Kate is now being swept up into general suffrage enthusiasm – as a member of the NUWSS London society. The hostess of this meeting at 60 Onslow Gardens was Mariana (c 1853-1933), wife of Hylton Dale, a coke and coal merchant.. She was a University of London graduate, a member of the Fabian Society, author of Child Labour under Capitalism and active in many causes, such as the National Association of Women’s Lodging Houses, as well as the suffrage movement. As Kate mentions, one of the purposes of the meeting was to gather signatures for ‘Miss Black’s Declaration’. Clementina Black [left], journalist and author and, like Mrs Dale, always concerned for the working woman, had formed a Women’s Franchise Declaration Committee four months earlier, in November 1906, in one of the many, alas futile, attempts to disprove the statement that women did not really want the vote. It sent out forms to women engaged in business and the professions and at the time of Kate’s contribution the Committee had already gathered nearly 31,000 signatures – drawn particularly from the fields of education, social work, office work, trade, and art. Needless to say, the resulting Declaration, with its 257,000 signatures, was brushed aside by the government, as had so many other attempts to reason made by suffrage societies over the previous 40 years. It is little wonder that the call to militancy met with such success.
Of the speakers, Mrs Stanbury was a member of the Fabian Women’s Group and an organiser for NUWSS; Frances Sterling, another Kensington resident, was joint honorary secretary of the NUWSS.
Thursday March 14th 1907 [25 Arundel Gardens, North Kensington]
Changed my dress after lunch and soon after 3 o’clock Agnes and I walked to Notting Hill Gate and went by train to South Kensington and went to Mrs Hylton Dale’s house in Onslow Gardens to a Woman’s Suffrage Meeting. Alexandra and Gladys Wright were to have done all the work of getting it up and asked us to act as Stewards. So we had to get there punctually at 3.45 to receive instructions, leave our coats, put on badges etc and get some tea. Tea was at 4 o’clock, the meeting at 4.30. Such a lovely house, a beautiful tea – everything so nice – and a glorious room upstairs for the meeting and it was packed. One of the doors had to be taken out and the people sat up and down the stairs and crowded the landings. Such a rich, fashionable, beautifully-dressed audience for the most part. I was busy getting signatures before the meeting began and after it was over and Gladys and I collected. It really didn’t seem to matter asking those rich people to give. We collected £3 3s and got signatures to Miss Black’s Declaration. They want a million names to it. At present there are only about the first hundred thousand. It was a most interesting meeting – such an unusual class of people and I loved working. A Mrs Stanbury was in the Chair. She was fine. Miss Clementina Black, Miss Sterling and Mr Walter McLaren MP were amongst the speakers and the questions asked and answered afterwards were most amusing. One girl I was very taken with – she really did look beautiful and her sister was most fascinating – I got them to sign and found the one was Lilias Waldegrave the actress. Agnes and I didn’t realise how tired we were till we came away – we had been standing all the time and getting so excited. We were not in till after 7 o’clock.
Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford
For a full description of the book click here
Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive
NOW, ALAS, OUT OF PRINT