For the last 100 years the strange death of Emily Wilding Davison has transfixed the public. It is likely to be the one thing that the ‘man – or woman – in the street’ knows about the suffragette movement. Bizarrely the last seconds of her conscious life are still with us –growing in impact as the internet allows everyone to view footage of film that was in the past relatively difficult to access. In this piece by Andrew Marr the BBC has worked its wonders on the Pathé News original, allowing us to see details that the passing years had blurred. I have always wondered if it was by chance that she chose to position herself alongside a section of the Derby racecourse that was in full view of the film camera. The camera was mounted on a stand and would have been clearly visible. However the camera was, presumably, positioned there in order to capture pictures of the horses entering the final straight and Emily Davison may have chosen to be there for the very same reason.
With the 100th anniversary less than a year away media attention is mounting. All material related to Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral is scarce – and very collectable – however one of the scarcest is the 4-page ‘Official Programme, Timetable and Route of the Funeral Procession, Saturday June 14th 1913.
I must say that I do find it rather odd that this item should be so very scarce for, as you can see from film and photographs, the streets of London were packed on the day. The hordes must have failed to arm themselves with the Programme or, if they did, to have then discarded it.
In Campaigning for the Vote, Kate Frye, who followed the procession through Piccadilly to Bloomsbury and then on to Kings Cross, in her long diary entry comments on the vastness of the crowd. But even she, who was an inveterate hoarder of suffrage memorabilia, does not seem to have acquired a copy of the Funeral Procession Programme. The result is that, in nearly 30 years of dealing in suffrage artefacts, I have only seen one copy of this item for sale. In fact, if a spate of them were now to hit the market, I shall be very suspicious!