette who fought for votes for women in Britain in the early twentieth century. A member of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and a militant fighter for her cause, she was arrested on ten occasions, went on hunger strike seven times and was force fed on forty-nine occasions. She died after being hit by King George V's horse Anmer at the 1913 Derby when she walked onto the track during the race, some people believed she was trying to pin a badge about women's rights onto the horse but failed.
Davison grew up in a middle-class family, and studied at Royal Holloway College, London, and St Hugh's College, Oxford, before taking jobs as a teacher and governess. She joined the WSPU in November 1906 and became an officer of the organisation and a chief steward during marches. She soon became known in the organisation for her daring militant action; her tactics included breaking windows, throwing stones, setting fire to postboxes and, on three occasions, hiding overnight in the Palace of Westminster—including on the night of the 1911 census. Her funeral on 14 June 1913 was organised by the WSPU. A procession of 5,000 suffragettes and their supporters accompanied her coffin and 50,000 people lined the route through London; her coffin was then taken by train to the family plot in Morpeth, Northumberland.
Davison was a staunch feminist and passionate Christian, and considered that socialism was a moral and political force for good. Much of her life has been interpreted through the manner of her death. She gave no prior explanation for what she planned to do at the Derby and the uncertainty of her motives and intentions has affected how she has been judged by history. Several theories have been put forward, including accident, suicide, or an attempt to pin a suffragette banner to the king's horse.List of feminists
This is a list of important participants in the development of feminism, originally sorted by surname within each period.
It may include, for instance, earlier authors who did not self-identify as feminists but have been claimed to have furthered "feminist consciousness" by a resistance of male dominance expressed in their works.List of suffragists and suffragettes
This list of suffragists and suffragettes includes noted individuals active in the worldwide women's suffrage movement who have campaigned or strongly advocated for women's suffrage, the organizations which they formed or joined, and the publications which publicized – and, in some nations, continue to publicize – their goals. Suffragists and suffragettes, often members of different groups and societies, used or use differing tactics. For example, "suffragette" in the British usage denotes a more "militant" type of campaigner, while suffragettes in the United States organized such nonviolent events as the Suffrage Hikes, the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, and the Silent Sentinels.Margaret Macfarlane
Margaret Macfarlane (born 1888) was a Scottish suffragette and honorary secretary of the Women's Social and Political Union in Dundee and East Fife.Mary Phillips (suffragette)
Mary Elizabeth Phillips (15 July 1880 – 21 June 1969) was a suffragette, feminist and socialist. She was the longest prison serving suffragette. She worked for Christabel Pankhurst but was sacked; she then worked for Sylvia Pankhurst under name Mary Pederson.Maud Joachim
Maud Joachim (1869 – 1947) was a British suffragette who was jailed several times for her protests.Sister Suffragette
"Sister Suffragette" is a pro-suffrage protest song pastiche sung by actress Glynis Johns while playing Mrs. Winifred Banks in the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. The song's melody was originally from a scrapped piece called "Practically Perfect", and both that song and "Sister Suffragette" were written and composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
The lyrics mention Emmeline Pankhurst, who with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia founded the Women's Social and Political Union in Manchester, England. Some of the words are: "Our daughters' daughters will adore us, and they'll sing in grateful chorus, well done, Sister Suffragette!"Statue of Emmeline Pankhurst
The statue of Emmeline Pankhurst (officially called Rise Up Women) is a bronze sculpture in St Peter's Square, Manchester depicting Emmeline Pankhurst, a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement in the United Kingdom.
The statue was unveiled on 14 December 2018, the centenary of the 1918 United Kingdom general election, the first election in the United Kingdom in which women over the age of 30 could vote. It is the first statue honoring a woman erected in Manchester since a statue of Queen Victoria was dedicated more than 100 years ago.Statue of Millicent Fawcett
The statue of Dame Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist leader and social campaigner, in Parliament Square, London, is a 2018 work by the Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing. Following a campaign and petition by the activist Caroline Criado Perez, the statue's creation was endorsed by both the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The statue, Parliament Square's first monument to a woman and also its first sculpture by a woman, was funded through the government's Centenary Fund, which marks 100 years since some women won the right to vote. The memorial was unveiled on 24 April 2018.Suffragette (film)
Suffragette is a 2015 British historical period drama film about women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, directed by Sarah Gavron and written by Abi Morgan. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw, and Meryl Streep.Filming began on 24 February 2014. It is the first feature film to be shot in the Houses of Parliament. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 12 October 2015 by French film company Pathé through their british distributor 20th Century Fox with a limited release in the United States on 23 October 2015 by Focus Features.Suffragette City
"Suffragette City" is a song by David Bowie. Originally from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album in 1972, it was later issued as a single in 1976 to promote the Changesonebowie compilation in the UK, with the US single edit of "Stay" on the B-side. The single failed to chart.
Recorded on 4 February 1972, towards the end of the Ziggy Stardust sessions, "Suffragette City" features a piano riff heavily influenced by Little Richard, a lyrical reference to the book and film A Clockwork Orange (the word "droogie," meaning "friend") and the sing-along hook "wham bam, thank you, ma'am!".
Before recording it himself, Bowie offered it to the band Mott the Hoople if they would forgo their plan to break up. The group refused, but recorded Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" instead.Suffragette Memorial
The Suffragette Memorial is an outdoor bronze cast sculpture, commemorating the individuals who fought for Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, and is located in the north-west corner of Christchurch Gardens, Victoria, London. The sculptor was Edwin Russell and the statue was unveiled in 1970.The memorial is in the shape of a scroll, created in fibreglass and cast in bronze, placed on a circular plinth. It features the badges of the Women's Social and Political Union and the Women's Freedom League. The text of the scroll reads:
This tribute is erected by the Suffragette Fellowship to commemorate the courage and perseverance of all those men and women who in the long struggle for votes for women selflessly braved derision, opposition and ostracism, many enduring physical violence and suffering.
An additional inscription notes that Caxton Hall, a nearby building on the corner of Caxton Street and Palmer Street, 'was historically associated with women's suffrage meetings and deputations to parliament'.The memorial was commissioned by the Suffragette Fellowship, and a number of surviving suffragettes attended the unveiling, including Grace Roe, then Fellowship president, Edith Clayton Pepper, Leonora Cohen and Lilian Lenton. At the unveiling Labour politician Edith Summerskill, Baroness Summerskill told the audience of the debt she felt towards the suffragettes, adding 'I will not fail to try to make some contribution to the women's cause'. Also in attendance, Labour politician, and Speaker of the House of Commons, Horace King, Baron Maybray-King, said that he believed 'sooner or later' there would be a woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.Sylvia Murray
Sylvia Winthrope Murray (19 August 1875 – 17 January 1955) was a suffragette, the sister of suffragette Eunice Guthrie Murray.Women's Coronation Procession
The Women's Coronation Procession was a suffragette march through London on 17 June 1911, just before King George V's coronation, demanding women's suffrage in the coronation year. The march was organised by the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Some 40,000 people marched from Westminster to the Albert Hall in South Kensington. Charlotte Despard and Flora Drummond on horseback led the march, which included Annan Bryce dressed as Joan of Arc and 700 women and girls clothed in white to represent suffragette prisoners.
Kate Harvey, Edith Downing and Marion Wallace-Dunlop were among the organisers, and Lolita Roy is believed to have been as well. Jane Cobden organised the Indian women's delegation.Elsie Hooper and other members of the National Association of Women Pharmacists joined the march. In June 1911 the Chemist and Druggist carried photographs of women pharmacists in the march and reported "Miss Elsie Hooper, B.Sc., was in the Science Section, and several other women pharmacists did the two-and-a-half hours’ march.”Women's Social and Political Union
The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was a women-only political movement and leading militant organisation campaigning for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom from 1903 to 1917. Known from 1906 as the suffragettes, its membership and policies were tightly controlled by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia (although Sylvia was eventually expelled).
The WSPU membership became known for civil disobedience and direct action. It heckled politicians, held demonstrations and marches, broke the law to force arrests, broke windows in prominent buildings, set fire to post boxes, committed night-time arson of unoccupied houses and churches, and—when imprisoned—went on hunger strike and endured force-feeding.Women's Sunday
Women's Sunday was a suffragette march and rally held in London on 21 June 1908. Organized by Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) to persuade the Liberal government to support votes for women, it is thought to have been the largest demonstration that had been held at the time in the UK.Up to half a million women and men from all over the country attended the event, while 30,000 women marched to Hyde Park in seven processions carrying 700 banners, including one that read "Not chivalry but justice".