Suffrage Stories/Suffragette Jewellery: Mary Leigh’s Emily Wilding Davison Brooch

EWD brooch frontThis circular brooch, containing a photograph of Emily Wilding Davison in academic dress, formerly belonged to her friend and champion, Mary Leigh. The photograph of Emily Wilding Davison (for the photographer/publisher of the postcard see here) is rather worn and has a little ink scribble on it – though what the intention – if any – of this is, I cannot say.

The photo is held in the brooch frame by a card showing  Sylvia Pankhurst’s WSPU design, in purple, white and green, of ‘the sower’. This may originally been a component in a WSPU badge.  Written on it in capital letters, in Mary Leigh’s idiosyncratic style, is ‘LIBERTY. NO SURRENDER. E.W.D.’.Reverse of EWD brooch

This is a piece that, unlike so much else on the market, clearly merits the description ‘suffragette jewellery’.  I do not think that this commemoration photo of Emily Wilding Davison was issued by the WSPU in this particular style of circular brooch, but suspect that Mary Leigh herself put the photo in it. The brooch is edged with alternating little pink and white stones. It is worth noting that Mary Leigh, even with her close acquaintance with WSPU imagery and branding, did not bother to select or commission a brooch with stones reflecting more closely the WSPU colours.

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  1. #1 by Hilary McCollum on May 18, 2017 - 3:43 pm

    Hi Elizabeth, I was wondering if you have come across anything indicating where Mary Leigh lived during her suffragette years. I believe it was around Roman Road but have not been able to track the street down. I’m currently writing a novel set in the suffragette movement and your reference guide is invaluable. Thanks, Hilary

    • #2 by womanandhersphere on May 18, 2017 - 5:24 pm

      i’m afraid I don’t have an East End address for her. In 1907 she was living at Houghton Place, Camden Town and was still there when she boycotted the 1911 census.But you’ve probably seen that address from the Reference Guide…thank you for consulting it…I’m happy to be useful! Mary Leigh is a difficult person to pin down. I think she was so poor – and transient – for most of her life that she doesn’t appear on official registers etc.
      Best wishes
      Elizabeth

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