A week of posts on ‘Suffragettes and Tea Rooms’ cannot end without looking at the tea rooms that the suffragette societies themselves ran – in their shops and at their fund-raising bazaars – and the china they commissioned in which to serve that tea .
The best known of the fund-raising events is probably the WSPU exhibition held at the Prince’s Skating Rink at Knightsbridge in May 1909. There the tea room was run by Mrs Henrietta Lowy, with help from her four daughters and another young upper-class suffragette, Una Dugdale. In the spirit of exuberance and professionalism that marked this the first of the WSPU’s fund-raising bazaars, a decision was taken – presumably reasonably well in advance of the Exhibition – to commission a Staffordshire pottery – H.M. Williamson of Longton – to make the china from which the tea would be served in the Exhibition’s Tea Room.
The white china has strikingly clean, straight lines, rimmed in dark green and with angular green handles. The shape is, I am sure, a Williamson standard – but how very different the WSPU pieces look from, say, Williamson’s Rosary design–in which pink and grey ribbons and roses are applied to the same shape and every edge is gilded. In contrast, the WSPU china design is pared back, almost stark.
It is more than likely that, from the range offered by Williamson, Sylvia Pankhurst chose this shape, keeping the design simple so that the ‘angel of freedom’ motif that she had designed specifically for the Exhibition should be shown to best effect. Each piece of the tea service carries this motif; behind the angel and accompanying banner and trumpet, are the initials ‘WSPU’ set against dark prison bars, surrounded by thistle, shamrock, rose – and dangling chains. At the end of the Exhibition, the china – tea pots, cups, saucers, tea plates, sugar bowls etc – was offered for sale, made up into sets of 22 pieces. Many years ago, early in my ephemera-dealing days I bought – and, of course, immediately sold – a comprehensive service. Although I have subsequently sold individual pieces of the china, I have never again seen such a complete set. Ah well.
Pieces of this design are held in archives such as the Museum of London and the Women’s Library – but one variation design is not, as far as I know, represented in any public collection.
This cup – its design based on Sylvia Pankhurst’s ‘portcullis’ motif which, used on the WSPU’s ‘Holloway brooch’, can be dated to the spring of 1909 – came from a collection that also contained items of the ‘angel of freedom’ china. I bought this wonderful haul some years ago at auction and, although the provenance was not divulged by the auctioneer, I am pretty sure that the china had once been belonged to Mrs Rose Lamartine Yates who held fund-raising teas for the Wimbledon WSPU on the lawn of Dorset Hall, her 18th-century Merton house. This ‘portcullis’ cup does not carry any maker’s mark but, as the shape is identical to the Williamson pieces, I think we can be pretty certain that they probably also made this. As, in the early 19th-century, when women set their tea trays with ‘anti-slavery’ china, so in the early 20th, suffragettes who bought these tea services could – like Mrs Lamartine Yates – use them as propaganda tools -promoting the movement, most elegantly, in a bid to convert their ‘anti’ neighbours.
I have only ever had in stock – and that only fleetingly – this cup and saucer (see left), part of the third identifiable range of WSPU-commissioned china. I believe, however, that the People’s Palace in Glasgow holds a similar two pieces . They formed part of the Scottish version of the Prince’s Rink tea service, commissioned from the Diamond China Co, another Longton pottery, for use at the refreshment stall at the Scottish WSPU Exhibition held in Glasgow at the end of April 1910. Here the ‘angel of freedom’ is allied, on white china, with the Scottish thistle, handpainted, in purple and green, inside transfer outlines. After the exhibition this china, too, was sold – Votes for Women, 18 May 1910, noting that ‘a breakfast set for two, 11s; small tea set 15s , whole tea set £2, or pieces may be had singly’. It will hardly surprise readers to learn that WSPU china – now so very rare – commands a very high price. But what a wonderful addition a piece would make to any suffrage collection.
Although the china they used was probably more basic, some of the shops and offices run by both suffragette and suffragist societies offered their members – and the general public – a tea room. For instance, the Birmingham NUWSS office at 10 Easy Row included a shop at which tea could be taken and suffrage papers read. And the Glasgow WFL shop, at 302 Sauchiehall Street, as befitting the city in which Miss Cranston perfected the art of the tea room, served tea in its ‘artistic hall’, decorated in the WFL colours. (By the way, when in Glasgow do not fail to visit the De Luxe Room in The Willow Tea Rooms, also on Sauchiehall Street, originally designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Miss Cranston – it may be a reconstruction, but it’s lovely).
As a final thought, the WSPU not only sold their own china, but also their own tea – much advertised in Votes for Women. Unfortunately, the only reference I have ever come across to anyone buying the tea was an aside by Mary Blathwayt, who noted in her diary that she had had to return a bag that was ‘off’ to the Bath WSPU shop. But I am sure that merely reflects the fact that the hundreds of satisfied customers had no need to comment and I will end this sequence of posts by conjuring up the image of a WSPU tea party, cucumber sandwiches sitting delicately on the elegant WSPU plates, as the assembled company receive WSPU tea into their WSPU cups from the WSPU pot. How, then, could the ensuing conversation be of anything other than ‘Votes for Women’?
Advertisement for Alan’s Tea Rooms in ‘Votes for Women’.
Last week’s posts on ‘Suffragettes and Tea Rooms’ were based on the research I had done for the item that aired on Woman’s Hour on 4 September. The posts gave details of a few of the London tea rooms and restaurants – – some of them vegetarian – that we know were favoured by suffragettes. I had been curious to know more about the reality – the geographical position and the look of the interiors – of the cafes whose names are scattered through the columns of the suffragette newspapers. I had wondered ‘Why were suffragettes attracted to one place rather than another?’ ‘Whose businesses were they?’ – and hope that in last week’s posts I have, at least partially, answered these questions. In the absence of any other information, I was pleasantly surprised by how much detail could be gleaned from such superficially dull sources as rate books and the files of liquidated companies. I now have a much clearer image in my mind – as I walk around London – of the places in which militant activity was discussed – and indeed practised – by suffragettes a hundred years ago.
Corner of Alan’s Tea Rooms – as pictured in ‘The Idler’, 1910
For political movements need sheltering spaces – of all sizes – in which those involved can exchange views. In the 19th century women could attend the hundreds of formal suffrage meetings and conscious-raising talks that were held in Britain’s town halls and assembly halls – or, if suitably couth, the ‘drawing-room’ meetings held in the houses of the better-off. But until the late 1880s there were very few places outside the home in which respectable women could congregate – for refreshment – to meet their friends – or to discuss politics. The coffee houses, chop houses, ale houses and public houses that had for centuries enabled men to congregate, do business and eat and drink – had been socially barred to respectable women. It was only towards the end of the century that middle-class women were able to move independently– without any vestige of social censure – out of the home and around the streets of the metropolis. One practical element lining the path to freedom was a new type of business – the café, tea room or restaurant designed with women in mind. These were places that women could visit – either alone or in company – where their presence was not seen as an invitation to molestation – where they could eat and drink – and, most importantly, use the lavatory – without breaking any social taboos.
Kate Frye – suffrage organizer and frequenter of restaurants and tea rooms
That there were indeed still taboos around the presence of a woman in some places of public refreshment, even as late as 1911, is evident in one of the entries from Kate Frye’s diary. (My edition of her suffrage diary, Campaigning for the Vote, will be published in the autuimn). She is staying in a hotel in a small Norfolk market town, while organising meetings for a suffrage society. :
22 March 1911 ‘Came in, had my lunch [in the hotel dining room] in company with four motorists. It is funny the way men come in here and, seeing me, shoot out again and I hear whispered conversations outside on the landing with the waitress. Then they come in very subdued and make conversation one to another and try not to look at me. Awfully funny – they might never have seen a woman before – but I suppose it does seem a strange place to find one.’
For, by the 1900s, the situation in larger towns and cities had changed. When not out organising meetings in the provinces, Kate lived and worked in London and there she paid daily visits to cafes, restaurants and tea rooms where she never felt out of place. Aimed particularly at the woman shopper – or woman clerical worker – here she could feel comfortable – both physically and mentally. Some of the cafes were part of chains – such as the ABC, founded in the 1880s, and Lyons in 1894. For a rare photograph of a Lyons interior – dating from the 1920s -see here. These chains catered for upper-working-class and lower- middle-class women who could enter their premises with equanimity and sit in sheltered anonymity at separate tables – and be served, not by waiters, but by waitresses. Kate Frye, belonging to a slightly higher strata of society, favoured rather smarter chain restaurants – such as Slaters’ – or tea rooms such as Fullers’. However it was in a Lyons tea room close to Parliament Square that she sat on the evening of 21 November 1911 with a group of suffragettes who were poised to embark on the smashing of the windows of government offices.
And quite apart from the chains, the first decade of the 20thcentury saw a proliferation of small refreshment rooms – ‘Tea Rooms’ – that were even more closely aimed at a female clientele. These were likely to be run – as were Alan’s Tea Rooms and the Tea
Advertisement for The Tea Cup Inn in ‘Votes for Women’.
Cup Inn – by a woman or a couple of women friends – and allowed women, who may have had no training in anything other than ‘home responsibilities’, the possibility of running a business, while at the same time allowing other women the ability to enjoy the freedom of moving around the city – or town – by providing a space in which they could pause for refreshment.
As we have seen, a few London tea rooms and restaurants were particularly favoured by suffragettes – as, similarly, were they in provincial towns. In Newcastle, Fenwick’s cafe was the venue of choice of the group of women, including Dr Ethel Bentham and Lisbeth Simm, set up the ‘Drawing-Room Cafe’ meetings where women could meet to discuss discuss politics. In Nottingham the WSPU held meetings at Morley’s Cafe, a teetotal establishment, originally opened to provide an alternative to the pub. In Edinburgh the Cafe Vegetaria was particularly favoured by the local Women’s Freedom League society – and it was on its premises on the night of 2 April 1911 that suffragettes gathered – as they did at the vegetarian Gardenia in London – to evade the census enumerator
A year later, however, although so popular with women, tea rooms were not immune from the effects of the 1 March 1912 WSPU window-smashing campaign. Two ABC shops were attacked – one in The Strand and one in Bond Street – here is the photographic evidence.
When, from the end of 1913, the WSPU campaign became ever more desperate, the tea rooms and restaurants that women had made their own themselves became sites of protest. On December 20th a suffragette dining at the vegetarian, suffrage-sympathising, Eustace Miles restaurant was able to make a long speech castigating the government’s treatment of suffragette prisoners – and was, so The Suffragette reported, listened to with eager attention, while her companion distributed leaflets. And althougb the management did eventually ask the speaker to stop she was allowed to continue with her ‘meeting’ and, afterwards, to remain in the restaurant. However, most cafes were not so amenable. When, on the same day, at Fullers’ in Regent Street, a woman began to address the crowded restaurant from the gallery and her two companions showered down leaflets, they were very quickly asked to leave. The newspaper report reveals that the subject of the woman’s address was a comparison of the treatment by the government of Sir Edward Carson and Ulster rebels with that meted on suffragettes. A few days later, when another interruption took place at Fullers’, the management had their answering tactic in place; the orchestra immediately struck up to drown out the speaker.
Soon after, The Suffragette reported an incident at a Lyons Corner House when a woman rose and spoke for a few moments – amid both applause and criticism. When two uniformed Lyons men tried to drag her roughly from the building they met with determined opposition and she finally left, the paper reported, with quiet dignity- escorted to the exit –to murmurs of ‘Isn’t she plucky’.
These protests carried on all through the spring and summer of 1914. Although similar interruptions were made in churches and theatres, it is singularly apposite that customers in tea rooms and restaurants, as they ate their lunch or tea, should have had their attention drawn to the forcible feeding of suffragette prisoners. In fact one of the very last militant action came at the end of July 1914 when women interrupted lunch at the Criterion Restaurant, imploring customers to attend a meeting to be held by Mrs Pankhurst in Holland Park. That, I think, was the final WSPU rally, before the outbreak of war in early August put an end to militancy.
Even as restaurants came under attack there were still some establishments that felt it worthwhile to advertise in The Suffragette. One such was one I had not come across before – Molinari’s Restaurant at 25 Frith Street in Soho., which advertised (January 1914) that they would ‘donate 5 % of their takings to the Cause for suffragists who wear the badge.’ Molinari’s was still advertising in suffrage papers in 1915 and I was amused to discover that in the 1920s the Home Office reported that its proprietor, Angelo Molinari, was the proprietor of ‘doubtful’ restaurants – suspected of running brothels in upstairs rooms. Thus, although the credentials of such suffrage-sympathising refreshment rooms as Alan’s Tea Rooms, the Eustace Miles and the Gardenia are beyond reproach, there were always those commercial operators prepared to take advantage of trusting suffragettes. I suspect, though, that the atmosphere of Molinari’s was not that of Alan’s Tea Rooms Angelo Molinari was not often called to donate any percentage of their profits to the Cause.
.Here is link to Woman’s Hour ‘Suffragettes and Tea Rooms’ item aired on 4 September. It begins at c 27 mins – and is available for 2 more days only.
The Gardenia Restaurant, subject of yesterday’s post, was by no means the only vegetarian restaurant favoured by suffragettes. Close by, at 40-42 Chandos Place, at the western end of Covent Garden, was the rather more famous – and successful – Eustace Miles Restaurant.
Eustace Miles was a Cambridge-educated health guru – a real tennis player – prolific author – and vegetarian. He opened the restaurant, with his wife, Hallie, – as a ‘Food Reform’ restaurant – in May 1906, a few months after their marriage. Among the restaurant’s shareholders were his close friend, the writer E.F. Benson, the headmaster of Eton, Bernard Shaw and his wife, Dr Helen Wilson, a Sheffield-based doctor and suffragist, and Mrs Ennis Richmond, a suffragette who ran West Heath, a progressive school in Hampstead.
Ellen Terry’s daughter, Edith Craig, who lived nearby in Bedford Street, sold Votes for Women from a pitch outside the Eustace Miles. It was a sensible spot to choose; vegetariansm and suffragism went hand in hand for those whom H.G. Wells characterized – caricatured – in Ann Veronica as ‘a small but energetic minority, the Children of Light’, for whom ‘ everything…was “working up”.. “coming on” – ‘the Higher Thought, the Simple Life, Socialism, Humanitarianism’.
Opening just as the WSPU arrived in London, the Eustace Miles grew up alongside the suffragette movement. In March 1907 the WSPU chose it as the venue for a breakfast celebrating the release from Holloway of the prisoners who had been arrested when taking part in the deputation from the first Women’s Parliament. Similar breakfasts were also held there– including, a year later, one for women who had taken part in the pantechnicon raid on Parliament. (another suffragette episode hijacked by Wells for use in Ann Veronica – see my article, ‘The Woman’s Bond of Freedom’: H.G. Wells, Ann Veronica and the suffragettes, published in the 2011 edition of The Wellsian, the journal of the H.G. Wells Society.)
Comic card – one of a series – poking gentle fun at the ‘Simple Life’ suffragettes
As with Alan’s Tea Rooms and the Gardenia, so the Eustace Miles had a space to rent – an offer taken up, on occasion, by those giving women-related talks. The Eustace Miles, however, went one better than the other two, offering their ‘Simple Life’ audiences ‘ozonized air’ to breathe as they listened to, for example in 1912, Miss Hoskyns-Abrahall lecture on ‘The Religion of the Great Mother’, to the accompaniment of a lantern show operated by Vera Holme. In January 1910 the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement held its inaugural meeting at the Eustace Miles – the owner surely being a member of the MPU – and in October 1914 it was the venue for committee meetings of the United Suffragists.
The Eustace Miles was by all accounts an attractive place in which to lunch or dine; Kate Frye – by no stretch of the imagination a vegetarian – often ate there – as readers of myCampaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary will discover. The restaurant did very well during the First World War – when meatless cookery was more or less a necessity – staying in business for over 30 years.
Alas, Hallie Miles’ Untold Tales of Wartime London, the source of the words spoken by Alison Steadman in The Great War: The People’s Story, is out-of-print. But for much more about the life and times of Kate Frye do read Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette. In this I tell the whole story of Kate – and of John Collins, her soldier husband. For details see here. I hope you will find it a Good Read.
While not specifically a vegetarian café, the Teacup Inn, much frequented by suffragettes, made sure that its vegetarian credentials were mentioned in its advertisements in the WSPU paper, Votes for Women – ‘Dainty luncheons and Afternoon teas at moderate charges. Home cookery. Vegeterian dishes and sandwiches. Entirely staffed and managed by women.’ The café was opened in January 1910 in Bank Buildings, Portugal Street, just off Kingsway, in a new building in area that was, as I have stressed in recent posts, still under development
The Tea Cup Inn occupied a ground-floor shop and basement in the building – then, as it name suggests – mainly given over to a bank – and now occupied by the Chaplaincy of LSE. In this photograph, taken c 1915, I am sure, after peering at it with a magnifying glass, that a sign ‘Tea Cup Inn’ is visible, hanging just above the smart open-topped car.
The site today of the Tea Cup inn
When it opened its owners were Mrs Alice Mary Hansell (c 1859-1923) and Miss Marion Shallard. However Miss Shallard quickly disappears and the rate books from then on show Mrs Hansell as sole proprietor. She had been born in Yorkshire, was about 52, and long a childless widow when she opened the café. Her husband, a traveller for a coal factor, had died in 1897, leaving only £87. I do not know what Mrs Hansell was doing in the intervening years – the 1901 shows her a visitor, with ‘no occupation, in a household in the Lake District..
Once the cafe was opened – certainly by April 1910- Mrs Hansell lost no time in advertising the Tea Cup Inn in Votes for Women – taking care to mention its proximity to the WSPU office in Clement’s Inn. In 1912 the WSPU moved to Lincoln’s Inn House in Kingsway, making the Teacup Inn probably the nearest place of refreshment. I am pretty certain that Mrs Hansell was a member of the WSPU; in 1909 someone of that name advertised in Votes for Women a cottage to let in Henley, but I have not been able to find conclusive evidence. Unfortunately I cannot trace her on the 1911 census – perhaps this is an indication that she was taking part in the boycott, but it may just be that her name has been mistranscribed. After the 1912 Peth-Pank split, the Teacup Inn advertised at least once in the Pankhurst paper, The Suffragette – in June 1914 – stressing: ‘Kitchens open for inspection’.
Across Portugal Street, the Tea Cup Inn faced the London Opera House (now the site of the Peacock Theatre). This theatre had opened in November 1911 and, again, handily situated for the WSPU office, was the scene of many suffrage meetings. One can imagine that the Tea Cup Inn may well have benefited from the thirsts engendered by a rousing rally.
Mrs Hansell continued running the Tea Cup Inn until her death in 1923. Her estate amounted to £2098 – which might suggest that, as her husband had left so little, she had made some money from her business. It would be good to think so.
More ‘Suffragettes and Tea Rooms’ posts to come….
Here is the link to Woman’s Hour (4 Sept) podcast that includes the item on ‘Suffragettes and Tea Rooms’ (starts c 27 mins).
6 Catherine Street – home of the Gardenia Restaurant c 1908-13
The Gardenia Restaurant, at 6 Catherine Street, Covent Garden – off the north-western curve of the Aldwych – was, between c 1908 and 1913, a vegetarian cafe much frequented by suffragettes. Unlike Alan’s Tea Rooms – in Oxford Street – and the Criterion – at Piccadilly Circus – the Gardenia was situated in the heart of militant suffrage territory. The Women’s Freedom League headquarters lay just south of the Strand in Robert Street and those of the WSPU just to the east of Aldwych in Clement’s Inn.
The Gardenia was opened c 1908 by Thomas Smith, a young man from Morpeth, who lived with his wife and two children in rooms above the restaurant. By early 1910 it would seem that the Gardenia was in some financial difficulty because it was then formed into a limited company with three additional directors. Two of these were from the Newcastle area – and were presumably known to Smith. One was Herbert Joseph Armstrong – a chartered accountant. The other, the major shareholder, was Godfrey Hastings, a photographer from Tynemouth, a member of a Quaker family, educated at Ackworth, the Quaker boarding school in Yorkshire. The third director was Richard James, who published – and sold – temperance and vegetarian books from the Central Temperance Rooms in Paternoster Row. It would, therefore, seem safe to deduce that those running the Gardenia were advocates of vegetarianism and temperance in particular – and of social reform in general.
As I emphasise in my post on the part played by the Aldwych Skating Rink in the 1911 census boycott, this area of London was undergoing extensive redevelopment at the beginning of the 20th century. No 6 Catherine Street, a tall, rather dramatic, building, had been erected in 1905 and it is likely that the Gardenia was one of its first tenants. Its frontage of stone-banded red brick echoes that used in the construction of no 2 – which was designed in 1902 by the editor of the Builder, as offices for the journal. By now this corner of Covent Garden was taking on a rather Arts and Craftsy look – making it just the place for a vegetarian restuarant.
Unlike the Criterion – or even Alan’s Tea Rooms – I have been unable to find any image to tell us what the interior of the Gardenia looked like. However the file in the National Archives giving details of the 1913 winding up of the company does contain a list of the company’s assets – including the restaurant’s fittings. From this I think it would be safe to say that the general impression of the interior was of mahogany and mirrors. – long mahogany serving counters and quantities of mirrors. The rooms were lit with electroliers – some four-branched and others three. Customers sat at tables, marble-topped on metal stands – rather like those used today by Pizza Express.
Having noted that the Gardenia’s financial situation was somewhat precarious, one imagines that the company’s directors would have been keen to develop a niche clientele to boost passing trade. And so it was; the company accounts reveal that they hired out upper rooms in the building to societies whoe interests would seem to coincide with their own – for instance, to the Syndicalists, to a Vegetarian Club, to the National Union of Shop Assistants, and to the University Fabian Society.
The militant suffrage societies also figure regularly in the Gardenia’s accounts as customers for the hired rooms. In her autobiography, My Own Story, Mrs Pankhurst refers to the Gardenia as a place where many WSPU breakfasts and teas were held – and the accounts show specific hirings of rooms by the WFL (for instance,7 March 1912, 5 guineas). In fact the Gardenia seems to have been a particular favourite with the WFL, which did its best to advertise the delights of the restaurant. The Gardenia was included in The Vote Directory –the WFL newspaper’s list of recommended retailers – and was written up in the 6 May 1911 issue when – in the course of a suffragists’ shopping day – the author has tea at the Gardenia – ’a fragrant cup of tea and some cress sandwiches made with Hovis bread’ – [Hovis was also advertised in The Vote]’ –reporting that ‘she would eat no other.’In 1912 the WFL rented a room in the Gardenia in which to hold its weekly discussions – on such subjects as ‘Jane Eyre and its relation to the Woman’s Movement’ and Mrs Brownlow on ‘Local Government’ and on 17 February 1912 three of the Gardenia’s floors were hired by the WFL for a fundraising sit-down supper, with dancing and performances by the Actresses’ Franchise League.
It was doubtless no hardship for suffragettes to attend such suppers; a vegetarian restaurant would have been particularly popular with suffragettes – many of whom had embraced this cause – and the associated anti-vivesectionist campaign – along with that of women’s rights. For Leah Leneman’s excellent article on the subject – ‘The Awakened Instinct; vegetarianism and the women’s suffrage movement in Britain’ – see here.
For its part the Gardenia management was clearly committed to the suffragette cause over and above its use as a source of income. The directors were prepared on occasion, to turn a blind eye to the use to which the WSPU put its rooms. Thus, on 2 April 1911 – census night – the Gardenia’s management allowed the restaurant to be used by suffragettes attempting to evade the enumerator. One census schedule for 6 Catherine Street shows Thomas Smith, the manager, in his flat there that night with his wife and two children, together with the restaurant manageress, two waitresses, a male chef, female cook, a male baker and a kitchen maid. But a separate Gardenia schedule, completed by the Census Office from information supplied by the police, shows that the restaurant was packed with 200 women and 30 men. These defiant evaders had moved to the Gardenia at c 3.30 am for breakfast, having spent the earlier part of the night in the Aldwych Skating Rink.
A year later the Gardenia again played its part in a dramatic WSPU publicity campaign when, on the night of 4 March 1912, women taking part in a WSPU-organinised window-smashing campaign gathered there. In her autobiography Mrs Pankhurst notes that the police thought that about 150 women went to the Gardenia that evening, arriving in twos and threes from a large meeting at the London Pavilion at Piccadilly Circus. They were followed to the restaurant by a number of detectives who then waited around outside in Catherine Street And what was it that the women were doing in the Gardenia?
At the ensuing trial Miss Jessie McPherson, a still-room maid, testifed that on the following day, 5 March, she found a dozen on so stones – on one of which was written ‘Votes for Women’ – lying in a grate in a big room on the second-floor. Godfrey Hastings, the Gardenia’s major shareholder, gave evidence that the room had been engaged by the WSPU for the afternoon and evening of 29 February and 1 and 4 March – at a charge of 45 shillings on each occasion.
The evidence pointed to the Gardenia as the WSPU’s ammunition arming station. Once they had received their supply of stones, the suffragettes led the police a merry dance.
One policeman testified that he followed Miss Wolff van Sandau and Miss Katie Mills as they left the Gardenia, went to an ironmonger’ shop in Covent Garden and then walked to Westminster, along Victoria Street to the Howick Street Post Office, where the former broke a window with a hammer and the latter with stones. It transpired in court that it was at the Covent Garden ironmongers, with the policeman in tow, that they had bought the hammer.
Another policeman reported that on 4 March he waited outside the Gardenia Restaurant for three women [Nellie Crocker, Miss Roberts and Miss Taylor]. When they emerged he followed along the Strand, to Charing Cross and then on District Line to Royal Court Theatre. A few minutes after the performance began they left and went along to 9 King’s Road – a post office – where they smashed the plate glass windows with three hammers.
Another policeman followed Elizabeth Thompson and another woman from the Gardenia to Parliament Square,where Miss Thompson threw a stone at a window of Home Office.
There does not appear to have been any legal repercussions for the Gardenia but, sadly, despite support from the suffrage movement, the business could not be made to pay and the restaurant closed in March 1913.
However 6 Catherine Street today still has a primary connection to the food trade – as the home of the Food and Drink Federation. The FDF were very generous in allowing access to their building in order to record a section of the Woman’s Hour item on ‘Suffragettes and Tea Rooms’ in the rooms where the WSPU plotted their militancy over tea and brown rice.
The glamorous Criterion Restaurant lies at the heart of theatreland, facing onto Piccadilly Circus. Owned by Spiers and Pond, it had been built, together with the adjoining theatre, in 1874 and during the last century and a quarter has undergone many changes – although now restored to glory. Before the First World War Spiers and Pond’s empire encompassed railway refreshment rooms as well as other large London restaurants, such as the Holborn, at the north end of Kingsway, the setting for many breakfasts held by the WSPU to celebrate the release of their prisoners from Holloway.
The Criterion today
Although the Criterion has now only one restaurant – on the ground floor – in its Edwardian heyday it offered many more spaces – not only in which to dine – but also for hire; the Victoria Hall and the Grand Hall, on the first floor, were two such spaces. The Grand Hall, magnificently decorated, ran across the front of the building, overlooking Piccadilly Circus. The lavish interiors were very much a hallmark of the Spiers and Pond establishments – renowned especially for the high standard of their ladies’ cloakrooms – a point, I would imagine, our suffagists and suffragettes would have appreciated.
The Actresses’ Franchise League was founded at the end of 1908 and by the spring of 1909 began to hold its meetings at the Criterion, which was conveniently placed so as to allow its members to spend the afternoon listening to rousing speeches and yet be close at hand to give their own performances in the evening. By all accounts the meetings were extremely well attended, the AFL having no trouble in filling either of the two main halls.
Kate Frye on tour in J.M. Barrie’s ‘Quality Street’.
Kate Frye (whose post-1911 suffrage diary, Campaigning for the Vote, is published by Francis Boutle ), was a proud member of the AFL, having spent two or three years treading the boards of provincial theatres. Her diary entries allow us to eavesdrop on some of those Criterion meetings.
‘Friday April 2nd 1909
Out at 2 o’clock – bus to Piccadilly Cicus and to the Actresses’ Franchise League meeting at the Criterion Restaurant. Miss Eva Moore was receiving and gave me a gracious handshake and Ada Moore was there. Also Eve, Mr Stanger [a sympathetic Liberal MP] and Miss [Frances] Sterling I heard speak. Lady Strachey was in the Chair and Lady Grove had spoken. I also heard Miss [Lillah] McCarthy, the Treasurer, speak and Miss Adeline Bourne, the Secretary, and I went up and spoke to Mr Stanger after the meeting.. His wife was also there. It was a huge meeting – no end of the profession there and they seemed enthusiastic but I have never got much faith in them. …
Friday February 4th 1910
Started off about 1.45 for the Victoria Hall Criterion Restaurant – went by bus. We went early as we wanted a good seat to see Miss Pankhurst. The place was packed before they began at 3 o’clock. Miss Granville took the chair and Miss Adeline Bourne as Secretary and Miss Maud Hoffman as Treasurer spoke in a more or less business-like fashion and Lt Col Sir something Turner spoke – an old dodderer. I could hardly keep my face straight he looked in such a loving fashion at the ladies but of course the thing of the afternoon was Christabel Pankhurst. She is a little wonder. So young and girlish looking – I suppose she is only 22 or 23 with such a charming way with her. She spoke very nicely too. It was not a brilliant speech but she was suiting herself to her audience I have no doubt – but it was so sincere and so fair. I have only heard her once before – at the Albert Hall – and one cannot judge like that – so I am glad to have been at such close quarters with her. She is not really pretty – has a crooked mouth and bad chin but her eyes are nice and she has a pretty forehead. Her hair was very untidy and I think would suit her so much better done low than on top in an ugly little knob. But though so faulty her face lights up so when she speaks and she has such a charming way with her that is very superior to mere prettiness….
Friday November 4th 1910
A bitterly cold day –had lunch then left at 1.15 – took a bus to Oxford Circus and went to steward at The Actresses’ Franchise League meeting at The Grand Hall Criterion. It was great fun.. A Mrs Fagan was in the Chair, Lady Constance Lytton, Mrs Pertwee , Mr Cecil Chapman and Mr M Campbell-Johnston were the speakers.. Then, amongst the audience, Hilda Fletcher – an old Ben Greet companion – the girl who helped me with the Banner at the second march and I chatted to lots of people – made 17/6 and had great fun. Two old gentlemen who were very taken with the Actresses and attending their first Suffrage meeting were most amusing.
Friday December 16th 1910
Changed my dress – at 2.15 bus to Oxford Circus and walked to the Criterion – to the Birthday Tea of the Actresses’ Franchise League. It was packed – a huge success. Eva Moore recited, Bertha Moore and daughter sang.’
The Criterion was used by women’s societies other than those campaigning for suffrage. Here is a photograph of a Women Writers’ Dinner held in the Grand Hall in 1900. Of the suffrage societies, it would seem that the AFL was the most regular user of the Criterion, although in April 1909 the WSPU held a breakfast there for released prisoners and in February 1910 and June 1911 the Women Writers’ Suffrage League held meetings in the Victoria Hall. It is interesting to note that on 26 October 1911, when the International Women’s Franchise Club held a dinner at the Criterion, a vegetarian option was chosen by a fairly high proportion of the guests – 25 out of the 130 who attended.
Although the suffrage sympathisers who attended such meetings were overwhelmingly middle class, one would like to imagine (as one can in a blog) that, through their association with, perhaps, the AFL, less well-off women would have had the opportunity to luxuriate in the splendid surroundings of the Criterion, enjoy a wash and brush up in the opulent Ladies’, and fill up on the tea that brought the afternoon to a close.
Based on her diary, I published Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. This is now out of print. The complete collection of Kate’s diaries is now held by Royal Holloway College Archive.
‘Is it not possible for ladies to possess a Club which will not afford too striking a contrast with the splendours of St James?’ So wrote Frances Power Cobbe in the early 1870s. She continued, ‘Are not the female members of the families of those who frequent those palaces never to have a place of resort, where the rooms and appointments shall be at least as airy and handsome as those of their own homes, and where it may be a healthful and pleasant change for them to pass now and then a few hours of leisure?’ She then commented that whenever the idea was mooted ‘the poverty of women, as regards ability to incur any unusual expense, become curiously revealed..’ – that is, women who appeared wealthy, ‘lapped in excessive luxury, provided for them by the affection of husbands and fathers’ actually had no money of their own to expend on such a project and the affectionate husbands and fathers would not, she assumes, be prepared to give their money towards providing a club for their wives and daughters.
We have seen in previous posts how, after 1870, clubs for women had, indeed, been opened. Although many of these, like the Somerville, University or Writers’, were particularly aimed at working middle-class women. What Frances Power Cobbe was envisaging was the opening of clubs on a par of grandeur with the gentleman’s clubs, such as the Athenaeum or Carlton. Within 20 years her plea had, to some extent, been answered. Such clubs did open: their existence may owe something to the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act, which gave women greater control over their own funds.
However opulent the late-19th-century ladies’ clubs they never competed for territory with the gentlemen. Ladies’ clubs tended to group to the north of Piccadilly, close to the shopping areas of Oxford, Bond and Regent streets, leaving the southern side to the men.
The first of these ‘ladies’ clubs’ was the Alexandra, which opened in Grosvenor Street in 1884, its membership restricted to those eligible to attend Court, a not so subtle indication that divorcées were unwelcome. Adopting for its name that of the Princess of Wales ensured its eminent respectability; there was no hint of the blue-stocking here. Men were not allowed to enter, even as visitors. a rule that Amy Levy regretted in her article, ‘Women and Club Life’, published in Woman’s World, 1888. The club was large and extremely comfortable, residential for short visits only, but with accommodation for accompanying ladies’ maids.
Dinner at the Empress Club
The Empress Club, founded in Dover Street in 1897, named for the Queen-Empress herself, was even grander than the Alexandra, boasting two drawing room -offering a choice between the Louis Quinze or the Venetian style -, a dining room, a lounge, a smoking gallery and a smoking room, a library, a writing room, a tape machine for news, a telephone, and a staircase decorated with stained glass windows depicting Shakespeare’s heroines.
On the night of the 1901 census Otho Oliver, the owner and club secretary, was living on the premises, together with a female manager and a large domestic staff, comprising around 40 female and 12 male servants (including an engineer). There were around 30 women guests staying at the club, as well as several family groups, including husbands.
Princess Bamba Duleep Singh and her daughters, Sophia and Catherine, were leading members of the Empress Club
At one time the Empress had 70 bedrooms available to its 2700 members. However, on the night of the 1911 census the number of live-in staff had shrunk to 25 and only 14 guests – all women – were registered as staying the night.
Otho Oliver (1868-?), the owner of the Empress, was the younger brother of Gilbert Oliver (1867-?) In 1891 Gilbert had been a ‘perfume manufacturer’, but in 1894 founded the ‘Ladies’ Tea and Shopping Club’,’to provide for ladies of social position the comforts and convenience that men have found in their clubs for years past.’ I am not sure that the Oliver brothers would themselves have been eligible to join a gentleman’s club, but they clearly knew what the ladies wanted. In 1899 the Tea and Shopping Club had transformed itself into the rather more imposingly named ‘New County Club’, with premises at both 21 Hanover Square – with 30 rooms – and 84 Grosvenor Street.
Ladies’ day at the Bath Club, 1920
Next door to the Empress, at 34 Dover Street, women were able to make use of the facilities of the Bath Club, which had been founded in 1894. However, they were not allowed to use the Dover Street entrance but had to access the club through a ‘ladies’ entrance’ in Berkeley Street. The club’s main emphasis was on sport particularly, as it name suggests, swimming.
Dover Street was favoured for clubs. At no 31 Mrs Jennie Cornwallis-West (aka the mother of Winston Churchill) founded the Ladies’ Athenaeum for ladies interested in politics, arts, literature and music and a little earlier the Ladies’ Imperial – for women members of the Conservative and Unionist parties – had opened at nos 17 and 18.
A little to the north the Alexandra Club (no 12) was later joined on Grosvenor Street by the Ladies’ Empire Club at no 69. The Ladies’ Automobile Club, which had been founded in 1903 when the Automobile Club (later the RAC) refused to admit women, eventually moved to Brook Street. It drew its members from the class that could not only afford to motor but were sufficiently daring to do so.
And it is clubs for the more socially and politically daring that the next ‘Rooms of their Own’ post will discuss.
A corner of Alan’s Tea Rooms, as illustrated in ‘The Idler’, 1910.
One of the London tearooms most popular with suffragettes and suffragists was Alan’s Tea rooms at 263 Oxford Street. In my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide,I suggested that the owner, ‘Mr Alan Liddle’, while not charging the rent of the room for such meetings, doubtless made his profit from the sale of the accompanying tea and buns, conjuring up the image in my mind of a suave male entrepreneur cashing in on the need of campaigners for a safe haven in which to meet in Central London. How mistaken I was.
What I did not then realize, and my researches have only recently revealed, was that the owner was not ‘Mr Alan Liddle’, but ‘Miss Marguerite Alan Liddle’ (1873-1946), the daughter of a Shropshire solicitor. It would seem that she chose to be known by her second, presumably a family, name, signing her will, for example, as ‘M. Alan Liddle’. She does not seem to have taken a direct part in the suffrage movement, but certainly did lend her support, first advertising in the WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women, in, I think, the issue of 31 December 1908.. However, a little research has revealed that she was the sister of Helen Gordon Liddle (note, again, the use of a family name, in this case their mother’s maiden name) who was an active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Helen was the author of The Prisoner, one of the more sought-after suffragette memoirs, describing the month she spent in Strangeways prison, Manchester, in October and November 1909.
Although her sister, Alan, already knew of the WSPU and Votes for Women, Helen writes that she herself only became aware of the WSPU in February 1909 when she read about a deputation to Parliament led by Mrs Pethick-Lawrence. In June 1909 she was a member of one of the deputations sent to the Prime Minister and was arrested – but not prosecuted. She wrote ‘my time was not my own to give absolutely to the WSPU’ –she was a teacher of music and singing – but she did spend three weeks in Edinburgh in September helping to prepare for grand demonstration there. In October she protested at a Cabinet Minister’s meeting in Manchester and was ejected. The next night, 20 October, women were excluded from the meeting – so she broke a post office window in protest, for which she was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour in the third division. Her companion in this was Emily Wilding Davison, whose will she had witnessed earlier that day. In her book she states that she wanted to describe the atmosphere of prison and its effect upon a prisoner who is forcibly fed. So, while Alan Liddle was advertising her luncheons etc in Votes for Women her sister was on hunger strike in Strangeways.
Alan Liddle had opened the Tea Room in November 1907 in a building on the south side of Oxford Street, very slightly to the west of Oxford Circus, and, as was mentioned in advertisements, ‘three doors away from Jays’. This was a large fashion store on the south-western quadrant of Oxford Circus, the site now occupied by a Benetton store. So, as a business, it was certainly very centrally placed, its only drawback being that it was not on street level but on the first floor. Presumably customers entered through a door to one side of the shop front (which was the dry cleaners Achille Serre) and went up a staircase – which might be thought of as something of a deterrent as there was a wealth of competition from other cafes, tea rooms and restaurants around.
For instance, there was a Liptons refreshment room at no 265-7, another restaurant at 269, a Lyons tea room at nos 277-81 and an ABC at no 283. So I am imagining that Alan Liddle felt the necessity to carve out a niche market – to attract customers through the door and up the stairs – over and above any passing trade – who might find it easier to enter one of the larger, ground-floor cafes close by. And I imagine that the niche market she aimed at was ‘the suffragette’.
I don’t know what Marguerite Liddle did before setting up the teashop – when she was 34 – or who was in her friendship circles. In 1911, unlike her sister, Helen, she did complete a census return. This shows her, a ‘proprietoress of tea rooms’, living at 8a Holland St, Kensington as a lodger in the apartment of Miss Emilie Chapman, a nurse. She ran the tearooms until about 1916.
Besides suffragettes, she also sought to attract women out clothes shopping in the West End – the obvious clientele. In 1910 the ‘Vanity Pages’ of The Idler, a popular magazine, edited by Jerome K. Jerome, Mrs Edward Talbot, while discussing clothes shopping in Conduit St and New Bond St , wrote ‘We then had the nicest little luncheon, with the comforting knowledge that everything was homemade, at Alan’s Tea Rooms (263 Oxford St) for the modest sum of 1/6.We send you a sketch and a menu, so you can see for yourself. The rooms are charmingly decorated; one is set apart for smoking, while another, which is large and sunny, can be hired for At Homes and meetings. You can lunch, also, for a shilling, and for afternoon tea Alan’s popularity is undoubted.’
I was curious to know what Alan’s Tea Room looked like and managed to find a photograph of that block of Oxford Street -now redeveloped -that revealed that the red brick building was probably built in the 1860s. The first-floor room looking over Oxford Street had a semi-circular arcaded window – rather Venetian in style. It was an amazing piece of luck that Mrs Talbot accompanied her piece in The Idler with a small line drawing of a corner of Alan’s Tea Rooms. So we can see that the room had a ceiling cornice above a frieze of garlands. The walls were probably papered with a small-patterned wallpaper. There was a plain, early-19thc-style fireplace and panelling under the window. The windows were draped with two sets of curtains. One was a set of short – to the sill – lightweight material ones – and then, over these, there were heavy drapes – probably velvet- looped back at the sides. There was a vase of flowers on the mantelpiece and a picture over it. The furniture was sort of arts and crafts. The tea table, covered with a table cloth, shown is of the ‘gipsy’type – typically Edwardian – with slightly splayed legs. The chairs were high stick-backs – perhaps with rush seats. The Luncheon menu (for one shilling) was:
Puree aux haricots
Boiled Chicken and Bacon
Potatoes and Cauliflower
Advertisements revealed that luncheons cost 1s or 1s 6d (served between 12 and 2.30) and Teas were set at 4d, 6d and 1s. Mention was made of the food being home-made – so perhaps we can assume that there was a kitchen on the premises – and that Alan employed a cook – as well, probably, as at least one waitress?
In another 1910 issue of The Idler there was another ‘editorial’ piece in The Vanity Pages:
‘Hostess [ie the questioner, who as asked for suggestion of a place in central London to hold an ‘At Home’]. I’m always pleased to be of any help if I can, in your case I know of the very place you want. At Alan’s Tea rooms, 263 Oxford St, there is a nice room available for at Homes. It is large, sunny and charmingly furnished, and can be hired at a moderate figure.’
This would have been the room hired by suffrage societies – for whom, as I have mentioned, it was advertised that no charge was made. And the societies did take advantage of the offer. The Tax Resistance League held its first members’ conference there on 14 November 1910, the Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society its inaugural meeting in March 1911, the Forward Cymric Union –a militant Welsh suffrage society– held monthly meetings (c 1912) at Alan’s, attracting 50 to its first meeting. Visits of individual women to the Tea Room are, of course, very much more elusive to pinpoint – though we do know that on 26 July 1913, at the end of the NUWSS Suffrage Pilgrimage, Margory Lees and her companions went there for dinner.
Alan Liddle ran her Tea Rooms for about nine years – probably until 1916 – provinding pleasant surroundings and home-cooked food to members of both wings of the suffrage campaign.
Drawing, Sitting Room, 7 Owen’s Row, Islington; Richard Parminter Cuff (British, 1819 – 1883); brush and watercolour and gray wash over graphite; 2007-27-57. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
I have a memory of this watercolour coming up for auction in the early 1990s, although I can no longer identify the sale. It caught my attention then because it is showed the interior of a house that once stood next-door-but-one to my own. At that time I was unable to contemplate buying it, even though it was so decorative and apposite, but the memory of it stayed with me and yesterday, now in lock-down, I idly searched the internet and with pleasure found that the image was now in the public domain, part of a Smithsonian collection.
The caption to the water colour gives some information but I thought I would see what I could do to amplify it now that so much material is available on the internet and I have plenty of time to indulge in idle research.
In fact, I was pleasantly surprised how easily I uncovered the reason why the artist had painted the scene. For in the 1851 census I found the artist, Richard Parminter Cuff, living in that house, 7 Owen’s Row in Clerkenwell, a short distance south of the Angel, Islington.
This is the earliest photograph I have found of Owen’s Row, showing it in 1946 after the ravages of war had taken their toll. 7 Owen’s Row is the 5th house from the right, the second in the row of lower houses. Built in 1775, it comprised a basement, ground floor, first floor, second floor and attic, with two rooms to each floor. The photograph shows the damage done to the row during the 1940 Blitz. In fact, by then three houses (numbers 11 to 13) had been demolished – you can see the wooden buttress supporting the end wall of the terrace. To the far left of the photograph had stood Dame Alice Owen’s Girls’ School, opened in 1886.
Dame Alice Owen’s Girls’ School at the beginning of the 20th century. No 7 Owen’s Row will be on the far right of the photo
The basement of the school was being used as a public air raid shelter when, in the evening of 15 October 1940, it received a direct hit. The building collapsed, killing about 150 people.
Until 1959 numbers 6-10 Owen’s Row remained standing but were then demolished because a new building for Dame Alice Owen’s Girls’ School was to be built on land immediately opposite.
Although in the late-18th century the Owen’s Row houses do seem to have been in single occupation, by the second decade of the 19th century most contained at least two households. This remained so until towards the end of the 20th century. At the time when Richard Cuff was living at number 7 the local papers frequently advertised rooms – or floors – to let in Owen’s Row. In the mid-1850s the weekly rent for one room on the second floor of an Owen’s Row house was 5 shillings. This is now my bedroom.
The majority of the male occupants of the houses were printers, jewellers, clockmakers, or workers in allied trades. The women were lodging house keepers, dressmakers and milliners. The households at no 7 might, in 1851, have been considered slightly more genteel than most. For when that census was taken Richard Cuff, described as ‘artist, engraver (architectural etc)’, was living at number 7 with his younger brother,William, a ‘bookseller -collector’. They constituted one household. The other was headed by John Peacock, ‘Baptist minister at Spencer Place Chapel’, and comprised his wife, son (a printer) and an 18-year-old ‘house servant’. The Chapel was small and situated in a very poor, densely populated area a little to the south of Owen’s Row. That the Cuff brothers should be sharing a house with a non-conformist minister may not have been entirely fortuitous their father, John Harcombe Cuff (c.1790-1852) being a dissenting minister back home in Wellington, Somerset.
Thus, we know that when he painted the watercolour in 1855 Richard Cuff had been living in 7 Owen’s Row for at least four years. However, sometime between 1855 and the next census in 1861 he moved, becoming a lodger in a house in Cumming Street, off the Pentonville Road. By this time his brother William had gone into business as a bookseller with another of their brothers, first in Preston and then in Dover. This could have been a factor in Richard Cuff’s decision to move.
From my knowledge of the proportions of the houses I would suggest that the watercolour is of the front first-floor room of number 7, showing just one of the room’s two windows. Although It is impossible to tell from the 1851 census how the two households were deployed around the house, I suppose we must assume that this room was most likely to have been one of those rented by the artist and his brother. In a search through the local paper, The Clerkenwell News, I found, dated 5 June 1858, an advertisement, headed ‘Unfurnished Apartments’ – ‘To be let, at 7 Owen’s Row, near the Angel, a First Floor and another Room, with use of Kitchen; healthily and cheerfully situated; good references given and required. No other lodgers’. Could this have been inserted at the time when Richard Cuff left the house? Were these his rooms?
Now that we know a little more about the background of the house and its inhabitants let’s look more closely at the decoration of that room in August 1855. Here’s the watercolour again.
Note the plaster moulding frieze, with dentilling, around the ceiling edge, and the marble fire surround. These look entirely typical of the late 18th century but, alas, the originals have long since vanished from the remaining houses so I’m unable to make a direct comparison.
I suspect that there would originally have been a wooden dado rail running round the room but that, considered dated, had already been removed, allowing the wallpaper to flow from ceiling to skirting board.
The wallpaper looks fairly typical of that fashionable in the 1840s/1850s, at a time when printing machines had brought the use of wallpaper within the reach of all but the poorest.
The window we see is hung with light curtains – perhaps those reserved specially for the summer -and are of printed chintz or muslin. They fall generously, as was fashionable, held back by metal (brass?) tiebacks. As I mentioned, the room has two windows, so the volume of the material in that area would have seemed generous as it pooled to the floor. We can see one shutter in the embrasure; these would, of course, have been pulled across in the evening.
The furniture dates from the earlier part of the 19th century, falling under the general heading of ‘Regency’. The 1858 advertisement that I quote above indicates that the first floor of 7 Owen’s Row was let unfurnished so perhaps we are reasonably safe in concluding that the furniture belongs to the Cuff brothers. In which case to my mind they show rather good taste in matching the style and simplicity of the furniture to the proportions of the room. I’m a little intrigued that one of the pieces, that standing under the window, is a work – or sewing – table. Was it merely decorative? The feet both of it and of the central table end in neat brass castors, facilitating easy movement.
The floor appears to be covered, right close to the skirting board, by a carpet – doubtless of English make – light in colouring. The drugget, rather oddly placed between the worktable and the central table is, of course, lying in front of the artist as he works and is, perhaps, there to protect the carpet from his paints. More usually one might expect to find it under a dining table, catching stray crumbs. A patterned hearth rug with a green border lies in front of the metal fender.
Because it is summer the grate is covered with a chimney board, to provide decoration and give some protection against the intrusion of falling birds and insects at a time when the chimney was not in use.
Among the ornaments on the mantle piece are, at each end, a pair of hand-held fire screens, probably made of papier-mache. Tasselled bell pulls hang at each side. Did the Cuffs ring and young Eliza, the ‘house servant’, answer?
As to the room’s decoration as it relates to the Cuff brothers’ trades – were the books lying on the central table part of William’s stock or collection? And was the picture hanging over the mantle piece one of Richard’s engravings, for it certainly appears to be in black and white. And are the other two, more colourful, pictures examples of his painting?
I do wish I could exercise a Street View-type camera and swivel the room around to look out of the window. For the view in 1855 would have been so very different from that of the present day. For then, running along the other side of the narrow Owen’s Row street, was the New River, bringing water from Hertfordshire to its final destination, the New River Company reservoirs just across the road, behind Sadler’s Wells. It was only in 1862 that the New River outside Owen’s Row was covered in. So, looking out of that window, Richard Cuff’s gaze would have travelled over that narrow width of running water and onto the gardens of houses fronting St John’s Street, which led up to the Angel.
And what of the rest of Richard Cuff’s life? I can see that by 1871 he was living at 101 Englefield Road, still in Islington, but to the east of Owen’s Row. He and two of his sisters were the only occupants, apart from a servant, of a comparatively large house. And then by 1880 he had moved again and was now the sole lodger at 5 Thornhill Square, Barnsbury, the house of a ‘commercial agent’and his family. There Richard Cuff occupied two rooms on the first floor and one on the second. All were unfurnished, so perhaps we can picture his elegant Regency furniture, his pictures and his matching papier-mache handheld fire-screens decorating those rooms. It was here that he died on 11 October 1883. He left well over £6000 and, to the British Museum, two letters he had received from John Ruskin, together with many proofs of engravings he’d made for Ruskin. The latter being an exacting master we can assume that Cuff’s engravings were of a high quality.
We’ve caught the merest glimpse into the life of Richard Parminter Cuff and, along with everything else that we will never know, I am left wondering about the woman standing in the sitting room of 7 Owen’s Row in August 1855? On the reverse of the watercolour is a study of the head of a young woman. The information given here – https://tinyurl.com/w3ofoaz – gives the date ‘1885’, but that must be a typo for 1855 – the artist died in 1883. Was the head intended for the figure of the woman? Who was she? and why was she left unfinished? There is a novel to be teased from this picture.
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Below is an item that I found in a postcard album compiled by Mrs Louisa Thomson Price, one of the leaders of the Women’s Freedom League.
Mrs Thomson Price acquired this sticker at a ‘Anti-Suffrage campaign’ demonstration held on 16 July 1910 in Trafalgar Square – during which men mingled with the crowd and stickered ‘well-known women suffragists’ with ‘Votes for Women Never’ slogans. The Daily Telegraph, in describing the demonstration, particularly remarked on ‘the large number of suffragists and supporters of “votes for women” who were in attendance’, commenting that ‘the militant Suffragists utilized the occasion as a great opportunity for doing propaganda work among the enemy.’
While Mrs Thomson Price declared that this stealthy stickering was ‘typical of the methods of the ‘Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage’, The Daily Telegraph reveals that ‘a most effective ending to the afternoon was the march past of the WSPU Drum and Fife Band playing ‘The Marseilles’. Well, that was certainly a more open spoiler.
This anti-suffrage demonstration was held a few days after the suffrage Conciliation Bill had passed its second reading in the House of Commons and a week before the WSPU’s massive 23 July rally in Hyde Park. The suffrage campaigners’ hopes were high -and the anti-suffragists were presumably just a little nervous. They need not have worried – for on the very day of the Hyde Park spectacular the prime minister, Asquith, informed Lord Lytton, chairman of the Conciliation Committee that the Conciliation Bill would progress no further than parliamentary session. It was yet another example of how difficult it was to get the political machine to change gear if those in the engine room were not minded to operate the levers.
Mrs Louisa Thomson Price (1864 -1926) was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. In 1888 she married John Sansom, a member of the executive of the NSS.From c 1886 she worked as a journalist – as a political writer, then a very unusual area for women, and drew cartoons for a radical journal, ‘Political World’. She was a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband, in 1907 she married George Thomson Price.
Louisa Thomson Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League, became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote, and was a director of Minerva Publishing, publisher of the paper. She took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favour of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL. and £1000 to endow a Louisa Thomson Price bed at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.
In January 1910 Kate Frye is paying a short visit to Ditchling in Sussex, staying with her dear cousin, Abbie, and her husband, Basil Hargrave, at their home, Chichester House, 11 High Street, Ditchling. Eric Gill, engraver, calligrapher, printmaker, typeface designer and sculptor had settled in Ditchling in 1907, attracting a community of craftsmen – and women – to the village.
Abbie was a prolific novelist, who wrote under the name of ‘L. Parry Truscott’.
Ditchling, East Sussex, 1912 by G.D. Elms. Ditchling Museum, courtesy of Public Catalogue Foundation and BBC Your Paintings
Here we can see the parish church, St Margaret of Antioch, where Kate endured a ‘long dull sermon’. Abbie and Basil are both buried in the churchyard.
Eric Gill’s house, Sopers, was at 28 High Street. Much later, in 1930, Abbie’s son, Truscott Hargrave (b 1911) was to become secretary to the Saint Dominic’s Press, founded by Gill (who had by then left Ditchling).
Mr Wheelwright, whom Kate found ‘one of the most bitter and arrogant conservatives’, was William Wheelwright, an Australian-born worker in silver and copper. His wife, Helen Maud, was a Gloucestershire-born artist.
Dr Edwin Habberton Lulham, a medical doctor practising in Ditchling and Brighton, was also a poet and lecturer. He appears to have been living away from Ditchling at the time of Kate’s visit, his cottage available for rent. In 1911, when the census was taken, he was living in Margate . See here for more about him
From Kate’s Diary
Saturday 22 January 1910
Abbie busied herself after breakfast and I sat over the fire and read the papers and then wrote a couple of letters before helping Abbie arrange the dining room and drawing room for the afternoon. Then just before 12 o’clock we went out for an hour’s walk towards the Downs. We took the sheepdog, Bay, with us – he is at present the latest addition to the family party at Chichester House. Lunch at 1 o’clock – then we did a few more jobs – and Alice the maid began laying the tea and we put out the cakes and at 3 o’clock we went up and changed our dresses as the party commenced punctually at 4 o’clock.
We were 23 in all. only 3 men. Basil, the Vicar and the man, Mr Gill, who read the paper to start the debate. It was quite a clever paper – but he did not make it interesting really and it was not a popular subject – ‘The arts and crafts in the home’ – very few made any remarks at all and they were very far wide of the mark for the most part – some of them were very amusing. A Mr Davidson was really killing and the Vicar so pious. Basil’s speech was really the best as it did raise some points but no one took them up. It was over and everyone had gone soon after 6 o’clock.
Abbie hastened on the dinner – we changed our things again for walking apparel, had dinner about 7 o’clock – and then went off to a political meeting in the schools – but as a great concession by the Vicar (a rabid Conservative) to the Liberal Candidate, Mr Basil Williams. The place was very full of those who thought otherwise and they were so noisy they were a great trouble to the speaker. There were very few of his supporters there and I should think I was the only Liberal woman in the place. It is a most Tory village.
I much enjoyed the meeting but I must say I did not admire the spirit of some of the ‘hecklers’. One man who I found out was a friend of Abbie’s afterwards – a Mr Wheelwright was a fearful nuisance. There was a very good free-trade speaker first but he rather lost his temper with the folk and absolutely showed his teeth at them. Mr Basil Williams came on later from another meeting. A nice looking man and he spoke quite well. But he does not stand a chance – it is wonderful to get men to contest such seats, I think. A great crowd was waiting to hiss and boo him as he left in his motor car. What an ungrateful lot – to boo one of the party who gave them political emancipation.
Sunday January 23rd 1910
To the Parish Church where they have a pew by right with Chichester House. A bawling choir and a long dull sermon – but a beautiful old building. then for an hour’s walk. The roads very slippery until the rain started which it did just as we neared home. We went over Dr Lulham’s cottage which he has very nicely furnished but rather crowded. I should like to take it one day for a few weeks and stay in Ditchling.
Tidied ourselves and Mr and Mrs Wheelwright came to tea. I found him one of the most bitter and arrogant conservatives and Tariff Reformers I have ever come across and we talked politics all the time nearly and they stayed till quite 7 o’clock. I don’t think I could do with him myself – or with her for that matter. I do hate prejudice to that extent – but they are great friends here.’
See here for details of the published edition of Kate’s diary – Campaigning for the Vote.
The Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts has just re-opened after a major refit. See here for new opening hours and here for some of the Museum’s past projects.
The photograph above was taken on Monday 18 May 1914 at the sale in Hampstead of goods belonging to Mrs Louisa Thomson Price and others – all of whom had refused to pay their tax. ‘No Taxation Without Representation’ was the motto of the Tax Resistance League.
The Vote (the paper of the Women’s Freedom League with which Mrs Thomson Price was closely associated) reported (22 May 1914) ‘At Hampstead on May 18 a large group of tax resisters had their goods sold at Fitzjohns Estate Auction Rooms. They were Mrs Thomson Price, Mrs and Miss Hicks, Mrs How Martyn , Mrs Milligan, Mrs Hartley, the Misses Collier, and the Misses Dawes Thompson. A procession with a band marched from Finchley Road station to the auction rooms at Swiss Cottage and after the sale an excellent meeting was held at the corner of the Avenue Road. From a gaily decorated wagonette speeches were made by Mrs Thomson Price, Mrs Nevinson and Mrs Kineton Parkes, explaining the reason of the protest.
Below is the note made by Louisa Thomson Price on the reverse of the photographic postcard.
Mrs Louisa Thomson Price was born Louisa Catherine Sowdon in 1864 and died in 1926. She was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. She was impressed by Charles Bradlaugh of the National Secular Society. In 1888 she married John Samson, who was a member of the executive of the NSS. She worked as a journalist from c 1886 – as a political writer, then a very unusual area for women, and drew cartoons for a radical journal, ‘Political World’. She was a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband, in 1907 she married George Thomson Price. She had no children from either marriage.
Louisa Thomson Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League, became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote, and was a director of Minerva Publishing, publisher of the paper. She contributed a series of cartoons to The Vote, which were then produced as postcards. The ‘Jack Horner’ cartoon was also issued as a poster for, I think, the January 1910 General Election. Louisa Thomson Price took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favour of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL. and £1000 to endow a Louisa Thomson Price bed at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.
I have a very rare suffrage artefact – a Women’s Freedom League postcard album once owned by Mrs Thomson Price -for sale in my catalogue 185.
In ‘The Ladies’ Clubs of London’, an 1899 article, the journalist Dora Jones identified ‘the evolution of the independent professional woman’ as the catalyst in the explosion of women’s clubs, writing:’ The modern professional woman, be she artist, journalist, clerk, doctor, teacher, or nurse, living as she often does in rooms in the suburbs, needs some fairly central haven of refuge where she can drop in, when she has a spare hour, for a rest, a cup of tea, and a glance at the newspapers. She is probably an intelligent woman, with a keen interest in everything that affects the interests of her sex, and she likes to have a place open to her where she may have a chance of meeting those like-minded and of discussing questions of common interest. And, unfortunately, she is very likely to be a lonely woman, and there is no loneliness which presses one more cruelly than the isolation of a great city.’ Dora Jones concentrated her researches on clubs, such as the Somerville, the University Women’s, the Pioneer, and the Writers’, where women such as she described might be found. In the early days the clubs were open during the day and in the evenings but did not offer members residential facilities.
The Somerville Club (named for Mary Somerville) had been founded in 1878 and by 1888 was based in utilitarian premises above an ABC cafeteria in Oxford Street, later moving to Hanover Square. It always hovered on the edge of financial disaster, its membership subscription kept low in order to appeal to the poorer, working, middle-class woman. The Somerville allowed her a respite from cramped lodgings, the prospect of mildly radical lectures and discussions on subjects such as ‘Rousseau ‘and ‘Poets and Poetry as Moral and Spiritual Teachers’.
The University Women’s Club, or the University Club for Ladies as it was originally termed, aimed to ‘afford facilities of intercourse for Women educated at the Universities’, its members initially drawn mainly from Girton and Newnham, with some from Oxford and a few from London, particularly from the London School of Medicine for Women. By late 1886 premises had been opened in New Bond Street, in a setting of Morris wallpapers and Chippendale chairs, and subscriptions taken to various weekly and monthly papers and to a circulating library. By 1896 the club had 270 members.
The minute books of the University Women’s Club (and it is the only club whose committee books are extant) reveal the prosaic details of running such an enterprise. For instance in 1890, when the club had no cooking facilities of its own, relying on meals supplied by an outside restaurant, there were complaints that the tariff was limited and that ‘a chop was not always wanted’. Writing of the club in 1888 Amy Levy (a graduate of Newnham) commented that ‘the mingled sense of independence and esprit de corps which made college life at once so pleasant and so wholesome are not wanting here in the colder, more crowded regions of London club-land’. However, in 1890 when a fortnightly house dinner was instituted, presumably to encourage greater camaraderie, the minutes record that these dinners were not largely attended.
From 1902 gentlemen were welcomed as guests. The resolution allowing this pointed out that ‘it was very inconvenient to members who lived in lodgings, and perhaps had only one room, not to be able to ask a gentleman to their Club’. On the night of the census, at a time when the club was at 4 George Street, Hanover Square, three members were recorded as staying there that night – one was a teacher, one a hospital nurse and the third of ‘private means’.
The minutes emphasise that the club’s purpose was social only. This is the only one of the 19th-century women’s clubs to survive, although, alongside a programme of social activities, it is nowadays quite happy to host the occasional lecture.
The apotheosis of the clubs associated with the new breed of ‘strong-minded’ women was the Pioneer. This had opened in 1892, by 1894 was ensconced at 22 Bruton Street, the home of Mrs Emily Massingberd, its founder, and had around 400 members, who, in order to eliminate class differences, were, while in the club, identified by their membership number.
Dora Jones commented that ‘Country ladies who have heard it whispered that there is a smoking room at the Pioneers’ still, I believe, mention the place sometimes with bated breath, as the resort of alarming beings with short hair, strident voices, and unbecoming garments of a masculine cut. A visit to the club some afternoon would make short work of these preconceptions. For a woman to succeed in the battle of life at the present time, she must be neither a “frump”, nor a “crank”’. However, writing in the feminist journal, Shafts, in January 1894 its editor, Mrs Margaret Shurmer Sibthorpe, declared it was her intention to adopt Rational dress and that she meant ‘to go freely to and fro in it wherever my business may call me, to appear in it at my club (the Pioneer), and at many places of public resort.’ Moreover, Viscountess Harberton, a co-founder of the Rational Dress movement was a member of the Pioneer.
That the Pioneers, whether or not ‘alarming beings’, welcomed independence of mind may be seen in the club’s programme of debates, each of which was preceded by a club dinner.
In 1893 the summer session included ‘Why should not women vote?’, ‘Will socialism benefit women’, and ‘Should women marry?’.
Although the Pioneer continued well into the 1920s there seems to have been some doubt in 1897, after the death of Mrs Massingberd, as to whether it would continue, many members leaving to join the Grosvenor Crescent Club (15 Crosvenor Crescent). This also catered for the professional working women, by 1900 boasting not only a telephone, but also an exchange telegraph to provide stock market reports. However, on the night of the 1911 census there were five woman members staying at the club, none of whom claimed to have any paid occupation, looked after by an ample staff.
In London most of the Victorian and Edwardian ladies’ clubs tended to be located in the shopping, feminine area south of Oxford Street, north of Piccadilly and west of Regent Street. Not only were they conveniently situated for shopping and socialising, but the fact that they were in an acceptably feminine area appears successfully to have negated the masculinity inherent in the idea of the club.
However in 1892 the Writers’ Club, founded to provide a social and working centre for women authors and journalists, did open its doors in an essentially masculine area, Norfolk Street, just off the Strand. Based in Hastings House, a building sheltering many small businesses associated with publishing and journalism, the club comprised a reception room (originally decorated with what Dora Jones affectionately terms ‘a greenery-yallery tinge’), a dining room, an occasional room, and a writing room, where silence was enforced in order that members might work and which was well supplied with works of reference. The Writers’ Club held a Friday house tea, which Dora Jones described as having come ‘to rank among the most interesting gatherings of literary London. Some leading light in the women’s world fills the place of hostess, and many of the most distinguished personalities of the day are to be met. A well-known ornament of these gatherings, the author of Joanna Traill [Annie E. Holdsworth], and some other powerful and intensely modern books, has introuduced a description of them into her latest work.’ Philip Gibbs in his novel Intellectual Mansions, 1910, also gives a vibrant description of the Literary Ladies’ Club (which he based in ‘Arundel Street’, clearly a nod to Norfolk Street), clearly based on his experience of the Writers’ Club house teas.
However the food provided by the Writers’ Club was indifferent, the surroundings rather shabby and in 1904 a group with higher aspirations broke away to form the Lyceum Club. This was the first woman’s club to brave the male club land of Piccadilly, initially taking over premises that had formerly housed the Imperial Services Club. Its founder, Constance Smedley, recorded that the Lyceum was intended for ladies engaged with literature, journalism, art, science and medicine, who required ‘a substantial and dignified milieu where [they] could meet editors and other employers and discuss matters as men did in professional clubs: above all in surroundings that did not suggest poverty’. The Lyceum had a library, an art gallery in which the work of members was displayed, 35 bedrooms and employed hairdressers and sewing maids. The club had international aspirations and branches were soon formed in Berlin, Paris, Rome and Florence – and is still in existence – the International Association of Lyceum Clubs.
These were all clubs that aspired to cater for the professional working woman or the woman interested in social and political affairs. However, once the tacit barrier against women forming clubs was broken, another style of club, more akin to that of the men, made its appearance. I shall discuss these in a future post.
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Rooms of Their Own:Victorian and Edwardian Women’s Clubs
‘The Ladies’ Reading Room’ – the genesis of the woman’s club, c. 1858, as it appeared in an advertisement in Barbara Bodichon’s guide book, ‘Algeria Considered as a Winter Residence for the English.’
‘The multiplying of women’s clubs, and the accompanying facilities for social intercourse, is distinctly a latter-day feature of London society. Twenty years ago they were practically unknown: today they are to be met with on all sides. They are a sign of the times; women have awakened to the fact that they want something outside their domestic and home duties’. Thus observed a Lady’s Realm journalist in 1898. One might, indeed, go further and state that, 20 years earlier, not only were clubs for women practically unknown, but that the concept was all but inconceivable.
During the first three-quarters of the 19th century economic and social regulation had kept the majority of middle-class women in a family home, either that of their birth, that of a relative or that of their marriage. For those who had neither such support nor the wealth to maintain their own house-hold, the alternative was a life spent in rented rooms. Such lodgings controlled a woman’s social life just as strictly as any family. Under this regime there was little opportunity for women whose interests did not coincide with those of their family to make contact with one another. What were required were places in which women could relax in company, but yet be beyond society’s reproach.
In the mid-19th century the idea of ‘the club’ was synonymous with ‘a man’s club’, a development of the 18th-century coffee house where men gathered to discuss the news of the day. By the mid-19th century the number of clubs, their popularity and comforts had increased apace. Club culture was firmly established among the middle and upper classes, but was absolutely a male culture. The story of how women managed to create a parallel tradition is yet another strand in the history of women’s emancipation.
The idea had first been mooted in 1857 when Bessie Parkes and Barbara Bodichon thought of opening a club room on the same premises as that of the feminist journal they planned to publish. Initially their aim was very modest, merely to provide a room in which to make available the magazines and papers they knew women of cultivation but limited means would like to read but could not otherwise afford.
The club room did materialise, by 1860 known as the Ladies’ Institute. It was housed in premises in Langham Place, just north of Oxford Street, comprising a Reading Room, open from 11 in the morning to 10 at night, a Luncheon Room and a room for the reception of parcels. The latter was a boon for women travelling into central London to shop at the new department stores. Thus the club provided rest and recreation not only for London’s many middle-class working women, such as daily governesses, who were likely to be living alone in lodgings, but also for her like-minded, but more leisured, sister.
Needless to say the club room’s opening did not pass without criticism. The Saturday Review commented, ‘If all that is meant is a lounge for the unprotected female, in which she can daily meet her like-minded and strong-minded sisterhood to discuss the Divorce court till half-past one, and then console the inner woman with sandwiches and sherry, we can only hint to the ladies that this may be a mistake.’ However, despite this reprimand, the Ladies’ Institute proved popular for the seven years of its existence. The general subscription was one guinea a year, but for the category described as ‘professional ladies’ – such as daily governesses – it was reduced by half.
The Ladies’ Institute closed in 1867 but its spirit continued in the Berners Club, which opened in Berners Street, again just north of Oxford Street, and continued in existence until almost the end of the century. In the 1870s it shared premises and personnel with the leading London suffrage society. It followed the pattern set by the Ladies’ Institute, was principally aimed at working, middle-class women, had a reading room, a drawing room and a dining room and was open until 10.30 each evening.
From the 1880s, once the idea had been shattered that clubs were only for men, women’s clubs multiplied, two distinct types emerging. There were those that followed the tradition set by the Ladies’ Institute and the Berners, appealing to independent-minded working women, and those that provided ‘tea and shopping facilities’, social in their aims and fashionable in their membership.
I will consider both types of clubs in future posts.
Elena Shayne in her dancing years, With her husband, Paul Barel (image courtesy of Louise Baghurst)
Even though ‘lockdown’ has officially been eased, my physical freedom is not as it was but, as compensation, and fuelled by an insatiable curiosity and the wonders of the internet, I’ve had no shortage of time and opportunity to wander through time and space in pursuit of various chimera.
One such is a young woman known as ‘Elena Shayne’, author of a single published work, a roman à clef entitled Everyday (Jonathan Cape,1935). As she explained at the outset, ‘Elena’ planned to write about ‘the things that happen to me for a year’. And that, simply, is what she did. Everyday is the book of that year.
(image courtesy of Scott Thompson)
But, to begin at the beginning, I knew nothing of Everyday when I first encountered it, described in a post on the ‘Furrowed Middlebrow’ website. I am not sure what exactly caught my attention, probably the author’s rather unusual name for I began idly to research Elena Shayne on Ancestry.com and quickly realised that she had a rather slippery attitude to names. This was rather intriguing. The name she had used as an author she had also used in Real Life, but it was not the name with which she had been born, and was by no means the only one she was to adopt during her lifetime.
I was sufficiently amused by my genealogical research to pass on an outline to Scott, the owner of the ‘Furrowed Middlebrow’ website, and was delighted when he offered to send me a scan of Everyday. It was only then, on reading the novel, that my research took wings, transporting me back to 1931-1932, and embedding me in the life of a north Devon village.
‘Elena Shayne’ was born Louise Crawshay Parker in September 1909 in Plymouth, Devon. Her mother was Mrs Gertrude Hermione Thomas (née Crawshay), who had been separated from her husband, William Morlais Thomas, a civil engineer, since c 1901. They had married in 1892 and a daughter, Grace Morlais Thomas, had been born in 1893. Gertrude’s father, a member of the Crawshay family of wealthy Welsh ironmasters, had not approved of her marriage and had lived just long enough to see it fail.
At some point Mrs Thomas met, and then lived in Plymouth with, John Thomas Parker, the father of Louise. The family story is that they met on Plymouth Hoe, while each speaking for their Cause – he for Socialism and she for Suffrage. Gertrude Thomas died in January 1911 and when the census was taken three months later baby Louise was living in Plymouth with John Parker, his elderly mother, his sister, and his brother, a house decorator. Parker was described as a ‘commission agent’, but at the age of 13 in 1881 had worked as a box maker. The Parkers clearly belonged to a class very different from that of the Crawshays.
The 1911 census shows that Louise’s half-sister, Grace Thomas, was then living with Gertrude Thomas’ sister, Louise Crawshay, at Batheaston Cottage, Batheaston (on the outskirts of Bath). Poor Grace died in June 1911, aged 18, a couple of months after the census. At this time Grace’s father, William Morlais Thomas, was living in the seaside town of Paignton, Devon, attended by a nurse. He died there in 1914. I have not ordered death certificates for the sad trio (Mr and Mrs Thomas and Grace) but curiosity might yet get the better of me. I’m pretty certain, though, that TB was the culprit.
These are all facts I established in the course of my genealogical research and I was then delighted to find the details vindicated in Everyday where, in a few paragraphs, Elena Shayne relates much of the story of her birth and parentage, telling how she was rescued from the backstreets of ‘Rymouth’, as she calls Plymouth, by her great-aunt Louise, and taken to live with her at ‘Westwater’ (Batheaston).
Elena was five years old, when, after the death of William Morlais Thomas, a court case established that, although she was now known as ‘Louise Crawshay Thomas’, she was not, in fact, his daughter, but that of John Parker. The court case, at the root of which lay a dispute over an inheritance, was widely reported and my supposition that her illegitimacy – or, at least, the widespread knowledge of it – shaped Elena’s life has been borne out in conversation with her daughter. In Everyday Elena certainly blames it for the ostracization she believed she experienced from some sections of ‘society’.
Although she did not inherit from William Thomas’ estate, Elena was subsequently left money by a Crawshay uncle and her aunt Louise, on her death in 1943, left Elena her entire estate, which amounted to something over £4000. So, she was not, I think, without means in her younger years. I only mention finances because in Everyday Elena evinces a delightfully vagabond spirit, something we all know is only possible if the basics of life are covered.
Other than a mention in the press that Elena Shayne had attended school in Bristol, I don’t know anything of her life between the ages of 5 and 22 when, in December 1931, described as ‘Writer’ and with her aunt Louise, she sailed, second-class, to Marseilles. It was the information in the Ranpura’s manifest that was the key to unravelling the roman à clef – for the address supplied by the two women was ‘Lundy House, Croyde Bay, north Devon’. This was the lightbulb moment (to mix the metaphors) which unlocked Everyday, for the address of the author – and central character – as it appears on the opening page of Everyday, accompanying the date of her first diary entry, 23 June 1931, is ‘Hartland House’, Grebe Bay, North Devon’.
I had now anchored Everyday in time and place. For ‘Grebe’ read ‘Croyde’. Lundy is an island in the Bristol Channel; Hartland Point is a rocky outcrop sticking out into the Channel, some miles south of Croyde. By studying online maps and photographs I have become closely acquainted with this north Devon coastal village as it developed through the course of the 20th century, and, with Google Earth, have explored the neighbourhood as it is today. In Everyday the local towns and villages are given pseudonyms, thus, for example, ‘Barum’ is Barnstaple, ‘Barnham’ is ‘Georgeham’, ‘Brandon’ is Braunton, ‘Sandon’ is ‘Saunton, and ‘Hutley’ is ‘Putsborough. Moreover, judicious study of the 1939 Register (a census taken in England at the outbreak of the Second World War) has enabled me to identify many of the people whom Elena encounters. She uses pseudonyms, but her code is easily broken.
Why had Aunt Louise and ‘Elena’ chosen to move from Batheaston to Croyde? In Everyday the move appears permanent, but was not so in Real Life, for Aunt Louise retained Batheaston Cottage and left it to Elena on her death. In Everyday Elena implies that the move had been made because knowledge of her illegitimacy was causing her harm in Batheaston – ‘at last I could hardly bear to go out because of the slights and insults I received’. Croyde was familiar territory to Aunt Louise Crawshay, whose maternal grandfather and an uncle had, in succession during the second half of the 19th century, been rectors of Georgeham, the adjacent village. This family association, it was hoped, would provide protective cachet.
Lundy House 2020
Lundy House, where Elena and Aunt Louise were living, is situated on Moor Lane, a minor road running north out of Croyde and was rented from a farmer who lived in an adjacent house. In Everyday the farmer was ‘James Fisher’, in reality, George Bertram Fowler, who lived there with his aged mother and ran the farm with help from one of his sisters, Mrs Ivy Reed (aka ‘Mrs Rush’ in Everyday). Elena describes the Fisher/Fowler family and its history in some detail, all borne out by my research in genealogical records and newspaper reports. She even mentions that ‘James’ was unlikely to marry while his mother was alive and, sure enough, I see that it was only in 1937, a few months after her death, that he made it to the altar. Remember that Everyday was written some years earlier; Elena could read a situation. Moreover, George Fowler lost no time in selling his farm. His mother died on 30 January 1937 and the 27 March 1937 issue of the North Devon Journal carried an advertisement for the sale of all the livestock and agricultural implements of Lundy House Farm on the instructions of Mr George Fowler (‘giving up farming’).
Looking out of her ‘abode-in-attic’ window in Lundy House, Elena describes her uninterrupted view over bracken and stream to the bay, rejoicing in her solitude. The sea is still there and Lundy House still stands, but over the past 90 years Elena’s world has vanished. The house, available to rent, is now at the centre of Ruda Holiday Park, a sprawling collection of chalets, caravans, and camping pitches, where holiday makers are serviced by all the entertainments thought necessary in the 21st century. Where there was farmyard there is now the Cascades Tropical Adventure Pool, complete with flumes. Everyday describes a landscape and a society on the cusp of change.
In the early 1930s Croyde was already attracting holidaymakers. Elena refers to the ‘Season’, noting that cottagers were keen to let rooms to summer visitors. When describing the great flood that engulfed Georgeham and Croyde in June 1931 she mentions that the damage done was of real consequence to cottagers hoping to profit by the ‘Season’. She, naturally, found the drama of the situation irresistible. Somewhere a postcard may exist of Elena, her dress rolled to her waist, wading, with a friend, through the waters. She describes how ‘some thirty or forty people on the far side of the bridge greeted us with cameras and cheers, and picture-postcards of us were on sale in Grebe and Barum soon afterwards’. I think the postcards were published by Arthur Gammon, who ran the Croyde post office. Wouldn’t it be a coup to unearth this image?
At the time that Elena was writing, Croyde had just, in 1930, become the site of a permanent holiday camp run for its members by NALGO (National Association of Local Government Officers). This was an indication of how holidaying would transform the village after the Second World War. But in 1931 there were only two shops in Croyde (‘three if you count the butcher’s hut’), the local economy was based around farming, and the ‘Devon bus’ ran from Barnstable ‘four times a day in winter and four or five times an hour in the “Season”’.
Croyde Village in the Interwar Years
St Mary’s Road, the main street through Croyde, did not yet have a name; Elena merely refers to ‘the village’. Several of the farms she mentions fronted onto this street. Many of them, still there, retain their original names but have turned themselves into B & Bs, their back lands now filled with holiday lodges. I was amused to note that the carpenter, ‘Mr Flower’, whom Aunt Louise employed to do work in ‘Hartland House’ was undoubtedly William Budd, after whom a restaurant, ‘Billy Budd’s’ (formerly the Carpenter’s Arms), is now named. This seemed a very satisfying conjunction of local history, fact and fiction.
Croyde Village – a postcard posted in 1933
Everyday is packed with details of the lives of both local cottagers and farmers and of those who felt themselves to inhabit a higher echelon. I have deduced that ‘Miss Hunter’, prominent in local society, was Miss Constance Hyde, who lived with her brother and sister in a large Victorian house (‘Mole Manor’, notable for its ‘crude colours’) on the cliff north of Lundy House. ‘Miss Hunter’ comes in for some particularly scathing comment, Elena recounting that she was one of those who ‘would not recognize me’. If she had lived to have known it, I think Elena might have taken some satisfaction in the fact that the Hydes’ ancestral home, built a couple of generations back by the founder of the Birmingham Post, has been swept away, demolished to make way for ‘Baggy Point’, one of the more remarkable of Britain’s modernist houses.
Among others who attract her ire are ‘Cuthbert Fitz-Potter’, in Real Life George Pitts-Tucker, a retired businessman and general manager of the Saunton Golf Club. He organised the Ladies’ Championship, held at Saunton in 1932 and mentioned in Everyday. Elena makes clear she thinks that Pitts-Tuckers, who lived a little further up Moor Lane in Middleborough House, with three unmarried Pitts-Tucker sisters living opposite in Middleborough Cottage, had forgotten that it was only two generations back that, as leather drapers, they were mere Tuckers.
Elena was well-acquainted with Saunton and its golf links, for in a house opposite the entrance to the club lived her dearest friend, ‘Lilian’. In Everyday the Saunton house is ‘Inverary’, in Real Life, ’Knockbeg’. ‘Lilian’ was Margaret (Peggy) Lilian Longfield, daughter of an Anglo-Irish family whose home, Kilcolman House in Co Cork, had been burned down in 1921 during the ‘War of Independence’. Everyday is threaded through with mentions of ‘Lilian’, although we never really get close to her. The two young women seem to have periods of unexplained estrangements, one certainly being when ‘Lilian’ became entangled with a young man, ‘Philip’. But at the close of the book Elena came to the conclusion that ‘…whatever she might do or leave undone, Lilian would always be Lilian to me, to be helped and comforted should she need help and comfort.’ And this turned out to be true, although, from what I have been told, it was ‘Lilian’ who was more often the one who provided the help and comfort. For I have been in contact with Elena’s daughter and grand-daughter and with Peggy Longfield’s niece, all of whom tell me that the two women remained close friends for the rest of Elena’s life and that, after her death, the relationship was continued by her daughter. Indeed, Elena’s daughter stressed her own love for Peggy, who helped bring her up, working as a secretary to support her and Elena.
Knowing how closely Elena’s account of her life in Devon appears to be related to Real Life it would seem wilful to doubt the accuracy of the middle section of Everyday, describing the holiday she spent with Aunt Louise, voyaging to Marseilles and then on to Majorca. As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the two can be spotted disembarking from the Ranpura at Marseilles in December 1931. Elena recounts that this was where they transferred for the onward journey to Majorca. Needless to say, on that island and on the return journey by train via Paris she had no end of romantic adventures – adventures that led the Western Press and Bristol Mirror (30 March 1935) to describe her as a ‘modern girl’ [who] ‘obviously knows the art of living as well as the art of writing’. Other reviewers compared her style to that of E.M. Delafield (‘without the coruscation of arrows’) and Beverley Nichols (‘without the mawkishness’). A.G. MacDonnel (The Observer, 17 March 1935) acknowledged her charm and sense of humour, and, presumably rather satisfying to a young writer, The Morning Post applauded her ‘aptitude for pithy, picturesque English’. In fact, Everyday was well and quite extensively reviewed, with hope being expressed for future works. Alas, it was not to be. Her daughter has stressed to me how very prolific Elena was as a writer throughout her life, producing vast quantities of poems and novels, including an updated treatment of Pilgrim’s Progress, and was mortified that, despite being on the books of the Hope Leresche Literary Agency, she never again achieved publication. And this leads me to consider how it was that Everyday ever, as it were, saw the light of day.
Well, among the characters Elena encounters in Devon was one Cocbarlie Bilfather who, living in ‘Torr Cottage’ in the neighbouring village of ‘Barnum,’ she describes as ‘our Novelist, who came to Barnham sixteen years ago, penniless, obscure, and twenty-two, and is now perched upon the rail of fame – chiefly by studies of our local ways’. It was instant recognition – ‘Bilfather’ is, of course, Henry Williamson, of Skirr Cottage, Georgeham. I do have a copy of Patriot’s Progress on my bookshelf but have not yet read The Village Book (1930) and The Labouring Life (1932), which tell of Georgeham life. If it had not been for Covid-19 I would most certainly have already hastened to the British Library and devoured them, as well as other local histories of the area, but such a treat has not yet been possible.
In a few paragraphs Elena paints a seductive picture of Williamson, the man of letters, and his sanctuary, ‘a curious room which smelt of musk and mould’. Thus, it is perhaps no coincidence that Everyday was published by Jonathan Cape, publisher of Williamson’s two Georgeham books. Although I have no proof, I would be amazed if, at the very least, Williamson was not prayed in aid when Elena was looking for a publisher.
However, although Elena Shayne had no further success as an author, she did shine in another sphere. For from 1939, having returned with Aunt Louise to Batheaston and after an interlude in London, she became a leading light of the Bath ballroom-dancing scene. A holder of a Gold Medal from the Imperial Society of the Teachers of Dancing, throughout the war she organised a dance club for soldiers on leave in Bath. She married in 1944, soon after Aunt Louise’s death, but the marriage was short-lived (her daughter tells me that the young man in question, to whom she remained close throughout her life, was gay) and then married again in 1947.
Her second husband, a Bristolian, Paul Barel (1917-2007), was a conscientious objector during the Second World War and had transformed himself from costing clerk to dancer. In 1946, at Elena’s insistence, he changed his name by deed poll from William Cyril Barrell. For a few years the couple ran a health club, ‘Rhythm Therapy’, from Batheaston Cottage and in 1948 had a daughter, Pauline Louise Crawshay Barel. The birth notice in a local north Devon paper made special mention of the fact that the baby was a great-niece of ‘the late Miss Louise Crawshay of Batheaston’. Elena had dedicated Everyday to her great-aunt and there is no doubt of the love between them. However, this second marriage, too, did not last; there was a divorce and in 1957 Paul Barel remarried. Elena Shayne Barel died in 1984 and is buried in Georgeham Cemetery on Incledon Hill.
In my pursuit of Elena Shayne I have, as I’ve mentioned, been in contact with two or three people who remember her very well, each having a special name for her to add to all the others she accumulated in her earlier years. All confirm that she was a very interesting woman, by no means easy, but most definitely memorable. Certainly, her joie de vivre and carefree vagabonding have enlivened my lock-down summer as I accompanied her along country lanes, over the dunes and reefs, up on the cliffs, into dimly lit cottages, on country buses, in tea rooms, on horseback, on ships, in trains, not to mention on a short but lively visit to a Parisian bordello. And for all this entertainment, I offer my appreciative thanks to Furrowed Middlebrow without whom ….
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
On Sunday 2 November the Radio 3 Sunday Feature told – very briefly – the story of Kitty Marion, music-hall artiste, suffragette, and arsonist.
At the planning stage the producer was kind enough to invite me to contribute to the programme – with the brief to discuss something of Kitty’s suffragette activities. The most notorious of these – or, at least, the most publicly known – was the burning down of the stadium at the Hurst Park racecourse at Molesey. This she did with the aid of an accomplice, Clara (Betty) Giveen. You can read how and why they acted as they did in – Suffrage Stories: Kitty Marion, Emily Wilding Davison And Hurst Park
Hurst Park racecourse ran alongside the Thames just across the river from Hampton Court and although much of it was sold for redevelopment in the 1960s, the remaining open space and the layout of roads and fields have changed little in the past 100 years, making it worthy of a visit for a spot of location radio. It was decided, therefore, that we should retrace the arsonists’ footsteps.
I offered to drive our little party from central London to Molesey, a journey that I know like the back of my proverbial hand. For the road that leads down to Hampton Court passes the house on Twickenham Green where I grew up and which remained in my family for over 50 years.Moreover, during my schooldays I had made the journey between Twickenham Green and Hampton every day – for the first few years on that now all but forgotten vehicle, the trolley bus.
By way of a detour and for my younger readers – the 667 trolleybus en route from Twickenham to Hampton Court
Now, in September 2014, our destination was Molesey Cricket Club, which lies, as it did in 1913, next to the erstwhile racecourse. In her unpublished autobiography Kitty mentions that, having left the road, she and Betty crossed a cricket field and so, leaving the cricket club car park, we made our way down a ditch (I with much less agility than my younger companions), through brambles and into the open sunshine of Hurst Park.
We looked over towards where the racecourse stadium had once stood and imagined the scene – as shown in this photograph – revealed by the light of day on Monday 9 June 1913. The fire set by the two women had taken hold very quickly, rather taking them by surprise, and they, with the gas mains exploding, throwing up fountains of fire, they had fled the scene.
I was particularly interested in the next stage of Kitty and Betty’s night excursion. For a long time I had suspected that their journey on foot might have taken them past 15 The Green, Twickenham, but I had never before had occasion to research the matter. That their destination had been a house close to Kew Gardens Station was well known – but what roads had they taken to get there?
In fact the newspaper reports of their trial provide the answer. For they had been spotted at various points on their journey – the sight of two young(ish) women walking unaccompanied through the night had not gone unremarked. The first sighting – by a tramdriver – was at 12.45 am on the road between Hampton Court and Hampton and the second, most importantly, was at Fulwell, which lies between Hampton and Twickenham.
Twickenham Green c 1920s. The scene is still remarkably unchanged. No 15 is just out of the picture on the right. The house is identical to the one shown on the right here. (Photo courtesy of Twickenham Museum)
So, there it was – a proof that satisfied me. For from Fulwell the direct route took them right past Twickenham Green – probably along the very pavement you see on the right of the above photograph.
Kitty and Betty continued through Twickenham Junction and East Twickenham, crossed over the river and were next seen in Richmond at 2.50 am. Alerted to the fire, the police at Hampton Court had sent constables on bicycles to scour the roads. This clearly produced no immediate result but telegraphic messages had also been sent out to all police stations which may be why, in the early hours of the morning, police in Richmond and Kew were on the look out for likely suffragette suspects.
Making no attempt to keep out of sight, Kitty and Betty were walking along Kew Road when, at the corner of Pagoda Avenue, they attracted the attention of a policeman . He followed them down to Lower Mortlake Road where, as they seemed to be lost, he questioned them. They then wandered through the streets, with the police constable following, until in the end he it was who pointed the way to their destination – West Park Road.
Police in this area may well have been on particular alert because suffragettes had recently damaged plants in the Kew Gardens orchid house and had set the tea room alight. A middle-aged, middle-class suffragette, Ella Stevenson, who lived in Cumberland Road, a few streets away from West Park Road, had in March been found guilty of putting phosphorous into the post box at post office in Richmond’s main street, George Street . Edwy Clayton, a scientific chemist whose home, ‘Glengariff’, in Kew Road Kitty and Betty had walked past – was at this very moment on trial at the Old Bailey on a charge of conspiracy connected with the Kew Gardens tea room and other WSPU arson attacks.
Thanks to the producer’s iPhone map, we were better equipped than Kitty and Betty and, weaving our way through the Kew streets, arrived with little difficulty at what had been their ‘safe house’. This in 1913 was the home of Dr Casey and his wife, Isabella, and daughter, Eileen. The two women were dedicated suffragettes and Mrs Casey’s action in allowing a key to her house to be in the possession of Kitty Marion, a woman she did not know, seems to have shocked the court at the subsequent trial even more than the arson itself.
Thanks to the spontaneous kindness of the present owner we were able to record briefly inside the atmospheric Edwardian villa – noting original interior fittings – such as the fireplace with the overmantle mirror in which Kitty must surely have glanced as she and Betty waited for what they must have expected – the knock of a policeman on the door.
The knock of course did come, Kitty and Betty were tried, found guilty of arson and sentenced. Kitty went on hunger strike and was released under the Cat and Mouse Act on a couple of occasions. On the second she was taken to Nurse Pine’s Nursing Home at 9 Pembridge Gardens in Kensington (she mentions ‘Piney’ in her autobiography) from where, after a decoy was employed, she escaped.
Nurse Catherine Pine ran her nursing home in this large Kensington villa
From then until her re-arrest in January 1914 Kitty Marion was on the run, working, as she put it, to ‘communicate with the government’. It was a dangerous time.
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
Women and the First World War: Non-fiction: Items 344-377
Women and the First World War: Biography & Autobiography 378-403
Women and the First World War: Ephemera 404-405
Women and the First World War: Fiction 405-412
1. CRAWFORD, Elizabeth Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists Francis Boutle 2018
Discusses the lives and work of over 100 artists, each of whom made a positive contribution to the women’s suffrage campaign. Most, but not all, the artists were women, many belonging to the two suffrage artists’ societies – the Artists’ Suffrage League and the Suffrage Atelier. Working in a variety of media – producing cartoons, posters, banners, postcards, china, and jewellery – the artists promoted the suffrage message in such a way as to make the campaign the most visual of all those conducted by contemporary pressure groups. Mint – NEW
2. FRIEZE MASTERS Women in Art History Frieze Masters 2018
Magazine published to coincide with the Frieze Masters Fair, 2018 – the entire issue devoted to ‘women in art history’. Among the several articles is one by Jessica Lack on ‘the role of women artists in promoting the cause of women’s suffrage’. Soft covers – large format – very good – corners a little rubbed
3. KENT, Susan Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 Princeton University Press 1987
Fine in d/w (which has one slight nick)
4. STRACHEY, Ray The Cause: a short history of the women’s movement in Great Britain G. Bell 1928
This copy belonged to Lord McGregor – author of ‘Divorce in England’, a book that includes a very useful bibliography of works on women’s rights. He has laid in the book a collection of newspaper cuttings, from the 1950s to 1970s, relating to the position of women. The copy of the book is in good condition – but he had bought it as an ex-library copy and has added a few pencilled notes on the back pastedown. An interesting association copy.
5. VAN HELMOND, Marij Votes for Women: events on Merseyside 1870-1928 National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside 1992
Soft covers – fine
6. (ALLEN) Mary Allen The Pioneer Policewoman Chatto & Windus 1925
Her autobiography – suffragette and one of the founders of the Women Police Volunteers in 1914. This copy formerly belonged to the Margate Pioneer Society, founded in 1897 by Mrs Marion Holmes, who later became a leading light of the Women’s Freedom League. Reading copy – good internally, but spine cloth split – surprisingly scarce
7. (DUNIWAY) Ruth Barnes Moynihan Rebel for Rights: Abigail Scott Duniway Yale University Press 1983
Abigal Scott Duniway (1834-1915), American suffragist, journalist, and national leader. Fine in d/w
8. (MILL) John Stuart Mill Autobiography Longmans, Green 1873
First edition in original green cloth. Internally very good – a little wear at top and bottom of spine
9. (PANKHURST) David Mitchell Queen Christabel: biography of Christabel Pankhurst MacDonald and Jane’s 1977
Good in d/w – ex-library, free front end paper removed
10. (PANKHURST) Christabel Pankhurst Unshackled: the story of how we won the vote Hutchinson 1959
Edited by Frederick Pethick-Lawrence and published after Christabel Pankhurst’s death, this is her ‘take’ on the suffragette campaign. This copy once belonged to Joan Wickham, a some-time secretary to Emmeline Pankhurst and WSPU organizer. First edition, very good in torn d/w. This edition is now quite scarce.
11. (TYSON) Anne Ward No Stone Unturned: the story of Leonora Tyson, a Streatham suffragette Local History Publications 2005
She was a very active member of the WSPU. Soft covers – 28pp. Scarce
12. (WEBB) Richard Harrison Richard Davis Webb: Dublin Quaker Printer (805-72) Red Barn Publishing 1993
Webb was a committed anti-slavery campaigner, whose family were very involved in the Irish women’s suffrage campaign. A brief biography. Soft covers – very good condition
13. GRAY, LESLEY The King’s Jockey Solis Press 2013
A novel centring on the life of the jockey who was riding the King’s Horse at the 1913 Derby, colliding with Emily Wilding Davison. Soft covers – fine condition
14. LUCAS, E.V. Mr Ingleside Methuen, 15th ed, no date 1910/1912?)
A novel with suffrage scenes. Only a reading copy – cloth worn – backstrip loose
15. ‘BILL STICKING FOR LIBERTY’
A very crisp and clear press photograph, taken by London News Agency, 45 Fleet Street. The caption printed on the news agency’s slip of paper glued to the reverse reads ‘Miss Barbara Duval and Miss H. Fox were busy from 2 o’clock on Monday morning decorating the walls of London buildings with posters affirming the rights of women to a parliamentary vote. This photographs shows the two ladies decorating Cleopatra’s Needle.’ They were, in fact, out pasting posters on behalf of the Women’s Freedom League; the poster is headed ‘Proclamation’ and tells us that ‘The Women’S Freedom League Demands Votes for Women This Session’. This placarding of London was undertaken by the Women’s Freedom League to coincide with the opening of the autumn 1909 session of Parliament. Barbara Duval, a member of a family very committed to the suffrage cause, was barely 20 at this time; Helen Fox had been one of the women who chained herself to the grille of the Women’s Gallery in the House of Commons on 28 October 1908. You can read in detail about the Duval family here https://tinyurl.com/rnrrdjha .A lovely image (see also #16 and #17): Helen Fox is standing on a step pasting the Proclamation, while Barbara Duval is standing, looking amused and holding a bundle of the posters, with an official chap of some kind looking on. In fine condition, a delightful image -16.5 cm x 22 cm – very unusual
16. ‘BILL STICKING FOR LIBERTY’ No. 2
Although there is no printed caption on the reverse of this photograph, it was clearly taken on the same day as #15 and #17, presumably also by the London News Agence. Again, we see Barbara Duval and Helen Fox pasting their Proclamations on behalf of the Women’s Freedom League. Their site on this occasion is a board advertising Hackney Carriage Prices, although I cannot identify the building to which this is attached. This time Barbara Duval has done the pasting and Helen Fox is standing holding a number of the Proclamations. I am sure they enjoyed themselves, and were delighted to have a press photographer on hand.Again, a very crisp photograph – 16.5 cm x 22 cm – most unusual
17. ‘BILL STICKING FOR LIBERTY’ No 3
Helen Fox and Barbara Duval have just fixed one of their Proclamations to a freestanding pillar box, By dint of detective work I’ve identified this as being situated outside the Gatti Adelphi restaurant in the Strand, very close to the WFL office. Unlike in the other two bill-pasting photographs (see #15 and #16) this one does include a brush and a pail, but I am not sure if these were necessary to the pasting procedure or whether they belong to the roughish-looking chap who is watching.Or even if they hired him to do the pasting. But it did make me wonder how the pasting was done; they must have had some equipment. A fine photograph – 16.5cm x 21 cm – most unusual
18. CAZALET, Thelma Mrs Pankhurst
An article about Mrs Pankhurst by Thelma Cazalet (MP for Islington East) in ‘The Listener’ (6 Nov 1935) in a series ironically titled ‘I Knew A Man’. A 4-pp article – including photographs. The late-lamented ‘The Listener’ was a substantial journal in those days – this issue is 55 pages – in goodish condition – the front page is present but detached.
19. CORONATION PROCESSION 17 June 1911
A stereoscope photograph of ‘The Empire Car’ – part of the ‘Pageant of Empire’, an element in the procession staged by the suffrage societies to mark the Coronation of George V. Published by ‘The Rose Stereographs’. Very good
20. DYSON, Will Cartoons The Daily Herald 1914
A Second Collection of cartoons drawn by the celebrated Australian cartoonist, Will Dyson (1880-1938), and published in ‘The Daily Herald’. Among the 40 are 6 directly related to the suffrage campaign. In fair condition the middle 2pp have come loose from the staples and the edges are a little rubbed. Could be broken up and the prints framed individually. Large format – 36 x 26 cm – paper covers
21. ELLIS, Henry Daw The Suffrage Pilgrims: Sonnet X privately published
A single sheet, printed with this poem on one side. In 1911 Henry Daw Ellis (1856-1920) was a private tutor and joint hon sec of the Mathematical Association. He lived at 12 Gloucester Terrace, London W (which is the address printed on this leaflet) with his sister, a teacher. In 1912 he published ‘Poems: mathematical and miscellaneous’ with the Chiswick Press, a fact he mentions on this leaflet, by which we can date this Sonnet to slightly later date – perhaps inspired by the NUWSS Pilgrimage of the summer of 1913. As a footnote to the Sonnet he references ‘the Monument aux Morts’ by A. Bartholomé in Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, one of the finest works of the XIX century’. Certainly, the opening lines of the Sonnet feature the figures represented in the Monument. and suggest they grieve ‘that Woman’s voice has been suppressed/In earthly councils, which she would have blessed/With tactful wisdom and with rarer gain/ Of cosmic sense. May They inspire her quest/In all the councils of the World’s Campaign!‘ I can find no mention of Henry Daw Ellis in any of the suffrage papers; clearly he admired from afar. Rubbed and marked – but in generally good condition – most unusual
22. ELMY, Elizabeth Wolstenholme Woman’s Franchise: the need of the hour ILP 2nd ed, no date 
A campaigner for women’s suffrage since the mid-1860s, she had put aside a lifetime’s aversion to party politics and joined the Manchester ILP in 1904. This article was originally published in the ‘Westminster Review’. In her concise style she analyses the events of the previous 40 years and demands that Liberal MPs who profess to support women’s
suffrage honour their pledges. Very good – withdrawn from the Women’s Library (duplicate)
24. INTERNATIONAL WOMAN SUFFRAGE CONGRESS
Budapest June 15-20 1913. This is a small advertising paper label/stamp (it has a sticky back) for the Congress – showing two graceful women stretching their arms, to hold hands across the globe. The type-face is very 1913. A pretty and interesting memento of the last pre-war international women’s gathering. Fine -amazingly ephemeral – and unusual. With the background printed in blue
25. MARY PHILLIPS ARRESTED IN CHESTER
She is being frog marched by a policeman as the thronged crowd looks on, having thrown a bag of flour at a cavalcade of cars, in one of which Asquith was riding. Although sentenced, her fine was paid, against her will, by a local Liberal sympathiser. On the reverse of the photograph is written ‘Please return to S. W. Newsome, 26 West End Lane, NW6’. Stella Newsome was hon sec of the Suffragette Fellowship and this photograph, a good deal battered and still bearing traces of blu tack, was once part of the display in the Suffragette Museum. 16.5 cm x 21 cm – the central image is unimpaired but the edges are frayed and parts of the crowd have lost some surface – fair only – but interesting
26. MEMENTO OF WOMEN’S CORONATION PROCESSION TO DEMAND VOTES FOR WOMEN: Order of March and Descriptive Programme The Women’s Press 1911
This is the official programme for the spectacular march that was held in London on Saturday June 17 1911. ‘From the Introduction: ‘The March through London of 40,000 women has been arranged to show the strength of the deman to win Votes for Women in Coronaton year. The Procession will form up on Westminster Embankment, starting at 5.30pm and marching seven abreast in a line some five miles long, through Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly, Knightsbridge, to Kensington. At the close of the march a great meeting will be held by the Women’s Social and Political Union in the Albert Hall…’ The programme lists all the suffrage societies taking part and describes in detail the different sections – such as the Prisoners’ Pageant and the Historical Pageant. The ‘Order of March’ is inset. The decorative cover is printed in greeen on good quality thick paper, In good condition – with a little rusting at the staples- a very scarce item.
27. MISS EMILY FAITHFULL
studio photograph by W & D Downey, 57 & 61 Ebury Street, London, together with a printed brief biography.
28. MISS MORGAN, OF BRECON The Duties of Citizenship Women’s Local Government Society c 1912
Extracts reprinted from a paper read at the Annual Conference of the National Union of Women Workers, Manchester, October 27th 1896. By the time this leafet was issued Miss Morgan had been Mayor of Brecon, 1911-12. 4-pp – good – withdrawn from the Women’s Library
29. NATIONAL UNION OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE SOCIETIES BADGE
circular, enamel. The upper half is red and carries the words ‘National Union Of”, the middle horizontal section is white with ‘Women’s Suffrage’ and the bottom half is green with ‘Societies’. The maker’s name is W.O. Lewis of Howard St, Birmingham. In very good condition – ready to wear SOLD
30. NATIONAL UNION OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE SOCIETIES BADGE
A SUPERB example of one of the more decorative, and less common, of the NUWSS badges. Circular in shape, composed of metal and enamel, it contains a central rose motif in red, gold and green. ‘NU’ in the centre of the rose is in gold against a white enamel background, as are, around it, in a hexagonal shape, the words ‘National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’. Green enamelled ‘leaves’ complete the representation of the NUWSS colours. The badge was commissioned by the NUWSS from W.O. Lewis, of Howard Street, Birmingham, a family firm still in business. What makes this badge so remarkable is that it is in mint condition, kept with it’s original little cardboard box (now somewhat battered) which contains the backing paper to which it was originally pinned, at the head of which is printed ‘National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’ and at the foot ‘Manufactured by W.O. Lewis’ Howard Street Birmingham’. The enamel and gold-coloured metal are as glistening as the day it was made, c 1910. This is what a badge looked like when it was first pinned to a blouse or lapel. Apart from # 31 (they were accquired together) I have never seen another in this condition.
31. NATIONAL UNION OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE SOCIETIES BADGE
This is a SUPERB example of another rather lovely ‘rose’ badge. It is circular, enamelled in green around the edge. Inside that ‘Woman’s Suffrage’ appears in a circle of white enamel and inside that a red rose, with green leaves in the intersections between its petals’. The maker is W.O. Lewis of Howard Street, Birmingham. What makes this badge so remarkable is that, like #30, it is in mint condition, kept with its original little cardboard box (now somewhat battered) which contains the backing paper to which it was originally pinned, at the head of which is printed ‘National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’ and at the foot ‘Manufactured by W.O. Lewis’ Howard Street Birmingham’. The enamel and gold-coloured metal are as glistening as the day it was made, c 1910. This is what a badge looked like when it was first pinned to a blouse or lapel. Apart from # 30 (they were accquired together) I have never seen another in this condition.
32. NATIONAL UNION OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE SOCIETIES LARGE, HEAVY WOODEN SHIELD
Aross the top of the shield a painted banner, in red on white, reads ‘NUWSS North-Eastern’ with the number ’25’ encircled in green on the right-hand side. Underneath is painted the well-known NUWSS ‘tree’ showing the branches of the NUWSS federations, each with a number attached, these relating to the number of societies that comprised each federation.The ’25’ indicates that at this time the North-Eastern Federation was composed of 25 societies. Eighteen federations are shown, suggesting to me that the shield dates from c 1913. ‘Founded 1867’ is painted at the base of the ‘tree’. The shield is 53.5cm (21″) at its widest and is 49cm (19.5″) high – a substantial object. I wonder if every federation had a similar shield?The NUWSS paper, ‘Common Cause’, 22 March 1918, reveals that when decorating the Queen’s Hall for the ‘Victory’ celebrations, there were 21 federation sheilds available, ‘with heraldic devices’ -soquite different from this one with the NUWSS ‘tree’ image. A shield certainly unique to the North-Eastern Federation – in good condition.
33. ‘OUTSIDE OLD BAILEY AT MRS PANKHURST’S TRIAL 1913’
is written in a contemporary hand on the reverse of this photograph. On 3 April 1913 Mrs Pankhurst was sentenced to 3 years’ penal servitude, as a result of the bombing of Lloyd George’s house in Surrey, for which she claimed responsibility. This photograph was, therefore, taken either on 3 April, or just before and shows a good number of women standing in a line, some holding what I think must be copies of ‘The Suffragette’. I think this was taken by a press photographer, but I cannot make out the name of the firm. A very good image- the women are quite well wrapped up, it probably was a chilly Spring day. Very good image – a crease across one corner – 10 cm x 15 cm
34. PUNCH CARTOON
21 January 1912 – full page – ‘The Suffrage Split’. Sir George Askwith (the charismatic industrial conciliator), as ‘Fairy Peacemaker’, has tamed the dragon of the Cotton Strike – and Asquith, wrestling to keep a seat on the Cabinet horse turns to him ‘Now that you’ve charmed yon dragon I shall need ye to stop the strike inside this fractious gee-gee.’
35. PUNCH CARTOON
30 Nov 1910, scene is a suffragette demonstration, ‘Votes for Women’ flags flying. Two young street urchins observe and comment. Caption is ‘Man of the World (lighting up), “Well ‘ave to give it ’em, I expect, Chorlie”‘. Half-page illustration
36. PUNCH CARTOON
18 April 1906. ‘A Temporary Entaglement’ – a scene from ‘Vanity Fair’. Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman as Josh Sedley holds the wool as The Suffragette (aka Becky Sharp) winds it into a ball. The allusion is to the news that ‘The Prime Minister has promised to receive a deputation on the subject of Female Suffrage after Easter’. Full-page cartoon by Bernard Partridge
37. PUNCH CARTOON
5 October 1927. As a young woman takes her gun from the ghillie an elderly gentleman (the Conservative Party) looks concerned and remarks ‘I hope she’s got enough ‘intuition’ not to let it off in my direction’. The remark is explained: ‘The question of extended suffrage for women [ie for those between 21 and 30] [in whose ‘intuition’ Mr Baldwin reposes so much confidence will be raised in the approaching Conference of the Conservative Party]. Full page
38. PUNCH CARTOON
23 May 1928. A gentleman identified as Lord Banbury kneels in a ring (it’s an allusion to the Royal Tournament which was doubtless on at the time) and opens his umbrella to defend himself against the horde of cloche-hatted women who are rushing towards him carrying their flag for the ‘Equal Franchise Bill’. In the debate on the Representation of the People Act on 21 May 1928 Lord Banbury had attempted to move its rejection. Full-page cartoon – good – one corner creased
39. PUNCH CARTOON
26 March 1913. ‘Burglary Up-To-Date’. Burglar has taken his swag from a safe and now writes ‘Votes for Women’ across the jemmied door. Half-page cartoon – good condition
40. PUNCH CARTOON
19 March 1913. At a railway wayside halt the stationmaster asks the signalman to keep an eye on ‘the ole gal on the platform’ while he has his dinner. The signalman doesn’t think she’ll come to any harm but the stationmaster explains ‘I’m not thinkin’ of ‘er ‘ealth. I’m thinkin’ about my station. She might want to burn it down.’ Half-page cartoon – very good
41. PUNCH CARTOON
5 March 1913. ‘The child is daughter to the woman’ is the caption. Suffragette mother returns after a strenuous day and is expecting some important correspondence. Her daughter, however, reveals she has torn up the letters to provide a paperchase for her dolls. Mother expostulates: ‘..Haven’t I often told you that letters are sacred things?’ A comment on suffragette attacks on post-boxes. A half-page cartoon – very good
42. PUNCH CARTOON
5 February 1913. ‘How Militant Suffragettes Are Made’. A cheeky caddie explains to a visiting golfer that the old green they are passsing gets flooded and ‘so they’ve give it up to the lydies.’ A half-page cartoon – very good
43. PUNCH CARTOON
29 January 1913. ‘Rag-Time in the House’ is the caption. Members of the government are enjoying the ‘Suffrage Free & Easy Go As You Please’ dance. Asquith, with an ‘Anti’ label, is keeping an eye on Lloyd George (wearing a ‘Pro’ armband) jitterbugs with Sir Edward. The sub-text is ‘Sir Edward Grey’s Woman Suffrage Amendment produces some curious partnerships’. Full-page cartoon – very good
44. PUNCH CARTOON
23 June 1912. ‘Votes for Men and Women’ is the caption. John Bull is sitting comfortably and turns round as Nurse Asquith enters carrying a baby labelled ‘Franchise Bill’. In answer to JB’s query ‘she’ replies: ‘Well, Sir, it’s certainly not a girl, and I very much doubt if it’s a boy’. The government’s Franchise and Registration bill was given its first Reading on 18 June 1912. Full-page cartoon – very good
45. PUNCH CARTOON
27 March 1912. A young suffragette is standing on a table addressing a crowd: ‘I defy anyone to name a field of endeavour in which men do not receive more consideration than women!’ A Voice from the Crowd retorts: ‘What about the bally ballet!’ A half-page cartoon – very good
46. PUNCH CARTOON
7 December 1910. ‘Voter’s Vertigo’ is the caption. It is the second general election of 1910 and the voter is all in a tizz..muddling up all the campaign slogans..(e’g. ‘don’t tax the poor man’s dreadnought’ and ‘home rule for suffragettes’). A quarter of a page cartoon – very good
47. PUT ME UPON AN ISLAND WHERE THE GIRLS ARE FEW National Music Publishing Co no date (1909)
subtitled ‘The Suffragette Song’. It was written and composed by Will Letters and sung by Wilkie Bard, a popular vaudeville entertainer. Here’s a flavour: ‘You can put me upon a treadmill and I’ll never, never fret,….But for pity’s sake don’t put me near a Suffragette.’ This is the lead song, featured on the cover of the sheet music, which includes 3 other songs, all presumably included in Wilkie Bard’s repetoire. An instance of the way in which ‘suffragettes’ had penetrated the national psyche.by 1909, which is when I find the first mention of the song. Very good condition – 8pp – large format
48. QUESTIONS TO LLOYD GEORGE ASKED BY THE WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION
11 questions concerning his behaviour re introducing a Government measure for Manhood Suffrage in 1913…Among the many other pertinent questions ‘Why do you expect us to accept your personal and unofficial advocacy of Woman Suffrage as a substitute for united and offiicial action on the part of the Government as a whole? In good condition – some creasing. 2-sided leaflet, printed in purple
49. SUFFRAGETTE BANNER – ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN IN 1912’
AN AMAZING FIND – a banner bearing the legend ‘Votes for Women in 1912’ The banner was created for the 14 July 1912 demonstration organised by Sylvia Pankhurst in Hyde Park to mark Mrs Pankhurst’s1 birthday.Still attached to it is a luggage-type label bearing the information ‘Platform 2′ Votes for Women 1912’. This, however, doesn’t refer to a railway platform but to the Hyde Park Platform 2, chaired by Georgina Brackenbury at which the speakers were Mrs Cameron Swan, Mrs Massy and Miss Amy Hicks. The banner is 193 cm (76 inches) at its widest x 111 cm (44 inches) high, with a machine-stiched pocket running down the right-hand side into whiich a stiffening rod was presumably inserted. Small rings have been hand-sewn to the top and the bottom of this pocket. The left -hand side of the banner is shaped as a sideways ‘V’ – all the better to flutter in the wind. The material is a cream cotton and the lettering is painted on in green.
‘Votes for Women’, 19 July 1912, p 686 gives details of those who worked on the banners for the demonstration. The main work was carried out in the studio in the garden of 2 Phillimore Terrace, Kensington, the home of Mrs Ferguson, mother of Rachel. Particular mention is made of Norah Smyth, who ‘was responsible for 100 flags wiith painted mottoes’ and of Olive Hockin, who took over when Norah was absent. Could either of them have painted this banner?
With another similar, the banner was discovered some years ago by a vintage clothes dealer at the bottom of a bag of garments she had purchased from a house in Old Brompton Road, Chelsea..In nearly 100 years they hadn’t moved far. I wonder who had taken them home from Hyde Park?
The banner is in surprisingly good condition – in that it is intact, no moth holes, the painted lettering is still quite bright. The marks that it does show are consonant with having been carried in a great demonstration – a little muddied and marked..
50. SUFFRAGETTE CHINA – ‘ANGEL OF FREEDOM’ DESIGN
Saucer (12.25cm) made by Williamsons of Longton for the WSPU in 1909, initially for use in the refreshment room of the Prince’s Skating Rink Exhibition and then sold in aid of funds. The white china has strikingly clean, straight lines and is rimmed in dark green. Each piece carries the motif, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, of the ‘angel of freedom’ blowing her trumpet and flying the banner of ‘Freedom. In the background are the intitials ‘WSPU’ set against dark prison bars, surrounded by the thistle, shamrock and rose, and dangling chains. For more information on the WSPU china see my website – http://tinyurl.com/o4whadq. This piece originally belonged to a well-known suffragette. In very good condition – would be ‘fine’ but the ‘Angel of Freedom’ motif is very slightly faded
51. SUFFRAGETTE CHINA – ‘ANGEL OF FREEDOM’ DESIGN
Saucer (12.25cm) made by Williamsons of Longton for the WSPU in 1909, initially for use in the refreshment room of the Prince’s Skating Rink Exhibition and then sold in aid of funds. The white china has strikingly clean, straight lines and is rimmed in dark green. Each piece carries the motif, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, of the ‘angel of freedom’ blowing her trumpet and flying the banner of ‘Freedom. In the background are the intitials ‘WSPU’ set against dark prison bars, surrounded by the thistle, shamrock and rose, and dangling chains. For more information on the WSPU china see my website – http://tinyurl.com/o4whadq. This piece originally belonged to a well-known suffragette. In very good condition – would be ‘fine’ but there is a small crack to the surface of the saucer. This slight blemish does not penetrate through to the reverse.
52. SUFFRAGETTE CHINA – ‘ANGEL OF FREEDOM’ DESIGN
Side plate (17 cm) made by Williamsons of Longton for the WSPU in 1909, initially for use in the refreshment room of the Prince’s Skating Rink Exhibition and then sold in aid of funds. The white china has strikingly clean, straight lines and is rimmed in dark green. Each piece carries the motif, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, of the ‘angel of freedom’ blowing her trumpet and flying the banner of ‘Freedom. In the background are the intitials ‘WSPU’ set against dark prison bars, surrounded by the thistle, shamrock and rose, and dangling chains. For more information on the WSPU china see my website – http://tinyurl.com/o4whadq. This piece originally belonged to a well-known suffragette. In fine condition
53. SUFFRAGETTE CHINA – ‘ANGEL OF FREEDOM’ DESIGN
Saucer (12.25cm) made by Williamsons of Longton for the WSPU in 1909, initially for use in the refreshment room of the Prince’s Skating Rink Exhibition and then sold in aid of funds. The white china has strikingly clean, straight lines and is rimmed in dark green. Each piece carries the motif, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, of the ‘angel of freedom’ blowing her trumpet and flying the banner of ‘Freedom. In the background are the intitials ‘WSPU’ set against dark prison bars, surrounded by the thistle, shamrock and rose, and dangling chains. For more information on the WSPU china see my website – http://tinyurl.com/o4whadq. This piece originally belonged to a well-known suffragette Mrs Rose Lamartine Yates. In fine condition
54. SUFFRAGETTE CHINA – ‘ANGEL OF FREEDOM’ DESIGN
Cup, saucer and small plate made by Williamsons of Longton for the WSPU in 1909, initially for use in the refreshment room of the Prince’s Skating Rink Exhibition and then sold in aid of funds. The white china has strikingly clean, straight lines and is rimmed in dark green with a green handle to the cup. Each piece carries the motif, designed by Sylvia Pankhurst, of the ‘angel of freedom’ blowing her trumpet and flying the banner of ‘Freedom. In the background are the intitials ‘WSPU’ set against dark prison bars, surrounded by the thistle, shamrock and rose, and dangling chains. For more information on the WSPU china see my website – http://tinyurl.com/o4whadq. One each of cup, saucer and plate – a trio. The cup has a tiny chip to the inside and a couple of hairline cracks near the handle – none of which would show if displayed with the Angel of Freedom device facing out. The plate and saucer are in fine condition. Together-
55. SUFFRAGETTES AND A BARREL ORGAN
London News Agency press photograph in which three well-dressed suffragettes are standing alongside a barrel organ, on which are displayed ‘Votes for Women’ posters. A number of on-lookers/listeners, mainly men, watch as one of the women turns the organ’s handle. A hired barrel organ was one of the means by which members of the WSPU, particularly, drew attention to their Cause. A barrel organ was, for instance, employed in the St Pancras constituency during the Jan 1910 general election and then in April 1910 in various districts as a means of raising money during ‘Self-Denial Week’. In very good condition – 16.5 cm x 21 cm – a most unusual image
56. ‘SUFFRAGETTES AT QUEEN’S HALL’
A photograph taken by the London News Agency. The printed slip pasted on the reverse names them as ‘Left to right, Mrs Pethick Lawrence, Miss Christabel Pankhurst, Mrs Pankhurst, Mrs Drummond’ – but in addition, on the far right, also stands Mrs Mabel Tuke. Christabel is holding a bouquet and wearing a lovely dresss, made, perhaps, of heavy silk. In fact, all the dresses are very interesting – Mrs Pankurst, Mrs Drummond and Mrs Tuke are wearing hats, the other two are not. Behind them the hall is packed. I haven’t been able to positively identify the occasion as the Queen’s Hall in Langham Place, London, was the scene of so many WSPU meetings – but this one does look quite important and was probably held in the evening – perhaps c 1908/9. A very good photograph – 16.5 cm x 21 cm – in very good condition
57. ‘SUFFRAGETTES ATTEMPTING TO ENTER BUCKINGHAM PALACE TO PRESENT A PETITION TO THE KING’
The policeman’s reply to suffragettes who wanted to enter the Palace ‘not this way madam’. These words are printed on a caption pasted to the reverse of the London News Agency photograph. The date is 21 May 1914. We are used to seeing images of suffragettes rushing towards the palace railings – and of Mrs Pankhurst being carried away in the arms of a policeman – but in this photograph all is seemly. The three women, one of them attired in supremely up-to-date mode, are confronting a policeman but, as the caption indicates, he merely appears to be redirecting them rather than intending a tussle. An excellent photograph – 16.5 cm x 21 cm – in very good condition – most unusual
58. ‘SUFFRAGETTES’ CORONATION DEMONSTRATION’ BOADICEA AND HER TWO ATTENDANTS’
Boadicea is on horseback, her hair in two very long plaits, attended by, presumably, two men of her Iceni tribe. The part of Boadicea was played by Miss Florence Parbury. Crowds line the procession route.Photograph by General Press Photo Company Ltd, 2 Breams’ Buildings, Chancery Lane. The image is very good, the edges of the 16.5 cm x photo a little frayed
59. ‘[SUFFRAGETTES] ON HORSEBACK PARADE THE WEST END
is the printed caption pasted to the reverse of this London News Agency photograph. I’ve inserted the word ‘Suffragettes’ at the beginning because it would appear that word, or similar, is missing. The photograph shows two women, riding sidesaddle, their horse draped in posters advertising a WSPU meeting to be held in the Albert Hall on Thursday October 28th at 8. The year was 1908 and the WSPU was keen to pack the Hall to protest against the imprisonment of its leaders – Mrs Pankhurst, Christabel and Flora Drummond were in prison, convicted of inciting a crowd to ‘Rush the House of Commons’. In the photograph a policeman is standing by, and a number of men are looking on, but their is no sign of hostility. The women, very smart in their riding habits, look as though they are enjoying themselves. Very good – 16.5 cm x 21 cm – most unusual
60. THAT RAGTIME SUFFRAGETTE SHEET MUSIC B. Feldman & Co c 1913
written by Harry Williams and Nat D. Ayer and originally heard in the 1913 Ziegfeld Follies. It was recorded c 1913/14 by Warwick Green – a British comic singer – to very great effect, although I think he omits the second verse, which is printed in this sheet music. You can hear Warwick Green singing ‘That Ragtime Suffragette’ on youtube. I think it’s wonderful – so evocative- ‘Ragging with bombshells and ragging with bricks/ Hagging and nagging in politics’. The 4-pp of sheet music is printed ‘Professional Copy’ – in good condition, a little rubbed and scuffed; I’m sure it has been well played. Very scarce.
61. THE CONCILIATION BILL EXPLAINED
Leaflet headed ‘Votes for Women’, probably dating from 1910. settng out the contents of the Conciliation Bill, which had passed its Second Reading in July 1910, and explaining details,such as which groups of women would be enfranchised under tis terms. Printed by Baines and Scarsbrook, 75 Fairfax Road, South Hampstead and with the rubber stamp of the WFL [Women’s Freedom League] 1 Robert St, Adelphi. In pristine condition, having been found laid betwen the pages of a book.
62. THE FIGHTING SEX
This issue of the part-work ‘History of the 20th Century’ includes a section on the suffrage campaign – written by Trevor Lloyd (author of ‘Suffragettes International’). Paper covers – large format
63. ‘THE PURPLE, WHITE AND GREEN’ to be sung to the tune of ‘The Wearing of the Green’
songsheet, the words written by Mrs L.E. Morgan-Browne (1843-1942), a humanist, who had been involved with the women’s suffrage campaign through the last quarter of the 19th century. Although she had been a strong Liberal supporter, she joined the WSPU, for whom she wrote this song which begins: ‘Oh! Women dear, and did ye her the news that’s going round,/They think that prison bars will daunt those born on English ground/’. The chorus runs: ‘For it is the grandest movement the world has ever seen,/And we’ll win the Vote for Women, wearing purple, white and green.’ The sheet carries the printed address ‘206 Gloucester Terrace, W’, which was Mrs Morgan-Browne’s address in 1908. Single sheet – good – rubbed round the edges – very scarce
64. ‘THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN’
supplement to ‘The Graphic’, 1885, heralding the supplements to be issued in Nov and Dec 1885 on ‘Parliamentary Elections and Electioneering in the Old Days’. As its advertisement for the series The Graphic has chosen to use George Cruickshank’s ”The Rights of Women; or a view of the hustings with female suffrage, 1853.’ We see on the hustings the two candidates – ‘The Ladies’ Candidate’- Mr Darling’ and ‘The Gentleman’s Candidate – Mr Screwdriver – the great political economist’. Elegant Mr Darling is surrounded by ladies in bonnets and crinolines – Mr Screwdriver by ill-tempered-looking boors. The audience contains many women accompanied, presumably, by their husbands who are holding aloft a ‘Husband and Wife Voters’ banner. Another banner proclaims the existence of ‘Sweetheart Voters’ and riding in their midst is a knight in armour holding a ‘Vote for the Ladies’ Champion’ pennant. There do not appear to be many supporters of the opposition.
Single sheet 28 cm x 20.5 cm – a little foxed around the edges of the paper but barely afffecting the good, clear image of Cruickshank’s cartoon.
65. ‘THE WOMEN’S MARSEILLAISE’
Written by Florence Macaulay (1862-1945), one-time student at Somerville College, Oxford, and an organiser for the WSPU. ‘The Women’s Marseillaise’, a marching song, was written in 1909 and begins ‘Arise, ye daughters of a land/That vaunts its liberty’. This single sheet is headed ‘The National Women’s Social & Political Union 4 Clement’s Inn, Strand, W.C.’ and was printed by ‘Geo. Barber,The Furnival Press, E.C.’ The sheet was clearly used for the purpose intended, has been folded, with a slight split at the edges of the fold. In good condition – very scarce
66. THE WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION – VOTES FOR WOMEN – ALL WOMEN ARE INVITED TO BE PRESENT AT THE PARLIAMENT OF WOMEN
to be held in the Caxton Hall, Westminster, on February 11, 12 and 13. Session each afternoon, 3-6. Evening meeting, 8-10. Chairman: Mrs Pankhurst.’ The year is 1908. The single-sheet leaflet, issued by the WSPU and printed by Geo. Barber, The Furnival Press, then sets out arrangements for other meetings to be given in the forthcoming weeks. In goodish condition – a little loss to paper on one side, with no loss of text
67. THE WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION – VOTES FOR WOMEN – CORONATION YEAR WILL BE SIGNALISED BY THE GREATEST PROCESSION OF WOMEN EVER SEEN IN THE WORLD’S HISTORY
Saturday, June 17, 1911. This Procession will march from Westminster Embankment to the Royal Albert Hall, where a Mass Meeting will be held to demand Votes for Women’. The leaflet then invites women to ‘come and march with this great army’ and, inadvance to offer their services to Miss Olive Smith, Procession Secretary, WSPU. The single sheet leaflet, issued by the WSPU, is printed in purple and green on white paper, by Geo. Barber, The Furnival Press. In very good condition
68. THREE SNAPSHOTS TAKEN AT THE WSPU HYDE PARK DEMONSTRATION, 4 JULY 1912
This was the demonstration organised by Sylvia Pankhurst to mark Mrs Pankhurst’s birthday; the date, 14 July 1912, and occasion (‘Demonstration in Hyde Park’) is written on the reverse of two of the snaps. This is the demonstration at which the banner catalogued here at item #49 was carried. Known as the ‘Bastille Day’ demonstration it was notable for the use the designer, Sylvia Pankhurst, made of the Red Caps of Liberty, which topped all the banners, making reference to both the French Revolution and to the franchise demonstrations of the 1860s as a symbol of popular revolt. Although the sepia snapshots, obviously taken by an amateur photographer, doubtless a suffragette, are faded, the ‘red caps’ can be seen. I doubt that the quality of the photographs has deteriorated much over the last 110 years – as photographs they were never of a good quality – but they have been preserved all this time and do give a (literal) snapshot of a little-documented moment in suffragette history. Three together
69. UNIVERSITY SECTION OF THE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE PROCESSION
Saturday, June 18, 1910. Albert Hall. A single-sheet leaflet detailing the arrangements made about the hiring and returning of academic robes and the accommodation available to ‘univeristy women’ at the demonstration in the Albert Hall at the end of the suffrage procession. It was stressed that ‘it is very desirable that no seats in the University Section should be unoccupied…’. They clearly wanted the lady graduates to make a good impression. In good condition – has been folded – presumably by one who was there. Very scarce
70. ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ to be sung to the tune of ‘Bonnie Dundee’
Songsheet, – the words of a song adapted from a poem by Sir Walter Scott, to be sung to the tune of ‘Bonnie Dundee’. It begins ‘To the Lords of Westminster ’twas the suffragette spoke:-/Put us in the King’s Speech, and give us the Vote,/Let each mother’s son who loves freedom to see,/Cry ‘Votes for the Women’ let Britons be free!’. No publisher or society is credited as issuing of the songsheet, which was in circulation by April 1908.(because Campbell-Bannerman is cited, still prime minister). So quite an early example of a suffrage songsheet. Good -single sheet – some foxing
71. VOTES FOR WOMEN – A DEPUTATION OF WOMEN WILL PROCEED TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
to interview Mr Asquith and Mr Lloyd George, on Tuesday, Nov 21st at 8 o’clock, to protest against a Bill to give votes to all men being introduced by a Government that excludes all women from the vote’. The year is 1911. Set out in the leaflet is a invitation by Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, who was to lead the deputation, to members of the public to come along to Parliament Square ‘to see fair play’ and to ‘protect women from being brutally vitimized by police in uniform and in plain clothes as they were on Black Friday (November 18th 1910)’. The leaflet was issued by the WSPU and printed in green, on white paper, by Geo Barber, The Furnival Press. In very good condition
72. VOTES FOR WOMEN – THE WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION – A WOMEN’S DEMONSTRATION IN THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, ON SATURDAY, JUNE 15TH, 1912 AT 8PM
Mabel Tuke is in the chair (in the enforced absences of Mrs Pankhurst and Mrs Pethick-Lawrence) and the speakers were T.M. Healy, the barrister and MP who had defended Mrs Pethick-Lawrence at her trial for conspiracy in March, Elizabeth Robins, Annie Kenney and Mrs Mansell-Moullin. Newspaper reports show that there was a febrile atmosphere at this demonstration, with messages read out from prisoners who were being held, on hunger strike. This 4-pp card contains a long list of the ‘Suffragist Prisoners Still Under Sentence’, with the date of their arrest, the length of their sentence and the prison in which they were held. The back cover consists of a form on which a promise of a donation to the WSPU could be made. Very good – most unusual. I don’t remember having seeing an item such as this previously.
73. WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION SONG SHEET
Headed ‘Votes for Women’ and ‘The National Women’s Social & Political Union, 4, Clement’s Inn, Strand, W.C.’, the 4-page pamphlet contains the words of 6 songs. They are: 1) The Women’s Marseillaise by F.E.M. Macaulay 2) Rise Up Women (to the tune ‘John Brown’) by Theodora Mills 3) Women of England (to the tune ‘Men of Harlech’ 4) In the Morning (to the tune ‘John Peel’) by Theodora Mills 5) As I Came Through Holloway (to the tune ‘The Keel Row’) 6) Women of To-Day (which begins ‘The blood of maryrs is the seed from which the churches sprung,/We suffer now our martyrdom when into prison flung/’).Printed by St Clement’s Press and published by the WSPU). This songsheet probably dates from c 1908. In very good condition – very scarce
74. WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION – SOUVENIR AND OFFICIAL PROGRAMME WOMEN’S SUNDAY!
Mass Meeting and March to Hyde Park on Sunday, June 21. Grand Procession of 100 Thousand Women! The Great Shout at 5 o’clock ‘Votes for Women’. The year was 1908 and this was the first of the WSPU’s spectacular processions. 4-page card pamphlet detailing the ‘Official Programme of the Processions’ – of which there were 7, each starting in a different district of London and converging on Hyde Park. The names of the organisers involved with each separate procession are given and the back cover is devotedlisting the the speakers and chair at each of the 20 platforms erected in Hyde Park. It was for this procession that the WSPU colours of purple, white and green were ‘invented’ – and this item, with a decorative front cover, is printed in dark green on a paler green card – by Mrs S. Burgess, 14 Artillery Lane, Bishopsgate Street, London EC (who, incidentally, was the manufacturer of so many of the souvenir tissues that commemorated events such as this). In very good conditon – extremely scarce
75. WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION – VOTES FOR WOMEN – A DEPUTATION OF WOMEN WILL GO TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON TUESDAY, JUNE 29TH AT 8 O’CLOCK TO SEE THE PRIME MINISTER
and lay before him their demand for the Vote. The right to do this is secured to them by the Bill of Rights….’ In the event many women were arrested, although most of them had their cases adjourned ‘sine die’. Some, charged with stone throwing, were imprisoned and were some of the first women to go on hunger strike in Holloway. The case of Mrs Pankhurst and Mrs Evelina Haverfield, judged to be the leaders of the protest and who pleaded their protest was within the terms of the Bill of Rights, was adjourned until the end of the year. Flyer, issued by the WSPU and printed in black on white paper by the St Clements Press, Portugal Street. In good condition – the year ‘1909’ has been added in pencil after ‘June 29th’ – extremely scarce
76. WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ LEAFLET NO. 61
This double-sided leaflet is devoted to publishing Laurence Housman’s ditty ‘Woman This, and Woman That’, an ‘Echo of a ‘Barrack-room Ballad, with acknowledgments to Mr Rudyard Kipling’. It begins ‘We went up to Saint Stephens, with petitions year by year;/’Get out!’ the politicians cried, ‘we want no women here!’/ and was avery popular party-piece at WSPU gatherings. Perhaps its most famous rendition was by actress Decima Moore on the night of the 1911 census, when her audience comprised c 500 suffragettes evading the enumerator in the Aldwych Skating Rink. This leaflet is headed with full details of the WSPU office and leading personnel and was printed by the St Clement’s Press, Portugal Street (now the site of the LSE Library). Like many such ephemeral pieces, it has been folded – presumably in use at a WSPU gathering – with a slight split along a fold – but no loss of text. Although fragile, it is actually in quite good condition, considering its age and purpose
77. WSPU NECK PIECE
A length of purple, white, and green woven ribbon, from which gold tassels dangle from the two ends (see image on first page of this catalogue). I hardly like to call it a tie, as this gives the wrong impression – but it was worn around the neck, as modelled by Christabel Pankhurst on 13 October 1908, when being arrested by Inspector Jarvis, along with her mother and Flora Drummond, in Clements Inn. The item is in fine condition, with no fraying, the colours vibrant. I have never seen one of these for sale before. I am including with the piece, for the sake of provenance, a comic suffragette postcard, postmarked 1913 and addressed to Miss Chapman..
78. MRS DESPARD
portrait photograph by Lena Connell, 50 Grove End Road, NW – mounted on stiff brown card – published by The Suffrage Shop, the card embossed with the shop’s monogram. This once belonged to Joan Wickham, secretary to Mrs Pankhurst. Fine
79. MRS EMMELINE PANKHURST
– a beautiful, head and shoulders, photograph taken in New York in 1913 at the Underwood and Underwood Studio and signed in ink ‘E. Pankhurst’. This was clearly treasured by its owner, Joan Wickham, who had arranged Mrs Pankhurst’s tour of the US. In fact, she probably organised the visit to the photographer’s studio. She had framed the photograph – but the passe partout around the edges of the frame is now, after 107 years, no longer fit for purpose and the photograph will benefit from the attention of a professional framer. Extremely scarce – with a provenance that could hardly be more interesting and relevant
80. SYLVIA PANKHURST
an informal snapshot, probably taken by John Hodgson in the mid-1920s. Once owned by Joan Hodgson (nee Wickham). Very good
Isabel Seymour’s Suffrage Collection
Marion Isabella Seymour [known as Isabel Seymour] (1882-1968) was born in Mayfair, London, the eldest child of Charles Read Seymour (1855-1935), a barrister, and Marion Frances Violet Seymour [née Luxford] (1855-1900). In 1891 the Seymour family lived at The Elms, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire. Isabel now had two younger brothers and a sister and the household was attended by a governess, six servants, and a coachman. Another sister was born in 1893. Charles Seymour was a Justice of the Peace and chairman of the parish council.
At the beginning of the 20th century the family moved to a new house, Inholmes Court, Hartley Wintney, designed for them in 1899 by an architect friend, Robert Weir Schulz. The move may have taken place just after the death of Isabel’s mother on 21 October 1900.
In 1902 Charles Seymour remarried. His new wife, Adelaide Bentinck, the daughter of a Hampshire neighbour, was 28 years old, only about eight years older than Isabel. There were to be two more children of this second marriage.
We know nothing of Isabel’s education other than she was fluent in German and that her spelling in English could be a little erratic. She was probably educated at home for a time by a series of governesses – of which one may perhaps have been German? Her slightly younger sister, Elinor, was a pupil at a girls’ boarding school at Southbourne, Hampshire, in 1901 and it may be that Isabel did attend that school, or a similar establishment, for the final years of her education.
There is no trace of Isabel in the 1901 census; it may be that she was abroad. It is likely that at this stage of her life Isabel was supported by her father but that, later, as his finances grew more precarious (he only left c £600 when he died in 1934), she did have to provide something towards her own living costs. Certainly, by the time Isabel Seymour became involved with the WSPU she was living In London, at an address, 36 Chenies Street Chambers [address sourced from a letter from her in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 29 November 1907] that was just the place for a young woman such as her. For these ‘Ladies’ Residential Chambers’, the brainchild of Millicent Fawcett’s sister, Agnes Garrett, were intended for ‘educated working women’, a place where they could have their own room(s) away from the indignities of the boarding house. [I write extensively about the ‘Ladies’ Residential Chambers’ in my Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle – and there is one rather idiosyncratic article about the establishment on my website – see https://wp.me/p2AEiO-g2.] So Isabel was among others similarly minded, who, although most probably pro-suffrage, were less likely to be sympathisers of the WSPU but, rather, to be in favour of the constitutional methods of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
Items in Isabel Seymour’s collection suggest that she had joined the WSPU no later than mid-1906, probably earlier. Isabel Seymour was interviewed by Antonia Raeburn for The Militant Suffragettes, a book she had begun working on in 1964, although it was not published until 1973, five years after Isabel Seymour’s death. Raeburn described her as ‘a young friend of the Pethick Lawrences [who] came to work in the office [at Clement’s Inn] when it first opened. The fact that she was friendly with the Pethick Lawrences might suggest that Isabel Seymour had been involved in some kind of ‘mission’ or ‘social’ work. Certainly in 1904, when still living at home in Hampshire, she had been appointed as an assistant visitor to the children of the local Workhouse.
Interviewed by Antonia Raeburn, for her book, The Militant Suffragettes (1973), Isabel Seymour described the early days in Clement’s Inn:
‘It was very happy-go-lucky – envelope addressing, and the almost daily tea party. Mrs Pankhurst used to descend but she wasn’t permanently there. I remember the sort of feeling that she was still a bit of an outsider. But of course Christabel was always at Clement’s Inn. The Pethick Lawrences had put the spare room of their flat at her disposal. They really were like overshadowing guardian angels.’
As a full-time worker for the WSPU Isabel Seymour would have been paid; the general rate seems to have been £2 a week. By 1907 her skill as a suffrage speaker had been recognised and, as well as speaking at London meetings, she went on tours around the country, visiting Scotland on several occasions, where she was always particularly well received. In 1909 she was congratulated on her excellent German when on a WSPU speaking-tour of Germany, which she followed up with a speech in Brussels. In 1910 she took her suffrage tour to Austria and Hungary. In a reported speech in her home village of Winchfield in Hampshire she particularly mentioned ‘the benefits derived by women who had the franchise in New Zealand and Australia and she conclude by appealing to all to think over this question in their minds seriously, and ask themselves whether as women they did not wish to leave the world better than they found it, so that the next generation should have to enter the arena of the labour market handicapped and with little or no protection as was the case now. Many of them had given up ease, money, and even their lives for this great cause, because they saw the great wrongs under which many of their sisters laboured. Their cause was going forward, and truth, justice, liberty, and progress would certainly win.’ [Votes for Women, 14 April 1911 p 462]
From her earliest days with the WSPU Isabel Seymour was ‘Hospitality Secretary’, which involved finding accommodation for country members who came to London to attend meetings and demonstrations. As WSPU militancy increased in 1909 and more and more women were imprisoned and then went on hunger strike, she handed over this post to another WSPU activist and instead became ‘Prisoners’ Secretary’. Thus more onerous task involved dealing with all aspects of WSPU imprisonment – attempts to get bail, the treatment of prisoners once incarcerated, dealing with enquiries from prisoners’ families, keeping track of prisoners and their sentences, informing readers of Votes for Women of the prisoners still held in any one week, and helping organise the ‘release’ demonstrations.
It is not known when she left England but in September 1916 Isabel Seymour was living in Canada, her address being the Okangan Gate Ranch, Enderby, British Columbia. Other than that she was living there with a friend, it is not clear what had brought her to Enderby, a very small town, with a population of 700+ in 1921, However, on 15 September 1916 Isabel Seymour wrote a letter to the Woman’s Dreadnought ( a paper edited by Sylvia Pankhurst) revealing that ‘yesterday I became a voter’. She explained how the British Columbia had ‘decided to have a Referendum on “Women’s Suffrage and Prohibition” – the first Referendum ever held here. There has been but little time to carry propaganda out, and therefore this vote has come as the result of the genuine conviction on men’s part that we have earned our vote I may say that the work the women have done in England since the war had a great effect on the result here. Personally I have been speaking on the platforms of both candidates in our constituency, and they were only pleased to have me. There has been no opposition at all and I never met any man who was going to vote against the suffrage. We have had encouragement and help all the time.
I never thought to get a vote here; when we came it was so far away and no one cared. How is the W.S.F.? If I ever come back to England I shall come and work for you, but now I feel as if my work were starting out here…’
However Isabel Seymour did not remain in Canada but returned to England after the death of the friend with whom she lived. She sailed into Southampton from New York, on 27 December 1920 and by March 1922 was elected a member of the Hampshire County Council, as representative of the St Paul and St Thomas ward in Winchester. She was now living in the town, with her father and step-mother in Bereweeke House, a large Edwardian house standing in spacious grounds. She remained a councillor for many years, serving for some time on the Education Committee, taking a special interest in trying to achieve equality for women head-teachers.
Isabel’s father died in 1934 and it is likely that the Bereweeke household then broke up. Certainly by 1939 Isabel, still a county councillor, was living with Dorothy Pearce, an old friend from Hartley Wintney, at Littlemount, 7 Bassett Row, Southampton. After Dorothy’s death in 1963 Isabel continued to live in the house until her own death in 1968. Emmeline Pethick Lawrence had remained a friend all her life, leaving Isabel Seymour a bequest in her will.
The following items all once belonged to Isabel Seymour.
81.  WSPU VOTES FOR WOMEN LEAFLETS NO 4 A CAMPAIGN FUND
Leaflet printing a letter sent by the London Central Committee of the WSPU to the editor of ‘The Tribune’, noting that the WSPU were raising a ‘propaganda fund of £1000’ and explaining that ‘our organization consists of women of all classes working shoulder to shoudler to secure the enfranchsement of their sex’. ‘In the Canning town branch alone 150 women are pledged to go to prison if need be, and the same spirit prevails in all the branches.’ This must have been one of the first WSPU appeals for money – because Sylvia Pankhurst has put her name to the letter as hon sec. and, although Emmeline Pethick Lawrence is treasurer, the WSPU office has not yet been opened in Clement’s Inn. In good conditon – a little creasing around the edges
82. ROYAL COURT THEATRE PROGRAMME ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN! A DRAMATC TRACT IN THREE ACTS BY ELIZABETH ROBINS
4-page programme for one of the 8 matinée performances in April and May 1907 of this so-popular play, staged at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, under the joint management of John Vedrenne and Harley Granville Barker,. The programme includes the cast list, of course, and a notice that ‘At these Matinées, Ladies are earnestl requested to remove Hats, Bonnets, or any kind of head dress. This rule is framed for the benefit of the audience…’ Kate Frye (suffrage diarist) saw the play on 16 April and wrote in her diary ‘I loved the piece – it is quite fine – most cleverly written and the characters are so well drawn. Needless to say the acting was perfection as it generally is at the Court Theatre and the second act – the meeting in Trafalgar Square – ought to draw the whole of London. I was besides myself with excitement over it ‘ This is presumably Isabel Seymour’s own programme, folded into her pocket or handbag and then kept for the rest of her life.In good condition – exteremely scarce
83. ‘THE SPEAKERS’ CLASSES UNDER THE DIRECTION OF MISS ROSA LEO
will be resumed on Friday the 26th inst at 4 Clement’s Inn, at 7.45 sharp – short cyclostyled notice – to which Winfred Mayo has added a comment ‘Will you enlarge on this & say how necessaryy it is for us to get new speakers etc.’ A glimpse behind the WSPU scenes. 1 sheet – a little creased
End of Isabel Seymour Collection
Suffrage Postcards – Real Photographic
84. CHRISTABEL PANKHURST
photographed by Lambert Weston and Son, 27 New Bond St. I think the card dates from c 1907/8. Fine – unposted
85. CHRISTABEL PANKHURST
photographed by Lizzie Caswell Smith, 309 Oxford Street, London W. Head and shoulders oval portrait, The caption is ‘Miss Christabel Pankhurst The Women’s Social and Political Union 4 Clement’s Inn, London WC. It was published by Sandle Bros. The card has been pinned up at its four corners and then roughly removed leaving holes – but in no way affecting the image. Another example of the same card, also a little nicked and creased. This soulful image seems be have been the most venerated. Each
86. LADY CONSTANCE LYTTON
real photographic postcard- issued by the ‘Women’s Social and Political Union’. She is sitting at her desk looking at a book. Glossy photograph by Lafayette. This card was purchased in the International Suffrage Shop at 15 Adam St, just off the Strand and was sent to France by Helene Putz, who lived at 10a Belsize Parade, Haverstock Hill, London NW. The 1911 census finds her living there, aged 60, and working as a foreign correspondent – dealing with patent medicines. The message, written in French, tells the recipient that Lady Con is another of the important women working ‘pour la franchise’.
87. MISS ALICE SCHOFIELD (Organiser) Women’s Freedom League WFL
An early WFL card – the address printed on the card is 18 Buckingham Street, Strand (ie before the move to 1 Robert St in 1908). Alice Schofield, influenced by Teresa Billington, had been a very early member of the WSPU, but with Teresa left the WSPU in 1907 and by 1908 was a paid WFL organizer. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson.. A scarce card – in fine unposted condition
88. MISS GLADICE KEEVIL
Portrait photograph of Gladys Keevil ‘National Women’s Social and Political Union, 4 Clement’s Inn, WC’. The photographer was Lena Connell, who, in an interview in the Women’s Freedom League paper, ‘The Vote’, dated her involvement with the suffrage movement to this commission – photographing Gladice Keevil soon after her release from prison in 1908. Gladice was considered one of the prettiest of the WSPU organisers. You can read about her in my ‘Reference Guide’. In fine conition – unposted. Unusual
89. MRS BORRMANN WELLS WFL
Headed ‘Votes for Women’ and captioned ‘Women’s Freedom League. Offices: 1 Robert Street, Adelphi, London WC’. Bettina Borrmann Wells was born in Bavaria c 1875 and in 1900 married an Englishman, Clement Wells. She joined the WSPU in 1906- but by 1908 had left to join the WFL. She was imprisoned for 3 weeks in Oct 1908 after demonstrating at Westminster. The Hodgson Collection contains a (different) postcard from Bettina Borrmann Wells to ‘Miss Hodgson’ asking for help with ‘special work’, which may be the picketing She later spent much of her life in the US. A striking photo- she’s rather magnificently dressed. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. In fine condition -unusual – unposted
90. MRS COBDEN SANDERSON WFL
Mrs Cobden Sanderson is shown, head and shoulders, in profile on this most unusual card. The photo is by Max Parker and the caption is: ‘Mrs Cobden Sanderson. Women’s Freedom League’. I would imagine that this is quite an early card -c 1908. Fine – unposted
91. MRS COBDEN SANDERSON WFL
Mrs Cobden Sanderson is shown, head and shoulders, in profile on this most unusual card. The photo is by Max Parker and the caption is: ‘Mrs Cobden Sanderson. Women’s Freedom League’. I would imagine that this is quite an early card -c 1908. Fine – unposted
92. MRS EMMELINE PANKHURST
photograph by F. Kehrhahn & Co, Bexleyheath. She is wearing one of the WSPU shield-shaped badges – and looks very beautiful. The sitter isn’t identified, but Mrs Pankhurst is unmistakable. The photograph had been taken at the same time – or had been cropped from and reproduced as a separate image – as a full length portrait (#14536). The card was published by Kehrhahn – about whom you can find out more here https://wp.me/p2AEiO-ge. Unusual – probably dates from c 1909. In fine condition
93. MRS LILIAN M. HICKS
– photographed by Lena Connell – an official Women’s Freedom League photographic postcard. Mrs Hicks had been an early member of the WSPU, but left to join the WFL in the 1907 split, returning in 1910 to the WSPU. Fine – unposted
94. MRS MASSY
photographic portrait, taken by Rita Martin and captioned ‘Mrs Massy. National Women’s Social and Political Union, 4, Clements Inn, W.C.’. Mrs Rosamund Massy (1870-1947) probably joined the WSPU in 1908 and in Nov 1909 was imprisoned for the first time, In Nov 1910 she served a month in Holloway after breaking a window during the ‘Black Friday’ debacle. When, in 1928, Mrs Pankhurst stood for election in Whitechapel Mrs Massy, although not a Conservative, gave her every support and it was Mrs Massy’s hunger strike medal and Holloway badge that it was, it is believed, placed in a casket in the plinth of Mrs Pankhurst’s statue when it was first erected in Victoria Tower Gardens. Fine – unposted – unusual
95. MRS PANKHURST
Full-lenth portrait by F. Kehrhahn of Bexleyheath.- captioned ‘Mrs Pankhurst’ She is wearing a WSPU badge and holds a dangling lorngnette in one hand while the other rests on an open book, is wearing a WSPU badge. Very good – unposted
96. MRS PANKHURST
arrested in Victoria Street, 13 February 1908. She is on her way from the WSPU ‘Women’s Parliament’ in Caxton Hall – a policeman holds her left hand – she carries her ‘Parliament’s’ resolution in the other. Published by Photochrome Ltd. On the reverse, a rather complicated message to unravel. The card was posted from South Kensington to ‘Mrs Dixon, 66 Ceylon Place, Eastbourne’ in March 1908, I can’t make out the day on the postmark. I think it was a joint effort – the first sender, signing for ‘A & F (?), ‘writing this in the Hall – do so wish you here with us’, and a second (‘L’) continues ‘C. Pankhurst is speaking as I write. Mrs P. has been released today instead of tomorrow so will occupy the chair – I wish you were here – must listen’. The meeting the writers of the postcard were attending was that held in the Albert Hall on 19 March 1908, at which Mrs Pankhurst, newly released from Holloway, did arrive to take the chair. Her sentence had followed her arrest, as pictured on the reverse.There is another layer, as it were, on the card. In what I think is another, firmer, hand (perhaps that of Mrs Dixon, the recipient), has been written ‘19.3.08 self denial £258 2. 11. 7!!’ This refers to the amount of the money raised in ‘Self Denial Week’ of £258 2s 11d. The figure 7 and the exclamation marks could be interpreted as referring to the £7000, the sum raised in cash, goods and promises by the end of the meeting. I have been unable to identify ‘Mrs Dixon’, who was no longer living at 66 Ceylon Place (a boarding house) in 1911, when the census was taken, but perhaps someone with an interest in suffrage activity in Eastbourne will be able to. The card, with its interesting on-the-spot message, has been through the Edwardian post and has a crease across one corner, but is in generally good condition
97. ST CATHERINE’S CHURCH, HATCHAM
The church, in Pepys Road, Deptford, was burned by suffragettes on the night of 6 May 1913. On the reverse the date is written in ink in a contemporary hand ‘Tuesday June 17th 1913’. As there is no photographer or publisher given, it may be that the photograph was taken by an individual and then processed as a postcard on which they wrote that date. The arson attack was an element in the protest against the latest sentencing of Mrs Pankhurst. Shown roofless in this photograph, the church was rebuilt.
98. ANNIE KENNEY
– an early postcard, I think, No photographer or publisher is credited. She is wearing a blouse with elaborate lace yoke and deep lace cuffs – and is standing behind a chair. She looks very youthful. It was probably Miss Chapman who wrote on the reverse ‘Miss Annie Kenney’. Very good – on good, thick card – unposted
99. CHRISTABEL PANKHURST
black and white photograph of the portrait of Christabel by Ethel Wright, with Christabel’s printed signature along the bottom of the card. The card will date from c 1909, when the portrait was first exhibited. Having been owned by the family of Una Dugdale since that time, the portrait was bequeathed to the National Portrait Gallery in 2011 and is on permanent display. This postcard – which is in fair condition (it has a diagonal crease across the centre) comes from Miss Chapman’s collection and is unposted. It represents one of the WSPU’s ingenious methods of fund-raising.
100. DR THEKLA HULTIN
Portrait photograph, published by the Women’s Freedom League, 1 Robert St, Adelphi, and headed ‘Votes for Women’. The portrait is captioned ‘Dr Thekla Hultin, Member of the Finnish Diet’. Thekla Hultin was the first elected woman member of Parliament to speak at a suffrage meeting in Britain. From Miss Chapman’s collection. Fine – unposted
101. MRS HENRY FAWCETT, LL.D.
photographed by Elliott and Fry in c 1909. She is sitting, full length, seen in profile. From Miss Chapman’s collection. Although the image is familiar I do not appear to have had a copy of this postcard in stock previously. The NUWSS issued far fewer postcards than did the WSPU so are relatively scarce – and this card doesn’t even mention her association with the NUWSS. Very good – unposted
102. MRS PANKHURST
photographed sitting, turning towards the camera with an open book in her hand. A long, pale stole is draped over her shoulders. A studio portrait, though no photographer is noted. ‘Votes for Women’ is the heading and the caption is ‘Mrs Pankhurst, The Women’s Social and Political Union, 4 Clement’s Inn, Strand, WC’. This card dates from the early days of the WSPU in London, c 1907. From Miss Chapman’s collection. Very good – unposted
103. COUNTESS RUSSELL
real photographic postcard – headed ‘Votes for Women’ of ‘Countess Russell Member of National Executive Committee Women’s Freedom League’. The card depicts Mollie Russell photographed in a studio setting.. She was the second wife of Frank Russell, 2nd Earl Russell, the elder brother of Bertrand. Mollie was described by George Santyana as ‘a fat, florid Irishwoman, with black curls, friendly manners and emotional opinions: a political agitator and reformer.’ The photograph in no way belies the physical description. She and Russell were divorced in 1915. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted – scarce
104. EMMELINE PETHICK LAWRENCE
Captioned ‘Mrs Pethick Lawrence. The National Women’s Social and Political Union, 4 Clements Inn, WC’ – she is wearing a coat with a heavy fur collar and lapels and is standing with her hands in her pockets. Published by Sandle Bros. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. In fine condition – unposted
105. EMMELINE PETHICK LAWRENCE
The photo is captioned ‘Mrs Pethick Lawrence Joint Editor of ‘Votes for Women’, Honorary Treasurer, National Women’s Social and Political Union. 4 Clement’s Inn.’ The photographer, F. Kehrhahn, has an entry in my ‘Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists’. Fine – unposted
106. MISS CHRISTABEL PANKHURST, LLB
Captioned ‘National Union of Women’s Social and Political Union, 4 Clement’s Inn, WC’. She is wearing a brooch that may have been designed by C.R. Ashbee. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
107. MISS CICELY HAMILTON
‘Member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Freedom League, 1 Robert St, Adelphi, London WC’. The photograph is by Elliot and Fry – published by the London Council of the Women’s Freedom League. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
108. MISS CICELY HAMILTON
member of the National Executive Committee, WFL. office 18 Buckingham Street, Strand, London. 30 Gordon Street, Glasgow.’ An early card – published by the Women’s Freedom League not long after their break with the WSPU and before they moved into their Robert Street office. Cicely Hamilton faces straight on to the camera. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson.. Fine – unposted – scarce
109. MISS MARGUERITE SIDLEY
Photograph by Foulsham and Banfield, headed ‘Votes for Women’ and captioned ‘Women’s Freedom League’ 1 Robert St, Adelphi, London W.C.,’ She wears, I think, the WFL ‘Holloway’ badge at ther throat and, certainly, a WFL flag brooch on her bosom. She had joined the WSPU in London in 1907, working for some time in the London office and then as a peripatetic organizer before leaving the WSPU to do the same kind of work for the Women’s Freedom League. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – scarce – unposted
110. MISS SARAH BENETT
photographed by Lena Connell. In this studio photograph Sarah Benett is wearing her WFL Holloway brooch; she was for a time the WFL treasurer. She was also a member of the WSPU and of the Tax Resistance League. The card was published by the WFL and is from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson.
111. MR AND MRS PETHICK LAWRENCE AND MISS CHRISTABEL PANKHURST GOING TO BOW STREET, OCTOBER 14 1908
Christabel was on trial, charged with inciting crowds to ‘rush’ the House of Commons – but she and the Pethick Lawrences look very cheerful. Published by Sandle Bros for the National Women’s Social and Political Union. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted – scarce
112. MRS AMY SANDERSON
Women’s Freedom League, 1 Robert Street, Adelphi, London WC. She had been a member of the WSPU, and, as such had endured one term of :imprisonment, before helping to found the WFL in 1907. She is, I think, wearing her WFL Holloway brooch in the photograph. Card, published by WFL, is from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson..Fine – unusual – unposted
113. MRS CHARLOTTE DESPARD
photographed in profile -seated. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
114. MRS CHARLOTTE DESPARD
studio photograph. She is seated and facing the camera, looking wry. No photographer, publisher or suffrage affiliation given. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
115. MRS DESPARD
Photograph of her in profile. The card is headed ‘Votes for Women’ and underneath her name is the caption ‘Hon. Treas. Women’s Freedom League Offices: 18 Buckingham St., Strand. 20 Gordon St, Glasgow’ The card dates from after 1910, when she took over the treasureship of the WFL. Very good – unposted
116. MRS DESPARD
photographed by Alice Barker of Kentish Town Road and published by the Women’s Freedom League. A head and shoulders portrait in profile. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
117. MRS DESPARD
photographed by M.P. Co (Merchant’s Portrait Co). ‘President, The Women’s Freedom League, 1 Robert Street, Adelphi, London W.C.). She is sitting in an armless chair – with her left arm leaning on a table. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
118. MRS E. HOW-MARTYN
photographed by M.P.Co (Merchant’s Portrait Co) as ‘Hon. Sec Women’s Freedom League’. It seems to me that for this photograph she wearing the ‘Holloway’ badges issued to erstwhile prisoners by both the WSPU and the WFL. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
119. MRS EDITH HOW-MARTYN
Hon Sec Women’s Freedom League, ARCS, BSc – photographic postcard headed ‘Votes for Women’. Photographed by Ridsdale Cleare of Lower Clapton Road. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
120. MRS EMMELINE PANKHURST
no photographer or publisher given. She sites in a high-backed chair wearing a dress with heavily embroidered sleeves and bodice. Her right hand rests on her cheek. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson. Fine – unposted
121. MRS T BILLINGTON-GREIG WFL
A lovely photographic head and shoulders portrait of her – captioned ‘Mrs T Billington-Greig Hon Organising Sec Women’s Freedom League 1 Robert St, London WC’. The photo is by Brinkley and Son, Glasgow. Fine – unposted – unusual
122. REV R.J CAMPBELL
published in Rotary Photographic Series. A rather angelic-looking muscular Christian – and fervent supporter of women’s suffrage. He spoke out against the White Slave Trade. A postcard from the Postcard Album compiled by Women’s Freedom League members Edith, Florence and Grace Hodgson.. Fine – unposted
123. WOMEN’S FREEDOM LEAGUE Mrs DESPARD AND MRS COBDEN SANDERSON WAITING FOR MR ASQUITH WFL
‘Arrested August 19th, 1909’ They are shown wating outside 10 Downing Street as part of the campaign to picket the Prime Minister in a vain attempt to force him to accept a petition. Fine condition – scarce – unposted
124. CHRISTABEL PANKHURST
photographed probably post-First World War – I have seen an image on Google images that may be from the same sitting and is dated to 1926.. She is shown in profile, wearing a blouse with a wide collar. The image is set in an oval, on stiff brown card – rather like that used by Lena Connell, but no photographer is noted. The card was once owned by Joan Wickham, secretary to Mrs Pankhurst. An unusual image. Fine – unposted
125. MRS EMMELINE PANKHURST
studio portrait photograph by F. Kehrhahn, Bexleyheath, possibly dating from c. 1912-1914. A head-and shoulders image – she is wearing an evening-style dress, a rather magnificent necklace, and a decorative band across her hair. It is an unusual image of her, taken by a photographer who often photographed WSPU occasions (or a post about Kehrhahn on my website see https://wp.me/p2AEiO-ge ). Interestingly, although so recognisable, the card doesn’t carry her name – or any link to the WSPU. On the reverse of the card is written ‘Mrs Pankhurst’. It was once owned by Joan Wickham, Mrs Pankhurst’s secretary. Fine – unposted
Suffrage Postcards: Commercial Comic
126. PETTICOAT GOVERNMENT
presumably the result of enfranchising women – Wife wields poker as her husband crawls out from under the tea table. She says, ‘Come along, come along, come along do, I’ve been waiting here for you’. Good – posted from London to Wincanton on 24 June 1911
127. THEM PESKY SUFFRAGETTES WANTS EVERYTHING FOR THEMSELVES
says old man confronted with a door labelled ‘For Ladies Only’. Rather topical, again. A US postcard. Fine – unposted
128. REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS FROM CONNECTICUT OF THE COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION OF 1893 AT CHICAGO Case, Lockwood and Brainard Co 1898
Fine – many photographs
129. ADELMAN, Jeanne And ENGUIDANOS, Gloria (eds) Racism in the Lives of Women: testimony, theory and guides to antiracist practice Harrington Park Press 1995
Paper covers – mint
130. AHMED, Leila Women and Gender in Islam Yale University Press 1992
Fine in d/w
131. ALBERMAN, Eva And DENNIS, K.J. Late Abortions in England and Wales Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 1984
A report of a national confidential survey by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Soft covers – good – ex-library
132. ALLEN, Jennifer (ed) Lesbian Philosophies and Cultures State University of New York Press 1990
Paper covers – very good
133. ALLSOPP, Anne The Education and Employment of Girls in Luton, 1874-1924: widening opportunities and lost freedoms Boydell Press/Bedfordshire Historical Record Society 2005
Examines the education of Luton girls and its relationship with employment opportunities. Mint in d/w
134. ANON New Careers for Women: the best positions, and how to obtain them George Newnes 1917
Articles that were first published in ‘The Ladies’ Field’, covering medicine, dispensing, dentistry, the civil service, the public librarian, accountancy, portrait photography (by Madame Lallie Charles),landscape gardening (by Gertrude Jekyll), the house decorator (one of the women cited as an example, Millicent Cohen, had been a pupil of Agnes Garrett), gardening (ny Viscountess Wolseley), landscape gardening (by Gertrude Jekyll), cookery, poultry farming, dog breeding, motoring – and much more. Very good – very scarce
135. BEACHY, Robert Et Al (eds) Women, Business and Finance in 19th-century Europe: rethinking separate spheres Berg 2006
136. BEER, Janet Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman: studies in short fiction Palgrave 1997 r/p
Focusses on a wide range of short fiction by these three women writers. Hardovers – fine
137. BENJAMIN, Marina (ed) Science and Sensibility: gender and scientific enquiry 1780-1945 Basil Blackwell 1994
An interesting collection of essays, Soft covers – mint
138. BERRY, Mrs Edward And MICHAELIS, Madame (eds) 135 Kindergarten Songs and Games Charles and Dible, no date 
‘These songs are printed to supply a want in English Kindergartens’ – the music is, of course, included – as are movement instructions. Mme Michaelis ran the Croydon Kindergarten. Very good
139. BLAKE, Trevor (ed) The Gospel of Power: Egoist essays by Dora Marsden Union of Egoists (Baltimore) 2021
Essays by Dora Marsden (1882-1960), sometime member of the WSPU, published in ‘The Egoist’. Soft covers – mint
140. BLAKELEY, Georgina and BRYSON, Valerie (eds) The Impact of Feminism on Political Concepts and Debates Manchester University Press 2007
Soft covers – mint
141. Boucé, Paul-Gabriel (ed) Sexuality in 18th-century Britain Manchester University Press 1982
Includes essays by Roy Porter, Ruth Perry and Pat Rogers – among others. Very good in d/w
142. BRITTAIN, Vera Women’s Work in Modern England Noel Douglas 1928
A survey of the different types of work – both paid and voluntary – in trades and professions open to women. Incidentally gives interesting information on the work of individual women. Very good – ex-university library – and very scarce
143. BURSTALL, Sara A. The Story of the Manchester High School for Girls 1871-1911 Manchester University Press 1911
Very good internally – slightly marked cover
144. CHECKLAND, Olive Philanthropy in Victorian Scotland: social welfare and the voluntary principle John Donald Ltd 1980
Fine in fine d/w
145. CLARK, Margaret Homecraft: a guide to the modern home and family Routledge, 3rd ed 1978 (r/p)
The author was senior adviser for Home Economics for Derbyshire. The book was a textbook, suitable for school Home Economics courses. First published in 1966. Soft covers – very good
146. CLARKE, Norma Dr Johnson’s Women Hambledon and London 2000
investigates lives of Elizabeth Carter, Charlotte Lennox, Elizabeth Montagu, Hester Thrale and Fanny Burney – exploring their relationship with Dr Johnson, with each other and with the world of letters. Excellent reading. Mint in d/w
147. CLARKE, Patricia The Governesses: letters from the colonies 1862-1882 Hutchinson 1985
Fine in fine d/w
148. COHEN, Monica Professional Domesticity in the Victorian Novel: women, work and home CUP 1998
Offers new readings of narratives by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Dickens, George Eliot, Emily Eden etc to show how domestic work, the most feminine of all activities, gained much of its social credibility by positioning itself in relation to the emergent professions. Soft cover – fine
149. CRAWFORD, Elizabeth Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle Francis Boutle 2009 (r/p)
Pioneering access to education at all levels for women, including training for the professions, the women of the Garrett circle opened the way for women to gain employment in medicine, teaching, horticulture and interiior design – and were also deeply involved in the campaign for women’s suffrage. Includes studies of the work of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Emily Davies, Millicent Fawcett, Rhoda and Agnes Garrett, Fanny Wilkinson, Annie Swynnerton – and many women of their day. Soft covers, large format, over 70 illustrations. Mint
150. CUNNINGTON, C. Willett Feminine Attitudes in the Nineteenth Century William Heinemann 1935
151. DEAN-JONES, Lesley Ann Women’s Bodies in Classical Greek Science OUP 1996
Soft covers – fine
152. DINSHAW, Carolyn and WALLACE, David (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women’s Writing CUP 2003
Soft covers – fine
153. DON VANN, J. and VANARSDEL, Rosemary T. (eds) Periodicals of Queen Victoria’s Empire: an exploration University of Toronto Press 1996
Fine in fine d/w
154. DOODY, Margaret Anne The True Story of the Novel Fontana 1998
Aims to prove that the novel is an ancient form – with a continuous history of 2000 years. Soft covers – very good
155. DUBY, Georges Women of the Twelfth Century: vol 1: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Six Others Polity Press 1997
Soft covers – fine
156. DURHAM, Edith High Albania Virago 1985
First published in 1909. Soft covers – very good
157. DYHOUSE, Carol Feminism and the Family in England 1880-1939 Basil Blackwell 1989
Soft covers – very good
158. DYHOUSE, Carol Girl Trouble: panic and progress in the history of young women Zed Books 2013
Paper covers – mint
159. ELLIS, Mrs Sarah Stickney The Select Works Henry G. Langley (New York) 1844
Includes ‘The Poetry of Life’, ‘Pictures of Private Life’, ‘A Voice From the Vintage, on the force of example addressed to those who think and feel’
Good in original decorative cloth
160. EVANS, Dorothy Women and the Civil Service: a history of the development of the employment of women in the Civil Service, and a guide to present-day opportunities Pitman 1934
Dorothy Evans had been a leading WSPU organizer – and after 1918 was chairman of the Six Point Group. In the 1920s and 1930s she was a representative of the National Association of Women Civil Servants, campaigning for equal pay with their male colleagues. Fine condition – very scarce
161. FADERMAN, Lillian Surpassing the Love of Men: romantic friendship and love between women from the Renaissance to the present The Women’s Press 1991 (r/p)
Paper covers – fine
162. FINDLAY, J.J. (ed) The Young Wage-Earner and the Problem of His Education: essays and reports Sigwick and Jackson 1918
For ‘His Education’ read also ‘Hers’. The essays include: ‘From Home Life to Industrial Life: with special reference to adolescent girls, by James Shelley, prof of education, University College, Southampton; ‘The Young Factory Girl’ by Emily Matthias, superintendent of women employees, the Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Co, Bradford and the reports include: ‘Working Girls and Trade Schools (London)’ by Theodora Pugh and ‘The Sons and Daughters of Farming Folk’ by J.J. Findlay. Very good
163. FRANCOME, Colin Abortion Freedom: a worldwide movement Allen & Unwin 1984
Very good in d/w
164. FRYE, Susan And ROBERTSON, Karen (Eds) Maids and Mistresses, Cousins and Queens: women’s alliances in early modern England OUP 1999
A collection of essays exploring how early modern women associated with other women in a variety of roles, from alewives to midwives, prostitutes to pleasure seekers, slaves to queens, serving maids to ladies in waiting…’. Fine
165. FULLER, Margaret ‘These Sad But Glorious Days’: dispatches from Europe, 1846-1850 Yale University Press 1991
Fine in d/w
166. GARRETT, Stephanie Gender Tavistock 1987
In ‘Society Now’ series. Soft covers – very good
167. GATES, Evelyn (ed) Woman’s Year Book 1923-1924 Women Publishers Ltd 1924 (2nd ed)
An invaluable reference work, covering all aspects of the post-emancipation period in considerable detail. Contributors include Millicent Fawcett (aunt of the editor), Commandant Mary Allen, Lena Ashwell, Lilian Barker, Margaret Bondfield, Winifred Cullis, Margaret Llewellyn Davies, Margery Fry, Chrystal Macmillan, Hilda Martindale, Bertha Mason, Edith Picton-Turbervill, Eleanor Rathbone – among many others. Full of facts and figures, names and addresses. Very good internally – cloth grubby with library shelf mark on spine. Scarce.
168. GLUCK, Sherna Berger and PATAI, Daphne (eds) Women’s Words: the practice of oral history Routledge 1991
Explores the theoretical, methodological, and practical problems that arise when women utilize oral history as a tool of feminist scholarship. Hardback – fine in d/w
169. GOOD HOUSEKEEPING’S HOME ENCYCLOPAEDIA Ebury Press 1968 (r/p)
Packed with information and illustrations. How very retro. Large format – very good in rubbed d/w – heavy
170. HARTLEY, Jenny (ed) Hearts Undefeated: women’s writing of the Second World War Virago 1994
Soft covers – very good
171. HASTE, Cate Rules of Desire: sex in Britain: World War 1 to the present Pimlico 1992
Soft covers – very good
172. HESSELGRAVE, Ruth Avaline Lady Miller and the Batheaston Literary Circle Yale University Press 1927
An 18th-century Bath literary salon. Lady Miller was the first English woman to describe her travels in Italy. Fine
173. HOLT, Anne A Ministry To The Poor: being a history of the Liverpool Domestic Mission Society, 1836-1936 Henry Young (Liverpool) 1936
Very good – scarce
174. HORSFIELD, Margaret Biting the Dust: the joys of housework Fourth Estate 1997
Mint in d/w
175. HOUSMAN, Laurence Ploughshare and Pruning-Hook: ten lectures on social subjects Swarthmore Press 1919
A collection of papers, originally given as lectures – including ‘What is Womanly?’ (1911) and ‘Art and Citizenship’ (1910). Very good in d/w
176. HUGHES, Linda K. And LUND, Michal Victorian Publishing and Mrs Gaskell’s Work University Press of Virginia 1999
Fine in fine d/w
177. KEDDIE, Nikki And BARON, Beth (eds) Women in Middle Eastern History: shifting boundaries in sex and gender Yale University Press 1991
The first study of gender relations in the Middle East from the earliest Islamic period to the present. Fine in d/w
178. KENEALY, Arabella Feminism and Sex-Extinction E.P. Dutton & Co (NY) 1920
Anti-feminist eugenicist polemic. US edition is scarce. Very good internally – cloth cover a little bumped and rubbed
179. KERTZER, David and BARBAGLIO, Marzio (eds) Family Life in the Long Nineteenth Century 1789-1913 Yale University Press 2002
A collection of essays under the headings: Economy and Family Organization: State, Religion, Law and the Family; Demographic Forces; Family Relations. 420pp Heavy. Mint in d/w
180. KIDD, Alan and NICHOLLS, David (eds) Gender, Civic Culture and Consumerism: middle-class identity in Britain 1800-1940 Manchester University Press 1999
Soft covers – very good
181. KIRBY, Joan (ed) The Plumpton Letters and Papers CUP for the Royal Historical Society 1996
Letters addressed mainly to Sir William Plumpton (1404-80) and his son, Sir Robert (1453-1525). Good in marked d/w- but has perhaps been exposed to damp at some point
182. LANG, Elsie British Women of the Twentieth Century T. Werner Laurie 1929
Excellent collection of essays on all aspects of (middle-class) women’s lives – including ‘Higher Education and University Life’, ‘The Medical Profession’, ‘The Fight for the Franchise’, ‘Women and the Legal Profession’, ‘Dress and Society’, ‘Women and the Arts’, ‘Careers for Women. With an interesting selection of photographs. Very good – very scarce
183. LARSEN, Timothy A People of One Book: the Bible and the Victorians OUP 2011
Case studies of representative figures, from Elizabeth Fry to Florence Nightingale, from C.H. Spurgeon to Grace Aguilar to demonstrate the scripture-saturated culture of 19th-century England. Mint in d/w (pub price £76)
184. LEE, Julia Sun-Joo The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel OUP 2010
Investigates the shaping influence of the American slave narrative on the Victorian novel in the years between the British Abolition Act and the American Emancipation Proclamation – and argues that Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thackeray and Dickens integrated into their works generic elements of the slave narrative. Mint in d/w (pub price £40)
185. LOANE, M. The Queen’s Poor: life as they find it in town and country Edward Arnold (new and cheaper edition0 1906
Martha Loane, a Queen’s Nurse in Portsmouth, wrote as a social investigator among the ‘respectable poor’. This was her first study. Good in decorative boards
186. LYNN, Susan Progressive Women in Conservative Times: racial justice, peace, and feminism, 1945 to the 1960s Rutgers University Press 1992
Paper covers – mint
187. MALOS, Ellen (ed) The Politics of Housework Allison & Busby 1980
Fine in d/w
188. MARKS, Lara Metropolitan Maternity maternity and infant welfare services in early 20th century London Rodopi 1996
Soft covers – fine
189. MARTIN, Jane Women and the Politics of Schooling in Victorian and Edwardian England Leicester University Press 1999
Mint (pub price £65)
190. MASON, Michael The Making of Victorian Sexuality OUP 1994
Fine in d/w
191. MEAKIN, Annette Woman in Transition Methuen 1907
A feminist study of a changing society. Very good
192. MEERES, Frank Suffragettes: how Britain’s women fought & died for the right to vote Amberley 2013
Hardcover in fine condition – in fine d/w. With many illustrations
193. MEWS, Hazel Frail Vessels: woman’s role in women’s novels from Fanny Burney to George Eliot Athlone Press 1969
Very good in d/w
194. MILLER, Lucasta The Bronte Myth Cape 2001
Hardcover – fine – in very good d/w
195. MILLER, Naomi and YAVNEH, Naomi (eds) Maternal Measures: figuring caregiving in the early modern period Ashgate 2000
Essays on a wide range of early modern caregiving roles by women in England, Italy, Spain, France, Latin America, Mexico and the New World. A wide range of scholarly and critical approaches is represented. Mint in d/w
196. MITTON, G.E. (e.d.) The Englishwoman’s Year Book and Directory 1914 Adam & Charles Black 1914
An essential reference work. Very good
197. MUMM, Susan (ed) All Saints Sisters of the Poor: an Anglican Sisterhood in the 19th century Boydel Press/Church of England Record Society 2001
A history of the Sisterhood that was founded by Harriet Brownlow Byron in 1850 to work in the slums of Marylebone – but then spread its net much wider. This volume comprises material drawn from the Sisterhood’s archives. V. interesting. Mint
198. NATIONAL LESBIAN AND GAY SURVEY What a Lesbian Looks Like: writings by lesbians on their lives and lifestyles Rooutledge 1992
Paper covers – mint
199. NORWICH HIGH SCHOOL 1875-1950 privately printed, no date 
A GPDST school. Very good internally – green cloth covers sunned – ex-university library
200. ORAM, Alison And TURNBULL, Annmarie The Lesbian History Sourcebook: love and sex between women in Britain from 1780 to 1970 Routledge 2001
Soft covers – fine
201. PEACH, Linden Contemporary Irish and Welsh Women’s Fiction: gender, desire and power University of Wales Press 2008
The first comparative study of fiction by late 20th and 21st-century women writers from England, Southern Ireland and Wales. Soft covers – mint
202. PEARSON, Emma Maria and MACLAUGHLIN, Louisa Elisabeth Our Adventures during the War of 1870 by Two Englishwomen Richard Bentley 1871
Emma Pearson (1828-1893) and Louisa MacLaughlin (1836-1921), both trained nurses working for the National Health Society under Dr Elizabeth Blackwell, went out to France in August 1870, less than a month after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, at the behest of the newly-formed National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (later renamed The Red Cross). Later in the autumn they set up their own Ambulance Anglaise on the outskirts of Orleans, in the thick of the fighting. These two volumes are an account of their experience. This fine copy was specially bound in leather and gilt for Emma Pearson’s sister, Harriet Walford-Gosnall, who died in 1872, the year after publication. It carries her initials [H.W.G.] on the front cover of each volume, underneath an embossed shield of a red cross. With raised bands on the spine. On the free front endpaper of each volume are family ownership inscriptions in ink for: E. L. Walford-Gosnall (Harriet’s daughter, Emma Louise), E.L. West (Emma Louise’s name after her first marriage to John West, who d. in 1890), E.L. Bruff (Emma Louise’s name after her second marriage, to Peter Schuyler Bruff, by which, incidentally she became sister-in-law to Newson Garrett, brother of Millicent Fawcett and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and, finally, the signature of Violet P. Bruff, Emma Louise’s daughter by her second marriage. A fine association copy of a very scarce book
203. PEEL, John And POTTS, Malcolm Textbook of Contraceptive Practice CUP 1969
Soft covers – very good
204. PICHLER, Pia Talking Young Femininities Palgrave 2009
Explores the spontaneous talk of adolescent British girls from different socio-cultural backgrounds. Hardovers – mint ( pub price £50)
205. PINES, Davida The Marriage Paradox: modernist novels and the cultural imperative to marry University Press of Florida 2006
206. POTTS, Malcolm, DIGGORY, Peter And PEEL, John Abortion CUP 1977
Soft covers – very good – 575pp
207. PURKISS, Diane The Witch in History: early modern and 20th century representations Routledge 1996
Soft covers – mint
208. RENDALL, Jane The Origins of Modern Feminism: women in Britain, France and the United States 1780-1860 Macmillan 1985
Soft covers – very good
209. RIOJA, Isabel Ramos The Day Kadi Lost Part of Her Life Spinifex 1998
A photographic study of female circumcision. Soft covers – large format – mint
210. ROBERTS, Alison Hathor Rising: the serpent power in ancient Egypt Northgate 1995
Soft covers – fine
211. ROBINSON, Jane Angels of Albion: women of the Indian mutiny Viking 1996
Very good in rubbed d/w
212. ROWBOTHAM, Sheila Women, Resistance and Revolution Allen Lane 1972
Very good in chipped d/w
213. SANCHEZ, Regina Morantz- Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: medicine on trial in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn OUP 2000
Soft covers – very good
214. SCOTT, J.W. Robertson The Story of the Women’s Institute Movement The Village Press 1925
215. SEARLE, Arthur (ed) Barrington Family Letters 1628-1632 Royal Historical Society 1983
In the main letters to Lady Joan Barrington, the focal point of the extended family, the dowager and respected matriarch on a recognisable early 17th-century pattern. Very good
216. SEIDLER, Victor The Achilles Heel Reader: men, sexual politics and socialism Routledge 1991
Paper covers – mint
217. SHATTOCK, Joanne And WOLFF, Michael (eds) The Victorian Periodical Press: samplings and soundings Leicester University Press 1992
A collection of essays. Fine in d/w
218. SMITH, Joan Misogynies Faber 1990
Reprint, paper covers – mint
219. SONBOL, Amira El Azhary (ed) Women, the Family, and Divorce Laws in Islamic History Syracuse University Press 1996
18 essays covering a wide range of material. Soft covers – fine
220. SOUHAMI, Diana No Modernism Without Lesbians Head of Zeus 2021
Pioneering research on sexism in education. Paper covers – mint
222. STAFFORD, William English feminists and their opponents in the 1790s; unsex’d and proper females Manchester University Press 2002
Fine in fine d/w (pub. price £45)
223. STONE, Dorothy The National: the story of a pioneer college Robert Hale 1976
History of the pioneering domestic economy training college – The National Training College of Domestic Subjects. Fine in d/w
224. STOPES, Marie Birth Control Today Hogarth Press, 12th ed 1957
Very good in d/w
225. TAYLOR, Jane Contributions of Q.Q. Jackson & Walford 5th ed, 1855
The majority of these essays were first published in the ‘Youth’s Magazine’, between 1816 and 1822. Good in original cloth
226. VANITA, Ruth Sappho and the Virgin Mary: same-sex love and the English literary imagination Columbia University Press 1996
Soft covers – very good
227. VICINUS, Martha (ed) Suffer and Be Still: women in the Victorian age Methuen 1972
An excellent collection of essays. Paper covers – fine – scarce
228. WANDOR, Michelene Post-War British Drama: looking back in gender Routledge, revised edition 2001
Soft covers – mint
229. WILSON, Philip K (ed) Childbirth: Vol 3: Methods and Folklore Garland Publishing 1996
An anthology of key primary sources centring on methods of childbirth -covering ‘Painless Childbirth’ from the 18th century onwards; ”Caesarian Sections’ and ’20th Century Natural Childbirth’ and ‘Oral Traditions and Folklore of Pregnancy and Childbirth’ A single volume from a 5-voume series. Fine – 433pp
230. WOLFE, Susan J. And PENELOPE, Julia (eds) Sexual Practice/Textual Theory: lesbian cultural criticism Blackwell 1993
Paper covers – mint
231. WOOD, Ethel M. The Pilgrimage of Perseverance National Council of Social Service 1949
A rather negelected but I think rather good short history of feminist campaigns. Good – though ex-library
233. (ALDRICH-BLAKE) Lord Riddell Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake Hodder & Stoughton, no date (1920s)
Biography of Louisa Aldrich-Blake, surgeon at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s New Hospital for Women. You can see her portrait bust in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury. Presentation copy from the author, Lord Riddell.
234. (ALLEN) John C. Hirsh Hope Emily Allen: medieval scholarship and feminism Pilgrim Books (Oklahoma) 1988
Biography of an American medieval scholar, born in 1883 – who spent time at Newnham. Fine
235. (AMBERLEY) Bertrand and Patricia Russell (eds) The Amberley Papers: the letters and diaries of Lord and Lady Amberley Hogarth Press 1937
The epitome of radical liberalism in the mid-19th-century. Both died tragically young. Good
236. ANON WOMEN’S WHO’S WHO, 1934-5 Shaw Publishing Co 1935
‘An Annual Record of the Careers and Activities of the Leading Women of the Day.’ A mine of information. Very good
237. ANON (Agnes Maud Davies) A Book with Seven Seals Cayme Press 1928
First edition of a classic of Victorian childhood – I think perhaps it is a ‘faction’ – am not sure that it is actually a memoir. If I said that it strikes me as having a hint of Rachel Ferguson about it, those that are familiar with her work will know what I mean. The author’s name was withheld for this first edition. An elegant book – cover a little blotched
She was the niece and adopted daughter of W.E. Foster. The journals covers the years 1880-1882 when he was chief secretary for Ireland. Fine in slightly rubbed d/w
239. (ASHBURTON) Virginia Surtees The Ludovisi Goddess: the life of Louisa Lady Ashburton Michael Russell 1984
She was possibly proposed to by Browning – and was the patroness (and perhaps lover) of Harriet Hosmer. Fine in d/w
240. (BAIRD) Elizabeth Nussbaum Dear Miss Baird: a portrait of a 19th-century family Longstone Books 2008
Traces the fortunes of a 19th-century family over 60 years, shedding light on issues such as the status of women, education and changing attitudes to religion, love and death. Some pencil lines in margins. Young Gertrude Baird was a talented artist, who died too young. Soft covers -some pencil lines in margins – otherwise fine
241. (BEALE) Elizabeth Raikes Dorothea Beale of Cheltenham Constable 1908
242. (BEETON) Kathryn Hughes The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton Harper 2006
Excellent biography. Soft covers – fine
243. BELL, Alan (ed and with an introduction by) Sir Leslie Stephen’s ‘Mausoleum Book’ OUP 1977
Intimate autobiography written for Stephen’s immediate family after the death of his wife, Julia, the mother of Vanessa and Virginia. Very good in d/w
244. (BOTTLE) Dorothy Bottle Reminiscences of a Queen’s Army Schoolmistress Arthur Stockwell no date 
Dorothy Bottle (c.1886-1973) taught at schools for the children of the military – in Ireland, Jamaica, Egypt and Britain and relates her experiences from c 1904-1935. She was an astute and sympathetic observer. Very good – with photographs – very scarce
Follows her career from her romantic marriage to the impoverished French émigré General d’Arblay to her death 46 years later. Fine in fine d/w
246. (CAMERON) Victoria Olsen From Life: Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian photography Aurum Press 2003
Fine in d/w
247. CLAYTON, Ellen English Female Artists Tinsley Brothers 1876
Biographical essays on English women artists – from the 16th century until 1876. Particularly interesting for the information on 19th-century artists. Two volumes – bumped, rubbed and back board of vol 2 detached, but present. Scarce
248. (CLEARY) Susanne George Kate M. Cleary: a literary biography with selected works University of Nebraska Press 1997
Study of woman who wrote stories, poems and articles about life in the American west. Mint in d/w
249. CRAWFORD, Anne et al (eds) Europa Biographical Dictionary of British Women: over 1000 notable women from Britain’s Past Europa 1983
Soft covers – 536pp – fine
250. (DE STAEL/CONSTANT) Renee Winegarten Germaine de Stael and Benjamin Constant: a dual biography Yale University Press 2008
Hardcovers – fine in fine d/w
251. (DICKINSON) Lyndall Gordon Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and her family’s feuds Virago 2010
Biography of Emily Dickinson. Hardcover in fine condition – in fine d/w
252. (EDEN) Violet Dickinson (Ed) Miss Eden’s Letters Macmillan 1919
Born, a Whig, in 1797. Her letters are full of social detail. In 1835 she went to India with her brother when he became governor-general. Very good
253. (ELIZABETH) Philip Yorke (ed) Letters of Princess Elizabeth of England, daughter of King George III, and Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg written for the most part to Miss Louisa Swinburne T. Fisher Unwin 1898
Full of social details – letters written both from England and Germany. Good
254. (EUGENIE) Joyce Cartlidge Empress Eugénie: her secret revealed Magnum Opus Press 2008
The mystery of an illegitimate child…Soft covers – fine
255. EWAN, Elizabeth, PIPES, Rosie etc (eds ) The New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women Edinburgh University Press 2018
Soft covers – 496pp – mint
256. (GAUTIER) Joanna Richardson Judith Gautier: a biography Quartet 1986
Biography of French woman of letters – and muse. Soft covers – fine
257. (GLADSTONE) Lucy Masterman (ed) Mary Gladstone (Mrs Drew): her diaries and letters Methuen 1930
Daughter of Gladstone, born in 1847, excellent diary and letters, 1858-to her death (1927). Very good in d/w
258. (GOODINGS) Lennie Goodings A Bite of the Apple: a life with books, writers and Virago OUP 2020
Autobiography of Lennie Goodings, one of the founders of Virago. Mint in mint d/w
259. (HALDANE) Elizabeth Haldane From One Century to Another Alexander Maclehose 1937
She was born in 1862, into an eminent Scottish Liberal family – an interesting autobiography by one who was at the heart of things. Good – cover marked – remains of Boots Library label
260. (HAMMOND) Mrs John Hays Hammond A Woman’s Part in a Revolution Longmans, Green 1987
The ‘Revolution’ was the Boer War – her husband was imprisoned by the Boers. Good
261. (HARRISON) Amy Greener A Lover of Books: the life and literary papers of Lucy Harrison J.M. Dent 1916
Lucy Harrison (a niece of Mary Howitt) studied at Bedford College, then taught for 20 years at a school in Gower St (Charlotte Mew was a pupil at the school and v. attached to Miss Harrison) and then became headmistress of the Mount School, York. Good – pasted onto the free front end paper is a presentation slip from the editor, Amy Greener, to Mary Cotterell
262. HAYS, Frances Women of the Day: a biographical dictionary of notable contemporaries J.B. Lipincott (Philadelphia) 1885
A superb biographical source on interesting British women. Good in original binding – with library shelf mark in ink on spine- scarce
263. (HOLTBY) Alice Holtby and Jean McWilliam (eds) Winifred Holtby: Letters to a Friend Collins 1937
Excellent, chatty, letters, dating from 1920-1935, written to her friend, Jean McWilliam, whom she had first met in 1918 while serving with the WAAC in France. First edition, hard covers, in very good condition
264. (HOLTBY) Evelyne White Winifred Holtby as I Knew Her: a study of the author and her works Collins 1938
Very good in d/w
265. (HOWE) Valarie Ziegler Diva Julia: the public romance and private agony of Julia Ward Howe Trinity Press International 2003
Hardcover – fine in fine d/w
266. (JAMESON) Clara Thomas Love and Work Enough: the life of Anna Jameson Macdonald 1967
267. (JAMESON) G.H. Needler (ed) Letters of Anna Jameson to Ottilie von Goethe OUP 1939
Very good internally – cover marked
268. (LEIGH) Michael and Melissa Bakewell Augusta Leigh: Byron’s half-sister – a biography Chatto & Windus 2000
Hardcovers – fine in fine d/w
269. MARTINDALE, Hilda Some Victorian Portraits and Others Allen & Unwin 1948
Biographical essays of members of her circle – including Adelaide Anderson, factory inspector. Very good in d/w
270. (MARTYN) Christopher Hodgson (compiler) Carrie: Lincoln’s Lost Heroine privately published 2010
A biographical anthology of works relating to Caroline Eliza Derecourt Martyn, socialist. Soft covers – fine
271. (MAYNARD) Catherine B. Firth Constance Louisa Maynard: mistress of Westfield College Allen & Unwin 1949
Very good – scarce
272. (MONTGOMERY) Mary Rubio and Elizbeth Waterston (eds) The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery: vol 1 1889-1910 OUP 1985
Fine in very good d/w -424pp – heavy
273. (MORGAN) Sydney Lady Morgan Passage From My Autobiography Richard Bentley 1859
‘The following pages are the simple records of a transition existence, socially enjoyed, and pelasantly and profitably occupied, during a journey of a few months from Ireland to Italy.’ Good – in original decorative mauve cloth
274. (NIGHTINGALE) Eliza F. Pollard Florence Nightingale: the wounded soldier’s friend S.W. Partridge no date [early 1890s]
In Partridge’s ‘Popular Biographies’ series and, presumably, popular as this copy is from the twelfth thousand printing. Prettily illustrated, with an illustrated cover, depicting Florence, with her lamp, tending a wounded soldier. The free front endpaper contains a an ink inscription ‘To Jane Small. In remembrance of kind attention during illness from Elizabeth Johnson New Year’s Day 1894. An appropriate gift in the circumstances. In good condition
278. PARRY, Melanie (ed) Chambers Biographical Dictionary of Women Chambers 1996
Soft covers – fine – 741pp – heavy
279. (PASTON) Helen Castor Blood and Roses Faber 2004
A family biography tracing the Pastons’ story across three generations. Mint in mint d/w
280. (PINZER) Ruth Rosen & Sue Davidson The Maimie Papers Virago 1979
Correspondence, beginning in 1910, between Fanny Quincy Howe, a distinguished Bostonian, and Mainie Pinzer, a Jewish prostitute. Fascinating. Paper covers – very good
281. (PLATH/HUGHES) Diane Middlebrook Her Husband: Hughes and Plath: a marriage Little,Brown 2004
Fine in fine d/w
282. (PUREFOY) G. Eland (ed) Purefoy Letters 1735-1753 Sidgwick & Jackson 1931
The letters of Elizabeth Purefoy (1672-1765), whose husband died in 1704, and her son, Henry Purefoy. Elizabeth Purefoy was, as her epitaph recorded, ‘a woman of excellent understanding, prudent and frugal’ and her letters are full of domestic detail. Very good – two volumes
283. (RUSKIN) Mary Lutyens (ed) Young Mrs Ruskin in Venice: the picture of society and life with John Ruskin 1849-1852 Vanguard Press (NY) 1965
Very good in d/w
284. (SEEBOHM) Victoria Glendinning A Suppressed Cry: life and death of a Quaker daughter Routledge 1969
The short, sad life of Winnie Seebohm, smothered by her loving family. She enjoyed a month at Newnham in 1885, before returning home and dying. Good in d/w – though ex-library
285. (SMITH) Dodie Smith Look Back With Astonishment W.H. Allen 1979
A volume of autobiography – from the early 1930s and the beginning of her success as a playwright. Good reading copy – ex-public library
286. (SMITH) Dodie Smith Look Back With Gratitude Muller, Blond & White 1985
Follows on from ‘Look Back With Atonishment’. Reading copy – ex-public library
287. (SPENCE) Susan Magarey etc (eds) Every Yours, C.H. Spence Wakefield Press 2005
Catherine Helen Spence was an Australian novelist, journalist and campaigner. This is her Autobiography (1825-1910), Diary (1894) and some correspondence (1894-1910). Fine in fine d/w
288. (SPRING RICE) Lucy Pollard Margery Spring Rice: pioneer of women’s health in the early 20th century Open Book 2020
Excellent biography of yet another enterprising member of the Garrett family, author of ‘Working Class Wives’. Soft covers – mint
289. (ST TERESA OF AVILA) St Teresa of Avila by Herself Penguin Classics 1957 (r/p)
Soft covers – fine
290. (STEAD) Chris Williams Christina Stead: a life of letters Virago 1989
Soft covers – fine
291. (STOWE) Joan Hedrick Harriet Beecher Stowe OUP 1994
Soft covers – fine
292. (STUART) Hon. James A. Home (ed) Letters of Lady Louisa Stuart to Miss Louisa Clinton David Douglas (Edinburgh) 1901 & 1903
Two volumes – complete set. The first volume covers the period 1817 to 1825 and the second volume (called ‘Second Series’) that from1826 to 1834. Society observed. Very good – two volumes together
293. (TAYLOR) Nicola Beauman The Other Elizabeth Taylor Persephone 2009
Biography of the novelist. Soft covers – mint
294. (TENNYSON) James O. Hoge Lady Tennyson’s Journal University Press of Virginia 1981
Fine in d/w
295. (TREMAIN) Rosie: scenes from a vanished life Vintage 2018
Autobiography of the novelist. Soft covers – mint
296. (TROUBRIDGE) Jaqueline Hope-Nicholson (ed) Life Amongst the Troubridges: journals of a young Victorian 1873-1884 by Laura Troubridge John Murray 1966
Very good in rubbed d/w
297. (TUCKER) Agnes Giberne A Lady of England: the life and letters of Charlotte Maria Tucker Hodder & Stoughton 1895
The standard biography of a popular children’s and religious writer – who spent the later years of her life as a missionary in India. Good – though ex-university library
298. (TUDOR) Maria Perry Sisters to the King deutsch 2002
Lives of the sisters of Henry VIII – Queen Margaret of Scotland and Queen Mary of France. Soft covers – fine
299. (VICTORIA) Agatha Ramm (ed) Beloved and Darling Child: last letters between Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter 1886-1901 Alan Sutton 1990
Mint in d/w
300. (VICTORIA) Dorothy Marshall The Life and Times of Victoria Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1992 (r/p)
Lavishly illustrated. Mint in d/w
301. (WARWICK) Charlotte Fell-Smith Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick (1625-1678), her family and friends Longmans, Green 1901
302. (WORTH) Edith Saunders The Age of Worth: courtier to the Empress Eugenie Longmans 1954
Interesting social history. Good – though ex-Boots library, with label pasted on to front cover.
303. (WRIGHT) Margaret Lane Frances Wright and the ‘Great Experiment’ Manchester University Press 1972
An Owenite – the ‘Great Experiment’ was Nashoba, a utopian community in America. Very good
304. (WYNNE) Anne Fremantle (ed) The Wynne Diaries Vol II (1794-1798 OUP 1937
I’ve loved Betsey and Eugenia Wynne ever since I encountered them about 50 years ago in the condensed, one volume, Oxford Classics edition of the Wynne diaries – and then followed them through the three full published volumes. They are rattling around Europe, on land and sea, during the war with France. Very good in very good d/w
305. (WYNNE) Anne Fremantle (ed) The Wynne Diaries Vol III (1798-1820) OUP 1940
I’ve loved Betsey and Eugenia Wynne ever since I encountered them about 50 years ago in the condensed, one volume, Oxford Classics edition of the Wynne diaries – and then followed them through the three full published volumes. In this vol Betsey is married to Capt Fremantle, who becomes an admiral in the course of fighting Napoleon at sea. Betsey is at home in England and the letters and diary give a wonderful picture of civilian life at all levels of society. Very good in very good d/w
306. The Home Friend (New Series) SPCK 1854
4 vols of miscellany of fact and fiction. Very good in embossed decorative original cloth – together
307. AUTOGRAPHS – THE GUILDHOUSE
The Guildhouse was an ecumenical place of worship and cultural centre founded in 1921 by Maude Royden. On 4 sheets of paper are fixed 25 cut-out signatures, including those of Maude Royden, Hudson Shaw, Daisy Dobson (Maude Royden’s secretary), Zoe Procter (former WSPU activist), and Katherine Courtney (of the NUWSS). Together
308. BINFIELD, Clyde Belmont’s Portias: Victorian nonconformists and middle-class education for girls Dr Williams’ Trust 1981
The 35th Friends of Dr Williams’s Library Lecture. Paper covers – 35pp – good – scarce
309. CHARITY ORGANISATION REVIEW Vol X (New Series) July To Dec 1901 Longmans, Green 1902
half-yearly bound volume of the COS’s own magazine. Very good
310. CITIZEN HOUSE, CHANDOS BUILDINGS, BATH
First Report on the running of Citizen House, which opened in Sept 1913 as an educational and social centre. The Report, dated March 1915, gives details of the societies, such as the National Union of Women Workers, the Workers Educational Association, Girl Guides – and, since the beginning of the war, the Committee of Women Patrols and the Aid Coordination Committee. The Wardens were Helen Hope and Mary de Reyes. Packed full of information about the good works being done in Bath. In very good condition – 16pp – card covers
311. EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK Equal Pay Campaign Committee 1944
‘The question of Equal Pay for Equal Work will shortly come up for discussion in Parliament…’Small 4pp leaflet
founded in 1985, a news and current affairs magazine aimed at ‘real women’. Issues:
1992 Oct, Nov, Dec/Jan 1993;1993, Feb, April, March, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov Dec/Jan 1994; 1994, Feb, March, April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec/Jan 1995;1995 Feb, March, April, May, June, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec/Jan 1996;1996 May
In good condition. Each
313. FAREWELL FROM THE WOMEN’S BRANCH OF THE BOMBAY PRESIDENCY WAR AND RELIEF FUND 1914 1918
Small metal Vesta case with a map of India shown in relief..to hold a small box of matches. During World War I, Lord Willingdon, the governor of Bombay, created the India War & Relief Fund (Bombay Branch) two which all the native and princely states neighbouring the Bombay Presidency contributed, along with the people of the Bombay Presidency. Lady Willingdon was president of the Women’s Branch. it is thought these little vesta cases were given to soldiers leaving India on their way back to Britain. In good condition – unusual
314. GIRL’S OWN PAPER, Oct 1885-Sept 1886
Good in decorative binding – front hinge a little loose – some foxing. The lead serial story is ‘Folorn, Yet Not Forsaken: the story of a nursery governess’. Articles include ‘Photography for Girls’, The Law of Mistress and Servant’, ‘On Copying the Old Masters’ – plus many articles on dress, music, gardening etc – with masses of illustrations
315. GIRL’S OWN PAPER, Oct 1887-Sept 1888
Includes articles on ‘Reform in Underclothing’ – as well as the usual articles on dress – on the typewriter and type-writing, on how girls should spend the year for pleasure and profit, stories by Mrs Linnaeus Banks and Mary Cowden Clarke etc etc.With the Extra Summer Number bound in. Good in chipped publisher’s binding
316. HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS BOLTON
Page from ‘The Buiilding News’ (18 March 1892) showing the new building for the school, at Park Road, Bolton, opened by Millicent Fawcett on 8 May 1891. The building, now, I think, demolished was in an ‘olde Englishe’ style, with half-timbering and an oriel window to the assembly hall. The page includes plans for the Ground and First floors, showing the disposition of classrooms, wcs etc. Very good
317. NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTION BOOK
for Ethel Leach, a member of the Amalgamated Association of Card, Blowing and Ring room Operatives c1912. Ethel Leach lwas born in 1898 and lived at
2 Alder Street, Bolton, with her parents (her father was a basketmaker) and her brother and sister. When the 1911 census was taken she was 13 and still at school – but by the time this Contribution Book was issued she was a ‘Cardroom Operative;. The 8 printed pages of the book detail the Table of Weeklly Contributions, Contributions Paid, and the Benefits that will accrue.- as well as much detail about the operation of the National Health Insurance at that time. An unusual item. Card covers – very good
318. REFORMATORIES AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS (COMMITTALS) Returns showing the comparative number of committals of boys and girls to reformatories and industrial schools April 1872
‘Shows comparative number of committals of boys and girls to reformatories and industrial schools in 1870, with the number of cases in which the parents have been charged with such payment towards their children’s cost at such schools as may be considered equal to the expense they are saved by so throwing their children on public support, together with a comparative statement of the number of cases in which such charge has been adjudged, with that of the charges actually recovered and regularly paid.’ Raw facts. 4 foolscap pp – disbound
319. ROSS, Alan The London Magazine, March 1970
Special Short Story Issue. Contains essays on short-story writing by Brian Glanville, Elizabeth Taylor and William Trevor. Soft covers – good
320. SENIOR, Mrs Nassau Pauper Schools HMSO 1875
‘Copy ”of a Letter addressed to the President of the Local Government Board by Mrs Nassau Senior, lately an Inspector of the Board, being a reply to the observation of Mr Tufnell, also a former inspector upon her report on pauper schools’. This was a follow-up to Mrs Senior’s 1874 report.
24pp – large format – disbound.
321. A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE Abortion Law Reform Association Why we must fight the Abortion (Amendment) Bill and how to go about it
20-pp pamphlet giving ‘Some Information about the Abortion (Amendment) Bill’ – and including a ‘List of Members of Parliament who voted AGAINST the Bill’s Second Reading, 7 Feb 1975)
322. WOMEN: A CULTURAL REVIEW OUP
1994 Spring, vol 5, no 1; Autumn vol 5, no 2; Winter vol 5, no 3
1995 Summer vol 6, no1; Autumn vol 6, no 2; Winter, vol 6, no 3
1996 Spring vol 7, issue 1; Autumn vol 7, no 2; Winter vol 7, no 3
1997 Sprng vol 8, no 1; Autumn vol 8. no 3
In very good condition – each
323. WOMEN’S PRINTING SOCIETY (LIMITED)
Advertising card for this very interesting business, founded in 1876. Coincidentally, I was commissioned to write an article on the WPS to accompany the BL’s ‘Unfinished Business’ exhibition. You can find it here https://www.bl.uk/womens-rights/articles/the-womens-printing-society . This trade card dates from the early years of the WPS, before 1893, when it was in Great College St, Westminster.
324. CLARK’S COLLEGE, CIVIL SERVICE Preparing for the Lady Clerk’s G.P.O. Exam
Photographic postcard of the young women preparing for this exam which, if they passed, offered a chance of bettering themselves. Very good – unposted
325. MYSTERY ‘WOMEN’S DEMONSTRATION’ POSTCARD
I bought this card in 2004, but it was only as a result of Lockdown research that I was available to work out why a large group of women were arrayed in front of a camera in Hull. For details see the piece about it on my website – https://wp.me/p2AEiO-1Br
General (Cross-Dressing) Vaudeville Sheet Music
326. MISS ELLA SHIELDS B. Feldman 1914
sings ‘Just One Kiss – Just Another One’ and is photographed in top hat and tails on the cover of the sheet music. The song was written by William Hargreaves and Dan Lipton. Very god
327. MISS ELLA SHIELDS Campbell, Connelly & Co 1925
sings ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home’, written by Irving King, and is photographed as an awkward young man on the cover of the sheet music. Good
328. MISS ELLA SHIELDS Lawrence Wright 1925
sings ‘When the Bloom is On the Heather’ and is photographed in top hat and tails on the cover of the sheet music. Very good
329. MISS ELLA SHIELDS Lawrence Wright 1929
sings ‘Home in Maine’ and is photographed in sailor attire on cover of sheet music. Good
330. MISS HETTY KING Francis, Day & Hunter 1908
sings ‘I’m Afraid to Come Home in the Dark’ and is photographed on the cover of the sheet music in extravagantly elegant top hat and tails. Very good
331. MISS NORA DELANEY Lawrence Wright 1929
sings ‘Glad Rag Doll’ and is photographed in male evening dress on the cover of the sheet music. Good
332. VESTA TILLEY Francis, Day & Hunter 1905
sings ‘Who Said, “Girls”?’. Sheet music featuring photograph on cover of Vesta Tilley in smart male attire. The ditty begins: ‘One day on a Western claim/Miners vow’d their lives were tame, For in that lonel spot there seldom girls had been.’ Good
333. VESTA TILLEY Francis, Day & Hunter 1896
sings ‘He’s Going In For this Dancing Now’, sheet music, written by E.W. Rogers. Very good – except that the front cover is semi-detached
334. AITKEN, David Sleeping with Jane Austen No Exit Press 2000
The lead short story, ‘Witches’ Sabbath’, is by I.A.R. Wylie, sometime lover of suffragette Rachel Barrett. The book also contains a woodcut by Gwen Raverat. Soft covers – very good
341. SIGOURNEY, Mrs (ed. F.W.N. Bailey) The Poetical Works of Mrs L.H. Sigourney G. Routledge 1857
Neatly rebound in cloth
342. SPENDER, Dale The Diary of Elizabeth Pepys Grafton 1991
Elizabeth gives her account of life with Samuel. Soft covers – very good
343. TAYLOR, Kate Madame Proust and the Kosher Kitchen Vintage 2004
Enjoyable novel, Canadian literary researcher in Paris – parallel portraits of old and new worlds. Soft covers – fine
Women and the First World War: Non-fiction
344. ANON [Katherine Evelyn Luard] Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-1915 William Blackwood 1916 (2nd imp)
‘This Journal was written with no idea of publication. As it was thought that some of it might interest others outside the Author’s family, for whom the Journal was kept, these selections – which are given exactly as they were written – are published.’ Kate Luard’s experience nursing in France during the first two years of the First World War. She was born in 1872 and died in 1962, one of the many children of an Essex vicar – educated at Croydon High School when Dorinda Neligan was headmistress, and was twice mentioned in despatches during the War. Very good – very scarce
345. CABLE, Boyd Doing Their Bit: war work at home Hodder and Stoughton, 2nd imp 1916
Includes a chapter on ‘The Women’. Good
346. ALDRICH, Mildred On the Edge of the War Zone: from the Battle of the Marne to the entrance of the Stars and Stripes Constable 1918
Mildred Aldrich had left the USA for France in 1898 and in 1914, when war broke out, was living in La Creste, a country house overlooking the Marne Valley. In this volume she recounts, in letter form, day-to-day life after the Battle of the Marne. The account was intended to influence public opinion, to back the entrance of the US into the war. In 1922 she was duly awarded the Legion d’Honneur. Very good
347. ANDERSON, Adelaide Women in the Factory: an administrative adventure, 1893 to 1921 John Murray 1922
‘Tells the story of the Woman Inspectorate of Factories and Workshops from its beginning in 1893, until 1921, when 30 Women Inspectors saw the fruits of the work of their branch, not only in greatly developed protection for the woman worker, but also in her own increased capacity to help herself’. Written by one of the leaders of the woman inspectorate movement, who was, incidentally, a niece of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Good, with the bookplate of the Lyceum Club, Melbourne on the free front endpaper – and a few spots on the front cover. Scarce.
348. BARBER, Margaret H. A British Nurse in Bolshevik Russia (April 1916-Dec 1919) A.C. Fifield 1920
She went to Russia as a Red Cross nurse in April 1916, remaining there until Nov 1919. ‘Her experience…is offered to the public as a humble attempt to remove the veil of prejudice and fear with which Russsian events are clouded’.’ Soft covers – very good – extremely scarce
349. BEAUCHAMP, Pat Fanny Goes to War John Murray 1919
With an introduction by Major-General H.N. Thompson. The work of the F.A.N.Y. (First Aid Nursing Yeomanary) during the First World War as experienced in France by the author. Good internally – hinges a little weak. Very scarce
350. BILLINGTON, Mary Frances The Red Cross in War: woman’s part in the relief of suffering Hodder & Stoughton 1914
351. BOWSER, Thekla Britain’s Civilian Volunteers: authorized story of British Voluntary Aid Detachment Work in the Great War McClelland, Goodchild & Steward (Toronto) 1917
This is the US/Canadian title of ‘The Story of British V.A.D. Work in the Great War’ – the text of both editions is the same. With 18 photographs. Very good – in d.w.
352. CAINE, Hall Our Girls: their work for the war Hutchinson 1916
A scarce book on women’s work during the First World War – with 15 photographs supplied by the Ministry of Munitions. Good in chipped and rubbed pictorial dustwrapper. A pencilled inscription reads: ‘Mabel Dec 1916 from Woolwich’ – so, perhaps it was a Christmas present from one of the munition girls to ‘Mabel’.
353. CATOR, Dorothy In a French Military Hospital Longmans, Green 1915
She left her three children to cross the Channel, with her sister, in 1915 to nurse in a French military hospital. The front pastedown bears, in childish writing, the name of ‘Bertie Tibbles, 49 Wilcox Road, London SW8’ – and, sure enough, the 1911 census shows that Bertie [Harry Herbert Tibbles] was living, 7 months old, at that address when the census was taken. Was it his mother, Violet, who had bought the book? Good – in original decorative cloth, depicting the UK and French flags. Some markings – extremely scarce (not listed in Claire Tylee’s bibliography to ‘The Great War and Women’s Consciousness’).
354. COSENS, Monica Lloyd George’s Munition Girls Hutchinson, no date (1916)
Anecdotal account of the work of the women munition workers in the First World War. Good – covers faded – very scarce
355. COWPER, Col Julia.Margaret A Short History of Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps WRAC Association no date (c 1967)
Soft covers – very good (ex-WRAC Museum). Scarce
356. DENT, Olive A V.A.D. in France Grant Richards 1917
Description of life as a volunteer nurse in France – with attractie line drawings by R.M. Savage and others. The ink inscription on the free front endpaper, dated 13 September 1919, is ‘To Jeanie, with love,…from one who was in the hospital at Rouen 1916’. Good – with pictorial cloth cover – a little rubbed, bumped and shaken. Scarce
357. DIXON, Agnes M. The Canteeners John Murray 1917
The story of the Cantines des Dames Anglaises (run under the aegis of the French Red Cross) by one who worked for them in France during the First World War. Good – with photographs
358. FEDDEN, Marguerite From an Abbeville Window (1918-19) J.W. Arrowsmith 1922
She worked with the YMCA in France towards the end of the First World War – in her other life she was a teacher and writer on domestic science. Fine in d/w – scarce
359. FITZROY, Yvonne With the Scottish Nurses in Roumania John Murray 1918
She served with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Unit. With photographs, including one of the author at Reni. Good – extremely scarce
360. FOXWELL, A.K. Munition Lasses: six months as Principal Onlooker in Danger Buildings Hodder & Stoughton 1917
An account of work at Woolwich Arsenal during the First World War. With 10 photographs. Good – scarce
361. FRY, A. Ruth Quaker Adventure: The Story of Nine Years’ Relief and Reconstruction Nisbet & Co 1926 (r/p)
Ruth Fry was hon. general secretary of the Friends’ War Victims’ Relief Committee, 1914-23 (later Friends’ Emergency and War Victims’ Relief Committee) – and describes the organisation’s work in all regions affected by the First World War – in Russia, Serbia, Austria, Hungary & Poland as well as France. Very good – with 24 plates and a folding map
362. GEORGE. Gertrude A. Eight Months with the Women’s Royal Air Force Heath Cranton 1920
Large format, with many delightful full-page illustrations by the author, Gertrude Alice George (1886-1971). She had been an art teacher in St Albans before the First World War. WRAF records show that she joined up on 29 October 1918 and that she was employed at the London Colney RAF airfield. Very good – scarce
363. GRANT, Marjorie Verdun Days in Paris Collins 1918
Work, from 1916, in a war canteen in Paris. Good – extremely scarce
364. GWYNNE-VAUGHAN, Daame Helen Service With the Army Hutchinson, no date (1940s)
A history of women’s involvement with the British army in the First and Second world wars – by one who played a key role in both. Good – scarce
365. HAMILTON, Cicely Senlis Collins 1917
Her experience in France during the First World War. Good – with 11 photographs – and scarce
366. JESSE, F. Tennyson The Sword of Deborah: first-hand impressions of the British women’s army in France Heinemann 1918
She was commissioned by the Ministry of Information to write this book in March 1918. ‘For we should not forget, and how should we remember if we have never known?’ Good – with the faint outline of a ‘Boots’ shield on the front cover – quite scarce
367. LA MOTTE, Ellen The Backwash of War G.P. Putnam’s (NY) 1916
During the First World War she worked in a French military field hospital in Belgium. These very evocative essays/sketches are the result of her observations and the book is dedicated to her friend and fellow nurse, the writer Mary Borden. In fine condition – scarce
368. MCLAREN, Eva Shaw (ed) A History of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Hodder & Stoughton 1919
Includes a marvellous pull-out panoramic photograph of the Salonka hospital in 1918 – huts and tents as far as the eye can see. This copy belonged to Florence L. Harvey, who worked with the SWH in Serbia. Laid in are letters to her – one, signed by S.E.S. Mair and others, refers to a badge that Miss Harvey had been sent ‘in recognition of your valuable work for the Hospitals’ – and a carbon copy of a chit allowing her ‘to purchase Canteen Stores up to the value of FIVE POUNDS’. Pasted in at the back is a newspaper obituary of Dr Liala Muncaster who had served in Serbia – presumably in the unit of which Miss Harvey was a member. Florence Harvey subsequently worked, from March to November 1918, as a driver for the British Committee of the French Red Cross. Good – very scarce -some foxing – an interesting association copy
369. MACPHERSON, Maj-Gen Sir W.G. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents: Medical Services: General History: Vol 1 HMSO 1921
‘Medical Services in the United Kingdom; in British Garrisons Overseas; and During Operations against Tsingrau, in Togoland, the Cameroons, and South-West Africa’. 463pp – many maps, charts etc. In good condition (one page of the Index is loose). Very scarce
370. MACPHERSON, Maj-Gen Sir W.G. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents Medical Services: General History: Vol II HMSO 1923
‘The Medical Services on the Western Front, and During the Operations in France and Belgium in 1914 and 1915.’ 510 pp, 6 maps in end pocket, numerous charts and diagrams. Very good – scarce
371. MARKHAM, Violet R. Watching on the Rhine George H. Doran (NY) 1921
Violet Markham was a member of the Army of Occupation in Germany immediately after the First World War. Very good. (The English edition was entitled ‘The Watcher on the Rhine’).
372. MAUD, Constance Elizabeth My French Year Mills & Boon 1919
Constance Maud, author of the suffragette novel, No Surrender, went to France in autumn 1917 as a delegate of the Croix Rouge Britannique. Describes France during the final year of the war and of the aftermath in 1919. ‘Among the many wonderful things to be seen in France at this supremely interesting moment of her history.. are the regiments of English khaki girls..They are of every uniform and taken from every class..they are a revelation – amazing, amusing, splendid and soul-stirring’. Very good – in good dustwrapper – many photographs
373. MURRAY, Flora Women as Army Surgeons: being the history of the Women’s Hospital Corps in Paris, Wimereux and Endell Street, September 1914-October 1919 Hodder & Stoughton
The printed dedication is to her long-standing companion, Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, with a quote from Walt Whitman ‘Bold, cautious, true and my loving comrade’. Includes as a frontispiece a pull-out photograph of the staff of the Endell Street Hospital, founded by Murray and Garrett Anderson. Good- a very scarce book
374. NEALE, Clara Memories of France R. Dey, Son & Co (Sydney) 1921
‘The writer of the following sketches had the honour of serving in France during the Great War as Unit Administrator to Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps’. My research shows she served from 21 July 1917 to 7 March 1919, and again from 29 March 1919 until 20 October 1919..In these days of peace, memories return of France and of the comradeship that, in the face of a common danger, drew all so closely together.’ 70pp – very good, with photographs, in good dustwrapper
375. TAYLER, Henrietta A Scottish Nurse At Work: being a record of what one semi-trained nurse has been privileged to see and do during four and a half years of war John Lane 1920
She served with the Anglo-French section of the British Red Cross in Flanders, France and on the Italian Front. The latter section is particularly interesting because there are comparatively few accounts of that Front. Good internally – in original decorative cloth – ex-university library. With 7 illustrations. Extremely scarce
376. THE TIMES HISTORY OF THE WAR VOL XVII The Times 1918
This large, heavy volume includes a section on ‘Women’s Work: War Service’ that includes numerous photographs. Other sections on, for instance, ‘Medical Science and the Pests of War’, ‘The Conquest of Rumania’, ‘The Arab Uprising’, ‘The Boy Scouts’ etc. Very good – scarce
377. WALTERS, E.W. Heroines of the World-War Charles H. Kelly 1916
Chapters on Edith Cavell, Sister Myra Ivanovna: a Russian Joan of Arc, Mabel Dearmer, Sister Joan Martin-Nicholson, The Retreat in Serbia, Women Doctors and War Decorations., Women Soldiers etc. Very good – the endpapers bear the stamp of ‘Southampton General Hospital’. Surprisingly scarce
Women and the First World War: Biography and Autobiography
378. (ASHWELL) Lena Ashwell Myself a Player
Autobiography of the actress and manager, in the years before the First World War, of the Kingsway Theatre – where she staged and starred in Cicely Hamilton’s ‘Diana of Dobson’s’. During the First World War she was a member of the Women’s Corps – and entertained the troops. Very good
379. (BAGNOLD) Enid Bagnold A Diary Without Dates Heinemann new impression, March 1918
Diary of her life as a VAD in the First World War. Good internally – split to spine cloth – very scarce
380. CAMPION, P The Honourable Women of the Great War and the Women’s (War) Who’s Who privately published 1919
Wonderful compilation of names and works of women who contributed their services to the First World War war effort. The majority of those listed – many of whom have accompanying photographs – were members of the aristocracy and upper middle-class – but there are also long lists of those who worked for the Red Cross and those whose names were ‘brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for valuable services rendered in connection with the war’. Large format – vellum and purple cloth binding -in very good condition a little marked and sunned – extremely scarce
381. (CORBETT) Elsie Corbett Red Cross in Serbia: a personal diary of experiences, 1915-1919 Cheney & Sons 1964
Eyewitness account of nursing in the Balkans during the First World War. Very good,although free front end paper removed and cover cloth a little mottled – a presentation copy to the author
382. (DEARMER) Mabel Dearmer Letters From a Field Hospital: with a memoir of the author by Stephen Gwynn Macmillan 1915
In April 1915 Mabel Dearmer, wife of the Christian Socialist Rev Percy Dearmer, went out with Mrs St Clair Stobart, as a nurse, to Serbia – and died there in July. These are the letters she sent home. Good internally – cover marked, spine chipped – withdrawn from the John Crerar Library, Chicago.. Scarce
383. (DOUGLAS-PENNANT) Violet Douglas-Pennant Under the Search-Light: the record of a great scandal Allen & Unwin 1922
In June 1918 Violet Douglas-Pennant was appointed Commandant, Women’s Royal Air Force – only to be dismissed two months later ‘by direction of Lord Weir and Sir Auckland Geddes on the advice of Lady Rhondda, who acted without enquiry on secret information supplied to her, as well as to Mr Tyson Wilson MP, and Miss P. Strachey, by Mrs Beatty and others’. How intriguing. The book takes 463 pp to cover the ‘scandal’. Douglas-Pennant wrote it as her self-justificatory account of events “so that my name & honour may at last be vindicated.” Includes recollections of her ten weeks’ in charge, a Who’s Who of the personalities involved & full details of the House of Lords Inquiry into her dismissal. Good
384. (FEDDEN) Marguerite Fedden Sisters’ Quarters: Salonika Grant Richards 1921
One of the first of the VADs to nurse at Salonika during the First World War, [Constance] Marguerite Fedden (1879-1962) came from a wealthy Bristol family and had been principal of a College of Housecraft and Domestic Science, 4 Chichester Street, Pimlico and a speaker for constitutional suffrage societies.Illustrated by F.V. Carpenter. Fine in slightly chipped d./w – presentation copy from the author. Extremely scarce
385. (FORBES) Lady Angela Forbes Memories and Base Details George H. Doran (NY) 1922
Born in 1876, she was the half-sister of Daisy, Countess of Warwick, and full sister to Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland. Much about her aristocratic up-bringing but the other half of the book (well over 100 pages) is devoted to her work during the First World War – organising hospitals in France. Very good -scarce
386. HARGREAVES, Reginald Women-At-Arms: their famous exploits through the ages Hutchinson no date 
Chapters on, amongst others ‘Mother Ross: the Amazon dragoon’, Anne Bonney and Mary Read, Hannah Snell, Dr James Barry, and, from the First World War, Dorothy Lawrence: the Sapper of the B.E.F., and Flora Sandes. Good, with 12 illustrations, in original cloth – tho’ ex-library
387. (HUTTON) Isabel Hutton Memories of a Doctor in War and Peace Heinemann 1960
Studied medicine at the Women’s Medical School in Edinburgh (not Sophia Jex-Blake’s one) – much about her medical education – then with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in the First World War – and a lifetime’s work after. Very good in d/w
388. (INGLIS) Lady Frances Balfour Dr Elsie Inglis Hodder & Stoughton no date (c 1919)
Biography of Dr Elsie Inglis (1864-1917), Scottish doctor – and suffragist. Founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. In good condition
389. (JOHNSTON) Agnes Anderson ‘Johnnie’ of Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps Heath Cranton no date (c. 1919)
Elizabeth Johnston joined the WAAC in Dec 1917 and died, bizarrely, on Christmas Day 1918, having fallen from the tower of the church of St Ouen in Rouen. Her year’s work in France is detailed from the letters she sent home to Fife. Very good -very scarce
390. (KENNARD) Lady Kennard A Roumanian Diary, 1915, 1916, 1917 William Heinemann 1917
Joins a Red Cross Hospital in Roumania in 1916. With photographs. Good condition -very scarce –
391. (MACNAUGHTAN) S. Macnaughtan A Woman’s Diary of the War .P. Dutton (NY) 1916
Sarah MacNaughton (1864-1916, a well-travelled Scottish novelist, volunteered with Mrs St Clair Stobart’s ambulance unit at the outbreak of the First World War. This is an account of her experience of nursing in Belgium. Good
392. (MCARTHUR) Josephine Kellett That Friend of Mine: a memoir of Marguerite McArthur The Swarthmore Press 1920
Memoir of a young woman, educated at Newnham, who in 1914 worked for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society and then, after the outbreak of war, first in the War Office and then in France, in Etaples, with the YMCA. She was still working there when she died, of influenza, aged 26 in February 1919. Fine – presentation copy from her sister
393. MCLAREN, Barbara Women of the War Hodder & Stoughton 1917
Biographical essays of women and their work in the First World War. – beginning with Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson and Dr Flora Murray and ranging through Lilian Barker, Dr Elsie Inglis, Lady Paget, Commandant Damer Dawson, Lena Ashwell, Violetta Thurstan, Ethel Rolfe and the Women Acetylene Welders, among many others. With many photographs and a coloured frontispiece by Edmund Dulac. Very good (corner has been torn from the free front endpaper) – scarce
394. (SALMOND) Monica Salmond Bright Armour: memories of four years of war Faber, 2nd imp 1935
Autobiography of the sister of Julian Grenfell; she began training as a nurse on 19 August 1914 and worked, in both England and France, for the duration of the First World War. Good – a little foxing. It was once, I think, in the lending library run by Owen Owen, the Liverpool department store. Extremely scarce
395. (SINCLAIR) May Sinclair Journal of Impressions in Belgium Macmillan (NY) 1915
Her description of her journey to the front line with the Motor Ambulance Corps. Very good – extremely scarce
396. (SQUIRE) Rose Squire Thirty Years in the Public Service: an industrial retrospect Nisbet 1927
She was one of the first women inspectors of factories – appointed in 1896. Section on work in factories during the First World War. Good – scarce
397. (STEVENSON) C.G. R.S. and A. G. S. (eds) Betty Stevenson YMCA, Croix de Guerre avec Palme Longmans 1920
Letters from Betty Stevenson, a nurse, to her family – written in France where she worked with the YMCA from early 1916 to May 1918, when she was killed in a bombing raid near Etaples. Very good
398. (STIMSON) Julia C. Stimson Finding Themselves: the letters of an American Army Chief Nurse in a British Hospital in France Macmillan (NY) 1927
She arrived in Liverpool in May 1917, moved on to London where she met society women now devoting themselves to running hospitals etc. She was in France, working alongside British nurses, by 11 June and was still there when the book ends, in April 1918. Good condition – very scarce
399. (STOBART) Mrs St Clair Stobart The Flaming Sword in Serbia and Elsewhere Hodder & Stoughton 1917 (2nd ed)
The redoubtable Mrs Stobart formed her own hospital unit during the First World War, taking it in 1915 to Serbia. Dramatic adventures. Very good – with many photographs, a pull-out map, and a dramatic emblematic cover. Scarce
400. (STOBART) Mrs St Clair Stobart War and Women G.Bell & Sons 1913
An account of her adventures with the Women’s Convoy Corps that she took out to Serbia during the Balkan Wars in 1912. With 32 photographs. Good – in original red cloth, with white cross on front board. Scarce
401. (SUTHERLAND) Millicent, Duchess Of Sutherland Six Weeks At The War The Times 1914
She left England on 8 August 1914 to join a branch of the French Red Cross – and then went on to form her own ambulance unit and took it into Belgium.With photographs. Soft covers – good – spine a little nicked
402. (THURSTAN) Violetta Thurstan Field Hospital and Flying Column: being the journal of an English nursing sister in Belgium and Russia G.P. Putnam’s 1915
403. (VIDAL) Lois Vidal Magpie: the autobiography of a nymph errant Little, Brown 1934
Daughter of the vicarage, she was all for adventure. She worked in the War Office, and then went to France as a war worker in France during the First World War, then was a governess in Corsica, then to Canada – and then back to England. Packed with interesting social comment. Good
Women and the First World War: Ephemera
404. COX, Michael Women at War: on old picture postcards Reflections of a Bygone Age 2014
‘A selection of picture postcards featuring the roels of women in World War One, with informative captions’. 38pp – mint
405. MINISTRY OF MUNITIONS LABOUR SUPPLY DEPARTMENT, TECHNICAL SECTION CATALOGUE. EXHIBITION OF SAMPLES OF WOMEN’S WORK AND OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHS illustrating the various types of work upon which women are employed in Engineering and other industries on Munitions of War Ministry of Munitions 1918
Contains very detailed information on the wide range of manufacturing undertaking by women during the First World War, the particulars supplied by the firms in whose works the exhibits were produced. The industries represented include manufacturers of Aircraft Engines, Steam Engines and Turbines, Engines for Motor Cars etc, Guns, Small Arms, Aircraft Fittings, Projectiles and Trench Warfare, Optical Munitions, Glassware and Chemical Apparatus. The purpose of the exhibition was to prove to manufacturers that women were capable of undertaking skilled mechanical engineering work.
Hard covers – very good condition – very scarce – according to Library Discovery copies are only held in 4 libraries – at the universities of Cardiff, Exeter, Northumbria and at LSE
WOMEN AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR FICTION
406. ANON The Letters of Thomasina Atkins: Private (WAAC) on Active Service Hodder & Stoughton no date (1918)
With a foreword by Mildred Aldrich. This is one of those books about which it is difficult to be entirely sure – are the letters genuine – or is it fiction? The general consensus – of reviewers in 1918 and of academics in the 21st century – is that they are real letters, written by a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps to a woman friend (‘Peachie’). The only clues as to the author’s identity are that she had previously been an actress and that she was considerably younger than Mildred Aldrich (author of ‘Hilltop on the Marne’ and other accounts of the War), who had known her since she was a child. Good – with a damp stain along bottom of free front endpapers – ownership inscription (1918) and stamp of the ‘Royal Midlan Counties Home for Incurables Castel Froma Lillington Road Leamington Spa’. Very scarce
407. BORDEN, Mary The Forbidden Zone Heinemann 1929
Stories, sketches and poems written between 1914 and 1918, during four years of hospital work with the French army. Mary Borden (1886-1968), American-British novelist, daughter of a wealthy Chicago family, educated at Vassar, married a Scottish missionary, had three daughters, in England became a suffragette and on the outbreak of the First World War went to France as a VAD. During this time she had an affair with a Brigadier-General, whom she married after a divorce. Quite a life. Fine in very good dustwrapper. Scarce
408. FORBES, R.E.(pseudonym of Ralph Straus) Mrs Holmes, Commandant Edward Arnold 1918
The printed dedication is: ‘Dedicated with feelings of the profoundest respect to the Detachment’. By which is meant the ‘Voluntary Aid Detachment’, for this is a novel (humourous) about the setting up of a VAD hospital in a small English town. First edition in good condition – and very scarce
409. KENYON, Edith C. Pickles: a Red Cross Heroine Collins no date 
‘Pickles’ is a plucky young woman who. defying her family, hitched a hair-raising ride in an aeroplane to fly over to France to ‘do her bit’ as a Red Cross nurse. In the course of the journey she dropped a bomb overboard in order to obliterate an enemy aircraft. And that was just the beginning of her adventures. With many colour artist drawings and black and white (photographic) illustrations. Large format – good
410. MARCHANT, Bessie A Transport Girl in France: a story of the adventures of a W.A.A.C. Blackie no date [reprint c earl 1930s]
With pictorial cloth cover: the original design was still in use c 15 years after first publication. Free front endpaper bears a presentation label from Gosport Education Committee showing that the book was awarded to ‘Netta Gladys Smith of St John’s Girls’ School for Good Conduct, Industry and Progress in Standard VIII. Position in Class: 1. 1934.’ The label is annotated in ink: ‘Mayor’s Special Prize’ and signed by the Mayor. Good – with illustrations by Wal Paget. Very scarce
Very good – clean and tight – with only slight bumping to corners
411. MARCHANT, Bessie A V.A.D. in Salonika Blackie, no date c 1917/18
Good – with pictorial cover (she is in uniform, pushing a motor bike, with minarets and domes in the background.) Has an birthday gift inscription on free front endpaper – 15 February 1918
412. RATHBONE, Irene We That Were Young Chatto & Windus 1932
With a preface by E.M. Delafield.. Irene Rathbone (1892-1980) had been a young suffragette and in the First World War worked in YMCA camps in France and as a VAD in London. A semi-autobiographical novel of ‘the lost generation’. The free front endpaper carries the ownership signature of ‘H. Thomas 193’ and the comment ‘Twenty Years After’. The back pastedown bears the small label of the bookseller – ‘Higginbothams Booksellers Madras and Bangalore’. First edition -very good – extremely scarce
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In case you may be interested in books I have published they are ~
Millicent Garrett Fawcett: Selected Writings
ed. Melissa Terras & Elizabeth Crawford
Reproduces Fawcett’s essential speeches, pamphlets and newspaper columns to tell the story of her dynamic contribution to public life. Thirty-five texts and 22 images are contextualised and linked to contemporary news coverage as well as to historical and literary references. These speeches, articles, artworks and photographs cover both the advances and the defeats in the campaign for women’s votes. They also demonstrate a variety of the topics and causes Fawcett pursued: the provision of education for women; feminist history; a love of literature (and Fawcett’s own attempt at fiction); purity and temperance; the campaign against employment of children; the British Army’s approach to the South African War; the Unionist cause against Home Rule for Ireland; and the role of suffrage organisations during World War I. Here is a rich, intertextual web of literary works, preferred reading material, organisations, contacts, friends, and sometimes enemies, that reveals Fawcett the individual throughout 61 years of campaigning. The first scholarly appraisal of Fawcett in over 30 years, this is essential reading for those wishing to understand the varied political, social and cultural contributions of Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett
Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists discusses the lives and work of over 100 artists, each of whom made a positive contribution to the women’s suffrage campaign. Most, but not all, the artists were women, many belonging to the two suffrage artists’ societies – the Artists’ Suffrage League and the Suffrage Atelier. Working in a variety of media –producing cartoons, posters, banners, postcards, china, and jewellery – the artists promoted the suffrage message in such a way as to make the campaign the most visual of all those conducted by contemporary pressure groups.
In the hundred plus years since it was created, the artwork of the suffrage movement has never been so widely disseminated and accessible as it is today, the designs as appealing as they were during the years before the First World War when the suffrage campaign was at its height. Yet hitherto little has been known about most of the artists who produced such popular images. Art and Suffrage remedies this lack and sets their artistic contribution to the suffrage cause within the context of their reanimated lives, giving biographical details, including addresses, together with information on where their work may be seen.
With over 100 illustrations, in black-and-white and in colour.
Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette
Published by ITV Ventures as a tie-in with the series: ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’ this e-book tells Kate’s life story from her Victorian childhood to her brave engagement with the Elizabethan New Age. For details see here (and many more posts on my website).
Available to download from iTunes or Amazon
The Women’s Suffrage Movement 1866-1928: A reference guide
‘It is no exaggeration to describe Elizabeth Crawford’s Guide as a landmark in the history of the women’s movement…’ History Today
I hope those acquainted with my website will also be aware of the existence of the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester. If so, you will know that the Centre comprises two houses, 60 and 62 Nelson Street, the only buildings from the original early 19th-century street still standing, surrounded by the ever-expanding complex of Manchester Royal Infirmary. That the adjoining villas, built c 1840, are still there is due only to the fact that it was at number 62 in October 1903 that Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union. The buildings were listed Grade 2* in 1974 to save them from demolition.
Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and her children, Christabel, Sylvia, Adela, and Harry moved into 62 Nelson Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, in the autumn of 1898. Her husband, Dr Richard Pankhurst, had died in the summer, on 5 July, leaving very little money, and his family was forced to economise by moving from their home, 4 Buckingham Crescent, Daisy Bank Road, Victoria Park, into a property cheaper to rent.
Mrs Pankhurst could have moved to any area of Manchester, so why was 62 Nelson Street chosen as the new family home?
In 1894 Mrs Pankhurst had been elected to the Chorlton Board of Guardians as a Poor Law Guardian, an unpaid position. Now, in the summer of 1898, she had to earn enough to support herself and her family and so on 30 August she resigned and, instead, accepted the offer made by the Board of Guardians of the post of salaried registrar of births, marriages, and deaths for Chorlton-on-Medlock.
Chorlton had been urbanized in the early 19th c, when streets of terraced houses were built to house the workers required to operate the large mills newly erected alongside the River Irwell. It was an area very much less salubrious than Victoria Park, but Nelson Street, off Oxford Road, was more refined than most surrounding streets. It was also a street that was well-known to the two eldest Pankhurst daughters.
I have never seen any mention in Pankhurst biographies and autobiographies of this apparent coincidence, but it was at number 60 that Christabel and, I think, Sylvia, had been regular visitors, students at the dancing school run by Mrs W. Webster and her brother. Although the name of the dance teachers does appear in Sylvia Pankhurst’s The Suffragette Movement, she makes no mention of the school’s address. Sylvia wrote:
‘We learned dancing from the Websters, an old dancing family in Manchester, and Christabel, who hitherto had never cared much or long for anything, roused herself to unexpected efforts to excel everyone in the class’. Sylvia suggests that Christabel, whom her mother intended should be a dancer, had taken lessons for several years before becoming ‘suddenly tired of the project’ around the time she was 16, that is in 1896.
In the years between 1890 and 1896 the dancing academy was run by Mrs W. Webster and her brother. Until his early death in 1890 the dancing master had been William Hilton Webster and the school had then been continued by his widow. She was Ellen Marianne Webster (née Goodman), who had been a cousin to her husband. For reasons that are unclear, her brother, Archie, changed his name from Goodman to Webster, perhaps to capitalize on the ‘Webster’ name, which, as Sylvia suggests, had long been synonymous in Manchester with ‘dance’, as William Hilton Webster’s father had been a dance teacher there from the 1870s. William Webster had moved to 60 Nelson Street in 1884, taking over the premises and goodwill of another dancing master, ‘Monsieur Paris’.
Christabel would have been taught by either or both Ellen and Archie Webster. The lessons offered were not for ballet dancing, but general classes for ballroom dancing and private classes for waltz, skirt,and serpentine dancing. Although I have no evidence, it strikes me that it must have been the latter types of semi-burlesque dance that, according to Sylvia, Mrs Pankhurst hoped Christabel would – as’ a professional devotee of Terpsichore’ – perform in the great cities of the world. A studio photograph of Christabel posed, with pointed foot, holding up with both hands material from her long, flowing dress, is exactly illustrative of a skirt dance. It was taken in Geneva in the summer of 1898 and is reproduced in June Purvis’ biography of Christabel.
Widowed Ellen Webster had four young children, two boys and two girls, and in 1893 remarried, her second husband being Charles Joseph Rourke, a cotton waste merchant. It was presumably during the next couple of years or so that Christabel and, perhaps, Sylvia were attending classes. They may still have been doing so when, in October 1895, 60 Nelson Street hit the headlines in newspapers around the country. Ellen Webster had committed suicide, murdering the elder of her sons at the same time. She had poisoned herself and both sons, but the younger recovered. Her daughters were at a boarding school in Sale, Cheshire, and although she had sent a servant to bring them home, apparently with the idea of killing them as well, their arrival was delayed, and they were saved. The inquest returned a verdict of murder and suicide, due to temporary insanity. The funeral of poor Ellen Webster and her son was held at St Aloysius Church, Ardwick, where she had been married a couple of years earlier.
Thus, in 1898, when Emmeline Pankhurst was looking for a house to rent, she would have been well acquainted with Nelson Street, not only as the address of the dancing school that her daughters had attended but as the site of a very recent Manchester tragedy.
Besides the dancing school Nelson Street contained another cultural centre at number 66 – the Schiller Anstalt Institute – a centre for the large Manchester German community. The Institute was housed in a building that had been converted from domestic use in 1886 and now offered a concert hall and gymnasium, holding a regular programme of lectures and musical activities [For more information about the Institute see here.] The Institute did not close until 1911 and it may well be that, as it was so close by, members of the Pankhurst family did occasionally attend an event there.
Between number 62 Nelson Street and the Schiller Anstalt Institute, number 64 was a large, detached house, once the home of a mayor of Manchester, but now, known as Nelson House, run as a private nursing home. This may explain why, when, previously, number 62 had been advertised for rent it was deemed ‘suitable for a medical man’.
Number 62 was described as offering ‘Three entertaining rooms, five bedrooms, dressing room, bath, w.c. and well-appointed domestic offices’, large enough for Emmeline to devote one room (presumably one of the ‘entertaining rooms’), as her registry office. The bedrooms were under pressure on the night of the 1901 census, for sleeping in the house were Emmeline and her four children, together with her two brothers, Walter and Herbert Goulden, the latter’s son, and the family’s two servants, the cook, Ellen Coyle (of whom Sylvia speaks very fondly) and Mary Leaver, the housemaid. I imagine that the Pankhurst children were made to share rooms, but presumably that was unusual and, now ranging in age from 20 to 11, they normally had a little more space to themselves. It’s difficult to imagine Christabel and Sylvia being happy to share, but doubtless on occasion they were forced to.
The situation only eased in the autumn 1904. Mrs Pankhurst placed an advertisement in the Daily News, ’Wanted, for art student. One or two Rooms, furnished or unfurnished. Near South Kensington Museum. Terms Moderate.’ The reply address was ‘Pankhurst, 62 Nelson Street, Manchester.’ Sylvia was off to London, to study at the Royal College of Art, freeing up a bed in the family home.
In October 1907 advertisements for 62 Nelson Street once more appeared in the press, in the Manchester Courier, indicating that the house was again to let. Emmeline Pankhurst, who had formed the Women’s Social and Political Union in the kitchen just four years earlier, had already left for London to join her daughters, Sylvia and Christabel, who had brought the fight for the vote to the capital.
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement
A reader of this blog has asked me to confirm who was the ‘Mrs Rachel Scott’ who unfurled the ‘First in the Fight’ Manchester WSPU banner in 1908.
You will remember that I wrote here about the discovery of the banner and the subsequent appeal that resulted in it being acquired by the People’s History Museum in Manchester. In that piece I wrote that I suspected that the woman given the honour of unfurling the banner was the Mrs Rachel Scott who had been the WSPU’s first honorary secretary, rather than Rachel Scott, wife of C.P. Scott of the Manchester Guardian. And, of course, the merest further investigation showed that it was indeed Mrs ‘Secretary’ Scott who had unfurled the banner – not least because Mrs C.P. Scott had died three years earlier, in 1905.
But my enquirer was still interested in finding out something of Mrs Rachel Scott, the ‘unfurler’….so I have done a little delving. For, although her name has often been mentioned in studies of the early days of the WSPU, she has not, as far as I can see, hitherto been credited with a real life.
I can report that she was born Rachel Lovett in Chorlton, Lancashire, in 1863, one of the many (at least 9) children of Thomas Lovett and his wife, Elizabeth. Her father was a labourer in the oilcloth industry and in 1871 the family was living next to the Marsden oilcloth factory at Canal Side, Newton Heath. Rachel’s older sisters became weavers or winders as soon as, aged 14, they left school. However, the 1881 census shows that Rachel had escaped this fate and, aged 17, was working as a pupil teacher. She presumably continued teaching until her marriage in 1890 to Henry (Harry) Charles David Scott, the son of a schoolmaster. Harry was at this time described as a ‘cashier’ but by 1901, when the family, now with four children, was living at 5 Duncan Street, Broughton, he was ‘managing director of an engineering firm’. In fact, he worked for the Manchester firm of Royles for most of his life, becoming chairman of the board of directors. At the turn of the 20th century he was a strong supporter of The Clarion, the socialist newspaper, and was a member of the Independent Labour party, paying the rent of the Party’s Manchester meeting room.
For we know it was through the Manchester ILP that Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst encountered Rachel Scott, who was one of the women she invited to the meeting at her house in Nelson Street, Manchester, on 10 October 1903, at which the Women’s Social and Political Union was founded. Mrs Scott was appointed the WSPU’s first secretary and had a letter published in the 30 October 1903 issue of The Clarion alerting fellow Socialists to the existence of this new organisation and appealing ‘to all women Socialists to join in this movement to press upon party and community the urgent need of giving to women the vote, that they may take their share of the vote for social emancipation’.
Rachel Scott maintained her involvement with the Manchester WSPU for some years, noted as present at various meetings and demonstrations, for instance appearing on Platform 12 at the WSPU Hyde Park demonstration of Sunday 21 June 1908 (described in Votes for Women, 18 June 1908, as ‘well-known as a capable speaker and hard worker in the Manchester district’) and, of course, was singled out to present the banner to the Manchester WSPU on 20 June 1908, the day before the Hyde Park meeting. The banner hadn’t been ready in time to be unfurled with others in the Queen’s Hall in London.
Rachel Scott was on the platform at a meeting in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on 19 January 1909 when Christabel Pankhurst received a rapturous welcome but I get the impression that after this she rather fades from view, perhaps less interested as it became clear that the WSPU was no longer a supporter of the socialist movement with which, in 1909, she was still actively involved. Certainly, she did not boycott the 1911 census and was at home (‘Arrandale’, Crofts Bank Road, Urmston) on census night with her husband and by now five children. Her eldest son was a ‘student of chemistry’, another was an ‘engineering apprentice’, and a third was a clerk. The other two children were still at school.
One of Rachel’s sisters was living with the family in 1911, as she appears to have done all their married life. Another of Rachel’s sisters died that year but had previously worked as a superintendent in the ‘Imbecile Wards’ of the Crumpsall (Manchester) Workhouse. Yet another sister had for a time been employed as a nurse in the same workhouse. Presumably both positions had been an improvement on the sisters’ earliest employment in the cotton industry. Doubtless both from her own experience and that of her sisters Rachel Scott was well apprised of the state of the poor and afflicted and had hoped that the WSPU would be a means of improving their lot. She may have become disillusioned.
Rachel Scott died in 1925. Of her sons, one was killed during the First World War, one became an analytical chemist, another an engineer designer, and the fourth emigrated to Australia. Her daughter married, but died in 1935. Harry, still a director of Royles, was appointed a magistrate in 1931 and died in 1937.
Copyright All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
Part of Kate’s diary entry for 9 January 1915, in which she describes her wedding day. It was she who attached the photographs of herself and John.
Kate Frye’s diary, which she kept from the late 1890s until 1958 is very much the diary of a middle-class, albeit impoverished, ‘Everywoman’ of that period. Her experiences, although so particular to her, were shared by millions of others. Thus it was that, in 1919, she had a first-hand encounter with the Influenza – ‘Spanish ‘Flu’ – Pandemic, which, because it could prove quickly lethal, was rightly feared.
John Collins, husband of Kate (nee Frye) had come through the First World War, collecting a Military Cross on the way, and they were about to settle back into civilian life in a small rented flat in Notting Hill when, in February 1919, disaster struck.
On 12 February, to Kate’s horror, John was rushed to hospital – ‘The Prince of Wales Hospital in Marylebone. The old Great Central Hotel where our brief honeymoon was spent.’ The hotel (now the Landmark Hotel, had been taken over in 1916 by the War Office and turned into a military hospital for officers. ‘I had heard the doctor -“Influenza and pneumonia – both lungs”. ‘He is very ill, it is a toss-up if he pulls through.’
The Winter Garden, Great Central Hotel, Marylebone – a postcard kept by Kate all her life as a memento of her one-day honeymoon
So, rather than home-making, Kate’s first days back in London revolved around visits to the hospital.
Thursday 13 February 1919 [London: Notting Hill]
To Hospital 1.45 up to day sister’s room as she had promised the doctor’s report. But she was frightfully cross and rude to me. Sat with John 2 till 4 then was turned out. He looks very bad and is lying propped up by a back rest and in a pneumonia jacket. He is quite sensible but I would not let him talk much. They are frightfully rushed and not enough sisters – 800 patients and many dying of pneumonia.
A ‘pneumonia jacket’ was used to warm the patient’s chest, then one of the few treatments available.
Friday 14 February 1919 [London: Notting Hill]
No one can ever know but those who go through it what these hours of waiting are like and then the Hospital with its inhospitable airs and snubbing attendants. They are bound to answer enquiries concerning the ‘serious’ cases but that is as much as they will do. I stayed until I was driven away. He hates me to go and to leave him like that was so distressing.
Anecdotally, the hospital was not a happy place and, following the ‘flu outbreak, complaints were made in Parliament that patients with flu were being nursed in the same rooms as those recovering from wounds, thus causing a serious possibility of the infection spreading.
John remained in this Marylebone hospital for a month and then, having more or less recovered, was sent to a military convalescent home in Bournemouth. It was housed in the former Mont Dore Hotel (now Bournemouth Town Hall). Kate followed him, staying in digs.
Saturday 12 April 1919 [Bournemouth]
John had been before a Board and been granted 3 weeks sick leave, so that is alright – he is due to leave the Mont Dore today but can arrange to stay until Monday.
Monday 14 April 1919 [London: 12a Colville Terrace]
[Back to London flat] It is very wonderful to be home in our dear little flat and with John practically well again.
Kate’s diary is now housed in the Archives of Royal Holloway College, University of London. I only transcribed a few of the Influenza entries when writing her biography – Kate Frye: the long life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette – published as an ebook by ITV – see https://tinyurl.com/qn7rhxq. More useful information can be found in the diary if anyone is writing a study of the Post World War One influenza pandemic.
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.
It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.
The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.
With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.
This is the second:
Margery Corbett Ashby, photographed in 1923
Mrs M.C. Ashby who was standing in Birmingham’s Ladywood constituency as a Liberal candidate, with support from the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
Margery Corbett Ashby (1882-1981) was the daughter of a Liberal MP, Charles Corbett, and both her parents were strong supporters of women’s suffrage. She had a university education, trained as a teacher in Cambridge and from 1907 to 1909 was secretary of the NUWSS and in 1910, the year she married, she was an organizer for the Liberal party. She resigned from the NUWSS executive committee in 1914, too committed a Liberal to support the Election Fighting Fund policy, by which the NUWSS was backing Labour party candidates at elections.
After the First World War she took Mrs Fawcett’s place at the Versailles Peace Conference (Mrs Fawcett did not wish to attend) and helped advise Germany on the founding of its women’s police force.
Margery Corbett Ashby’s candidature at the 1918 general election caused some difficulty for the Birmingham Society for Women’s Suffrage which was criticized for supporting her, rather than the Labour candidate, as the latter party had, unlike the Liberals, traditionally supported the suffrage movement. She was also supported by the Society for Discharged Soldiers – who obviously liked point 7 of her Election Address.
In her lengthy Election Address Margery Corbett Ashby made her (Liberal) views clear:
A League of Nations. To make another War impossible, to abolish conscription, to lighten the burden of taxation for armaments, to substitute open treaties, ratified by Parliament for secret diplomacy, to pool raw materials and food for the hungry peoples of the world. I welcome the practical beginnings of the idea in the International Council which will be established at the Peace Table to ration the nations.
Free Trade and No Food Taxes.
Rights of Little Peoples: Home Rule is imperative to give Ireland the same free choice of government we have demanded for Poland, Alsace-Lorraine and Serbia.
Health and Housing: I believe the urgency of housing admits of no delay, and that there must be immediate provision of a) Houses with at least 3 bedrooms, bath room, water laid on, within the average wage-earner’s means. b) A garden or allotment with each house, for those who want it. c) State assistance to encourage municipal enterprise; the adequate taxation of land values; and the right of compulsory purchase of land for all public requirements at the rate-book valuation.
Equal Citizenship: Real equality between men and women before the law in a) all questions of marriage, morals and the home. b) Opportunities of general and technical training. c) Equal pay for work of equal value above a sound minimum for all. d) All trades, industries and professions.
Labour and Leisure. a) A shorter working day and adequate minimum wage, enforced by law if necessary. b) Regularity of income through universal non-contributory unemployed insurance. c) More freedom and consultation in the workshop. d) Public recreations of a wholesome kind
Soldiers, Sailors and Mothers: I believe in Justice without Charity to secure: a) Adequate pensions for widows with dependent children. b) A real right of maintenance for wives. c) Fullest possible help of all kinds to disabled or discharged soldiers and sailors. d) Fair treatment for women war workers. I welcome Mr Asquith’s desire to improve the Old Age Pensions secured by the Liberal Party, and should like to see the pension raised the age limit lowered.
Civil and Industrial Liberty: I support the immediate restoration of a) All British liberties of citizenship; and b) All essential trade union rights for men and women to enjoy the full use of collective bargaining, surrendered or lost during the war.
Trade and Transit: I favour a) The removal of irksome Government control from private industries. b) The encouragement of production by science, canals and railways. c) The continued municipal ownership of electrical supply. In general I should like to see more Municipal Administration and less Whitehall Bureaucracy.
At the December 1918 election Margery Corbett Ashby polled 1152 votes and lost her deposit. She then stood, again unsuccessfully, at every inter-war election except that of 1931. She succeeded Eleanor Rathbone as president of the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship and in the late 1920s was the co-founder of the Townswomen’s Guild. She also was president of the Women’s Freedom League. At various times she was also president of the British Commonwealth League, member of the executive committee of the Family Endowment Society and chairman of the Association of Moral and Social Hygiene. Margery Corbett Ashby was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1967.
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
Fabian stained glass panel, by Caroline Townsend, 1911
When I gave a keynote talk -‘ Surrounded by Suffrage: Situating Shaw, Wells and the LSE in Suffrage Sites’ – at the joint H.G. Wells Society/Shaw Society’/ LSE Language Centre conference at LSE on 23 September 2017 the constraints of time meant that I was unable to include all that I would have liked to have said about this stained glass panel. I am, therefore, taking the opportunity my blog affords of relaying a little more of my research into this most interesting artefact.
The panel may be construed as a political allegory on the early years of the Fabian Society. Its artist was Caroline Townshend (1878-1944).
Received opinion has it that it was Bernard Shaw who designed the panel and I can find no original evidence one way or the other to back or disprove the claim. Received opinion – such as the article about the window on the LSE website – also has it that Caroline Townshend was commissioned to make it by GBS. However, I have discovered an item in the London Daily News, 8 November 1911, that explicitly states ‘The political allegory in stained glass which Miss Caroline Townshend, the well-known artist, has just completed for Mrs G.B. Shaw, conveys a good deal of humour and not a little kindly satire’.
It would hardly be surprising if it were Mrs Charlotte Shaw who had commissioned the work. The artist, Caroline Townshend, was not only a fellow Fabian but her own first cousin. Charlotte’s father, Horace Payne-Townshend, was half-brother to Caroline’s father, Chambrey Corker Townshend. Horace, as the first born, had inherited the greater part of the Townshend estate – allowing his daughters to be brought up in considerable comfort – while the family of Chambrey Townshend were very much less financially secure.
Both these fathers seem to have been rather ineffectual characters, married to very much more assertive wives. However, while Horace’s wife, Charlotte’s mother, was a frivolous termagant, Caroline’s mother, Emily Townshend, was much- admired, intellectually curious, and socially conscious. As Emily Gibson she had been one of the Girton Pioneers – one of the five first students at the college at Hitchen that later became Girton. One of her fellow Pioneers was Isabella Townshend, whose brother, Chambrey, Emily married in 1873. She had left Hitchin the year before without completing her degree course.
My researches (see here) indicate that Isabella Townshend had left Hitchen at the same time and then set up as an interior decorator with a Mrs Hartley Brown (whom I’ve so far been unable to identify). Emily Faithfull, when discussing new trade opportunities that were opening for women, mentioned in Three Visits to America (1884) that ‘Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend, soon after entering into partnership, were appropriately employed in decorating Merton College, and devised with much success some new stuffs for the chairs and sofas for the use of Cambridge girl graduates.’ (‘Merton College’ was an early manifestation of what became Newnham.)
Another of Chambrey Townshend’s sisters, Anne, was involved from 1888, when she was its first secretary, until 1910 with the Ladies’ Residential Chambers Company (the founders of which included Agnes Garrett and Millicent Fawcett – for more on the LRC see here). She had trained as a nurse, been a matron at the Hospital for Hip Disease in Childhood before by 1882 moving into philanthropic administration as secretary of the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants (MABYs).
These interesting women were cousins to Charlotte Payne-Townshend, the future Mrs GBS, although there is nothing about them in her biography by Janet Dunbar or, as far as I can discover, in any of the many biographies of Bernard Shaw. Charlotte fervently lamented the sterility of her early life and one wonders if she knew anything of the enterprises undertaken by her cousins. If she had, one imagines she would have rather envied them.
In the 1870s Isabella and Chambrey Townshend moved in artistic socialist circles, as close friends of Walter and Lucy Crane. Chambrey was an architect of whom his wife later wrote ‘Chambrey Townshend had little push and no business ability to back up his remarkable artistic abilities.’ He worked as an assistant for George Edmund Street but never set up his own practice. Emily eventually decided that the family could live cheaper abroad and this they did – in France and Switzerland – from 1886 until 1893.
Caroline was born in 1878, the fourth of Emily and Chambrey’s five children. After the family’s return from Europe she was for a time a pupil at Wycombe Abbey School before, by 1901, becoming a pupil to the leading stained-glass artist, Christopher Whall.
Caroline Townshend (courtesy of LSE Archives)
Charlotte Shaw was twenty years older than Caroline Townshend and had been brought up in very much more financially secure circumstances – yet she, Caroline, and Emily came to share the same social and political philosophy. Whether or not there had been earlier contact it is certain that in the early years of the 20th century their paths most certainly did cross – all being early members of the Fabian Society. Even so, the names of Emily and Caroline Townshend do not occur in Shaw’s published letters, although the LSE archives holds a few photographs showing Caroline’s sister, Rachel, on holiday in Wales with Charlotte Shaw (see, for instance, here).
So, if the Shaws were thinking of commissioning a stained glass panel, they knew they had an artist in the family who could accomplish it. Or, could it have been the other way round? Perhaps having a stained-glass artist in the family was too good an opportunity to miss. Perhaps Charlotte Shaw thought she must put her cousin’s talent to use. Did she discuss with GBS how this might be achieved? And did he then sketch out that political allegory? There are so many mysteries surrounding the panel. What was the purpose behind the commission? Where had they intended to place it? In their London apartment at 10 Adelphi Terrace –or at their country home Ayot St Lawrence – or in the Fabian Office? Whatever the intention, the panel was still in Caroline Townshend’s possession at the time of her death in 1944. It seems very odd that it should have been discussed in the press in 1911 – and yet wasn’t claimed by one or other of the Shaws. Was Caroline paid for it?
Caroline also retained the original design for the panel – the cartoon – which in 1954 was given by Joan Howson, her artistic and life partner (they traded as Townshend and Howson) to Wimbledon’s William Morris House in memory of Emily and Caroline Townshend. Emily Townshend had lived in Wimbledon and, with Caroline, was a shareholder in Wimbledon Labour Halls Co-operative Society Limited – also known as William Morris House.
Information on the William Morris House website (see here) states that the Fabian Society panel was made at the William Morris Works at Merton. I think this is probably mistaken. Emily and Caroline Townshend had in 1931 given WMH two Burne-Jones windows. These had been given by Burne-Jones to Chambrey Townshend and would have been made at the William Morris Works, but Caroline Townshend’s panel was almost certainly made at the Glass House, Lettice Street, Fulham, where she had a studio from c 1910 until the 1920s.
The Glass House had been set up in 1906 by a stained glass craftswoman, Mary Lowndes, to provide facilities for other stained glass artists and had proved most successful in attracting young women to the craft. Mary Lowndes was one of the founders of the Artists’ Suffrage League but I’ve found no clear evidence that Caroline Townshend was a member. The ASL records (held in the Women’s Library@LSE) are scanty but, as Mary Lowndes’ involvement with preparations for suffrage events was at times overwhelming, Caroline Townshend must have been only too well aware of all that activity and it would seem likely that, even if she were not a formal member, she would have lent a hand on occasion. Anyway, if she wasn’t an active suffrage supporter, her mother and sister certainly were. In 1907, Emily Townshend, then aged 57, spent two weeks in Holloway after being involved in a suffragette protest and in 1909 was followed by Rachel, who spent two months in prison. Caroline was living at home during this time and could not but help be swept up in the drama. So, by the time Caroline Townshend received the Fabian commission in 1910, she was surrounded by suffrage talk and activity at home and at work.
Of the kneeling female figures that on the far right is Caroline Townshend and two of the other figures demonstrate a strong connection between Fabianism and suffrage. The figure third from the right is Mary Hankinson, who was a very active suffragette – and from 1905 until 1948 a member of the Fabian Society. A teacher of physical education, she was hired in 1907 to give instruction in Swedish drill and country dancing at the first Fabian Summer School – funded by Charlotte Shaw – and from then until 1938 she was general manager of all Fabian summer schools. She was also a member of the Women’s Freedom League, one of the militant suffrage societies, and was president of the Gymnastic Teachers’ Suffrage Society. Her brother was Unitarian chaplain to Holloway prison and was used by Christabel Pankhurst as a conduit of information to and from suffragette prisoners. The suffrage collection he amassed includes a copy of Saint Joan presented to Mary Hankinson by Shaw, who wrote in it a very Shavian inscription ‘To Mary Hankinson, the only woman I know who does not believe she was a model for Joan, but also the only woman who actually was.’
On the stained glass panel between Mary Hankinson and Charlotte Townshend is the figure of Mabel Atkinson, who was a postgraduate student at LSE, a member of the executive committee of the Fabian Society from 1909 until 1915 and chairman of the Suffrage Section of the Fabian Women’s Group when it was formed in 1911. She was involved with Mary Hankinson in the development of the Summer School and was also a donor to and speaker for the WSPU.
In passing it’s worth noting a little remarked fact – that Charlotte Shaw was one of the WSPU’s most generous benefactors: for instance in March 1908 she gave them £100 and on 21 June took part in a spectacular WSPU procession – walking with the Fabians under the Society’s banner, which was carried by Maud Pember Reeves. Shaw watched from the pavement as she passed.
You can read more here about the iconography of the Fabian stained glass panel and of its rather idiosyncratic history between 1944 and 2006, when it finally came to rest in the care of LSE. There it has most appropriately been installed in the Shaw Library, a room that commemorates not GBS, but Charlotte Shaw, who was a most generous benefactor to the LSE.
Charlotte Shaw was a very interesting woman – who evaded the limelight. At the Shaw/Wells/LSE conference we were treated to an excerpt from ‘Mrs Shaw Herself’ – a one-woman show – with musical accompaniment- about her. I thoroughly enjoyed this and thought I must let you all know that there will be a full perfomance next Saturday (30 Sept 2017) in St Lawrence Church in Ayot St Lawrence, the village where she and GBS made their home.
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A curious incident that occurred – or, rather, didn’t occur – a couple of days ago reminded me of a past link I effected between Persephone Books and English women writing about Italy. For, many years ago, I gave a talk on this subject at a symposium organised by Persephone at Newnham College. I have in the past posted a few articles on my website amplifying some of the material covered – but here below is the fons et origo.
Drawing room at Casa Guidi, courtesy of The Landmark Trust
We have to imagine the subject of one of Persephone’s latest books [Flush] curled up on the sofa alongside his mistress in the drawing room at Casa Guidi in Florence. It’s early evening and the long shutters have been opened, letting dusky light into the somewhat cavernous drawing room. Flush is startled by a sudden movement as his mistress puts aside her book, raises herself from a reclining position and takes a few steps over to the open window. They both venture out onto the narrow balcony, facing the imposing wall of the church, opposite across the narrow road. While Flush is involved with Flush business, Elizabeth cranes over the railing, to catch a glimpse of a young boy as he passes, singing, along the street below. It is the essence of his song that I have lifted to name this talk. This is how Elizabeth Barrett Browning put into words her experience that evening:
‘I heard last night a little child go singing
‘Neath Casa Guidi windows, by the church,
O bella libertà, O bella – stringing
The same words still on notes he went in search
So high for, you concluded the upspringing
Of such a nimble bird to sky from perch
Must leave the whole bush in a tremble green,
And that the heart of Italy must beat,
While such a voice had leave to rise serene
‘Twixt church and palace of a Florence street’
Thus in Under Casa Guidi Windows, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of England’s most famous exports to Italy, extolled ‘La Bella Libertà’, the freedom that was Italy’s due. However it takes only a cursory reading to realise that ‘sweet freedom’ was what above all Italy gave to the many English women writers who have, over the last two centuries, flocked there.
As we can recognize, ‘freedom’ is not synonymous with ‘bliss’, but in Italy English women have felt free to fail as well as succeed – to be unhappy as well as happy – at least to be unhappy in their own way. They have felt able in that country, far from home, the Alps a psychological as well as a physical barrier, to construct a life for themselves, untramelled by the conventions that controlled society in England. One would think that nowadays such escape would no longer seem necessary. But nobody can fail to have noticed the recent spate of books by women – not only British women, but also Americans and Australians – describing new lives forged in Italy. These are merely the latest in a line of such love affairs with Italy that stretches way back into at least the 18th century. Indeed, Italian-American women (that is women whose parents or grandparents left the mother country – usually the poor south – for the US) have produced so many works recounting their return that a school of literary criticism is being developed to discuss the phenomenon. And guess what these writers call themselves? – yes, Persephone’s daughters. Persephone, whom the myth relates was snatched from the fields of Enna in Sicily, has become a particularly appropriate symbol for such women who travel in order to reconnect with their ancestral heritage and discover a new identity. Because of patterns of emigration English women are far less likely to have this experience of searching for Italian roots. Rather, individually, they set forth for Italy to root themselves. I know – my own daughter has done so.
What follows is a series of vignettes of the lives of English women writers shaped by Italy. Apart from marvelling at the bella libertà these women, in a myriad of ways, found, I have no particular thesis but have allowed myself – and I hope – you -the pleasure of glimpsing a diverting eclectic range of women and of experiences in Italy.
There are two early books by women that piqued my interest. The first, Travels in Italy between the years 1792 and 1798, (published in 1802) is by Mariana Starke, who when she began her Italian travels was 30 years old. Travels in Italy evolved into the first modern guide to the country or, indeed, at least in English, to anywhere. For those who had previously undertaken and written of the Grand Tour had not burdened themselves of the precise – or, doubtless, even a vague – knowledge of the price to be paid for washing petticoats in Pisa, buying wax candles in Venice, asses milk in Tuscany, or hiring carriages in Florence. It took a woman, and a woman conscious of value for money, to gather and set out all these – and a thousand more fascinating details – of life as a traveller. She gives a very lengthy list of the equipment it is necessary to take – from a chamber pot that could be fitted into the well of a coach to a nutmeg grater – and goes into considerable detail about how to get across the Alps – this at a time before Napoleon for his own purposes had constructed a manageable road. She describes what type of coach was suitable and how it had to be taken apart, laden onto mules and its passengers then carried in sedan chairs over the mountain pass by porters. The book covers all the major towns of Italy, giving details of the best lodging houses, restaurants, doctors, dentists, provision merchants, dress makers and tailors, and details of all the principal sights.
Mariana Starke introduced an innovation into travel writing, annotating particular buildings and paintings with exclamation marks to indicate merit – five, I think, for the best. She wanted the visitor, if pressed for time, to select only the best – and set out a daily itinerary in order to ‘prevent Travellers from wasting their time and burdening their memory by a minute survey of what is not particularly interesting, and thereby, perhaps, depriving themselves of leisure to examine what really deserves the closest attention.’ Doesn’t that sound the advice of one who knew what it was to have been dragged around one gallery too many?
In the late 1820s Mariana Starke was taken up by John Murray and wrote for him a guide to the whole Continent – her exclamation mark system being now exchanged for a system of stars. So when you next consult your Egon Ronay or Good Food Guide, it is Mariana Starke you have to thank for inventing the tools of discrimination. [For more on Mariana Starke see here].
My second book is a novel – Anne Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, published in 1794, at a time when Mariana Starke was well into her travels, and which captivated the British reading public – particularly its female portion – painting Italy as picturesquely gothic. The irony is that this romantic view of Italy was shaped by a woman whose continental travels never extended further than Holland and Germany, and then only after the success of her Italian novels. Her landscape descriptions were drawn from travel literature and from the work of mid-17th century Rome-based painters such as Claude Lorraine, Poussin and Salvator Rosa. Her descriptions in turn had an overwhelming influence on the way that Italy was seen by later travellers. Northanger Abbey, published in 1817, is, of course, a delicious parody of her subject matter and style.
Whereas Mariana Starke, having detailed the nitty gritty of passing across the Alps, gives us no description of the scenery, Mrs Radcliffe in Udolpho more than makes up for this. ‘The snow was not yet melted on the summit of Mount Cenis, over which the travellers passed; but Emily [our heroine], as she looked upon its clear lake and extended plain, surrounded by broken cliffs, saw, in imagination, the verdant beauty it would exhibit’ – .’ who may describe her rapture, when, having passed through a sea of vapour, she caught a first view of Italy; when from the ridge of one of those tremendous precipices that hang upon Mount Cenis and guard the entrance of that enchanting country, she looked down through the lower clouds, and, as they floated away, saw the grassy vales of Piedmont at her feet.’ This is Arcadia.’
Whereas Mariana Starke said of Venice only that ‘from its singularity alone [it] highly merits notice’ and that ‘it is less strikingly magnificent than many other cities of Italy‘, in Udolpho ‘nothing could exceed Emily’s admiration on her first view of Venice, with its islets, palaces, and towers rising out of the sea, whose clear surface reflected the tremulous picture in all its colours…the sounds seemed to grow on the air; for so smoothly did the barge glide along, that its motion was not perceivable, and the fairy city appeared approaching to welcome the strangers.’ It was Mrs Radcliffe’s view of Italy as arcadia and fairyland, albeit with a gothic tinge, that inspired the dreams of so many English women travellers in the early 19th century – and it is those who wrote who have immortalized their dreams. However, if these women held Mrs Radcliffe in one metaphorical hand, they held Mariana Starke’s guide book in the other. It was her details, perhaps prosaic then, but utterly fascinating now, that gave a reality to the dream – women could work out how, and how to afford to, to travel to arcadia.
All these features –an appreciation of the gothic and the arcadian and fairyland nature of Italy– resonated through the work and lives of the English women I shall discuss.
Lady Elizabeth Foster
My first vignette is of a woman whose early Italian travels, undertaken in the last quarter of the 18th century, are the stuff of the gothic novel and whose later, 19th-century life, was devoted to uncovering the arcadia of classical Italy. Her whole life is something of a fairy tale. While not a published writer, Lady Elizabeth Foster commended her daily experience to 128 volumes of journals, excerpts of which have been used in recreating both her life and that of her dearest friend, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. A biography of Georgiana has in recent years received almost as much media hype as did the works of Mrs Radcliffe at the end of the 18th century, so some of you may well know something about her life. However, its dramas and excesses pale into insignificance beside those of her ‘Dearest Bess’. Lady Elizabeth’s ‘sweet freedom’ lay in being her loveable, incalcitrant, self-indulgent self and Italy allowed her to be so. She married young but after five years separated from her husband who consequently forbade her to see their two sons, whom she didn’t meet again for a further fourteen years – but who still remained devoted. Returning to England from the marital home in Ireland, she cast her spell on the Devonshire House circle. In fact the circle became a triangle when Lady Elizabeth, while remaining the Duchess’s most intimate friend, in the autumn of 1784 also became the lover of the Duke. Unsurprisingly she soon became pregnant; surprisingly there was no hint of any scandal as she took herself off to Italy, from whence she had only very recently returned. By April 1785, keeping up her diary, which served as a confessional, Lady Elizabeth was in Pisa, Florence, and then Rome, where she wrote ‘Sometimes I look at myself in the glass with pity. Youth, beauty, I see I have; friends I know I have; reputation I still have; and perhaps in two months, friends, fame, life and all future peace may be destroyed and lost for ever to me. If so, my proud soul will never, never return to England –But it was not his fault. Passion has led us both awry – his heart suffers for me I know’. Entries such as this – and there are very many more – would not disgrace a gothic novel.
After a stay in Naples, at the end of June she was accompanied to Ischia by her brother, Jack Hervey, himself something of a rake, who was living a racketty life at the Naples court and, like everybody else, was quite oblivious of her condition. She had thought the island suitably remote and settled there to await the birth, but after a couple of weeks discovered that friends from Naples were coming to the island and that she would no longer be able to conceal her condition – and disgrace. She now revealed her predicament in a letter to her brother, who hastily returned to Ischia and appears to have been entirely supportive, although ‘I could not – dared not name the dear Author of my child’s existence’ Jack told her she would have to leave Ischia and, with her faithful servant, Louis, they set sail for the mainland in an open boat. ‘How calm the Sea is – it scarce is heard as it beats against the rocks, the air is perfum’d with herbs, the sky is clear, at a distance blazes Vesuvius – oh were I happy’.
They landed at Salerno and then travelled to nearby Vietri, a little town now swallowed up in greater Salerno. When, many years ago, I read the following entry from her journal – written over 200 years before that – it made an impression such that I have never forgotten it . ‘With no woman at hand, encumbered by the weight of my child, enfeebled by long ill health, fearing every person I met, and, for the first time in my life, wishing only to hide myself, I arrived at last.’ The place to which brother Jack directed her appears to have been at best a kind of baby farm, at worst a brothel – perhaps a bit of both. Her description of the ‘seraglio’, as she called it, is gothic –run by ‘The Arch-Priest of Lovers, his woman-servant, a coarse, ugly and filthy creature, the doctor (his brother) and his wife, two young girls, pretty enough but weeping all day, the nurse who was to take charge of my child; and some babies which cried from morning to night.’ One wonders quite how it was that it was her brother knew of this place. She passed as Louis’ wife, as a servant’s wife dishonoured by Jack Hervey. A few days later a daughter was born and, as so often in gothic novels, the heroine now showed resilience in a time of extremity. Thinking her attendants quite ignorant, she immediately took care of the new-born baby but then, instead of the usual lying-in period of a month or so, which she had enjoyed after the birth of her previous children, was back on the road after six days, leaving the baby behind, eventually arriving at her brother’s house at Naples. Louis later fetched the baby, Caroline, from Vietri and brought her to Naples – where she was looked after by foster parents. I always thought this a memorably Italian episode.
Georgiana died in 1806 and in 1809 Lady Elizabeth married the Duke. He died in 1811 and in 1815, after peace had returned to Europe, Elizabeth, now Dowager Duchess of Devonshire returned to Italy, living in Rome until her death in 1824, keeping a very elegant salon, packed with diplomats, painters and sculptors. During her earliest visit to Italy in 1784 she had described in her journal, with impressive diligence, the paintings and antiquities she had seen. Now, in this new stage of life, she really did become a lady of letters, commissioning de luxe editions of Virgil and of Horace. She took up antiquities, under the guidance of Cardinal Consalvi, her last love, secretary of state and spy master to Pius VII. Of her excavating, Lady Spencer, the sister-in-law of the first Duchess, wrote ‘That Witch of Endor the Duchess of Devon has been doing mischief of another kind to what she has been doing all her life by pretending to dig for the public good in the Forum’. Mrs Charlotte Ann Eaton, who had travelled to Italy with her brother and sister and published her observations in 1820 as Rome in the Nineteenth Century, commented apropos the reclamation of the Forum, ‘the English, as far as I see, are at present the most active excavators. There is the Duchess of D— at work in one corner, and the Pope, moved by a spirit of emulation, digging away in another’. Italy had certainly allowed Lady Elizabeth the freedom to develop in ways she found unconventionally satisfying.
Charlotte Eaton’s sister, Jane Waldie, also published her description of their journey, albeit with a different publisher, and her enthusiasm still leaps off the page – when ‘the dome of St Peter’s burst on our view in the midst of the Campagna. Unable any longer to restrain ourselves, we leaped out of the carriage and ran up a bank by the road-side. Never, oh, never, shall I forget the emotions with which I gazed on this prospect! That Rome itself should really be before me seemed so incredible, that my mind could scarcely take in the fact.’ She and Charlotte stayed first at the Hotel de Paris in the Via della Croce, which runs off the Piazza di Spagna in the heart of the ‘English’ quarter, but didn’t remain there long – on the second night of their stay the chimney of one of their apartments took fire and they moved to lodgings in the Corso. [For more about Charlotte Eaton see here and here.]
In fact the Hotel de Paris, or Villa di Parigi or Albergo di Parigi as they variously term it, provided shelter to a series of our English women writers over the next 20 years. [For more about the Hotel see here.] It is slightly surreal to see their shades slipping into bed, one after the other, under this one Roman roof. Amusingly all commented on the indifference of its facilities. It was at the Villa di Parigi in the summer of 1819, while the Duchess of Devonshire, the sole survivor of her menage à trois, was still digging in the Forum, that another interesting trio took up abode in Rome. Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife, Mary, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, were accompanied by Mary’s step-sister, Claire Clairmont. All three sought inspiration from Italy and freedom from censure and their past –which was already gothic both in life (Mary’s half-sister, Fanny, and Shelley’s wife, Harriet, had both recently committed suicide) – and literature – Mary Shelley had just published Frankenstein. The drama of their stay in Italy was to be remorseless.
Curran, Amelia; Claire Clairmont (1798-1879); Newstead Abbey. http://www.artuk.org/art. works/claire-clairmont-17981879-47805. Amelia Curran was a friend of Marianna Starke.
Claire Clairemont, who had devoured Mrs Radcliffe in her exhaustingly wide-ranging reading, wrote in her journal of the descent from Mont Cenis that ‘The primroses are scattered everywhere. The fruit trees covered with the richest blossoms which scented the air as we passed. A sky without one cloud – everything bright and serene – the cloudless Sky of Italy – the bright and the beautiful’. Thus she entered Arcadia. But with Shelley and Mary, and their two young children, William and Clara, she was travelling to hand over her daughter, born the previous year when she was 19, to the child’s father, Lord Byron. This was done in April 1818, at Venice, and in August she received permission from Byron to visit the child. She persuaded Shelley and Mary to accompany her, although Mary was very reluctant because baby Clara was unwell, To Mary’s great grief, as soon as they arrived in Venice, Clara died. ‘Sweet freedom’ was not without its dangers – the story of English women in Italy is littered with lost or dead babies. The mother with a secret and – often related – the orphan – are recurring themes in gothic novels.
The Shelley party later travelled to Rome and the Villa di Parigi. Claire appears, like all good travellers, to have been planning a book about Rome. Mary, who in the 1840s did publish a book on her later Italian travels, also at this time recorded her impressions of the city, ‘The other night we visited the Pantheon by moon light and saw the lovely sight of the moon appearing through the round aperture above and Lighting the columns of the Rotunda with its rays…’ But there was little time for sight seeing – tragedy had not done with them. On 7 June, despite having moved from the Villa di Parigi to an apartment at the top of the Spanish Steps, where the air was thought to be less malarial, the Shelleys’ two-year old son, William, died of Roman fever and was subsequently buried in the Protestant cemetery. He is a doubly lost English baby because when, all too soon, his grave was unearthed in order to bury him near his father, the grave marked as his was found to contain not a baby but the remains of an adult. The year after William’s death Mary wrote a verse drama for children, heartrending when one knows what she had recently suffered. It is, what else, but Proserpine’ – filled with Ceres’ anguished search – ‘Where is my daughter? Have I aught to dread? Where does she stray..I fear my child is lost’. Two years later Claire’s daughter, Allegra, died, a five- year old banished by her father to a convent, bereft of her mother’s care – and a couple of months after that Shelley was drowned off the Ligurian coast.
Anna Murphy – later jameson
Mary remained in Italy until 1823 but was back in England when, in 1826, she proposed writing a review article based on a handful of books that had recently been published by English writers about Italy. One of the books she reviewed was The Diary of an Ennuyée, published anonymously and purporting to be the diary of a young governess, travelling in Italy with her charge, but broken-hearted, having left a shattered romance behind in England. Indeed so broken-hearted was she that at the end she goes to her grave. However, although there was much that was true in the book, its author, then Anna Murphy, but who, soon after her return to England, became Mrs Anna Jameson, had not in fact died, but was at the very beginning of a long and distinguished writing career, in which Italy played a central part. Indeed the Diary of an Ennuyée, in the intervals between anguished breast-beatings, serves as a very detailed guidebook to Italy, particularly Rome. A guidebook, admittedly, that veers more towards Mrs Radcliffe than Mariana Starke. It contains little in the way of practical details, such as routes and prices, but her descriptions do have the merit of being based on personal observation.
Anna Murphy’s first day in Rome strikes as true a note as did Jane Waldie’s description of her arrival: ‘The day arose as beautiful, as brilliant, as cloudless, as I could have desired for the first day in Rome. About seven o’clock, and before any one was ready for breakfast, I walked out; and directed my steps by mere chance to the left, found myself in the Piazza di Spagna and opposite to a gigantic flight of marble stairs leading to the top of a hill. I was at the summit in a moment; and breathless and agitated by a thousand feelings, I leaned against the obelisk, and looked over the whole city.’ She was here standing a few yards away from where young William Shelley had died barely five years previously. And, yes, her party was staying at the Albergo di Parigi.
Elizabeth Barratt Browning
Having spent an adventurous 20 or so years – she travelled extensively around north America and Canada, having ditched her alcoholic husband, and earning a living through her writing – Anna Jameson returned to Italy in 1846 under rather romantic circumstances. It was she who conducted Mr and Mrs Browning from Paris to Pisa. She was as surprised as the rest of the world at the Browning marriage. When she was contacted in Paris she had only a few days previously bade farewell to her friend Elizabeth Barrett in Wimpole Street, having no inkling of the planned elopement. Anna was on her way to Italy to research a new book, Sacred and Legendary Art, and was delighted to act as courier for the impractical pair. From Paris she wrote to her sister ‘I have also here a poet and a poetess – two celebrities who have run away and married under circumstances peculiarly interesting, and such as render imprudence the height of prudence. Both excellent; but God help them! for I know not how the two poet heads and poet hearts will get on through this prosaic world.’. She later commented that the elopement ‘was as delightful as unexpected, and gave an excitement to our journey which was already like a journey into the old world of enchantment – a revival of fairyland.’
Italy indeed had a magical effect on Elizabeth Browning. While on the journey Mrs Jameson wrote to her sister from Avignon ‘Our poor invalid has suffered greatly, often fainting and often so tired that we have been obliged to remain a whole day to rest at some wretched place..’ But as Flush noted (courtesy of Virginia Woolf), after their arrival in Pisa ‘she was a different person altogether. Now, for instance, instead of sipping a thimbleful of port and complaining of the headache, she tossed off a tumbler of Chianti and slept the sounder..Then instead of driving in a barouche landau to Regent’s Park she pulled on her thick boots and scrambled over rocks. Instead of sitting in a carriage and rumbling along Oxford street, they rattled off in a ramshackle fly to the borders of a lake and looked at mountains…Here in Italy was freedom and life and the joy that the sun breeds.’ Indeed, breeding began as soon as she reached Pisa, although she miscarried five months later. Rather than lamenting this loss, she was very proud of having been pregnant at all. After a recuperating stay in Pisa, a city that had for many years been host to an interesting, rather Bohemian English set, all escaping one thing or another, the Brownings travelled on to Florence in the summer of 1847, eventually moving into an apartment in Casa Guidi.
It was here in Florence, having never previously been particularly interested in national politics – although she had long been concerned with social reform – that Elizabeth took up the cause of Italian freedom. On a more prosaic level for the first time she was able to experience other aspects of her freedom – she furnished her first home and in 1849, following a second miscarriage – and when she was 43 years old – she gave birth to a son.
This is the view I remember from the Casa Guidi balcony. I no longer have a photo of my own so this is taken from mildaysboudoir blogspot – with thanks.
Two years later, in 1851, she published Under Casa Guidi Windows, in which she charts her initial optimism that the newly awakened liberal movements would result in the freedom and unification of the Italian states and, then, her disillusionment when the movement was crushed. Biographers have suggested that she equated the oppression of the Italian people (most of Italy was then under Austrian rule) with that of her father against her. Whether or not there is any truth in this analogy – it has a rather depressingly contrived feel – there were other English women – some of whom had certainly grown up happily in the bosom of supportive families – who were also intensely interested in the cause of Italian freedom.
Jessie White Mario
One such was Jessie White, born in Gosport in Hampshire where her father had a ship building firm, and who i 1854, when she was 22, met Garibaldi in London. She was no conventional young lady, having already studied for a time in Paris and was at this time writing for Eliza Cook’s Journal, a London-based feminist publication. Garibaldi fired her with enthusiasm and she travelled to Italy, where she met Mazzini and became a disciple.
Mazzini appears to have had this effect on women –at least on English women. Another of his devotees was Emilia Ashurst, known at this stage of her life as Mrs Sidney Hawkes, a member of a London family all of whom involved themselves in the radical causes of the day. When Jessie White returned to England in 1855, she met Emilie, who had already had many Italian adventures. Besides acting as his secret agent Emilie wrote a memoir of Mazzini and translated his works into English. She was also an artist and a copy of her portrait of Mazzini, enigmatically labelled as by ‘E. Hawkes’, is on display in the Museo di Risorgimento, housed inside the Victor Emmanuel monument in Rome. It struck me when I saw it that, as visitors drifted past it year after year, there could hardly be among them anybody who would realize that behind this painting lay an Englishwoman’s deep commitment to Italy. Emilie separated from Hawkes and later married Carlo Venturi, a Venetian patriot, who proved an altogether more satisfying husband.
Jessie White, too, wished to give practical aid to Italy. She thought she would train as a doctor in England, but, as a woman, she was refused admittance to medical school, and she settled on offering herself as a nurse to the Italians and also, as had Emilie Venturi, concentrated on translating Italian works of propaganda and writing articles for the English press. In 1857 she took part in an uprising led by Mazzini and was arrested and imprisoned. In prison she met Alberto Mario, like Venturi a handsome Venetian, whom, on their release, she married. In the early 1860s, with her husband, she followed Garibaldi and his men, nursing the sick – for most of the time the only woman attached to the campaign. From 1866 until her death in 1906 Jessie White Mario, as Italian correspondent of the Nation, analysed Italy for American and English readers. She travelled all round Italy in search of material for articles and is now esteemed in Italy as one of the first of its investigative reporters, writing about economic developments and social conditions – especially in the south –her writing forceful in detail, vivid and vigorous. When she died in 1906 one paper connected two Anglo-Italian patriots, specifically remarking that her funeral procession in Florence, ‘passed the Casa Guidi, which was decorated in honour of the centenary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’.
Charlotte Cushman (sitting) with Matilda Hays (courtesy of Harvard Theatre Collection)
Amongst the artefacts now displayed in Casa Guidi is a cast of the clasped hands of Robert and Elizabeth Browning. The sculptor of this incarnation of romance was a young American woman, Harriet Hosmer. Harriet had lived and worked in Rome since 1852, part of a group of ‘jolly female bachelors’ that clustered around the overpowering personality of the American actress, Charlotte Cushman. After meeting Charlotte with her companion, Matilda Hays, Elizabeth Barrett Browning had written to her sisters ‘I understand that she and Miss Hays have made vows of celibacy and of eternal attachment to each other – they live together, dress alike …it is a female marriage’. A photograph of the two women certainly shows them dressed alike, skirts topped by tailored shirts and jackets. Matilda, who preferred to be known as ‘Max’, is lean and saturnine. She was a novelist, who in 1847 had, with Emilie Venturi’s elder sister, Eliza Ashurst, embarked on the daring project of translating the works of George Sand. When she and Charlotte arrived in Rome they were looking for freedom from the social constraints imposed in America and England. Charlotte wrote that in Rome ‘the Mrs Grundies [are] so scarce, [and] the artist society ..so nice, that it is hard to choose or find any other place so attractive’. They spent most of the next five years or so in Rome – during the winter and spring of 1856 to 1857 Anna Jameson was part of their circle. But the Hays/Cushman female marriage was volatile and in 1857 came to a violent end – swearing certainly and, fisticuffs, possibly, were involved – and Matilda was forced to leave Rome.
Nine years later she published a novel, Adrienne Hope, in which she painted a very lifelike picture of Roman life as experienced by the expatriate English. Her main protagonists live in what was clearly the apartment in the via Gregoriana, along from the top of the Spanish Steps, in which she had lived with Charlotte: ‘a suite of rooms on the fourth piano, beneath the windows of which Rome lay extended like a panorama… There lies the Queen City of the World, with its quaint, irregular, grey roofs, its 364 churches, its noble pagan temples and imperial palaces, noble in their ruin and decay, basking through the day in the undimmed lustre of an Italian sun, to be glorified by its setting rays of gold, and crimson, and purple, the depth and richness of whose hues none who have not seen can by any means imagine, and none who have seen can ever forget.’ [For more about Matilda Hays and Adrienne Hope see here.]
Ouida photographed by George Gardner Rockwood
Although Rome was at this time the centre for artistic training there was from the mid-19th century a revived interest in medieval Italy as inspiration for both art and literature. Tuscany in general and Florence in particular was the mecca for English devotees. One such arrival was Louise de la Ramée, who wrote under the pen name Ouida. She had already had considerable success and had made a considerable amount of money from her sensational novels. Having found her life in Bury St Edmunds insufficiently exciting she left England for Florence, where she quickly fell in love with a neighbour, the Marchese della Stuffa, for whom she felt all the passion that she had previously only been able to allow to her heroines. However, what she didn’t for a long time realise was that the Marchese was already spoken for – he had for several years been the ‘cavalier servante’ of Mrs Janet Ross – queen bee of the English circle in Florence. As her biographer put it. ‘Soon there was open enmity between Ouida and Mrs Ross, each fiercely resenting what she considered the other’s preposterous tendency to behave as if della Stufa were her property. Both were women of strong character, Mrs Ross the more domineering, Ouida the more impassioned’.
Ouida took up what she considered was her best weapon – her pen -and wrote a roman a clef based on this intriguing triangle – entitling it with the mot just – ‘Friendship’. When one knows something of the background, it makes a very good read. She describes Mrs Ross in the character of Lady Joan as ‘ a faggot of contradictions; extraordinarily ignorant, but naturally intelligent; audacious yet timid; a bully, but a coward; full of hot passions, but with cold fits of prudence.. She had a bright, firm, imposing way of declaring her opinions infallible that went far towards making others believe them so .’ Her own character was quite the reverse – all modesty and balm, ‘She gave him a yellow rose from a cluster that she had been placing in water as he had entered; there was tea standing near her on a little Japanese stand; she poured him out a cup, and brought it to him by the hearth; he followed all her movements with a sense of content and peace. As she tendered him the little cup, his fingers caressed hers, and as he drew the cup away, his lips lingered on her wrist. She coloured and left him.’
Her friends begged her not to publish it – the Ross side threatened a libel suit. Eight years later a reviewer wrote: ‘Italy was destined to do more for Ouida, as an artist, in a larger sense of the word, than to satisfy her ideal of the beautiful in landscape. An experience was reserved for her there, or more probably, a series of experiences, which vastly enlarged her knowledge of living men and women’.
Janet Ross was a member of a family of strong-minded women. In 1888 she and her husband bought a castle near Settignagno. In her memoirs she recounts her investigation of its history and its reclamation, describing for instance ‘having hateful French wallpaper scraped off the walls and having them washed a light grey stone colour – to the dismay of the workmen’ – so like all the villas in Tuscany idylls, where the jarring contemporary is erased in order to reclaim the peace of the past. Forging the path that so many later have followed she wrote a cookery book, Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen. Those intimate with the Ross household later made clear that, of course Mrs Ross never needed to concern herself with the workings of the kitchen – and her cook, who prided himself on being able to produce more than the cookery of the region, had provided her with recipes that were, as a result, by no means authentically Tuscan. The commission for the book had, in the first instance, come from J.M. Dent to Janet Ross’s young niece, Lina, who, however, thought a cookery book dull work and preferred another commission, The Story Of Assissi. For the same ‘Medieval Towns’ series Janet Ross wrote The Story of Pisa and Lina’s friend, Margaret Symonds, The Story of Perugia.
Lina Duff Gordon (later Waterfield) painted by G.F. Watts
Lina married an artist, Aubrey Waterfield, and in 1905 they bought their own castle, Fortezza della Brunella, near Carrara. Three years later Lina wrote Home Life in Italy, describing, in her turn, how they had made their castle habitable, and writing about their servants and local customs. The castle sounds magical: ‘As the evening draws in, wisps of clouds become suffused with a lustre of rose-purple and gold, to fade with the light to the colour of a Florentine iris. How often have I not returned home dazed by it all, and reached the drawbridge just as the birds were settling to rest with a great flutter and commotion among the ilexes in the moat..’ In 1917 she was one of the founders of the British Institute at Florence, which has subsequently served as an easy escape route into Italy for England’s well-heeled youth. From 1921 until 1939 Lina Waterfield was Italian correspondent for the Observer, speaking out firmly against Mussolini. That life at Fortezza della Brunella was for a child the embodiment of arcadia is set out in the memoir, A Tuscan Childhood, written by Lina’s daughter, Kinta Beevor, and published in the 1980s. Thus three English women of one family have between them recorded 100 years of Tuscan life.
At the same time as the Waterfields were restoring their castle, another English woman, Georgina Graham was living near Carrara, enjoying life in Italy and writing of it In a Tuscan Garden. Rather than a horticultural treatise this was in essence a guide for those wishing to move to Italy. ‘The ideal condition of residence is to have the home in England, and to be able to leave it for the winter or spring months… But when that ideal is beyond attainment, and when one has to choose a place of exile, Italy appears to me, taking it all round, to afford greater compensations than any other country..Before settling in Tuscany, I had heard the remark that English society in Florence was for the most part so unpleasant, that every one did his best to keep out of it, and that if you wished to make a mortal enemy, you had only to offer to introduce one person to another.’. Doubtless the standoff between Mrs Ross and Ouida had many lesser emulators.
Mrs Graham continues, evoking the Florence of A Room with a View: ‘Nowadays Florence may be said to be one vast pension, it was totally different when I first knew it in the sixties; such places hardly existed then, and if they had, the class of English visitors of that day would not have gone into them. Many of them were badly off –; but it would not have occurred to them to herd with other people.’ Describing how easy it is to rent rooms for the long term, she comments: ‘It is astonishing how many Englishwomen of small means there are living here in respectability, and comfort in their own small etage, who, if in London, would be in comfortless suburban lodgings, in two rooms in one of those “ladies’ flats” to which all sorts of drawbacks and restrictions are attached. In Florence everything lends itself to their independence.’ Georgina Graham relates that she was seized with ‘Italy Fever’ back in the 1860s but that as time has passed ‘a long residence in Italy gives an intimate knowledge of her people, her standards, and her morale generally, under the influence of which the poetry becomes less prominent, and what may be called the seamy side is apt to be painfully to the front. But in spite of all, to those who have once yielded to its charm, it ever remains the enchanted land.’
Plaque at Via Foscola, 32, in Florence
This ‘Italy Fever’ had doubtless seized many of the women who were not so fortunate as Mrs Graham in finding themselves enjoying a large Tuscan villa and garden but, as she describes, happily occupied a room or two in Florence, with or without a view. I have been struck by the number of books that were published about Tuscany by women writers at the turn of the 20th century, including a couple by a woman of whom I had never before heard. One was Scenes and Shrines, written by Dorothy Nevile Lees, who had been born in Wolverhampton to a reasonably prosperous family. In 1903, aged 23, gripped by Italian fever, inspired by the poetry of Byron and Shelley, she left Wolverhampton and travelled alone to Florence. At the opening of Scenes and Shrines she recounts how ‘ I passed the great mountain gates which bar the way to Italy, the enchanted land of my childish imaginings, the Mecca of my dreams.’ In order to learn Italian as quickly as possible she chose to board with a middle-class Florentine family and plunged with a will into Italian life.
Both Scenes and Shrines and a second book, Tuscan Feasts and Tuscan Friends, were published in the same year, 1907, and were probably the result of collecting together articles that she had already had published in the English press. Tuscan Feasts opens with a hymn to her new land ‘ O Italy, my land of Heart’s Desire/No Paradise could be more fair than thou’, and the finding of her dream villa. ‘The Villa strictly speaking, was not beautiful; its time-stained plastered walls, its lofty height, its heavily-barred windows were a little gaunt and forbidding; and yet, as I stepped down from the carriage, I felt instinctively that I had found the place of dreams and peace’. If Dorothy Nevile Lees had been of our time she would have been a participant in ‘A Place in the Sun’ – making a television programme about her new Tuscan life.
I then discovered that in 1907 Dorothy Nevile Lees met Edward Gordon Craig, theatrical director, stage designer, son of Ellen Terry, married man and father, and, clearly, a great charmer, and that from 1908 until it folded in 1929 she was the editorial mainstay of his theatrical magazine, The Mask. She lived all this time in Florence – while Craig travelled the world – he went through a couple of marriages, and several affairs – including one with Isadora Duncan (by whom he had two children). In 1917 Dorothy herself had a son, David, by him, the existence of whom Craig was very keen to keep quiet – so quiet indeed that his entry in the new ODNB makes no mention whatsoever of Dorothy Nevile Lees or her son (although conceding that Craig had many children). It is clear Craig did what he could to ensure that David Lees, who in fact became an internationally-renowned photographer, would become another of England’s children lost in Italy. In 1935 Dorothy heard that Craig had denied that he was David’s father. When she commented on this, by way of reply he counselled her ‘not to blab’.
Dorothy Nevile Lees, clearly a woman of independent spirit, remained in Florence during the Second World War, shielding Craig’s archive from the Nazis, despite an office raid, and eventually giving the British Institute in Florence a collection of his theatrical material. One cannot know what she had really expected when she arrived as she had put it, in ‘the Mecca of my dreams’, but she had certainly carved out for herself an interesting life, one unlikely to have been her fate in Wolverhampton. [For more about Dorothy Lees see here.]
Life in a Tuscan villa in the years before the Second World War and then in wartime Florence falls to the lot of Fenny, the creation of Lettice Cooper, whose eponymous novel, Fenny, was published in 1953. I don’t know enough of Lettice Cooper to know what part Italy played in her life, but the loving description of her heroine’s enjoyment of her surroundings at least suggest that the author relished her research. Fenny is not the chatelaine of the villa – that character is a spoilt and wilful Englishwoman – but Ellen Fenwick, who until shortly before the opening of the novel, which begins in 1933, is a teacher in an English girls’ high school and is then invited to Tuscany as a governess. One can imagine her background as not unlike that of Dorothy Nevile Lees. When she arrived at the villa Fenny considered life within its grounds as paradise –she really does say ‘When I first arrived her I thought I’d got into a house in a fairy-tale’ – a very suitable romance follows but it is stifled by the lady of the house – Fenny later copes with the war – and ensures that her much loved pupil will not suffer as she suffered. A conventional enough plot, lovingly told against the backdrop of Italian life and landscape. The novel ends with Fenny saying to the young boy she has rescued from the disasters of war, ‘All right, Dino! We’ll go to Rome.’
And it was to Rome in the year of Fenny’s publication that the novelist Elizabeth Bowen went, sponsored by the British Council. She had made many previous visits, but her husband had recently died and she made this extended stay the occasion of specific research for her book, A Time in Rome. I love this book. I love the way she explains how she got to grips with the city –‘My object was to walk it into my head and (this time) keep it there.’ I love the way she is alone as she does this (or at least appears to be alone) – I like the idea of the solitary walker –the observer. And I love this sentence she wrote early on in the book; ‘To talk of “entering” the past is nonsense, but one can be entered by it, to a degree.’ The book’s final sentences even on re-reading are still affecting. ‘Only from the train as it moved out did I look at Rome. Backs of houses I had not ever seen before wavered into mists, stinging my eyes. My darling, my darling, my darling. Here we have no abiding city.’
Through the second half of the 20th and into the 21st century women have still relished the challenge of reshaping a life in Italy. And as in the 18th and 19th centuries, writing still offers the possibility of earning a living and a new and interesting locality provides possible material for the writing. Detective fiction, blending social observation and deduction/intuition, has proved a successful genre for women writers; an exotic locality gilds the lily. The best-known woman writer of English-language Italian detective fiction is Donna Leon, whose policeman, Guido Brunetti, is the epitome of Venetian suavity and good humour. However Donna Leon, although an intriguing woman, is an American and doesn’t qualify for discussion today.
Sarah Cockburn (‘Sarah Caudwell’)
But while thinking of women writers and detection in Venice I must mention in passing Sarah Caudwell – the pen name of Sarah Cockburn –now, alas, dead – who led a life of bella libertà. She was a charming and scatty, pipe-smoking lawyer who wrote four witty detective novels, the first, Thus Was Adonis Murdered, set in Venice. While I am sure Sarah enjoyed complete freedom at all times and didn’t need to go to Venice to find it, it was assumed by those who knew her that an opportunity to foster close acquaintance with young Venetian men made her research all the sweeter.
Magdalen Nabb, an English writer of detective fiction, has, like Donna Leon, created an Italian policeman. Her central character is Marshal Guarnaccia and she has posted him in Florence, close to the Pitti Palace. All I know of Magdalen Nabb is what is revealed on her book jackets – but in its bare outline it is the epitome of the ideal life of the English women writer in Italy. ‘She was born in Lancashire in 1947 and trained as a potter. In 1975 she abandoned pottery, sold her home and her car, and went to Florence with her son, knowing nobody and speaking no Italian’. When she wrote the first of what are now 12 books in her detective series she was living in an apartment in Casa Guidi. Indeed I first came across her novels while staying there myself, in the Brownings’ drawing room, in the Library supplied by the Landmark Trust.
Another English writer, who has written at least one thriller with an Italian setting, and who has also taken root in Florence, is Sarah Dunant. She has described in an interview how, after the break up of a relationship, she thought life needed a radical change – and so bought a flat in Florence. She holds the city responsible for her own personal renaissance and it, naturally, became the setting for The Birth of Venus, a novel that I am sure is selling very well and ensuring her a comfortable Florentine life. [The Birth of Venus was the only one of Sarah Dunant’s Italian novels published when I gave the talk – but she has written more since – see here.]
As well as being the setting for detective stories, which I could perhaps tie into my gothic theme, Italy has also provided the setting for a number of contemporary arcadian or fairyland novels. In these authors have gathered together a group of disparate characters and allowed enchantment of one kind or another to work on them. In Enchanted April, published in 1923, Elizabeth von Arnim describes in loving detail (detail so easily translated into a gentle film) how four women, previously unknown to each other, rent a castle on Italy’s Ligurian coast, overlooking the bay where Shelley drowned, and find themselves and happiness.
Amanda Craig’s Love in Idleness cleverly and amusingly reworks A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream in the setting of a houseparty in a Tuscan villa, effortlessly evoking the magic suspension of reality that overtakes her characters. ‘The heat intensified. At night the house creaked and whispered, so that they woke to confusion, climbing out of their dreams on the ladder of light cast by the shutters, excited, ashamed, frustrated. During the day each person became more and more enervated, yet also more relaxed.’
A similar atmosphere of shimmering heat and long shuttered siestas, interspersed with bursts of uncharacteristic behaviour, is what I remember of The Italian Lesson, a 1985 novel by Janice Elliott. Again a group, most previously unknown to each other, gathers for a holiday – this time in a restored castle a few miles outside Florence. William, one of the central characters, has for years been researching a monograph on E.M. Forster and Italy and the novel is intertwined with Forsterian allusions. His wife is recovering from a still birth and in the course of the novel another baby is carelessly lost to death, its fate an echo of the bronzed baby in Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, and an echo of all those others that have been lost in Italy – in both fact and fiction.
I shall end this talk in Venice, Mrs Radcliffe’s ‘fairy city’, with Julia Garnet, the creation of Salley Vickers, who will give the First Persephone Annual lecture on the 5th October, discussing Miss Garnet alongside Persephone’s Miss Pettigrew and Miss Ranskill. I am very fond of Miss Garnet, who is the epitome of all the women whom we have encountered today. One can, in fact, imagine that Julia Garnet is what Fenny would have become if she had not been transported to Tuscany in her youth. For Julia Garnet came to Venice only on her retirement from teaching and there found the angel that was to guide her to the next world. Like Elizabeth Bowen, she walks the city into her head, transformed by it – ‘Venice has changed me’ she thought. We can see that Julia Garnet, while remaining essentially herself, has changed – her emotions and understanding expanded, Venice and the people she found there, Anglo-American as well as Italians, having worked their magic. As in so many novels that centre on Venice the cast of characters includes art historians and art restorers and I will leave you with a glimpse of this –the handwritten diary of a young Englishwoman, which details a three-month stay in Venice, where she was taking an art history course [Note: this diary was an item that I had in my book dealing stock at the time]. This was in 1986 – exactly 200 years after Lady Elizabeth Forster wrote up her Italian diary. What this young woman puts on paper is equally self-regarding, sprawling and observant – it could be raw material for a novel – a romance, a romantic comedy, a detective novel, or even, perhaps, a tragedy. The writer is anonymous –– although I suppose there are sufficient clues scattered throughout that would enable her identity to be discovered. But let her remain anonymous, her experience in Italy in the mid 1980s merely a contemporary version – factor in drugs, sex and rock and roll – of the bella libertà enjoyed by all our English women writing in Italy – her refrain, like that of all the others, is: ‘I never want to go back to England.’
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In Suffrage Stories: ‘Home Art Decorator’ To The Queen – And The ‘Human Letter’ – I told the story of Charlotte Robinson, her sister, Epsey McClelland, and her niece, Elspeth McClelland. I have now been alerted to the existence of another of Charlotte’s sisters, Mrs Anne Atherton, who also worked in the art world – as the co-founder of the Society of Artists. In my rummaging around I had come across mention of this ‘Society’, which operated from premises in New Bond Street, London, but had not made the connection to Charlotte Robinson and Epsey McClelland.
Anne Elizabeth Robinson was born in Settle, Yorkshire, in 1849. Known as ‘Annie’, she was the fourth child of Henry Robinson and his wife, Elspet, two years younger than Epsey and nearly ten years older than Charlotte. I can discover nothing of her life before her marriage in 1870 to Francis Henry Atherton. The son of a solicitor, he had been born in Wiltshire in 1840 and was, therefore, about ten years her elder. I presume that until her marriage Anne had lived at home in Yorkshire, but after their marriage the couple disappear. I cannot find them on the 1871 census and have only caught up again with Annie Atherton in 1881 when she was living at 103 Warwick Road, Paddington, with her sister Epsey McClelland, her brother-in-law (John McClelland, an accountant) and a visitor, Kate Thornbury. Epsey and Anne are each described as ‘Artist (Painter)’ and Kate Thornbury is ‘Secretary’. In fact Kate Thornbury was secretary to the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage from 1877-c. April 1881.
I don’t know when the Atherton marriage broke down. From later evidence I know that Francis Atherton was a mining prospector and it may be that he and Anne were living abroad in 1871, hence their absence from the census. But at some point Annie Atherton returned to England (if she had indeed been away) and entered into a close friendship with Kate Thornbury that was to last the rest of their lives.
According to Annie Atherton’s obituary (The Suffragette, 28 November 1913), she and Kate Thornbury had founded the Society of Artists thirty-two years earlier –that is, in 1881 – perhaps around the time that Kate left her position as secretary to the suffrage society. However in 1887 (in a letter published in the Pall Mall Gazette – see below) Kate dated the formation of the Society to 1883 and it would, perhaps, be sensible to accept this as the correct date. The couple took premises for the business at a very good Mayfair address – 53 New Bond Street – and remained there – and then at no. 52 -until 1914. No. 53 is now occupied by Dolce and Gabbana – and, from the look of it, the façade of the building may well be much the same now as it was in the 1880s. In 1886 Kate Thornbury was also working as secretary to the Froebel Society from no. 53.
It is difficult to discover the exact nature of the Society of Artists. It doesn’t appear to have been a Society in the sense of having members, rather it offered premises in which artists could exhibit. All the reports of exhibitions that I can find are of work by women. Moreover the ‘work’ was usually of a ‘craft’ nature, not fine art. It would also appear that the Society of Artists operated, at some level, as a house decorating business, competing in the same field as Annie’s sisters, Charlotte Robinson and Epsey McClelland.
I sense that the relationship between the two establishments, the Society of Artists and that of Charlotte Robinson, was, for a time at least, not entirely harmonious – for the 27 December 1887 issue of the Pall Mall Gazette carries a letter from Kate Thornbury in response to ‘Ladies as Shopkeepers’, the article by Emily Faithfull that had appeared in the previous week’s issue (for more on this article see Suffrage Stories: ‘Home Art Decorator’ To The Queen – And The ‘Human Letter‘). Kate Thornbury expresses her ’great astonishment [that she found in this article] no mention whatever of Miss Robinson’s elder sister Mrs Atherton, who, as Miss Faithfull is well aware, had started a large business under her own superintendence in New Bond Street, London, under the title of the Society of Artists, for the sale of all kinds of artistic work, house decoration &, in the year 1883. Mrs Atherton it was who first braved ‘that bugbear which terrifies most women – the loss of social status’ and the great success which attended (and still attends) her venue induced Miss Robinson twelve months afterwards to open a similar business in Manchester, under the same name. In Miss Faithfull’s zeal for the prestige of the younger sister with whose success she is identified , she has shown a strange forgetfulness of Mrs Atherton’s claim as the originator of the movement which finds such merit in Miss Faithfull’s eyes.’
Armed with the information that Charlotte Robinson’s business in Manchester traded, at least initially, under the name the ‘Society of Artists’, I have now found corroboration in the form of a report (Manchester Courier, 30 March 1886) which, when referring to the fact that Charlotte Robinson was setting up a type-writing office in the city, mentions that she was ‘well known in connection with the Society of Artists’. One would have thought that there must have been some agreement with Annie Atherton and Kate Thornbury that allowed Charlotte to use their business name, but, three years or so later, the letter betrays a distinct note of rancour, aimed perhaps more at Emily Faithfull than at Annie’s younger sister.
Descriptions of the actual work exhibited by the Society of Artists are rather scant. This, from The St James’ Gazette, 7 April 1898, is one of the more forthcoming, describing how poker-work photograph frames ‘in straight bands of vivid colours – red, yellow and green – set amidst the dark poker-work..and beaten pewter and copper frames make much pleasanter Easter gifts than the usual flimsy eccentricities sold for such. The society has also the most delightful green ware to match its green furniture. It’s very pleasant to house one’s frocks, one’s candles, one’s flowers and plants all in the same harmonious tone of green.’ Well, there’s not much to choose between this artless prose and that of today’s house magazines (which, incidentally, I love, while laughing at their writing style). A report of an exhibition organised by the Society of Artists in Aberdeen in 1888 described their wares as ‘decorative novelties’, which seems a fair summary.
I have found only two clear indications that the Society of Artists was involved in house decoration. In its issue of 19 December 1904 the Derby Daily Telegraph mentioned that Elspeth McClelland was, most unusually for a young woman, studying architecture at the Polytechnic in London and that ‘she has occupied a post as a designer at a large firm of decorators, known as the Society of Artists.’ So, any rancour that may have existed between the Robinson sisters in the 1880s had long since been forgotten and in the new century the Society of Artists had welcomed Annie Atherton’s niece, Elspeth, as a member of its team.
The second reference comes nine years later when the Pall Mall Gazette (10 November 1913) reported that ‘a well-known Princess who is fitting up a “lordly pleasure-house” for herself in the neighbourhood of the Bois de Boulogne, has given the internal decoration into the hands of the Society of Artists. The society has an excellent habit of collecting ancient beams and panelling, and the Princess’s Parisian mansion is being transformed into an old English manor-house, after the fashion of Haddon House. In the Princess’s house there are to be great open fireplaces, panelled walls, and an entirely new wooden staircase is being put in.’ The next paragraph refers to the work of a woman architect, Mrs Elspeth Spencer (née McClelland), this juxtaposition making me wonder if she could have been involved with the Parisian project. Annie Atherton had just died and Kate Thornbury was 65 years old – was the younger generation now directing the work of the Society of Artists?
For years Annie and Kate had a London address, 12 Horbury Crescent, Kensington, and for a time had a country cottage at Peaslake in Surrey – the 1891 census found them living there in the quaintly named ‘Jottel [??] Hutte’. Annie Atherton is ‘head of household, Kate is ‘Friend’ and they had a young local girl as a servant. However by 1901 they had left arts-and-craftsy Peaslake for a house in Shire Lane, Chorleywood. This house was, rather charmingly, named ‘Chums’, which might speak something of how they saw their relationship. In the 1901 census Anne is given as ‘head of household’ and Kate as ‘joint owner’, while they are both described as ‘artists’. Their next-door-but- one neighbour on one side was Charles Voysey, who lived until 1906 in ‘The Orchard’, the arts-and-crafts house that he had built in 1899 for his family, while on their other side lived another architect, Charles Simmonds. At the very least Annie and Kate must have known Voysey on a social level but I wonder if their ‘decorative novelties’, while ‘craft’, would have appealed to his spare ‘Arts and Crafts’ sensibility.
In 1911 both Annie and Kate boycotted the census. The Registrar completed their form, recording their relationship as ‘sisters’ and knowing enough to describe Annie’s occupation as ‘Society of Artists’. Across the form is written ‘No Votes No Census. When women become citizens they will fulfill the duties of citizens.’
On the 1881 and 1891 censuses Annie Atherton gives her status as ‘married’ and by 1901 as ‘widowed’. However on her death in 1913 the Probate Register describes her as ‘wife of Frank Atherton’ – and that seems to have been her true status for there is no evidence that she was divorced. In fact Francis Henry Atherton appears on the 1911 census, aged 70, mining prospector, living with his ‘wife’ , Julia, and five of the seven children born to them, at Langhurst, Witley, Surrey. [Incidentally, for more about the house, which Atherton presumably leased from the publisher Edward Arnold who had built it in 1908, see here.] The children, who had all been born in Queensland, Australia, ranged in age from 19 to 10 and Atherton stated on the form that he and Julia had been married for 25 years. In fact this was an untruth twice over. Not only was he, apparently, still married to Annie Atherton, but a marriage ceremony between him and Julia had taken place at St Pauls, Covent Garden as recently as 10 September 1907. It seems inconceivable that Annie Atherton did not know that her husband and his family were living in Surrey and that, as it appears, he had committed bigamy. One can read on-line the oath he swore that there was no legal impediment to this marriage and, incidentally, that his bride, Julia Walford, was a widow. This, again, was another untruth as ‘Walford’ was her maiden name; their Australian-born children were registered with Francis Atherton as their father and Julia Walford as their mother. Perhaps it was felt that back in England propriety demanded that the liaison should appear more regular. Had he asked Annie Atherton for a divorce and been refused? I wonder if any reader of this post will know the answer.
When Annie died in 1913 the executor of her will was, naturally enough, Kate Thornbury. Kate died in 1920 (incidentally leaving £100 to the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship) having appointed Clara Garrett her executor. The latter was the wife of Samuel Garrett, brother of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Fawcett, and Agnes Garrett – and, guess what, I’ve just put two and two together and realised that Clara was Kate’s sister. Of course it’s a small world but I wonder if this overlap between the Robinson and Garrett family circles extended to an overlap in house decorating taste. Could Annie Atherton and Kate Thornbury have initially been inspired by the example set by the firm of R & A Garrett? Clara Thornbury drew her sister into the Garrett Circle when she married Samuel in 1882. Could conversations with Agnes and Rhoda have given Kate and Annie the idea of launching the Society of Artists a year later? At the very least the two couples must have had many interests in common – suffrage and applied art being the most obvious. Were Annie and Kate entertained at 2 Gower Street by Rhoda and Agnes and, later, by Agnes and Millicent? Were their decorating tastes similar? Did they visit each other’s shops? Buy each other’s wares? Who knows.
It is a pity that for a post concerned with the visual I have no illustrations to use. I know of no likenesses of Annie Atherton or Kate Thornbury, have no images of rooms they decorated, or the goods they sold. Despite the longevity of their business they seem to have left a fainter mark on history than Charlotte Robinson, who had Emily Faithful as her promoter.
I am most grateful to Thamar McIver who is researching suffragettes in Pinner (where Elspeth McClelland lived) and first brought Anne Atherton to my attention. The rest is – a sort – of history.
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
Although I am no longer the guardian of Kate’s diaries, I am still able walk in her footsteps. The hottest day of the year earlier this week found me in Rye in Sussex. I was recovering from a short, sharp illness but the overnight visit had been booked ages ago and I really didn’t want to forfeit the outing. However, rather than wafting around Rye as I had envisaged, I managed only to place myself for a brief moment outside the digs in which Kate Frye had stayed in April 1911 and take in the scene before retiring to enjoy a lady-like recline.
Kate had been sent by the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage to rouse Rye to the Cause. She had booked two rooms in the digs – the other was for one of the NCSWS ‘s founders – and Kate’s ‘sort-of’ friend – Alexandra Wright.
Their landlady was a widow, Mrs Jane Harvey, who lived in the house with her 23-year-old daughter, Lilian, who worked as a clerk.
Like the Rev Llewellyn Smith we were staying at the Mermaid Inn. I doubt it has changed much since Kate escorted him there 105 years ago. If you have a feel for these things – that time is only a thin layer – you might sense the Rye of Kate Frye merging with that of Mapp and Lucia.
13 Market Street Rye (there is always a car in the foreground of this type of pic nowadays)
Wednesday April 19th 1911
Did not stop before Ashford and changed there for Rye. Got a porter to bring up my Trunk and walked to Mrs Harvey, 13 Market St. What will happen to me with such a number?
Real lodgings – but nice and clean and two nice large bed-rooms – much larger than the sitting-rooms. I went out for a few minutes stroll – came in about 7. Unpacked my bag – had supper at 7.30 – then my box and arrived so I went up and unpacked that – then wrote letters & diary till 10 o’clock. Felt rather tired – and very on Tour – the Sunday night feeling in a strange town being intensified by the Church Bells being practised.
[The last comment harks back to Kate’s days as an actress – on tour].
Thursday April 20th 1911
Up in good time to breakfast – wrote a little then out the shops – and then back to fetch Bills, which had been sent in last night – and to start my canvassing. Did all up and down the High St and Mint as a beginning. Didn’t feel very impressed with my work but suppose it is alright. In to lunch at 1 – then at 2.30 out to Playden where I had some addresses and found a lot more. It was a good way so I stuck to that district. No real success – so many people out. In to tea at 5.30.
A little more Bill distributing – then to the station to meet Alexandra, who arrived at 6.30. We walked straight up and a man came up with the box. She unpacked and we chatted. Had dinner at 7.30. Talked till 11 o’clock, then to bed. A lovely day.
Friday April 21st 1911
Breakfast at 8.30 – a little writing then Alexandra and I went out to the shops and bought lunch. She came in to do some writing for the rest of the morning and I went paying calls. Met with some success. Got in the Nonconformist set and kept on till 1 o’clock. Alexandra went out again from 2.30 till 3.30 – then came back and a Miss Harris, Winchelsea, and Miss Spalding, the nurse, here came to tea. Out at 5.30 till 7 again – more calls. A lot of people out but we got hold of the Vicar who promised to come. It was very windy all day and rather cold but the view was nice.
[Miss Margaret Spalding was the district nurse, who lived at Church Cottage. She joined the NCSWS.]
Saturday April 22nd 1911
A glorious day – really beautiful. Breakfast 8.30. Some writing – then I went out. Did the marketing – some canvassing – set Alexandra’s feet in the right direction for Playden and continued my canvassing unto past 1.
Came in very tired. Alexandra did not get in till past 1.30. At 3.30, having changed, we went out on business to station & Hotel etc – then tea at a Mrs Clements and her two daughters at 4.30. 4 other ladies were there to meet us. It was rather appalling – but I think I was given a gift. More calls after shopping. Tea at 7. Supper. Talk & writing.
[Mrs Elizabeth Clements, 56 year old widow of a leading Rye estate agent and valuer . One daughter, Katherine (Kitty), was a teacher of music. They lived at 6 High Street.]
Monday April 24th 1911
Alexandra had some writing to do – so I did the shopping and then more calls all the morning about town. After lunch, to Playden more calls, more success, and one fearful & furious Anti. It was a lovely day. A few more calls after tea with Alexandra and bearded one very notorious lady but found her quite nice. Then to tidy ourselves and to have our supper. More letters afterwards. Met and had a long chat with Miss Spalding
Tuesday April 25th 1911
Another nice day. To the shops in the morning and then canvassing again. But we are getting to the end of our list, and I really had to slack in a bit. I began to feel very tired – yesterday I was at it all day long. So after lunch I did not go out but had all the Literature to see to.
In the evening Alexandra and I went out together. A few successful calls – especially good with the school master. I think Alexandra converted him. Both awfully tired but in to change to go and have supper with Miss Spalding. There was another lady there. We talked all ‘Suffrage’ and came away at 10 – a little warm over our fire and then to bed.
Wednesday April 26th 1911
Alexandra was very nervous all the evening as to the result of the meeting but I felt sure it would be alright. Showers in the morning but the day was fine. Alexandra & I went out, bought dinner, paid Bills etc and did some jobs. After lunch Alexandra lay down on her bed and went to sleep and I did some of my packing up etc.
To the Hall at 4 o’clock to get it settled to our taste – a long job – to put out Literature etc. Back at 5.30. Miss Ogston had arrived and we began on the arrangements. She had had some tea – so we had ours – an egg. Then to change – leaving Miss Ogston to have some dinner at 7. Alexandra and I went to meet the Rev Llewellyn-Smith at 6.30 and take him to the Mermaid Inn. A chubby, cheerful young clergyman who seemed quite ridiculous when he spoke, as he constantly did, of ‘my wife’.
Leaving him to dine, we went on to the hall soon after 7. A Mrs Harrison and a Miss Mac Munn had arrived from Hastings so Alexandra took them back to Market St to have a rest – while I waited. [I] received the Stewards – two Miss Harrisons of Winchelsea, Miss Spalding and Miss Clements. They sold Literature and the Misses Harrison and I took the collection – £1-3-7. Lady Brassey took the Chair and her daughter came with her in a lovely car – they had to drive 50 miles so it was awfully decent of her, but she is very keen. A Lieut Col A Savile came to assist Lady Brassey take the Chair and spoke after her. Then Miss Ogston – then Mr Smith.
I didn’t hear the speeches as I was outside with the boys – then in amongst some rather troublesome youths. But nothing happened and we had an excellent meeting – quite full and overflowing. The Vicar came, bringing Miss Proctor, who had vowed she would not come. I was very glad when it was over. Every one congratulated us and seemed to think it was a record for Rye. Miss Ogston went off with the Harrisons of Winchelsea. Mr Smith and Miss Spalding walked up with us – then went on to their respective houses. Alexandra and I had an egg each and some bread & butter. Then I went through the Literature and collection and we did accounts til midnight. Then to bed.
[Mrs Darent Harrison and Miss Lettice MacMunn were both member of the committee of the Hastings and St Leonard’sW.S. Propaganda League.]
Thursday April 27th 1911
We woke to a pouring wet day and it kept on till after 12. The Rev Mr Smith appeared before breakfast was over – buoyant as ever. Then Miss Spalding came in and we all talked. She did not wait long, but he did not go till 11.30 or after and then we had to drive him forth. I went out about 10.30 to buy the dinner after I had packed up the Literature Box, and then we sat talking. Alexandra and I at last got upstairs to finish our packing – and left our boxes to come by Advance Luggage. Had lunch at 12. Then to the station for the 12.55 train – after parting with Mrs Harvey, our most kind and moderate landlady.
Kate was sent back to Rye later in the year but unfortunately Mrs Harvey’s digs were unavailable and the new ones not nearly so agreeable. Amongst all the other details of this second visit, she did record one incident in Market Street – outside the Guildhall. The ‘hot penny’ ceremony is associated with that of the election of the new mayor – and is still carried out today.
Rye Guildhall, Market Street
Thursday November 9th 1911
Did my shopping and met Miss White. We were just against the Guildhall and saw the Mayor & Corporation come forth. It was so funny. I laughed till I cried – such frock coats and top hats on such heads. Then we watched the ancient custom of throwing pennies from the Hotel Balcony to the crowds below – such a scramble as good many got hard bumped. A good many pounds must have been thrown away like that – some of the coppers were thrown out hot on a shovel. Then out 3 till 5.30 to Playden. Met two very violent ladies – one good Christian woman, entertaining a working party for the Church, pushed me out.
‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers
For more about Kate Frye’s suffrage campaigning see here
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
Each year on 2 July the Fawcett Society holds a short service and lays a red, white, and green wreath in remembrance of Millicent Fawcett in St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey.
For it is in this small chapel, which now also holds the Coronation Chair, that the joint memorial to Henry and Millicent Fawcett is sited.
It was originally erected in 1887 in memory of Henry Fawcett, who had died in 1884, and was the work of the sculptor Alfred Gilbert. Ironically Gilbert’s daughter, Caprina Fahey, was later a very active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, rather than of Mrs Fawcett’s National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. For after Millicent Fawcett’s death a commemoration of her life and work was in 1932 added to her husband’s memorial – in the shape of two roundels, one of which contains the insignia of the NUWSS.
Fawcett Memorial in St George’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey
This year I was honoured to have been asked to speak a few words about Millicent Fawcett during the Service – and below is the text of my address.
I imagine I’ve been asked to give the address today because over the last 20 years I’ve researched and written about the various enterprises and campaigns that Millicent Fawcett – and her immediate circle – conducted through the second half of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th. But I first made direct physical contact – as it were – with Millicent Fawcett some years before I began my research –back in the mid-1980s – when, as a book dealer – because I sell books about women as well as write them, I braved the closing-down sale of a Bloomsbury bookshop. I say ‘braved’ because it was owned by an elderly irascible gentlemen who barked at any potential customer ‘what do you want’? Well the joy of such bookshops is that you don’t know what you want until you find it – so after one such encounter I’d never been back. But closing down was different and customers were given the run of the shop.
Down in the cellar I found the floor covered with a heap of books – splayed open, piled on top of each other – and – serendipity – when I picked out one I found it to be a short popular biography of Henry Fawcett –not, actually, very interesting in itself – but – and my heart leapt – with Millicent Fawcett’s bookplate pasted inside the front cover. I believe this book had lain in the bookshop ever since Philippa Fawcett finally gave up the family home at 2 Gower Street to move to a more manageable flat just before the Second World War. It is only too likely that books surplus to her requirements had been sent to this nearby bookseller. There seemed a very thin veil separating me from the past when I held that book in my hand.
So this bookplate is the first of four images I want to recreate for you this evening. It probably dates from the 1880s – it has very much the flavour of the Aesthetic movement. Millicent’s full name – Millicent Garrett Fawcett – takes centre place. To the right is a woman in a loose fitting gown, with bare feet, head turned towards the rising sun. To the left rises a lily, so much of its period, and beneath the name are scattered books and an inkwell and quill pen. The caption is ‘Truth is the Light’.
‘Light’ – the image of the rising sun, of hope, of the New Dawn – was one that permeated all the campaigns for women’s rights – not just for the vote – but for emancipation in all spheres of life. ‘Truth’ was the leitmotif running through Millicent Fawcett’s life. In an article her cousin Edmund Garrett, a boy she had helped bring up after the early death of his parents, wrote: ‘More even than by her writings or her speeches, she has helped the cause by her influence, her tone, her personality. The impression which she has made upon public men who have come in contact with her has been, perhaps, her most valuable service to it. The one thing that she cannot be doing with is doubleness. Anything the least ‘shady’ in quite small matters of money or of conduct damns a man at once.’ Edmund Garrett goes on to mention the Ibsen-esque quality of Millicent’s novel Janet Doncaster which, as well as giving a delightful portrait of a thinly-disguised Aldeburgh, does, I think, reveal more of her character than she disclosed in her autobiography. It is well worth a read.
So – Millicent Fawcett was guided by her principles. These at times, especially in attempts to effect an equal moral standard between men and women, could put her at odds with other campaigners, even members of her family. For instance, she and her sister Elizabeth held opposite views as to whether the Contagious Diseases Acts should be repealed – Millicent for and Elizabeth against.
Millicent Fawcett – woman of principle
But strong principles – an adherence to Truth –and being true to oneself – don’t necessarily make for any easy life. My second image recreates a scene that is not one you’ll find in either Millicent’s autobiography or in Ray Strachey’s fond biography – it is very trivial, but I think, revealing. One summer afternoon Millicent was taking tea in Lady Maude Parry’s garden in Rustington in Sussex. Lady Maude was the wife of Hubert Parry, whose music has, of course, echoed so often within this Abbey –and it was Hubert, rather than his wife, who was a close friend of Agnes Garrett and Millicent Fawcett. Indeed he’d built a house in Rustington to be close to one that Agnes Garrett had rented there for years.
Anyway, as they were taking tea Lady Maude was stung by a wasp and that evening confided to her diary that Millicent hadn’t been very sympathetic – penning the immortal phrase ‘There’s something hard about the Garretts’. Perhaps I’m perverse but I like that comment. I think it is true – the Garretts were hard – in that they had enjoyed a robust upbringing – encouraged to think for themselves and be self-reliant – Lady Maude was very much more conventional – and although Lady Maude may have meant the comment pejoratively – we shouldn’t take it as such. In her biography Ray Strachey felt compelled to dispute the notion that Millicent was ‘compounded only of “thrift, industry and self-control without any of the gentler virtues”’, stressing that it was Millicent’s great ability for practical friendship that made her such a popular and effective leader. She didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, she didn’t waste time on emoting; she did things. I’m sure Millicent would have ensured that Maude was treated with a blue bag or whatever was the current remedy for a wasp sting, but wouldn’t have seen it as an occasion for high drama. As Edmund Garrettt wrote ‘She is, above everything, ‘sensible’. She never stickles for unessentials’.The success of a principled, disciplined woman such as Millicent Fawcett was due to her ability to focus on what was important, dismissing the setbacks – the wasp stings –that punctuated all the various campaigns with which she was associated during a career of over 60 years.
Millicent Fawcett – NUWSS president
Above all Millicent Fawcett was – in her conduct of the constitutional suffrage campaign – calm and diplomatic. As Ray Strachey wrote, ‘Her task was to provide convenient ladders down which opponents might climb, and to help them to save their faces while they changed their minds.’ It was this skill that finally allowed women over 30 to be given the vote in 1918. Although Millicent Fawcett recognised that this age discrimination was quite logically indefensible she knew that once they’d won this measure – full equality would follow. By letting anti-suffrage MPs appear to have retained some control, she had at last manoeuvred women onto the electoral register. As she said, ‘We should greatly prefer an imperfect scheme that can pass, to the most perfect scheme in the world that could not pass.’
The third image takes us into Millicent’s home, 2 Gower Street. From standing in that Bloomsbury bookshop basement, holding a book that had once been on a shelf in the house, fast forward about 30 years to 2014 when I spent some happy hours with a colleague inside the house as we tried to work out how it was used when Millicent, her daughter Philippa, and her sister Agnes lived there. Agnes and her cousin Rhoda had taken on the lease in 1875 –running their pioneering interior design business from the house –Rhoda had died in 1882 and Millicent and Philippa had moved there after the death of Henry Fawcett in 1884. So Garretts had lived in 2 Gower Street for roughly 65 years. We know that Millicent conducted her campaigns from the first floor drawing room – which runs across the front overlooking Gower Street – sitting under a lovely ceiling, painted by Rhoda and Agnes – pale green, pink and yellow prettiness – featuring hummingbirds and swags and flowers, with portraits of four great artists in the corners. Do look up and give her a thought if you go past. The National Portrait Gallery holds a photograph of Millicent (see here) working at her desk in that room in 1910.
The desk, a tall bureau, is tucked into the alcove to the side of the fireplace and Millicent is sitting there working through a pile of letters, looking up for a moment to turn to the photographer. This domestic scene was the power house that fuelled the 20th-century constitutional suffrage campaign. In addition – from that desk Millicent Fawcett involved herself in a wide range of disparate, though interconnected campaigns – for instance, the international women’s suffrage campaign, the campaigns for opening up university education to women, for raising the age of consent, for opening up horticulture as an employment for women, for criminalising incest, for providing homes for middle-class working women, and even for offering a new German ‘open-air treatment’ to men and women suffering from TB. This last was prompted by the fate of her cousin Edmund who had contracted the disease – but rather than wringing her hands Millicent, with her friend Dr Jane Walker, just went ahead and built a sanatorium in Suffolk where the new treatment might be carried out.
A corner of the former East Anglian Sanatorium
Sitting at that desk Millicent is neat in a tailored costume, but my last image is of her standing in the St John’s Wood studio of a very well-known photographer – Lena Connell – dressed for a more formal portrait. She is posing, but, as ever, conveys an air of subtle reticence. I think we can be pretty certain she didn’t make her appointment with Lena Connell because she wanted more photographs for her own album – but, rather, was prepared to endure the process for the sake of the Cause. For, thanks to a lucky discovery a few weeks ago – in a locked drawer in a Fawcett Society desk – we are now able to deconstruct that photograph and realise that she is presenting herself as the president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
For on her breast she is wearing a beautiful pendant given to her by the NUWSS in 1913. Presumably after Millicent’s death Philippa Fawcett had returned the pendant to the London Society for Women’s Service, the precursor of the Fawcett Society, and as time went by its existence and meaning had been forgotten. But that photograph speaks to us now – for engraved on the reverse of the pendant are the words that sum up the values that her co-workers appreciated in Millicent Fawcett – ‘Steadfastness and Courage’.
Pendant presented by the NUWSS to Millicent Fawcett in 1913 (image courtesy of the Fawcett Society)
All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.
By the summer of 1897 alterations had been made to The Plat, the house leased by Frederick Frye on the banks of the river Thames at Bourne End. It was substantially expanded, acquiring two circular-roofed turrets which housed additional reception and bed rooms. Now, for the first time, the family – Frederick, his wife, Kezia, and their daughters, Agnes and Kate – were to spend Christmas there. In past years they had come down from London to stay for Christmas at the much grander home of Aunt Agnes Gilbey at Wooburn – a short distance from Bourne End. On these occasions Kate Frye had moaned in her diary about the boredom she had endured but now, in 1897, she was at last able to enjoy a Christmas untrammelled by another family’s conventions.
Kate Frye photographed in 1896
From Kate Frye’s diary
Wednesday December 22nd 1897
I have bought Mother a jolly purse and today I have bought Agnes a silver thimble in a case – a thing she very much wants. Daddie a splendid pocket book – a real beauty and a pair of braces. The servants – Cook a purse – Emily a writing case – Alice a work case and Lotty Grey, the new microbe [such was the epithet Kate used at this time for the ‘tweenie’ maid] a silk neck handkerchief. Mother has bought Agnes a gilt chain purse by special request and me by desire a travelling case holding boot cleaning appliances, brown and white cream and brushes and leather. [We have bought] 10 shillings’ worth of toys from Aunt Anne’s [charity] bazaar for our Tree – a fairy for the top – glass balls amd birds – drums – trumpets and penny toys of all kinds and many more little things. Small hampers and drums filled with cottons, needles etc for the Servants as extras.
Thursday December 23rd 1897
Directly after lunch Agnes and I started on the Christmas Tree. It is such a beauty and touches the Drawing Room ceiling. We did up part of the presents – the principal ones in coloured papers. Just as we were in the midst of it Constance and Katie [daughters of Aunt Agnes Gilbey] arrived down – we just let them peep in the room which was in a fine muddle. .. Aunt Agnes’ presents arrived in the evening – a huge lampshade for Mother and two pairs of silk stockings each for Agnes and I – such beauties – couldn’t have chosen anything nicer. We were obliged to look at them – then wrapped them up for the Tree. We allowed Mother in the room but she didn’t assist but Daddie we couldn’t allow in much to his annoyance really. The Tree looks lovely – it ought to be a huge success. I have never seen one look nicer and it is simply crammed with things.
Friday December 24th 1897
It was a beautiful morning though still most bitterly cold – ever so many degrees of frost – and we went out – the three of us – to try to get warm – the house is icy. It was very foggy early but the sun broke through and it was lovely..Then went up to Cores End for Mother to go and see old Mrs Nicholls and leave her Christmas present. Directly after lunch the three of us started decorating till four o’clock. Pratt [the gardener] cut up the Holly and we put it and lots of mistletoe up everywhere – except Daddie’s room – he is most disagreeable just now. Our turkeys haven’t arrived – they were to come from Leverett and Fryes at Finchley with lots of other foods. [Leverett and Frye was Frederick Frye’s grocery firm.]
[The Fryes’ rather glamorous friends, Norman and Stella Richardson, arrived from London to stay for the festivities.] Norman has brought us two lovely boxes of Fuller’s sweets and also presented his and Stella’s Christmas present to us in the evening. His is a silver backed manicure rubber each to Agnes and I and Stella’s a work bag made by herself each – such nice ones. Of course we won’t let them see the Tree – they are very funny over it and pretend to be very curious. We were all very jolly in the evening except Daddie.
Saturday December 25th 1897
Agnes and I were called at a quarter to seven and got up and went to early service at St Mark’s Church. There were not many people. It was bitterly cold and very foggy. We didn’t have breakfast till about 9.30 as Mother and Daddie were late. Norman was down before we got in and Emi soon after but Stella of course had her breakfast in bed and had a fire to get up by. Mother, Emi and I walked to Wooburn Church for morning service – Agnes would have liked to go with us but went for a walk to Maidenhead with Stella and Norman – they were to see Mrs Quare and came back to lunch in a fly.
We met Katie just as we were going in Church so she made us go up to Aunt Agnes’ pew as only she, Aunt Agnes and Constance came to Church. I did enjoy the service – it was so bright and I think the Vicar is so nice. It was quite like old times and I felt we must be staying with them – especially as we walked up the hill with them after Church. It was simply lovely up there – no fog and perfect sunshine – quite thawing the frost on the treees it was so hot. We saw Southard and Gilbert [Gilbey] who has not been at all well – then Aunt Anne [a sister of Agnes Gilbey and Kezia Frye, Kate’s mother] came in – we had already met her on her way to Chapple [sic]. Then after a chat and inspection of everyone’s presents we came away home. Met Mrs Southard & Henry and Lola and her maid walking up the Hill. They had just got back from Marlow where they drive to church.
We had a quiet afternoon round the fire in the Morning Room – can’t let anyone in the Drawing Room as the Tree is there. I slipped off after tea to finish it all off. We have got up fair fun and excitement over it – and made them all curious. We were all very merry at dinner – except Daddie who is still seedy – although we had no Turkey. Had a pair of our own fowls killed as they have not arrived – I don’t like Christmas dinner without Turkeys – but we had the Pudding, mince pies and crackers alright. Then came the Christmas Tree which was a huge success and we all went quite mad.
The Drawing Room at the Plat. I wonder where the Christmas Tree stood in 1897?
We had the servants in at the beginning and gave them their presents – Pratt has had a splendid knife off it. We played all the musical instruments and with all the toys. Then after we had carted our things away we went in the Morning Room again in the warm. Daddie went to his room and went early to bed – he has given the servants each a present of money. We had snap dragon later on but I got most fearfully tired and was glad to go to bed. We all went off about 11.30.
The Plat – the cosy Morning Room
Sunday December 26th 1897
We sat in the Morning Room round the fire – the Drawing Room is such a cold room and looks so miserable with the huge Christmas Tree stripped of all its glory. After tea Norman read ‘Alice In Wonderland’ aloud nearly through to us and we sat round and roared – it is a lovely book I think – most awfully clever.
With this depiction of a true Victorian Christmas I wish my readers – in the words of the Fryes –
‘Hearty Christmas Greeting
and Best Wishes
For a Happy & Prosperous New Year’
For the whole story of Kate’s life – as told in her diary – download this e-book from iTunes – : http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal or from Amazon. It would make a good read over the Christmas period.
Kate Frye’s work as a suffrage campaigner in later years is fully covered in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here. UPDATE Now out of print, alas
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