Suffrage Stories: Jennifer Godfrey: Suffragettes of Kent

I have long advocated the necessity for researching local histories of the women’s suffrage movement and, over the years, a number have appeared, varying in scope and depth of research.

Jennifer Godfrey’s Suffragettes of Kent (for details see https://tinyurl.com/y65pew3w) takes us through Kent’s involvement in the suffrage movement in a series of chapters that pick out elements of the campaign – such as a caravan tour, forcible feeding, the census boycott, arson attacks, and the 1913 NUWSS Pilgrimage – and relate them to the county and its inhabitants. I enjoyed this approach rather more than a conventional chronological narrative as it gave the author the flexibility to research particular ‘stories’ more effectively. She has assiduously mined local papers and introduces us to suffragettes/suffragists who have not previously received much attention.

I mention both ‘suffragettes’ and ‘suffragists’ because the title of the book is something of a misnomer – it is not only ‘Suffragettes of Kent’ that are the subject, but suffragists also. As ever, I imagine, it was thought a mention of ‘Suffragettes’ was better for sales. It is, however, only the suffragists of the NUWSS that are included and mention is only made in passing (p 151) of the activities in Kent of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. What a pity that all the hard work of Kate Frye in her efforts to convert Kent to suffrage are overlooked. My edition of Kate Frye’s suffrage diary, Campaigning for the Vote, is now out of print but you can read something of her work here https://wp.me/p2AEiO-ky.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Suffragettes of Kent, which is lavishly illustrated, and imagine that it will win readers and stimulate yet further suffrage research in that county

  1. #1 by Philippa Parker on October 31, 2019 - 4:56 pm

    I expect you are aware of the recently published “Suffrage Stories – tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth”. Edited by Bethany-Barnett Sanders & Emma Lenton. (Stevenage Museum, 2019). It deserves widespread publicity.

    Good wishes, Philippa Parker Letchworth Garden City

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