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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘The Suffragette’ – A 1913 Feature Film

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

 

Today’s image:

Britannia Films still 1

Yesterday I was invited to the cast and crew screening of ‘Suffragette’ and had my second opportunity to see the film. It gets better each time. Travelling home on the bus I realised that today’s post just had to be about a 1913 film coincidentally – although perhaps not surprisingly – called ‘The Suffragette’.

Above is a still from the film – one of a sequence in a photograph album that I discovered.

On the front cover of the album was the remains of a printed label for ‘Britannia Films’. This film company was set up by Pathé at the end of 1911 to produce British feature films, while Pathé continued to produce newsreels.

At the end of 1913  ‘The Suffragette’ was one of the films released by Britannia Films. The description given of the film by the British Film Institute – which I faithfully recorded in the list of ‘suffragette films’ in The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide–  is of the vaguest – ‘A disowned schoolmistress’s uncle destroys her father’s amended will ‘ And yet this hokum plot can be followed through the first 17 film stills in this ‘Britannia Films’ album.

The scene shown above is set in a suffragette office, its walls lined with (real) newspaper posters – such as one recording the death of Emily Davison at the 1913 Derby. In another the heroine is setting light to a fuse leading inside a house – suffragette arson.

Another still shows two women lighting a fuse that trails back into a house. I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that there is a rather similar scene in ‘our’ ‘Suffragette’.

The International Movie Data Base (see here for details) names the actress playing the heroine as Agnes Glynne and a male lead as James Carew (who was, or had been, the very much younger husband of Ellen Terry).

As there is no extant copy of the film and the British Film Institute holds no archival stills – these images are the only known surviving record of this once topical film.  As so few records survive of the spate of films that featured suffragette themes this one, clearly filmed between June 1913 (because it features the Derby poster) and December 1913 (its release), is an important survivor.

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘The Suffragette Puzzle’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

The Suffragette Puzzle

The Suffragette Puzzle

Yet another game based on the difficulties encountered by suffrage campaigners.

‘The Suffragette Puzzle’ was produced by F.H. Ayres Ltd, 111 Aldersgate Street, London and was launched in 1908. It required considerable dexterity ‘To get the Women’s Suffrage Bill through the Houses of Parliament’ – although rather less than the real-life  effort demanded of the suffrage societies;

This game is extremely scarce – I’ve only had this one example for sale in over thirty years of dealing in suffrage ephemera.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

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Suffrage Stories/The Garretts And Their Circle: The ‘Ascent Of Woman’ and Millicent Fawcett

In four programmes shown on BBC 2 Dr Amanda Foreman has roamed the globe and travelled through the millenia to uncover stories of women who have made and changed human history from 10,000 BC to the present day.

You can – for a short time – view all four programmes on the BBC iPlayer – click here.

ifawcet001p1Episode 4 – ‘Revolution’ – includes a section in which I talk to Amanda about Millicent Fawcett – highlighting her work as a champion of women’s education.

The filming was done in my drawing room – and it was an interesting and enjoyable way to spend a morning – talking about such an agreeable subject with someone so passionate and knowledgeable. Especially so as barely a month previously I had been lying on an operating theatre table. It was good to get back to ‘work’.

For much more about Millicent Fawcett – and all the other Garretts – see Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle.

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Panko’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Panko

Panko

Panko was a card game, published by Messrs Peter Gurney Ltd. The cards were designed by E.T. Reed, a Punch cartoonist.

Panko was first advertised in the issue of Votes for Women for 10 December 1909, claiming ‘Not only is each picture in itself an interesting memento, but the game produces intense excitement without the slightest taint of bitterness’.Panko Rules - Copy

Mary Blathwayt – the ardent Bath suffragette – gave her mother a pack as her Christmas present and I’ve no doubt that Panko was in many another suffragette’s Christmas stocking that year.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Elusive Christabel’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Elusive Christabel

Elusive Christabel

‘Elusive Christabel’ is an optical toy produced by the Flashograph Co in 1912. It alludes to Christabel Pankhurst’s escape to France in March 1912 as the police closed in on Clement’s Inn and arrested the other leaders of the Women’s Social and Political Union and charged them with conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

When – as commanded – you move the paper control ‘up and down gently’ the scene changes to this:

Elusive Christabel 1

The WSPU had a lot of fun at the expense of the police, publishing photographs of Christabel in Votes for Women and asking readers to guess where she might be. The Flashograph Co clearly had an eye for topicality.

Needless to say ‘Elusive Christabel’ lives up to its name and is exceptionally elusive nowadays. I’ve only ever had one pass through my hands in over thirty years of dealing in suffragette material.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: ‘Pank-A-Squith’

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Pank-A-Squith

Pank-A-Squith

Pank-A-Squith was a board game, first advertised in Votes for Women, 22 October 1909.

The board is green and purple and the spiral track illustrates the difficulties encountered by Mrs Pankhurst and her supporters. It is played by throwing a die to move figures around the board – like Snakes and Ladders.
As issued the board was square but this particular board was altered at some point in order to set it within a circular wooden frame.

All too often the figures that were issued with the game – and were moved around the board – are missing.

In December 1909 Mary Blathwayt, a keen WSPU supporter from Bath, recorded in her diary that she had bought a game of Pank-A-Squith and in July 1910 that she and Annie Kenney played it together as they passed an anxious time while Annie’s sister, Jennie Kenney, was being operated on at Mary’s home, Eagle House, Batheaston.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WFL ‘Holloway’ Brooch

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Women's Freedom League 'Holloway' brooch

Women’s Freedom League ‘Holloway’ brooch

This is the award that was given by the Women’s Freedom League to its members who had been imprisoned. The brooch is in silver with the reverse engraved with the name of the prisoner and the date of arrest. The one in the picture was presented to Elsie Cummin upon her release from Holloway in July 1909.

Elsie Cummin had been born in 1877, one of the large family of Rev Joseph Cummin and his wife, Elizabeth. By 1901 the family had moved into Easebourne Vicarage, where Joseph Cummin was vicar. Mrs Cummin, who died in 1910, had been a suffrage supporter and gave the West Sussex branch of the Women’s Freedom League its velvet banner. Elsie Cummin was both honorary sec and honorary treasurer of the branch, which had been founded in 1908. She spoke at local WFL meetings and held WFL ‘At Homes’ at Easebourne Vicarage.

The Times, July 13, 1909

‘Four members of the Women’s Freedom League were charged on remand with obstruction. [Among] the defendants were ….Elsie Cummin, 32, Easebourne Vicarage, Midhurst….

Chief Inspector Rolfe said that on Friday afternoon he saw the defendants Hicks and Cummin standing by the doorway of the Prime Minister’s residence in Downing-street. They were carrying a roll of paper bearing the word ‘Petition’ and they said that they wished to present their petition personally to Mr Asquith. They were afterwards joined by the other two defendants. Meanwhile Miss Hicks had handed her petition personally to Mr Asquith when he alighted from a motor-car at his residence. At one time there were 300 people in Downing-street, and considerable obstruction was caused. After seeing Mr Asquith’s private secretary the witness told the defendants that Mr Asquith could tell them nothing further, but would send them an acknowledgment in due course. The defendants said that they wanted a date and time fixed for the reply; otherwise they would wait until they got it..

Police Constable 109A said that when Mr Asquith drove up one of the defendants said, ‘We have a petition, will you receive it?’. Mr Asquith asked her to hand it to his messenger, and Miss Hicks replied, ‘No, we want to hand it to you personally.’ Mr Asquith then said, ‘Very well, hand it to me,’ and he then received the petition from Miss Hicks.

[Defence counsel] submitted that the defendants did nothing but stand upon the pavement in a perfectly orderly manner.

The magistrate said that if the defendants would undertake that there should be no kind of disturbance of any description until the appeal in the somewhat similar case of Mrs Pankhurst had been decided he would adjourn the case sine die.

[Defence counsel] said that he could not give any undertaking on behalf of the defendants.

The defendants, on oath, denied that they caused any obstruction.

The magistrate imposed a fine of £3 in each case, with the alternative of three weeks’ imprisonment in the second division.’

Elsie Cummin and her three co-defendants refused to pay the fine and went to Holloway – and it was on her release that she was presented with the ‘Holloway’ brooch.

The reverse of Elsie Cummin's Holloway brooch

The reverse of Elsie Cummin’s Holloway brooch

Elsie continued her association with the WFL for at least two more years. On the night of the 1911 census she was at home with her father and one sister. However, the census enumerator recorded two other of the sisters, who were not present, as ‘Suffragettes wandering about all night’. Elsie Cummin reported that seven members of the branch had boycotted the census. Clearly the Cummin family took the question of women’s suffrage seriously.

The Women’s Freedom League had first presented these brooches as early as December 1908 when Muriel Matters and Mrs Emily Duval received theirs from Mrs Despard at a ceremony in St James’s Hall, Piccadilly. The Women’s Social and Political Union copied the idea and in April 1909 instituted a Sylvia Pankhurst-designed ‘Holloway’ brooch to reward their members who had been to prison. As so often, however, it is the WSPU’s insignia which has had the wider publicity.

Sarah Benett, sometime treasurer of the WFL, wearing her WFL 'Holloway' brooch

Sarah Benett, sometime treasurer of the WFL, photographed by Lena Connell wearing her WFL ‘Holloway’ brooch

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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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

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The WSPU ‘Flag’ Brooch

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

WSPU flag badge

An enamelled WSPU brooch – in the shape of a purple, white and green flag.

Unusually, it’s possible to date this brooch pretty accurately. It is marked on the back with the maker’s name ‘Toye’, which was in usage between 1898 and 1909 when the passing of a new Companies’ Act meant that henceforward it was known as ‘Toye & Co. Toye produced much of the WSPU merchandise, including the hunger-strike medals. The company is still in business and re-produced the hunger-strike medals that you will able to see being worn in the film ‘Suffragette’.

The 31 December 1908 issue of Votes for Women lists all merchandise that the WSPU was selling at that time – and the flag design is not listed.

However we can see from the 14 May 1909 issue, dating from the time that the WSPU was about to launch its big fund-raising event – the Exhibition at Prince’s Skating Rink in Knightsbridge -, that the number of items the WSPU was selling had increased – and now included this brooch.

It is described as ‘Flag (words “Votes for Women”) 1/- each.’ I fear that over the last 108 years the brooch has rather risen in value. But I think we can be pretty certain that this design was manufactured no later than the Spring of 1909.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

 

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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.

 

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christina Broom Photographs The Putney and Fulham WSPU Shop

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

 

Today’s image:

Putney WSPU shop photos 001

My visit yesterday to the exhibition of photographs by Christina Broom at the Museum of London (which I highly recommend – for details see here) reminded me of an intriguing page of photographs that passed through my hands a little while ago.

The key that unlocks the story behind the photographs is the postcard of the Putney and Fulham WSPU shop, positioned in the bottom right-hand corner. This photograph, taken by Mrs Broom, is shown in the exhibition and is discussed in detail by Diane Atkinson in Joannou & Purvis (eds), Women’s Suffrage Movement: feminist perspectives.

The photograph shows a young mother holding her baby, standing outside the shop, which opened at 905 Fulham Road in February 1910. The baby looks to be about 9 or 10 months old. I have identified the copy of Votes for Women that is displayed in the window as the issue for 9 September 1910. The shop windows are packed with WSPU propaganda items – much of which, especially the postcards – such as ones of Christabel Pankhurst, Lady Constance Lytton, Charlotte Marsh and Mary Gawthorpe – are readily recognisable. A poster advertises a meeting to be held by Lady Constance in the Queen’s Hall on 3 October 1910 and there are items of merchandise, such as WSPU scarves and stationery, together with the more homely items, such as eggs and jam that the local branch reported it was pleased to accept to sell for the Cause.

You can see into the shop (the door is open) and there in the background is the banner ‘Taxation Without Representation.is Tyranny’, just as described in the 18 February 1910 Votes for Women issue.

Adjacent on the sheet to the photograph of the shop is a loving shot of the same mother with her baby  – annotated ‘5 months’ – photographed, I would think, in a bedroom. Above that is the same woman and baby, photographed, I think, outside and annotated ‘4 months’. The other three photos are of the baby alone, photographed at 3, 4 and 5 months. Although the photos are glued to the page I’ve peered into their backs and think they were sent to the baby’s grandfather.

The sheet is captioned ‘Joan Morris’ in the same hand as the annotations of the baby’s age, Or, at least, I think it is ‘Joan Morris’. The last two letters of the surname read more like ‘ei’ or ‘el’ than ‘is’ – but there was no ‘Joan ‘born in the baby’s timeframe with a name such as ‘Morrel’, which might be a reading.

There was, however, a Joan Morris born in Fulham on 6 January 1910. In April 1911 she was living with her parents at 19 Arundel Mansions, Fulham Road. If my identification is correct, they are an interesting couple.

The baby’s father was Geoffrey Bright Morris, son of William Bright Morris, the artist (not to be confused with the other William Morris) and his first wife, who was a grand-daughter of Leigh Hunt and who may well have died at his birth.

Baby Joan’s mother was Helen Kathleen Morris (née Macleod), who in the 1901 census, was an actress boarding with William Bright Morris and his family. She would have been about 31 years old in 1910, which, again, accords with the apparent age of the woman standing outside the WSPU shop. The couple had married in January 1909; they had clearly known each other for a long time for William Bright Morris’s second wife was Helen’s aunt. Helen McLeod’s father was a paymaster in the Royal Navy. William Bright Morris died in 1912 – so could have been the grandfather to whom the snaps were sent.

I wish I had been able to find a mention of Helen Morris in the reports for the Putney & Fulham branch of the WSPU – but I must admit that I cannot. She does seem just the kind of person to have taken an interest in suffrage – but, with a young baby to care for, may not in 1910-1911 have been able to devote much of her time to it. However, as Diane mentions in her discussion of the photo, the woman – without coat or hat – and the baby, dressed in a light frock, do seem to have come out from the shop specifically to have been photographed.

In ‘Votes for Women’ the co-organiser of the branch and the shop is given as ‘Mrs H. Roberts’, although no further information about her activities is, as far as I can see from reading through successive copies, ever given and I have been able to find out nothing about her.

So, all in all, an interesting story to be deduced from what might at first glance have appeared to have been an anonymous sheet of photographs. Mrs Broom’s photograph is, of course, the prize. Photographs of suffrage shops are always delightful and this image – taken on an early autumn day more or less exactly 105 years ago – is both artfully arranged and very crisp and clear.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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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.

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Christina Broom Photographs The 1911 Suffrage Coronation Procession

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Coronation Procession - NCS Banner

A close-up photograph by Mrs Albert Broom of a section of the 1911 suffrage Coronation Procession showing the tail-end of the ‘Pageant of Queens’.  Immediately behind, as decreed in the plan for the day, is the banner of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, one of only two images of it that I have ever seen.

The queens are, mainly, dressed in medieval costume and the photograph allows a clear image of faces, dresses and jewellery. At the head of the New Constitutional contingent can be seen a couple of figures in graduate dress – and I wonder if they are Alexandra and Gladys Wright – for more of whom see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary.

I am going this very day to visit the Museum of London Docklands exhibition ‘Suffragettes and Soldiers: The Photography of Christina Broom’. See here for details.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: The 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition

Today – 7 June 2016 – marks the 150th anniversary of the first petition presented in Parliament in support of an attempt to gain for women the parliamentary vote.

I have just attended an event sponsored by the Fawcett Society to celebrate this anniversary – held in the Speaker’s House in Parliament. At this event it was announced that efforts would be made to erect a statue to Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. See also my post  published some time ago – Make Millicent Fawcett Visible – http://wp.me/p2AEiO-qD

Below is a short article I published earlier setting out the facts behind the petition.

 

 

First page of the 1866 women's suffrage petition

First page of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition

This is – I think – the most important document of the women’s suffrage campaign. It was the foundation for all that came after.

Back in the days when the world was young, there was no internet, and antiquarian booksellers – as well as the layman/woman book-buyer – had to search their quarry among the stacks of brick and mortar bookshops, my time, when not engaged in child care, was spent touring London and the market towns of southern England in search of the books and ephemera with which I and my customers might resurrect the women that were famously ‘hidden from history’.

These days have long passed away – now we need only sit at home and search internet book-selling sites,  trawling through the print-on-demand dross in the increasingly forlorn hope of finding the odd nugget of treasure. The corollary, of course, is that there are now precious few brick and mortar bookshops selling second-hand/antiquarian books.

In those olden days I even thought it occasionally worthwhile to take a tour down Portobello Road on a Saturday morning, not something I have  done  for a long time, now that Portobello’s landlords are handing the antiques arcades over to fashion chain stores. But that particular Saturday-morning visit was memorable because it was in a bookselling alcove in the warrens that stretch behind Portobello Road that I came across one of the most interesting finds of my bookselling career – a copy of the pamphlet edition of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.

The petition itself comprised  a long scroll onto which were pasted the signatures of the (circa) 1500 women who, in the spring of 1866,  were prepared to put their names to a request (it was certainly not yet a demand) that women who met the requisite  property qualifications , as set out in the Reform bill then under discussion, should be able to cast a parliamentary vote alongside men. The petition had been organised by a group of women who formed themselves into a small informal committee – among their number being Barbara Bodichon, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Elizabeth Garrett, and Emily Davies.  John Stuart Mill, for whom they had campaigned when he had contested – and won – the Westminster parliamentary seat the previous year, had agreed to present the petition.

Emily Davies was the businesswoman of the group and it was she who decided that the names of those who had signed the petition should be printed in pamphlet form and sent to  the weekly papers so that, as she wrote on 18 July 1866 to Helen Taylor (Mill’s step-daughter), ‘ in case they take any notice, they make know what they are commenting on.’  Copies of the petition pamphlet were also sent to members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The copy of ‘my’ 1866 petition pamphlet is, as you see, addressed to Earl Cathcart –  the 3rd Earl, Alan Frederick Cathcart. I suspect he was not overly interested in the rights of women.

I did sell the pamphlet almost as soon as I found it but, before parting with it, had the sense to take a photocopy. That sounds nothing extraordinary, but back in those days photocopiers were not the casual desk accessory that they are today and in order to process the petition’s 38 pages I had to visit the machine in the local library. How glad I am that I bothered to do so. For having easy access to those 1499 names allowed me not only to build up the pattern of political and friendship networks supporting the suffrage campaign that lies at the heart of The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guidebut also provided a starting-point for researching The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey, in which the part each region, county and town played in the campaign is detailed.

Petition p 20-21

You can see, if your mind works along the same way as mine, what pleasure can be had in attempting to identify all these women. For instance, on this page – chosen at random:

Mrs Kenrick of 9 Dorset Square in 1873 was a member of the executive committee of the Ladies’ Association for the Education of Women for the Medical Association.

Gertrude King of 18 Carlton Hill East, was a member of the Kensington Society (a group of women who met and corresponded in order to discuss the position and prospects for women) and by 1874 was secretary of the Society for the Employment of Women.

Fanny and Jane King, 9 Eden Grove, Holloway, were the wife and daughter of John King, a pianoforte maker, who was one of the oldest acquaintances of William Lovett, the Chartist leader (one of King’s sons had ‘Lovett’ as a middle name). King was a long-standing member of Lovett’s National Association for Promoting the Political and Social Improvement of the People. Artisan radicals such as the Kings were one of the groups contacted by the organisers of the 1866 women’s suffrage petition.

Notice that appeared in the Alexandria Magazine, May 1st, 1864. NB Isa Craig as member of the committee

Notice that appeared in the Alexandria Magazine, May 1st, 1864. NB Isa Craig as member of the committee

Isa Craig Knox of 14 Clyde Terrace, New Cross  – a close friend of Bessie Rayer Parkes – was assistant secretary of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, a founder of the Kensington Society and a leading member of the Society for the Employment of Women. For more on Isa Craig see her entry in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Fanny Aiken Kortright of  21 Eldon Road, Kensington, was a writer of sensational novels.  She must quite soon have regretted signing this petition, for in 1869 she printed for private circulation a pamphlet AGAINST the Woman’s Right movement, entitled Pro Aris et Focis, which won the approval of Queen Victoria and the sympathy of the then Prime Minister. Eliza and Harriet were her older sisters. Another, married, sister also signed the petition.

Miss Kunz (Miss Mina Kunz) of 19 Royal Circus, Edinburgh was in 1868 on the executive committee of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Educational Association and by 1874 was a member of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Debating Society.

Philippine Kyllman, Fallowfield, Manchester, was the wife of Max Kyllman, a wealthy young Manchester businessman interested in Co-operative matters.  Kyllmann provided capital for a mill established in Manchester by George Holyoake and Edward Owen Greening on a profit-sharing basis – though it quickly failed. For more about Philippine Kyllman see her entry in my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

As for Sarah Kersey of Aldeburgh you can find a little more about her in an earlier post I published about Aldeburgh and the petition.

And for many of the others on these two pages – as on all the others that comprise the petition – something can be discovered about the lives of most of the women who were sufficiently bold as to sign it.

As far as I know the only printed copy of the Petition held in a public collection is that which resides in the  Emily Davies Papers in the Girton Archive.

The Parliamentary Archives have now digitised the petion – using my ancient photocopy – see http://www.parliament.uk/documents/parliamentary-archives/1866SuffragePetitionNamesWebJune16.pdf > Many happy hours can now be sent searching to see who the women were who were prepared to put their name to this revolutionay document.

 

STOP PRESS: THE COPY THAT I SOLD HAS BEEN LENT TO THE ‘ENDLESS ENDEAVOURS’ EXHIBITION SHOWING  AT LSE – http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/exhibitions/home.aspx.

 

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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

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Edith Downing’s Hunger Strike Medal

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (with which I had a slight association) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands in the very many years that I have been dealing in suffrage-related books and ephemera.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Edith Downing's Hunger Strike Medal

Edith Downing’s Hunger Strike Medal

Edith Downing was a sculptor, living in Tite Street, Chelsea, who joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1908. Earlier, certainly as early as 1903 – if not before – she had been a member of the London society associated with the non-militant National Union of Suffrage Societies.

Edith Downing in her studio

Edith Downing in her studio

She put her artistic talent to the suffrage cause and in June 1910 she was one of the organisers of the WSPU/WFL’s spectacular ‘Prison to Citizenship’ Procession. As well as the hunger strike medal I also once, quite coincidentally, acquired  a small statuette that she had sold at a suffrage bazaar held to raise money for the WSPU.

Edith Downing was, however, equally prepared to take militant action and in March 1912 took part in the WSPU’s West-End window-smashing raid. As a result she was imprisoned and while in Holloway took part in the hunger-strike and was forcibly fed.

She was awarded the WSPU’s hunger strike medal on her release. For more details of Edith Downing’s involvement with the suffrage cause see her entry in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

Scenes of both the window-smashing raid and of forcible feeding are shown very effectively in the film ‘Suffragette’. And I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that a hunger strike medal plays a small part in the lead character’s conversion to the cause.

The hunger strike medal awarded to Edith’s sister, Caroline Lowder Downing, is now held in the Houses of Parliament collection –  see here. For details about the Suffragette Season of talks and tours (which will, I’m sure, include a chance to see Caroline Downing’s medal) that Parliament has launched to coincide with the release of ‘Suffragette’ see here.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/ Palmisting For The Cause At A Café Chantant – December 1909

December was always a good month for fund-raising suffrage parties.

Cafe Chantant NUWSS Dec 1909 - Copy

For the suffrage movement was not all about militancy and processions. Money had to be raised to pay for the campaigning and for the management of the rapidly-developing organisations – and much of it was done in the time-honoured way of bazaars and balls. Here is a flyer for a Café Chantant organised by the London Society for Women’s Suffrage in December 1909.

The flyer comes from the collection of Kate Parry Frye, where it lay between the pages of her diary in which she describes the event itself.

She was living at home in North Kensington and had already had some experience as a reader of palms at earlier suffrage fund-raising events. On 6 December 1909 Kate wrote:

‘Agnes [her sister] and Katie [Finch-Smith – neé Gilbey -her cousin] arrived about 12.30. I had lent Katie a white dress as she had not got one and she had brought up the regulation white cap and apron and I also supplied the colours. I wore my best. We started off just before 2.30. One bus to the Grove [that is, Westbourne Grove] and another to Kensington and to the Town Hall for the Café Chantant got up for the Funds of the London Society and National Union.

It began at 3 o’clock. Katie left her things in the cloak room and we all went upstairs together. Agnes had to pay her 3/- to go in and for tea but Katie and I went in free. I found Mrs Rowan Hamilton who had charge of the Palmists and she hadn’t got me a table and I would not begin till she had one brought. I had told her two chairs and a table would be required. I had a little spot close by screens – my name up – ‘Katharine Parry’ – spelt wrong of course. I was just beside the tea tables so I could be near Katie till the fun began. We introduced her to lots of people. I hoped she enjoyed it but I think she got very tired.

 Miss Lockyer [she had been housekeeper to the murdered storekeeper, William Whiteley] with a friend came very early and I am afraid did not enjoy herself much. I just spoke to her but could not leave my corner and she thought 2/6 too much to consult me – it was a lot. There was another Palmist ‘Ravario’ and my crystal gazer – Clare Crystal. Agnes and Katie consulted her and found her rather poor. The Wrights were there, of course. Alexandra only a simple ‘Tea Girl’ but she selected Agnes to have tea with her – such an honour for Agnes. Miss Carl Hentschel was a Tea Girl and her Mother helping everywhere and lots of people I know.

At first I could not get any clients – no-one knew me. The first was a man about 3.30 – a funny sort of thing – then a lady, who was so delighted she went out to boom me and she did – for, for the rest of the day, I was besieged. I could have gone on all night. It was hard work but I enjoyed it. I had such nice interesting people – a few made me feel miserable, they were so unhappy – but some were charming – two insisted upon having my address. One said she would try and get me some engagements – a Miss May Oakley. I kept on till 20 minutes to 6 when Agnes dragged me out to have some tea – and John [Collins, her fiancé] came upstairs – he had been taking tickets from 2.30.

So I had some tea and he had a second tea. We had it from Miss Doake’s table as Katie was away. I had promised to go back at 6 o’clock and there was already a client sitting in the retreat. I kept on till 6.30 when the affair was over for the afternoon and we all four went home feeling very tired. John had to be back before 8 o’clock and we were not back till after 7 – so had to rush about and he had a meal as quickly as it could be got and go off.

Leaving Agnes behind, Katie and I left again at 8 o’clock and went by bus to Kensington. It was all in full swing again. The entertainment going on as before and more theatrical and Ju Jitsu displays and heaps of people. John was taking tickets again as happy as a cricket. I had said I would be back 9 till 10 – but I was pounced upon straight away. I had a horrid few moments when I missed my muff but John found it for me.

We worked till I was nearly done and told about 14 or 16 – and 17 to 20 in the afternoon. I had to refuse more as it was 10.30 and I was so tired – though the people came and begged me to go on. Gladys herself honoured me – and she told me that people were giving up their tickets for the other Palmists to come to me. John seemed playing about all the evening and Katie was serving coffee and cakes. There was an auction of cakes – and I bought a lovely Fullers cake. All the cakes had been given and were simply lovely ones. It was pouring with rain and we had to have a cab to the flat. Got in about 11.30.’

Interesting to see that Edith Garrud was happy to give jujitsu displays for the non-militant society.

For more about Kate Frye and the suffrage movement see here:

Kate Frye cover

 

 

For more about the entirety of Kate Frye’s life see here

cover e-book

Kate was very sympathetic towards the Women’s Social and Political Union and was, briefly, a member. She was particularly concerned about improving the life of her poorer sisters and without a doubt would have loved the film ‘Suffragette’.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: The Morrison Collection

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item – or, in the case of today, items – that have passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s images: The Morrison Suffrage Collection.

Evelyn Morrison's WSPU regalia

The Morrisons’ WSPU regalia

Evelyn Mary Fanny Matilda Murray was born in New South Wales, Australia, c 1850. She was the daughter of Sir Terence Murray, (President of the NSW Legislative Council) by his first wife. She was, therefore, half-sister to Sir Gilbert Murray, later to become Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, who was a son of the father’s second marriage. [Gilbert Murray’s wife was a daughter of Lady Carlisle and for many years president of the Oxford Women’s Liberal Association.]

By the mid-1870s Evelyn Murray was married to a Robert Morrison. They had a daughter, also named Evelyn Morrison, born c 1881. At some point Robert Morrison died and it was as a widow that Mrs Morrison, with her daughter, Evelyn, arrived in Britain sometime between 1891 and 1901. Mrs Morrison ‘worked’ for the Liberal Party before becoming involved with the WSPU.

Her daughter, Evelyn, was a university graduate (possibly of Bedford College, but I am not sure. Certainly she was not a graduate of an Oxford or Cambridge college because she was able to style herself ‘BA.’)

The younger Evelyn was a WSPU speaker and in February 1910 was elected joint honorary secretary of the Kensington WSPU.

DSC00005

Miss Evelyn Morrison was a ‘Group Captain’ in charge of Section One of the WSPU’s spectacular procession to Hyde Park on 21 June 1908.

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It would be for this that she made the ‘Group Captain’ sash.

DSC00004 I am pretty sure that the ‘Votes for Women’ sash also belonged to her.

Evelyn Morrison

Here is Miss Evelyn Morrison wearing just such a sash – in a procession alongside Mrs Pankhurst.

Morrison 1910 deputation

This is the ticket issued to Mrs Morrison for a 22 November 1910 WSPU meeting in Caxton Hall. However, as we can see from the hand alterations to the ticket, the date was brought forward.  The collection included two telegrams to Mrs Morrison, dated 15 Nov 1910, rescheduling the date of deputation to Parliament in which she was to take part.

The new date of Friday 18 November became notorious in suffragette history as ‘Black Friday’ when Parliament Square became the scene of a near riot and many women were assaulted by the police. Mrs Morrison was there, wearing the ‘Deputation’ silk insignia that appears in the first photograph. Incidentally, the film’ Suffragette’ includes a scene of frantic suffragette protest immediately outside Parliament

Mrs Morrison was arrested and the collection included the order issued by the Metropolitan Police, ordering her the appear the next day at Bow Street Police Court. The charge was one of ‘wilfully obstructing Police whilst in the due execution of their duty’. The charge against her, as against all the other women arrested on Black Friday was dropped and Mrs Morrison was discharged.

Another telegram was included in the collection, sent from Mrs Morrison to her daughter from Southampton Street close to Bow Street court, dated 19 November, to say that she and all the others arrested with her the previous day had been discharged. The Home Office had decided it was not politic to charge so many women – 220 had been arrested on ‘Black Friday’.

Morrison gun licence

On 4 July 1912, in the genteel setting of Church Street, Kensington, Mrs Morrison was issued with a gun licence. Why should she require to carry a pistol? At this time WSPU militancy was reaching fever pitch – with Mrs Pankhurst being regularly arrested and then released after hunger striking. It is interesting that this particular piece of paper has survived alongside the other, solely suffrage, material. The inference is that the issuing of the licence was not unconnected with Mrs Morrison’s involvement in the suffrage movement.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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  • Letter from Evelyn Sharp to Miss Morrison, dated 21 March 1909 thanking her for organising a WSPU meeting (at which Christabel Pankhurst had been the main speaker)
  • Cyclostyled letter from Christabel Pankhurst – probably to Mrs Morrison – it dates from November 1910 and refers to meetings being held at the beginning of the week after the deputation in which she took part.
  • Gun Licence issued to Mrs Morrison on 4 July 1912. This was at a time when WSPU militancy was reaching fever pitch – with Mrs Pankhurst being regularly arrested and then released after hunger striking. It is interesting that this particular piece of paper has survived alongside the suffrage material. The inference is that the issuing of the licence was not unconnected with Mrs Morrison’s involvement in the suffrage movement.

 

Framed items

 

1) Together in one frame – three telegrams

 

Two telegrams to Mrs Morrison, dated 15 Nov 1910, rescheduling date of deputation to Parliament in which she was to take part. This was to become notorious as ‘Black Friday’ when there was a near riot in Parliament Square and many women were assaulted by the police.

The third telegram (the one in the centre) is from Mrs Morrison to her daughter, sent from Southampton St close to Bow Street court, dated 19 November, to say that she and all the others arrested with her the previous day had been discharged. (The Home Office had decided it was not politic to charge so many women – 220 had been arrested on ‘Black Friday’.

 

  • In the second frame

 

The order issued by the Metropolitan Police when Mrs Morrison was arrested in the course of ‘Black Friday’, ordering her the appear the next day at Bow Street Police Court. The charge was one of ‘wilfully obstructing Police whilst in the due execution of their duty’. As we have seen the charge was dropped and Mrs Morrison was discharged. NB Inspector Crocker, who signed the charge sheet, was involved for many years in pursuing suffragettes.

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’:’Justice Demands The Vote’ Poster

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Justicee Demands the Vote 1

This image (courtesy of Schlesinger Library) is of an English poster. I was fortunate enough to buy one of the originals of this poster at auction some years ago. This was before the days of digital cameras, which is why I, alas, don’t have my own record of it.

The poster was issued by the Brighton and Hove Women’s Franchise Society c 1908. This society had been founded – or re-founded, because there had been an earlier suffrage society in the town in the late 19th century – in 1906.  The Brighton and Hove Women’s Franchise Soceity was a local committee of the non-militant London Society for Women’s Suffrage – that is, a member of Mrs Fawcett’s National Society for Women’s Suffrage.

The artist of the poster is not recorded – but there were no shortage of women artists living in and around Brighton. It was printed by Weiners Ltd of Acton, who also printed posters for the Artists’ Suffrage League.

The message that the poster conveys – that middle-class women were campaigning alongside and on behalf of their poorer sisters – is a theme developed in the film, ‘Suffragette’.

For more about suffrage in Brighton see my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey (Routledge, 2006)

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Annie’s Bracelet

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Christabel bracelet

A 9 ct gold bracelet, very pretty, the outer engraved on one side with decorative scrolls. But it is what is engraved inside that is the secret of the bracelet’s significance..

On one arc of the circle:

‘To dearest Annie with all my love & in recollection of our great day out’

Christabel bracelet 1

and, on the other,

Christabel bracelet 2

‘Christabel Pankhurst, Hyde Park June 21st 1908’.

Annie Kenney was Christabel’s most faithful follower, her love and admiration for Christabel – and Christabel’s acceptance and acknowledgment of this loyalty – made clear in letters and in Annie’s autobiography. But this bangle is, as far as I know, the only object that testifies to the peculiar bond between the two young women.
Annie, who had worked in a mill from the age of 10, had first come under Christabel’s spell in the spring of 1905 and a few months later, in October, spent a week in prison with her after they had heckled a Liberal meeting in Manchester. This imprisonment marks the beginning of the WSPU’s militant campaign.

Annie’s life was changed for ever. As she wrote, ‘My pleasure came from seeing Christabel’s face light up with a light that later in life I discovered meant victory. Her confidence in me gave me confidence in myself.’ And when they were together in prison – ‘I remember going to Church and sitting next to Christabel who looked very coy and pretty in her prison cap. She took my hand tenderly and just held it, as though I were a lost child.’

Nevertheless that ‘lost child’, backed by Christabel’s confidence, became one of the WSPU’s leading organisers. Indeed, after Christabel left for Paris, Annie acted as her deputy, putting into effect the absent leader’s commands.

But before that, for the ‘great day out’, ‘Women’s Sunday’, the first great WSPU rally, held in Hyde Park on 21 June 1908, Annie bought a hat from Liberty’s (£1/2/6) and led the procession that started at Paddington – being at the time WSPU organiser in the West of England. Once in the Park she was the principal speaker on Platform 3.

Christabel’s gift of the bracelet recognises the significance of the ‘great day out’, marking the WSPU’s entry into a world of polished performance and Annie as one of its stars.

As Annie wrote many years later in her memoir, ‘There is a cord between Christabel and me that nothing can break – the cord of love. Distance or absence makes no difference.’ Here is a tangible – and unique -emblem of that affection.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

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Suffrage Stories/Collecting Suffrage: Countdown To 12 October And Release Of The Film ‘Suffragette’: Mrs Albert Broom And The WFL

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’  (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Today’s image:

Coronation Procession - WFL

A ‘close-up’ photograph by Mrs Albert Broom of women from the Women’s Freedom League section of the suffragette ‘Coronation Procession’ held on 17 June 1911. The image is very crisp and clear. Many of the women are wearing academic robes – one is carrying a satchel from which to sell WFL badges and postcards of the WFL leader, Mrs Despard. I think that the figures in the lead (to the left of the picture) are carrying a banner, doubtless that of the WFL, and other smaller banners are also there in the picture.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

For details of the exhibition ‘Soldiers and Suffragettes’ featuring the photography of Mrs Albert Broom see here.

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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.

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Suffrage Stories/Walks: Anne Cobden Sanderson And 15 Upper Mall, Hammersmith

One day last week, while thunder raged outside, I spent some time researching an archive at the William Morris Society premises in Upper Mall, Hammersmith. Just before I left I remembered that close by was the home of Thomas and Anne Cobden Sanderson – the former a renowned Arts and Crafts bookbinder and the latter a campaigner for women’s suffrage, constitutional in the 19th and militant in the 20th century.

Dove PressThe rain had stopped by the time I emerged from the William Morris basement, but the sky was lowering and the Thames was high and rushing fast the other side of the embankment wall as I walked towards the alley onto which the Cobden Sandersons’ house fronts. Passing the Dove – the pub which gave its name to the Doves Bindery and later the Doves Press – I came to 15 Upper Mall and the gate through which so many radical worthies have passed.

Dove Press 2

 

Anne Cobden Sanderson was born in 1853 into a leading Liberal family – her father was Richard Cobden, founder of the Anti-Corn Law League – but by the end of the 19th century she had joined the Independent Labour party.

She supported the women’s suffrage cause from an early age but, in 1906, after Annie Kenney and the Women’s Social and Political Union had arrived in London, she joined the militants. She received her first term of imprisonment – two months – in October 1906 after organising a protest meeting in the Lobby of the House of Commons. At her trial she declaimed that ‘I am a law breaker because I want to be a law maker’.

However in 1907, perhaps dismayed by Pankhurst autocracy, Anne joined Charlotte Despard in the breakaway Women’s Freedom League. In January 1909 she and her husband did, however, present Emmeline Pankhurst  with an address written on white vellum in purple and green ink and bound by the Doves Bindery to celebrate her release from prison.

Anne Cobden Sanderson proved to be one of the WFL’s most tireless campaigners, speaking at outdoor meetings and continuing to take part in militant protests.

Mrs Cobden Sanderson and Mrs Despard

She was arrested in August 1909 while picketing the door of No 10 Downing Street in order to present a petition to Asquith. During the ‘Black Friday’ demonstration in Parliament Square in November 1910 Winston Churchill, who knew Anne Cobden Sanderson well, encountering her during the fracas called a policeman and ordered, ‘Drive that woman away’!’. The structure of society must indeed have seemed perilously close to crumbling when such an action was deemed necessary against a friend of one’s family and erstwhile hostess.

Anne Cobden Sanderson continued to campaign for women’s causes for the rest of her life – and in the 1918 General Election supported Charlotte Despard when she stood as the Labour candidate for North Battersea. In 1926 she was present, a few days before she died, at a dinner given to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of Frederick and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Abbie Frye, ‘L. Parry Truscott’, Ditchling And The Now-Visited Tomb

I dedicated Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette to all those women who, in the words of George Eliot, have ‘lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs’. Since then I’ve done a little to ensure that Kate’s life is no longer hidden and (with Helen Nicholson, Berghers Hill resident and Royal Holloway professor of theatre) that her tomb need not be unvisited – I stood by it myself at the beginning of the year.

Grave of Kate and John Collins - Holtspur Cemetery, Buckinghamshire

Grave of Kate (nee Frye) and John Collins – Holtspur Cemetery, Buckinghamshire

However there are others who feature prominently in her story  whose tombs are most definitely unvisited. Finding myself this week in Ditchling, Sussex, where I knew Abbie Frye, Kate’s cousin and dearest friend, had been buried, I thought, by finding her grave, I’d do something to remark her existence.

However, when we arrived at Ditchling Church – dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch – and I saw the large, well-tended graveyard I did doubt that we’d have any chance of stumbling across Abbie’s grave. But, as luck would have it, after enjoying the calm interior of the church and the scent of lilies,  on the way out I spotted on the ‘literature’ table a typed list of ‘Monumental Inscriptions in St Margaret’s Churchyard’. What a find. My most grateful thanks to the Ditchling History Project – for there, in the index appears Abbie’s married name – ‘Hargrave’.

Page from 'Monumental Inscriptions in St Margaret's Churchyard

Page from ‘Monumental Inscriptions in St Margaret’s Churchyard’ – note the top line

As you see, Abbie – and her husband, Basil – lie in an unmarked grave. Without the reference to its position in this guide (see also its website here) there would be no possibility of identifying it. As it is, you’ll doubtless be thrilled to know that I can show you the very patch of springy turf under which they lie.

Grave of Basil and Abbie Harrgrave in Ditchling Churchyard

Grave of Basil and Abbie Hargrave in Ditchling Churchyard

But who was Abbie Frye/Hargrave? Although she has left a considerable body of published work, unlike Kate she left no diary- but through Kate’s words we can glimpse something of her world and her life.

At the Fryes' home, The Plat at Bourne End. Abbie is standing on the left. Kate sits at her feet.

At the Fryes’ home, The Plat at Bourne End. Abbie is standing on the left. Kate sits at her feet.

She was born Gertrude A. Frye c 1871 in Calcutta, the daughter of Charles Frye, a brother of Kate Frye’s grandfather. Abbie’ s mother, Marguerite Maria Frye, had died by 1881 for in that year’s census Charles Frye is described as a widower – and a professor of music (I think he taught at King’s College, London). His address was 4 Buckingham Road, Tottenham, but his daughters, Abbie (aged 10) and Maggie (8), were by now in the care of his sister, Caroline, and her husband, Basil Hargrave, and living at 3 Havilland Terrace, Defoe Road, Tooting.

The latter, born in 1849, had married Caroline Frye in 1873 and was a clerk in an insurance office. Charles Frye died in 1886, orphaning Abbie and Maggie who by 1891 were still living with the Hargraves – now at 20 Castlewood Road, Stamford Hill, close to Caroline’s mother.

In the 1890s Abbie was working as a daily governess but at the same time was beginning her career as a writer of magazine stories, publishing them under her own name. One of the journals in which her stories appeared was Cycling World.  On Monday December 15th 1896 Kate wrote in her diary: ‘I heard this morning that the Cycling World has just accepted another  of Abbie’s Stories – I am more delighted than I can say and so is she I know. She got £2 10s for the other which is splendid pay I consider. I hope she will do as well by this.’ That £2 10s was very important for Abbie had no money of her own and her aunt and uncle had little to spare.

Kate’s diary is full of Abbie in whose literary career she took a keen interest. Her diary entry for Monday February 14th 1898 describes a visit with Abbie to Paternoster Row – to an agent  ‘Mr Burghes who has Abbie’s two tales to send about. She wanted to see him to ask him about them – so had asked me to go  with her. We were shown into his office where he was sitting writing and he was awfully nice. I don’t know that we did much good by going to see him – but it can do no harm and it may possibly wake him up a bit. He spoke so nicely and was very polite – I thought him very charming – he might have been most snappy one does hear such awful tales of publishers and those kind of people.’

Abbie’s home life was not at all happy. She and the Hargraves were by 1898 living in Sutton, where on Friday 1 July Kate paid a visit. ‘Mr Hargrave came in just before we left – him I cannot do with – such a surly sort of man – I didn’t even want to be nice to him – Aunt Carry I don’t so dislike though no doubt she is a bit of a vixen – but her good man I should soon fall out with. The girls seem just like visitors there and have to be awfully careful what they say.’

Mind you this visit came only a couple of months before Caroline Hargrave was diagnosed with cancer and underwent an operation on at Guy’s Hospital – so there might well have been a reason for the miserable atmosphere Kate experienced.

Abbie continued to live with the Hargraves, nursing Caroline while making a determined effort to progress as an author. In February 1902 Kate wrote that Abbie ‘has been having rather excitements lately. She sent the “The Poet and Penelope” to Fisher Unwin who won’t publish it at their own risk but for £50. Her Uncle has offered to lend her £25 and I have offered her the other £25 – my last money almost in the Bank – but I am glad for her to have it. Of course she will never get it out of this book but it is the only chance for the future I can see for her. I do hope it will be a success for her sake. Of course I don’t expect to see my £25 back and I do think it is good of her Uncle out of his small means to lend her the money.’

The Poet and Penelope was published in May 1902 by T. Fisher Unwin in the UK and by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US, Abbie using the pseudonym of ‘L. Parry Truscott’. It must have been a sufficient of a success because, in 1903, 1904 and 1905, Fisher Unwin published three more of her novels. With Basil Hargrave, Kate had been instrumental in launching Abbie’s career and, less than a year later, her second novel, ‘When the Tree Falls’, bore the printed dedication ‘To Kate Parry Dear Cousin and Dearer Friend This Book’.

Over the next couple of decades Abbie published a total of thirteen novels but, although in her heyday quite successful, her pseudonym has proved all but impenetrable. A dictionary of pseudonymous writers ascribes ‘L. Parry Truscott’ to some other woman and the Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction mis-states her dates and merely notes that ‘little is known about this writer’. It is only through reading Kate’s diary that her identity and the pattern of her life has been revealed.

Caroline Hargrave died in 1904 and in May 1905 there was a new development.  Kate ‘broke the news first to Mother then to Agnes about Abbie. Mother wasn’t a bit surprised but Agnes was astounded. If I am disappointed it is no use showing it – it is for the general happiness to make the best of it and as I only wish for the best for Abbie I will honestly do any little thing I can to bring about the best.’ ‘The news’ was that the man who, echoing Abbie, Kate always referred to as ‘Uncle’, wished to make his niece his wife.

Although Basil Hargrave was uncle to Abbie only by marriage, he had brought her up since she was a young child. Thinking him dull and despotic, Kate had never cared for ‘Uncle’ but, for Abbie’s sake, was prepared to do everything she could to ensure the marriage was accepted with good grace by the family. She went down to Broadstairs, where Abbie was staying, finding her ‘looking uncommonly well and very cheerful’. From now on Kate dropped the pointed use of ‘Uncle’, commenting ‘Abbie writes to Basil every day and gets Volumes in return. She is going to say “yes” to him when he comes for his answer at Whitsun. I am very pleased people are taking it well for both their sakes. He must be very fond of her and that he appreciates her writing is the greatest possible point in his favour. Now the thing is where can the marriage take place?.’

Marriage between uncle and niece was then prohibited under the laws of consanguinity (and would still be illegal if Basil Hargrave had been Abbie’s formal adoptive father) so advice was sought as to where the couple could go to enter into a legal marriage. On 13 June Kate was at Bourne End when she ‘heard from Abbie that she has given her word to marry Basil but they cannot find out where the ceremony can take place to make it legal. Jersey won’t do, where the deceased wife’s sisters go. In the evening I told Daddie and was fearfully amused at the way he took it. He was pulling up onions at the time and all the while seemed much more interested in onions than Abbie. He said he wasn’t surprised and of course I knew he would not be likely to object and he is going to find out “where” if possible.’

The answer was Brussels, where the wedding between Abbie Frye and Basil Hargrave took place on 2 August 1905. But before then Kate took Abbie shopping for her trousseau, lending her £16 to pay for indulgences, such as new underwear, that were the right of any bride. The cousins thoroughly enjoyed their scamper through the West End and Westbourne Grove shops and Abbie duly repaid the money out of her earnings from her next novel, “Motherhood”.

Chichester House, 11 High Street, Ditchling

Chichester House, 11 High Street, Ditchling

By 1909 the Hargraves had moved from the dreary Sutton house to the very much more agreeable village of Ditchling. In this pretty village, nestling in the South Downs, Abbie, as a novelist, was in her element amongst the bohemian artists and craftsmen who had begun to make it their home. Their first home in the village was Chichester House in the High Street, where in 1910 Kate paid them a visit and in their drawing room listened to a talk by Eric Gill on ‘Arts and Crafts in the Home’. You can read my post about this visit here.

In August 1911 Abbie had a son, Basil Truscott Hargrave. When, in the autumn, Kate paid another visit to Chichester House she wrote  ‘This is a most exciting visit, it seems so wonderful to see Abbie with her Babe – and Basil as a Papa for the first time at his age.’ Abbie was now 40 years old and Basil 62.

Basil Hargrave’s was the first coffin in that grave under the churchyard turf. He died in 1919, leaving very little money. Abbie was faced with the prospect of keeping herself and raising her son, now barely eight years old, on the proceeds of her writing. Sales of her novels were now negligible and it was difficult to interest publishers in new work. In the 1920s she managed to place two novels, one under the pseudonym ‘Anna Hurst’ and another under her own name – ‘Abbie Hargrave’.

Abbie and Truscott continued to live in Ditchling, latterly in ‘Oldways Cottage’. It was on 16 November 1936 that Kate received a letter from Truscott telling her of Abbie’s death on the 14th. The next day Kate wrote of  ‘a dreadful feeling of sorrow and blankness. If my sense of loss is wide and deep what must Truscott’s be – and what of his future. But one feels it could not have gone on – that mounting load of debt and Abbie’s ill health. But my life-long friend – and such a loving one – I shall miss that affectionate interest so very much.’ Kate ‘bought a black hat and some grey stockings’ and on 19 November travelled by train and bus to Abbie’s burial, alongside her husband, in Ditchling churchyard. Dr Habberton Lulham, a Ditchling medical practitioner and photographer (you can read more about him here) was the only Ditchling resident present at the funeral whom Kate remarks. She had met him on her previous visits and there may have been others there whom she did not know and so doesn’t mention.

The following day Kate ‘sent a cheque for £5 to Truscott to begin to pay his mother’s funeral expenses’. However, this gift clearly did not cover the cost of a headstone.

Truscott Hargrave continued to live in Ditchling for a few more years, working for some of that time as secretary to the Saint Dominic’s Press, which had been founded by Eric Gill. He later ran a grocery shop at Upper Dicker

Hargrave shop

 

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Kate And The ‘Right To Work’ March, 17 July 1915

Kate Frye coverThis summer is passing so quickly that I realise that I’ve missed – by two weeks or so-  the 100th anniversary of Kate Frye’s final involvement with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. Still – better late than never -it would be a pity not to record an eye-witness account of the final ‘suffrage’ procession, which had morphed into one claiming for women a ‘Right to Work’ for the war effort.

Kate has been married for six months and is now ‘Mrs John Collins’ – but ever since the wedding John has been based at army camps on the east coast so she is, as before, living alone in her digs at 49 Claverton Street, Pimlico.

You can read about Kate Frye’s work as an organiser with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here.

Saturday July 17th 1915 

A very dull morning and it just started to rain as I went out. I was prepared for wild weather as the wind too was very fierce – a short grey linen dress – a woollen coat to keep me warm – Aquascutum – boots and rubbers – a small cap tied on – and an umbrella. It was fortunate I was so prepared as it turned out a wicked day and rained till 4 o’clock.

I went by bus to Westminster and walked along the Embankment to see if there were any signs of preparation but it was pouring by then so there was nothing. I went to Slaters in the Strand and had some lunch and back on the Embankment by one. There from the paving stones sprang up marshalls and assistant marshalls (I was a marshall with a broad red sash) all like me hurrying to posts. Mine was 101 and only 100 were given out – so I claimed mine and stood behind the last soldier with 101 until nearly 3.30.

But the rain kept the people away who would have filled the last of the 125 sections and we marshalls and assistant marshalls had very little to do. Our section commander never came along at all so we had to organise ourselves. Miss Barnes of the Knitting Dept came along to be in my section. She is a thoroughly good sort. Just before 3.30 we discovered if we were to march we must arrange ourselves – so a few people did one thing – a few another. I ran down the line telling people to come along and so we caught up with the front.

Banners and bannerettes were hastily pulled out of carts and we were off. I went up and down giving directions and making us as trim as possible. We were a motley crew but we had some fine banner bearers and the greater number of us looked very neat in rainproof coats. And so off again on the great Women’s Patriotic Procession organised by Mrs Pankhurst and led by her. Mr Lloyd George received a deputation of women concering Munitions.  Mrs Chapman [president of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage] walked all the way in the first section and went in with the deputation.

It was a long and interesting procession but would have been longer had the weather been better. But the rain stopped about 4 o’clock and actually just as I got back to the Embankment at 6 o’clock the sun came out. The procession started off at 3.30 sharp. There were no end of Bands and they helped one tremendously. The route was long – Embankment, Whitehall, Cockspur St, Pall Mall, St James, Piccadilly, Park Lane, Oxford St,  Regent’s St, Haymarket, Northumberland Avenue on to the Embankment again when we gave up banners and those who could went along on to hear Mr Lloyd George speak from a balcony looking over the Embankment. I saw him watching the whole thing from there as we went along.

Such a crowd to watch us all along the route and the Clubs packed with people. At intervals tables with ladies taking signatures of women ready to do munition work. It was very inspiring and invigorating and though I felt very tired and seedy before I think the walk did me good. I was a bit stiff and glad to sit down. I made my way to the Strand and had some tea.

Kate

 

Kate Frye (1878-1959) – was resurrected by ITV who put her (played by Romola Garai) in a series – The Great War: The People’s Story – and commissioned me to write her life. This story of an ordinary Englishwoman will appeal to all those interested in a real life lived – from the palmy days of Victoria to  the New Elizabethan age. For more details read here.

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Suffrage Stories: Helen Watts And The Mystery Of The Unclaimed Trunk

In May I attended a very interesting seminar – ‘”I am a part of all who I have met”: Why Social Networks Mattered for Suffragette Militancy‘ – given at the Institute of Historical Research by Dr Gemma Edwards of Manchester University. In the course of this Gemma demonstrated how social network theory could be used to re-construct the networks that formed around individual suffragettes and how these networks could then be analysed to demonstrate the subject’s primary relationships and the influences likely to have been exerted on and by them. For an illuminating article by Gemma on the subject see here.

For her paper at the IHR Gemma concentrated on two known suffragettes – Mary Blathwayt and Helen Watts – and related that she had a particular connection with the latter because it was thanks to her own father that papers relating to Helen Watts’ suffragette activities are now held in Nottinghamshire Archives. I little realised when I sat there reading through the Watts’ papers in the late 1990s that they had such a romantic past (or at least romantic to an historical detective).

For, Gemma explained, in the 1980s her father, a Bristol history teacher, had set project work for his class and that one pupil had chosen as her subject the local women’s suffrage movement. She had then been sufficiently enterprising as to place an advertisement in a local paper asking for any new information. Rather amazingly a reply was received from a worker at Avonmouth Docks to say that a quantity of suffrage-related papers were held in a trunk that lay, apparently unclaimed, in a warehouse. The papers related to the suffrage activity of Nottingham-based Helen Kirkpatrick Watts. Gemma’s father was permitted to borrow and photocopy them, subsequently depositing the copies in the Nottinghamshire Archives.

Helen Watts photographed by Col Blathwayt (photo courtesy of Bath In Time website)

Helen Watts photographed by Col Blathwayt (photo courtesy of Bath In Time website)

Knowing nothing of this rather bizarre provenance I duly wrote an entry on Helen Watts for The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide, recounting her suffragette life. I discovered, from an issue of Calling All Women, the newsletter published by the Suffragette Fellowship, that Helen had emigrated to Canada – to Vancouver – in 1965, the wording suggesting that this was a permanent move. I did like to anchor my subjects’ earthly existence with firm birth and death dates but in those pre-internet days I assumed that was as far as I could follow her – having no way then of discovering dates of death in Canada.

However, after Gemma’s seminar I pondered on the mystery of how the trunk could have lain apparently abandoned at Avonmouth. Even though she had flown to Canada and organised for her belonging to have followed her by sea Helen Watts would surely have been on tenterhooks to ensure their safe arrival. Thus it seemed doubtful that the trunk could have failed to leave Avonmouth in 1965.

In the days of my Reference Guide research all tracking of births, marriages and deaths had to be done by working through the hefty volumes held in the Family Record Office and its predecessors. Now, however, I can sit at my computer and at a click find dates in a second. So it was that, after Gemma’s talk, I entered details for Helen Watts and discovered that she had not died in Canada but in England – in Chilcompton, Somerset, aged 91 – on 18 August 1972 . Her permanent address at the time was 36 York Avenue, Hove. Her ’emigration’ had clearly not been permanent. However, one of her sisters, Ethelinda, a teacher, does seem to have taken up permanent residence in Canada, and in 1965 it was presumably Helen’s intention to live with her. Ethelinda Watts died in Vancouver three months after Helen – in November 1972.

Helen Watts' suffragette memorabilia (courtesy of Christie's website)

Helen Watts’ suffragette memorabilia (courtesy of Christie’s website)

My suggestion is, therefore, that the trunk had actually completed its return journey from Canada when it lay forgotten at Avonmouth. Possibly by then Helen Watts was too infirm to keep track of her possessions – however treasured. It is not known what has happened to the trunk and the originals of the papers – perhaps Helen Watts’ wider family (Nevile Watts has numerous descendants) were eventually made aware of them. What must have been her most valuable suffragette mementoes – her hunger-strike medal and Holloway brooch – did resurface – for they were sold at auction in London in 1999. However it is more than likely that Helen Watts carried such an iconic item with her on her journey home rather than consigning it to the trunk.

A little more investigation revealed something more of Helen Watts’ life after her brief and dramatic involvement with the Women’s Social and Political Union than was available when I wrote her Reference Guide biography. By 1911 she had left Nottingham and was living with her brother, Nevile, in Chilcompton in Somerset. He had rebelled in his own way against his family’s Anglican tradition (Helen and Nevile’s father was vicar of Lenton, on the outskirts of Nottingham), was now a classics teacher at Downside College, a renowned Roman Catholic school, and later converted to Roman Catholicism.  You can read a short autobiographical article by Nevile Watts here.

Nevile Watts married, fathered five sons, published several books and continued to live in Chilcompton. Helen probably remained in the area for some years – possibly joined by her other sister, Alice. Certainly in the 1950s the ‘Misses Watts’ are listed in the phone book as living at Crosslands, Wells Road, Chilcompton.

The moral of this tale is that papers related to the suffrage movement can turn up in the most unexpected places. If you come across any do let me know…

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: London’s First Zepp Raid 1915

Kate Frye cover

 

Kate is living in Pimlico and still working at the office of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Knightsbridge. The society is now devoting itself to supporting the war effort.

‘Tuesday 1 June 1915

To office and a very busy day. News of a raid on London last night – Zepps – and bombs have been dropped – some deaths. No places mentioned but I know they went to the East End. So it’s come at last. It is a horrible feeling.

I had a quick lunch with Constance [Constance Gilbey, her cousin] at Tudor. had to go back before 2 o’clock though everything was ready for the meeting and it was a packed one. We had it in our Hall – and the speakers were Miss Damer Dawson – on the Women Police Service and Alexandra [Wright] on the Canteen [set up by the New Constitutional Society at the Enfield Lock Small Arms Factory]. I thought the latter did very well for her, but of course she could not be other than herself and a sort of unpleasingness creeps in and after Miss Dawson who was just delightful – well there it was. But the meeting was a great success – though as I told Mrs Hartley it was a Women’s Police audience and not ours.

Cleared up as much as I could – then as Alexandra and Mrs Fausset waited we ended by walking across the park together. We saw A. to her turning and then went on and had some dinner at Arthur’s Stores. Mrs Faussett’s husband is down with scarlet fever and she is very lonely. We walked together to Royal Oak where she got a bus and I continued my ramble to Marble Arch. Stopped on my way to send Post Cards to Mother, and John to let them know I was safe. Of course all our talk was of Zepps – everyone feverish with the subject and none of us too comfortable about the matter. 

Two buses back. A little writing then bed. I couldn’t sleep at first – so read. It been much warmer but a very heavy day.’

zepp raid

For more information on the first London Zeppelin raid see here

 Margaret Damer Dawson was one of the founders, in 1915, of the Women’s Police Service.

You can read about Kate Frye’s work as an organiser with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here.

cover e-book

 For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

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Caroline Crommelin and Florence Goring Thomas: 19thc Interior Decorators: Who Were They?

Caroline Anna de Cherois Crommelin (c 1854-1910) was born in Co Down, Ireland, one of the many children of Samuel  de la Cherois Crommelin of  Carrowdore Castle.

Carrowdore Castle

Carrowdore Castle

Although of gentle birth, the family had little money. Political unrest in Ulster forced a move to England and after their father’s death in 1885 Caroline Crommelin and her sisters found it necessary to work to support themselves.

May Crommelin

May Crommelin

Caroline’s elder sister, May, became a novelist and enjoyed a measure of popular success. In 1903 another sister, Constance, married John Masefield (who was very much her junior).

In 1886 another of the sisters, Florence, married a solicitor, Rhys Goring Thomas, and in the late 1880s with Caroline, who seems to have been the driving force, embarked on a career as a ‘lady decorator’. The pair were able to travel easily along the path blazed for them a decade earlier by Rhoda and Agnes Garrett.

Unlike the Garretts, Caroline and Florence do not appear to have had any specific training, although years later Caroline wrote that an apprenticeship was essential. Rather, they relied on what was assumed to be a natural taste absorbed from their early surroundings. In a later interview Caroline described how their father had given the two of them a room in Carrowdore Castle to do with as they wished and from painting and papering this room they had learned their trade. Whereas Rhoda and Agnes Garrett were happy to deal with drains and internal structures, I doubt that such practicalities fell within the Crommelin sisters’ remit.

It was ‘beautifying’ that was the word most often used to describe Caroline Crommelin’s work. An article by Mary Frances Billington in The Woman’s World, 1890, describes how in 1888 Caroline Crommelin  set up a depot at 12 Buckingham Palace Road for the ‘sale of distressed Irish ladies’ work’ and then ‘saw a wider market as a house-decorator, so she wrote ‘Art at Home’ on her door-plate, took into partnership her sister, Mrs Goring Thomas..and boldly set forth to hunt for old oak, rare Chippendale, beautiful Sheraton and Louis Seize furniture’. She attended auctions in all parts of the country and, in case there was any doubt as to the propriety of this involvement with trade, reported that she had no difficulty doing business with dealers, meeting only with civility.

Noting the popularity of old, carved oak, the sisters’ bought old plain oak pieces and then had them carved by their own craftsmen. There was always a stock of such pieces in their showroom.

The ‘Arts at Home Premises’ were opened in Victoria Street, London, in early 1891. I think their house was at 167a Victoria Street – certainly by 1898 this was Caroline Crommelin’s work premises, but it’s possible that in the late 1880s she was working from 143 Victoria Street. Of the ‘Arts at Home’ premises The Sheffield Telegraph (9 March 1891) described how’charmingly arranged rooms, stored with delightful old oak, Sheraton, and Chippendale furniture, quaint brass ornaments, old silver, beautiful tapestries, and old china were crowded all afternoon with the many friends of the clever hostesses.’..The oak room featured a delightful ‘cosy corner’ in dark oak with blue china arranged on the top ledge against the pink walls. May Billington’s article includes a line-drawing of a corner of the ‘Arts at Home’ showroom.

In its 23 November 1895 issue the York Herald commented of Caroline Crommelin that  ‘Her house in Victoria St is conspicuous to the passer by for the pretty arrangement of its curtains, and inside the artistic element is even more apparent. Miss Crommelin has been very successful as a house beautifier and her opinion has been much sought after and esteemed by those who like the home to be dainty and harmonious.’

In 1891 the sisters also displayed their wares at the Women’s Handicrafts Exhibition at Westminster Town Hall. The Manchester Times singled them (‘two of our cleverest art decorators’) out for praise.  ‘These ladies have shown that… old oak furniture need not be gloomy and dusty and that new furniture may be made to look as good as old, even if the old be Chippendale or Sheraton, Queen Anne or Dutch marqueterie.’

One of Caroline Crommelin’s first ‘beautifying’ commissions was carried out for Lord and Lady Dufferin on the British Embassy in Rome in 1890/1891. The Manchester Guardian (8 Oct 1889) reported that she redecorated the entire embassy. Doubtless this plum commission was not unconnected to the fact that the Dufferin estate in Co Down was a mere 10 miles from Carrowdore Castle; the families were presumably known to each other. Rather more surprising is the claim made in an interview with her in the Women’s Penny Paper, 23 Nov 1889,  that she had ‘supplied nearly all the furniture to Lord Cholmondeley’s old place at Houton [sic].  Houghton Hall was let to tenants during the 19th century so, perhaps, there is a kernel of truth buried in this statement – but I don’t think we need go looking at Houghton as it is today for evidence of Caroline Crommelin’s involvement in its decoration.

In interviews Caroline Crommelin also made clear that she  ‘undertakes, when required, to furnish  a whole or any part of a house, either going with the customer to different firms or selecting for them’ and ‘does not confine herself to decorative work alone, and will put up blinds or attend to the whitewashing of a ceiling with the most professional alacrity’.

Both Caroline and Florence were supporters of the campaign to give the vote to women householders and were keen to see women’s advancements in the professions – particularly as architects.

In 1895 Caroline Crommelin married Robert Barton Shaw, nephew of a former Recorder of Dublin, who in the 1901 census return is described as an estate agent. I wonder if his wife helped in ‘beautifying’ houses he had for sale? In 1901 they were living at 50 Morpeth Mansions, Morpeth Terrace. Caroline in this census return is described as an ’employer’. Florence lived close by -in 1891 at 3 Morpeth Terrace. However hers was to be a short-lived career – she died in 1895, aged only 37, a few months before her sister’s marriage. In the 1889 Penny Paper interview Florence was quoted as saying ‘I believe everybody is happier for working. It carries  one into a new life, and one does not have time to think of being ill’. In the light of her early death this has a certain poignancy, suggesting she may have had a chronic illness to overcome.

Caroline carried on the business on her own and in 1903 teamed up with her sister, May, to write a chapter on ‘Furniture and Decoration’ in Some Arts and Crafts (ed Ethel Mckenna), published in The Woman’s Library series by Chapman & Hall. In this they ran through the various periods of furniture and room design but did not bother to disguise their support for one style in particular. ‘Anyone of artistic feeling is sensible of a singular sense of well-being on entering a genuine Queen Anne sitting-room. If analysed, the sensation will be found to arise from an instantaneous inner perception that all is in just proportion. The height and size of the room obey accurate laws. Its ceiling is relieved by geometrical designs. The walls are half-wainscoted; the polished floor shows up the tapestry-like carpet in the centre. The ornaments of furniture and general decoration are neither profuse, grotesque, nor severe. In all, the fatal “too much” is avoided.’

Caroline Crommelin (or, rather, Mrs Barton Shaw)  died at 18 Albion Place, Ramsgate on 1 February 1910.

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Suffrage Stories: Two New Exhibitions

Last week I visited two small exhibitions – both centring on the theme of ‘Campaigning’.

The first was a temporary exhibition (alas, it ends tomorrow, Friday 22 May, so hurry to catch it) – Blackguards in Bonnets – at the impressive Jewish Museum in Camden Town. This tells the story of the involvement of Jewish women and men in the struggle for emancipation. It centres particularly on the 20th-century campaign for women’s suffrage in which many members of the Jewish community took leading roles.

Israel Zangwill with

Israel Zangwill at the WSPU’s June 1908 demonstration with, on the far left, Emmeline Pethick Lawrence and on his right Christabel Pankhurst

The writer, Israel Zangwill, a noted speaker on behalf of the movement, is represented by this image. In March 1912 Kate Frye attended a meeting addressed by him and wrote of it in her diary:

‘”I turned to Mrs Mansel, just before he finished, saying ‘Doesn’t he make one think of – and isn’t he like – Spring’” That word concluded his speech, and it was like the Spring in its freshness and gaiety, life and hope, and so deliciously witty. I have never heard a large audience laugh so quickly and as gladly as this audience, the response was almost before the spoken word, in fact there was not a dull flash of the eye all the evening.’

Also on display are a number of items that related to the involvement in the WSPU and Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage campaigns of the wealthy Lowy family. Henrietta Lowy and four of her daughters had joined the WSPU in 1908.

76 Holland Park - once the Lowys' home - and one from which they were all absent on Census Night, 1911

76 Holland Park – once the Lowys’ home – and one from which they were all absent on Census Night, 1911, following the WSPU boycott call

Here, too, you can see Gertrude Lowy’s hunger-strike medal. She was imprisoned after taking part in the March 1912 window-smashing raid.

Lowy hunger strikeBut it wasn’t only wealthy members of the established Jewish community whom suffrage campaigners were keen to convert to their cause. In the autumn of 1913 the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage took their message down to the sweatshops of Whitechapel.

Yiddish - query - leafletThis leaflet, printed in Yiddish, was saved by Kate Frye from the quantity she delivered and is on display, together with her diary open at the entry for 27 September 1913, in which she describes a tea party the NCS gave for the local woman and girls, writing:

‘I chatted and handed round. The girls were so nice – nearly all Jewesses. The pitiful tales they tell of the sweated work is awful – and they are so intelligent – and quite well dressed. The Jews are an example to the gentile in that way.’

Later in the week I went to the LSE Library to view their new exhibition space – and the first exhibition to be shown in it.

The theme is ‘Campaigning’ – covering the suffrage movement (a slight nod to male enfranchisement with the greater emphasis placed on the women’s campaign), Liberations – Gay and Female – and campaigns for Peace. One wall of the exhibition space allows for the display of images, moving on a loop – with space in front devoted to a static display of CND badges, a couple of 19th-century documents, an Artists’ Suffrage League poster and a ‘Votes for Women’ scarf. These advertise, as it were, the themes of the three types of campaign.

This poster - focussing on the plight of the unenfranchised woman graduate - should appeal to at least 50% of LSE students. For my post on the artist see here

This poster – focussing on the plight of the unenfranchised woman graduate – should appeal to at least 50% of LSE students. For my post on the artist see here

In the centre of the space is a single display case in which neatly chosen documents highlight the different ways in which the campaigns were organised – and, most importantly in my eyes, stresses the rifts and divisions that are a sine qua non, it would appear, of all pressure groups.

Although small, the exhibition makes its points very well. They stick in the mind. It’s presumably intended to catch the eye of LSE students as they pass in and out of the Library entrance and is not intended to deliver in-depth information. Small and simple is no bad thing.

But, oh dear, I did wish that some acknowledgement of Millicent Fawcett and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies had been included in the display. ‘Suffrage’ yet again was only represented by Mrs Pankhurst and the WSPU, whereas the Women’s Library@LSE contains a wealth of material inherited from the NUWSS. As I viewed ‘Campaigning’ it occurred to me that it would be rather a good idea if a future exhibition could, in the same simple manner, by making reference to the NUWSS and the Women’s Freedom League (and, perhaps, some of the smaller societies), demonstrate that the women’s suffrage campaign was more complicated and multifaceted than it is popularly presented.

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Suffrage Stories: The 1866 Petition: The Aldeburgh Connection

In a previous post I recorded something of how the 1866 women’s suffrage petition came into being. Comprising 1499 names, it was presented to John Stuart Mill, MP for Westminster, by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett.

Names on the printed form of the petition are listed in alphabetical order, usually accompanied by some form of geographical address. Reading through it one notes that, while some towns have mustered only one or two signatures, others have attracted many more.

That a clutch of signatories to the petition lived in Aldeburgh, a small coastal town (1991 inhabitants in 1871) in Suffolk, had everything to do with the fact that Elizabeth Garrett LSA was one of the principal organizers of the petition. Aldeburgh was home to her family, her father, Newson Garrett, a driving force in its development. 

Elizabeth Garrett c 1866 (courtesy of Wellcome Images)

Elizabeth Garrett c 1866 (courtesy of Wellcome Images)

Just a few months earlier Elizabeth Garrett had qualified as a doctor, the first woman to do so in Britain, and signed from her London home, 20 Upper Berkeley Street, the premises of her nascent practice and the headquarters of the petition committee. She ensured that the women of Aldeburgh, her home town, were canvassed.  It is likely that it was her younger sisters, Agnes and Millicent, both too young to sign, who took petition forms round to their neighbours.

Aldeburgh Town StepsI have extracted the Aldeburgh names from the petition and below give such details as can now be gleaned of these women, none of whom, as far as I can tell, ever again took part in any political protest.

BEGBIE, MRS HAMILTON

Anna Eliza Begbie (courtesy of Ancestry.co.uk website)

Anna Eliza Begbie (courtesy of Ancestry.co.uk website)

She was Anna Eliza Begbie, née Swiney (1839-1915). She married Mars Hamilton Begbie in Cheltenham in 1858; despite his warlike name he had been ordained. By 1866 they were living in Aldeburgh where, according to the Cambridge Alumni List he was headmaster from 1865 to 1869 of ‘Aldborough School’ – a grammar school. They lived at Crespigny House, a late-18th-century mansion.

Although Anna Eliza Begbie doesn’t appear to have taken any further part in the suffrage campaign, it was surely a subject of discussion among her extended family after her brother, John, married in 1871. His wife, [Rosa] Frances Swiney, who lived in Cheltenham, was an influential campaigner for suffrage – and for Theosophy – in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

CRESY, MRS THEODORE GRANT [or Cressy]

She was born Hannah Jane Spencer (1837 -1896) in Wrotham, Kent. She married Theodore Grant Cresy, a surgeon, in 1859 and by the time she signed the petition was the mother of 4 sons; another was born four months later. The family lived in Aldeburgh from 1860 – 1868. During their time in Aldeburgh (1860-1868) the family lived at The Uplands, the house that had been the Garretts’ first home after they returned from London when Elizabeth was a young girl.

Uplands House, which carries two blue plaques - one for Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the other for Millicent Fawcett. One plaque can just be glimpsed in the photo

Uplands House, which carries two blue plaques – one for Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the other for Millicent Fawcett. One plaque can just be glimpsed in the photo

Hannah Cresy’s mother-in-law, Eliza Cresy [or Cressy], who lived at Riverhead in Kent, and her sister-in-law, Mary Cresy, who lived in Norwood, also signed the petition, suggesting that the organizers had asked for names of family members likely to be sympathetic to the petition.

CULVER, MRS HENRY

Probably a misreading of ‘Mrs Henry Calver’. She was Mary Anne (1819-?). who lived with her husband, a plumber, painter and glazier master, in the High Street.

DANCE, MARGARET

Something of a mystery – I can’t find any trace of a Margaret Dance, whether in Aldeburgh or elsewhere. However the signature may have been that of Mary E Dance, daughter of James Dance, Aldeburgh’s parish clerk. It is entirely possible that her signature was mis-transcribed as ‘Margaret’ and she would have been just old enough to sign.

DOWLER, MRS H.T.

There is, however, no doubt about this signatory. She was Frances Harriett Emma Dowler (1812-1899), wife of Henry Turner Dowler, who for 35 years was Aldeburgh’s vicar.  The couple had married in 1838. In her autobiography Millicent Fawcett describes how Newson Garrett  frequently engaged in very public quarrels with Dowler who besides being vicar was also the town bailiff and a capital burgess. On these occasions Garrett would insist that his family attended church services at the dissenting chapel rather than at Dowler’s church. Relations with Mrs Dowler were unaffected by these rows.

In May 1867 the Rev Dowler performed the wedding service at marriage of Millicent Garrett and Henry Fawcett.

GARRARD, MRS WILLIAM

She was Mary Anne (née Knights) (1819-1870), wife of William Garrard, brewer, maltster and secretary to the Aldeburgh gas company – one of Newson Garrett’s pet projects. In the 1840s William Garrard had been known as ‘the Ipswich Chartist’ and was one of the founders of the Ipswich Working Men’s Association. In the 1860s the couple lived on Church Hill in Aldeburgh.

GARRETT, MRS NEWSON

Louisa and Newson Garrett in old age

Louisa and Newson Garrett in old age

She was Louisa Garrett (nee Dunnell) ( 1814-1903), wife to Newson Garrett and mother to Louisa (later Smith), Elizabeth (later Garrett Anderson), Newson, Edmund, Alice (later Cowell), Agnes, Millicent (later Fawcett), Samuel, Josephine (later Salmon), and George (another son died in infancy). Although Louisa Garrett was of a far more conservative temperament than her husband she was always supportive of her daughters’ enterprises. She had initially opposed Elizabeth’s desire to become a doctor but, having come round to the idea, was the weekly recipient of letters telling of, at first, the difficulties encountered and later of the success in the medical world achieved as her daughter developed her practice and set up her hospital. Louisa would have signed the petition in the family home, Alde House.

 GARRETT, MRS E.  Snape Bridge

She was Gertrude Mary Littlewood (c1840-1924) who had married Elizabeth Garrett’s brother, Edmund, in 1862. Unlike his brother, Samuel, Edmund Garrett was not supportive of women’s advancement. In fact he opposed the suggestion that his sister Alice might work in the family business’s counting house. Edmund Garrett and his wife were then living in a house built by Newson Garret next to his maltings at Snape. At the moment (May 2015) it’s for sale – see here for details.

 GARRETT, MRS N.D. Calcutta

She was Kate Bruff, who in 1860 had married Elizabeth’s brother, Newson. He was the black sheep of the Garrett family – at this time he was serving with the army in India – a man whose enterprises (unlike those of his sisters) always went awry.  Kate’s father, Peter Bruff, was a civil engineer who was involved in several of Newson Garrett (senior)’s plans for improving Aldeburgh. Newson (junior’s) sisters were always rather sorry for Kate.

Despite being so close to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Fawcett, none of this  clutch of Aldeburgh-based Garrett women took any further part in the suffrage campaign.

GREEN, HARRIET

She was probably Harriet Green (b 1824) a widow living at Beach Cottage.  She is listed in the 1869 Aldeburgh trade directory as being a lodging house keeper.

HAWKESWORTH, MRS WALTER

She was Florence, the daughter of the Rev Dowler, who in 1865 had married John Walter Hawkesworth.

HELE, MRS FENWICK

She was Harriet Shute (1838-1907) who had married Nicholas Fenwick Hele in 1859. She gave birth to her third daughter, Ida, a couple of months after signing the petition. Her husband was a surgeon and the author of Notes and Jottings About Aldeburgh,  In 1866 the family lived in Aldeburgh’s High Street. Harriet continued to live in the town after her husband’s death in 1892 – but died in 1907 at St Johns, Newfoundland.

HUNT, MRS

She could have been either Harriet Hunt (1806- 1884), wife of William Hunt, or Cecilia Hunt (1824- 1868), wife of Edward Hunt. Both men were boat builders. Perhaps the younger woman is the more likely candidate.

JAMES, MRS RHODES

She was Caroline James, a widow by the time she signed the petition. She lived with several servants in a large late-18th-century house in Victoria Road – Wyndham House. She was the grandmother of M.R. James, the author of many Suffolk-based ghost stories.

KERSEY, SARAH, ELIZABETH AND MARIA

Sarah Kersey (1811-1886) in 1865 had a lodging house in the High Street. Maria and Elizabeth were her younger sisters. All three were unmarried.

MANNALL, SARAH

Sarah Mannall (1797-1869) was the wife of John Mannall. He had run the Crown and Castle Hotel in Orford for many years before eventually handing it over to his daughter and son-in-law

MARTIN, MRS

Crag Path, Aldeburgh. Brudenell Terrace, the row of tall houses on left, were built by Newson Garrett . Their red-brick gloom has now been transformed by pastel paints

Crag Path, Aldeburgh. Brudenell Terrace, the row of tall houses on left, were built by Newson Garrett . Their red-brick gloom has now been transformed by pastel paints

She was probably Mrs Mary Anne Martin, who in 1865 ran a ladies’ school in a house in Brudenell Terrace.

THELLUSSON, MRS

She was Henrietta Vernon-Wentworth who in 1859 had married Arthur Bethell Thellusson. She died in 1873 – on the same day as one of her young daughters. She had seven children and by the time she signed the petition she had already lost two infant daughters and was to lose another three months before her own death. The family lived at Thellusson Lodge. I seem to remember that Millicent Fawcett described the Thellussons as the ‘aristocracy of Aldeburgh’; for the local canvassers for the petition it must have been something of a coup to have Henrietta Thellusson’s signature on the petition.

WOODWARD, SUSANNAH

Alas, I can find no clue at all  as to who this final Aldeburgh signatory to the petition could have been.

After having made this initial bid for emancipation it doesn’t appear that the women of Aldeburgh could be tempted to join the suffrage campaign that followed. During the remainder of the 19th century there is no record of a suffrage meeting being held in the town – described by one contemporary Suffolk author as lying in this ‘quiet, grave, sleepy, Conservative region’. 

You can read much more about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Millicent Fawcett in Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circlepublished by Francis Boutle.

Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a regional survey, published by Routledge, surveys the entire suffrage campaign in Suffolk – and in the rest of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

 

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Suffrage Stories: The 1866 Petition: J.S. Mill And The South Hackney Connection

In a previous post that I wrote about the 1866 women’s suffrage petition I recorded something of how the petition came into being and investigated the connections that had led an erstwhile near neighbour of mine, Fanny Maughan of Goswell Road, to be a signatory. I deduced that Fanny – or I suppose more especially her husband – were members of a working-class circle supportive of John Stuart Mill who, as MP for Westminster, was to present the petition in Parliament.

Over the years I have researched many of the names on the petition – and thought I’d bring to your attention three other women who caught my eye simply because they lived in another place I know well – south Hackney.

For instance, why was Mrs John Plummer of 4 Homer Terrace, Hackney Wick a signatory to the petition? And who was she?

Mary Ann Jenkinson had been born in Kettering c 1839 and as a young woman earned her living as a milliner. In 1860 she married John Plummer, who worked in a staymaking factory in the town. He had been born in London, an illness in infancy rendering him deaf and lame. His family had been too poor to provide him with any education; he had educated himself. After moving with his family to Kettering he made a name locally as a labourr campaigner and versifier and in 1859 published his first book, Freedom of Labour.

By 1866 the Plummers had moved to London, to Homer Terrace in south Hackney, at the east end of Victoria Park, close to Hackney Wick. In the 1871 census John Plummer described himself as a ‘newspaper editor’; he worked on a wide range of magazines, almanacs, and trade journals and founded the London Figaro.

Political economy was John Plummer’s principal interest and for some years he had been in touch with John Stuart Mill, who in 1862 described him as one of the ‘most inspiring examples of mental cultivation and high principle in a self-instructed working man.’

Therefore it is not at all surprising that in June 1866 Mary Ann Plummer was approached by Mill’s step-daughter, Helen Taylor, and asked to add her signature to the petition – as well as any she could obtain from her friends. (See LSE Archive Mill/Taylor Papers/13 ff 242 for a letter from Mary Ann Plummer to Helen Taylor, 5 June 1866).

At this time – as well as involvement with the suffrage – John Plummer was leading a campaign, supported by Mill, to preserve and extend Victoria Park – in particular to prevent the erection of a large gas works at the Hackney Wick end.

Working alongside Plummer on the Victoria Park Preservation Committee was George Dornbusch, of 11 Grove Villas, South Hackney, whose wife and daughter also signed the suffrage petition.

George Dornbusch (photo courtesy of Ancestry website)

George Dornbusch (photo courtesy of Ancestry website)

George Dornbusch was a native of Trieste and had been described by George Holyoake as ‘a fugitive German communist’. He had arrived in England from Hamburg in 1845 and became a leading figure in the early vegetarian movement in London, naming his house in Malvern Road, Dalston – ‘Vegetarian Cottage’. He lived there with his first wife, Amalie, who was also involved with the vegetarian movement (see Gregory Of  Victorians and Vegetarians: The Victorian Movement in Victorian Britain).  Dornbusch, who was described by Richard Cobden as ‘a most unsafe and excitable person’ was also an activist in the anti-vaccination and the peace movements.

In 1863 Dornbusch was a member of the general committee of the Emancipation Society – along with John Stuart Mill, P.A. Taylor, Dr Richard Pankhurst and many others who were shortly to support the emancipation of women – as well as of slaves.

By 1866 Dornbusch had moved from Dalston to Grove Villas, Hackney Wick and by 1870 he was a vestryman in Homerton Ward.

The Mrs George Dornbusch who signed the 1866 petition was not Amalie but Emma, 20 years Dornbusch’s junior, who in 1861 had been his housekeeper. I presume that Amalie had died although I haven’t found a record of her death – nor can I find any trace of his marriage to Emma. Ada, who also signed the petition, was Dornbusch’s  daughter by Amalie.

Although there is no evidence that Emma or Ada Dornbusch continued to be active in the suffrage movement after 1866, George Dornbusch did give his support – as a member of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1867 and 1868 and of the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1871/72 shortly before his death in 1873.He is buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

In 1880 Emma Dornbusch remarried. Her new husband, George Tompsitt, was an Australian shipper ten years her junior and in 1881 they sailed to Australia, together with their young son, George, and Ernest and Conrad Dornbusch, the sons from Emma’s first marriage. Emma kept a delightful diary of the voyage which was published as a pamphlet in Melbourne on their arrival. She died in 1890, in Queanbeyan, New South Wales.

Ada Dornbusch married in 1878 and continued to live in south Hackney with her husband, William Beurle, a dealer in precious stones. She had three children and died in 1909.

There are two other women from Grove Villas whose names are on the petiton – Mrs C.A. Dawson and Mrs A. Young, who both give number 4 as their address. The latter was probably Mary, the wife of Alexander Young, a retired baker and confectioner, who the 1871 census shows living at number 7.

Mary Ann Plummer had taken Helen Taylor’s request seriously and had approached likely signatories amongst her friends in her immediate south Hackney neighbourhood. There were other Hackney women who also signed the petition – but the little group of working-class women, living at the east end of Victoria Park, are linked by their close association with John Stuart Mill.

In 1879 John and Mary Ann Plummer and their family emigrated to Australia, where he enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, continuing to support labour reform. He died in 1914, survived by Mary Ann.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: 20 April 1915: Condemnation Of The Prattlers For Peace

Kate Frye coverIn April 1915 Kate Frye was still working with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage when it was announced that an International Congress of Women would convene at The Hague. Around 1200 delegates from 12 countries attended the Congress hoping that the women of the warring countries could be organized to exert a moral force for peace. The British government, however, prevented interested British women from attending by refusing them passports and suspending the ferry service across the Channel. The Peace Conference led to the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom but, as Kate relates, the issue divided suffragists.

‘Tuesday April 20th 1915 

Some office work then to finish off the Hall – put things out for Sale etc. I arranged a stall of Workroom things – haberdashery etc. Meeting at 3 o’clock. Afterwards there was a great disturbance. Mrs Cecil Chapman from the Chair condemned the Peace Conference which is to take place at The Hague. I agree with her. How can English Women at the moment go and prattle with German Women of peace when there will and can be no peace until Germany has withdrawn her hosts from Belgium, France and Poland?

At the moment when thousands are laying down their lives for women to talk like that is to my mind showing a tremendous lack of nationalism. We didn’t want to fight – we were totally unprepared – the more credit in one way to us – and if German women want peace let them begin to preach it in Germany. I very much suspect this talk.

However to go back. Miss Wiskemann, who is half German, didn’t like it – and, instead of publicly protesting, she was heard saying things to people by several of our members who are most fiery the other way and told Mrs Hartley we had a traitor in our midst, and Mrs Hartley, never too cool in an emergency, went for Gladys, whose friend Miss W. is – and I’m not sure didn’t go for Miss W. herself. Anyhow Miss W. is not coming amongst us again but going over heart and soul to the United Suffragists who I think are utterly mad and will do our cause much harm by pressing the question of ‘Votes’ at this minute. How can they – in this life and death struggle? If the NCS took that line I should have to leave them. I couldn’t bear it – it’s wicked and selfish and small – nothing matters except we beat Germany – but people are leaving us because we do not press Votes. It is a mad world.’

‘Miss Wiskemann’ was Eugenie Wiskemann, elder sister of the future historian, Elizabeth Wiskemann; Mrs Beatrice Hartley was one of the founders of the NCS, as was Gladys Wright.

Click here to see a short documentary, ‘These Dangerous Women’, about the 1300 women who held a Peace Conference at The Hague in April 1915. These were the women whom Kate condemned as prattlers for peace.

You can read about Kate Frye’s work as an organiser with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here.

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The Story Of An Absent – And Errant – Great-Grandfather

Most posts on this blog tell of campaigners for women’s rights. However among them I have already included two of more general interest that relate to the history of my own family. One – ‘Glad Were They To Rest on Australia’s Shore’ – is a story of emigration, telling of the perilous journey to Australia undertaken by my great, great, great, great grandfather and several of his children. The other – ‘War: 4 August 1914: And What The War Held For My Family’ – tells of my grandfather’s involvement in the First World War, his death on the Italian Front and the repercussions it had for his immediate family.

In that latter post I mention how his wife, my grandmother, never seemed to recover from his death. As a child I was always conscious of her sadness. What I did not know then and, indeed, have only discovered in the last few months, is how this (enforced) ‘desertion’ by her husband – when she was in her ’20s –  echoed an entirely voluntary desertion by her father when she was not yet three years old.

The following story demonstrates a woman’s helplessness in the late 19th century. How could a deserted wife, with two very young children, possibly prevail on a husband for maintenance if he chose not to provide it and made a new life for himself on the other side of the world? Of course, I may be maligning him and he may have sent money back, but nothing gets away from the fact that his children were denied their father.

Some years ago I had looked briefly at this branch of my family’s history and had noted the birth of my grandmother, Margaret Dowie, in 1887, and of her brother, William, in 1888. The latter’s birth was registered by his father, William Shillinglaw Dowie (a grandson of the intrepid Australian emigrant) – but, rather to my surprise, that was the last trace I could find of this great-grandfather.

Margaret and William Dowie - the deserted children - c 1893

Margaret and William Dowie – the deserted children – c 1893. Did their father ever see – or want to see – photographs of his children?

By the time the 1891 census was taken young Margaret and William Dowie were living with their mother back in the Falkland (Fife) home of her parents. Although their mother described herself as ‘Married’ there is no husband at home – nor was he there at the time of the following two censuses – in 1901 and in 1911. Nor could I find him anywhere else in Scotland, England or Ireland. To be absent from his family on each census day over three decades seemed to be more than a coincidence.

When my grandmother married in 1912 her father’s name appeared on her wedding certificate as though he were still alive; by the time her brother, William, married in 1918, his father is described as ‘deceased’.  But, search as I might, I could find no trace of his death in Scotland, England or Ireland in the years between 1912 and 1918. I even spent some time hunting for his will in both the English and Scottish jurisdictions – but to no avail.

This is the kind of ‘absence’ that would until recently have gone unremarked. Unless it was part of a handed-down family story how could one spot such an absence? My mother never mentioned that she had an ‘absent’ grandfather – and when she was alive it never occurred to me to ask specific questions about generations that far back in time. Did she know what had happened to him? I don’t know.

It was only at the beginning of this year that a contact researching another branch of the Shillinglaw family pointed me in the right direction – across the Atlantic..

I had long since ceased looking for William Shillinglaw Dowie but, coincidentally, had by now acquired a subscription to ‘Ancestry’ that extended beyond the UK and Ireland. And, lo and behold, the absent great-grandfather was absent no longer.

I can now see that he arrived in the US in November 1889, barely a year after registering the birth of his son. He applied for naturalization in August 1904, while living in New York and working as a packer. Back in Scotland, like several  generations of his family before him, he had worked as an estate or market gardener.

By the time of the 1910 Federal Census William Shillinglaw Dowie was living in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington State. It was hardly possible to have moved further from the Scottish village in which his first family was living. He was now working as a US customs inspector and was living with May, his wife of 15 years.

In 1920 the couple were still living in Tacoma and William Dowie was in the same occupation – but the household had been augmented by the arrival of a nephew, William P. Dowie, from Glasgow and a ‘foster son’, William M. Dowie. The latter was 8 years old and had been born in Washington State.  On the census form, under the columns for place of birth of ‘Father’and ‘Mother’  is written ‘Don’t Know’.

However by the time of the 1930 Federal Census all such doubts had dissipated and William M Dowie was firmly acknowledged by William and May Dowie as ‘Son’ and the place of birth of his Father and Mother are the same as their own. I can find no trace of a marriage between May and William Shillinglaw Dowie – so presumably he was not, at least, a bigamist. [Update: 2020: I have now found evidence of this marriage, which took place in Bayonne, New Jersey on 14 October 1894. So, could he have been divorced from his first wife, or was he, indeed, a bigamist?] But what effrontery to give the son of the second liaison the same name (his own, of course) as that he had given to his first-born son. He really had written that Scottish-born  boy – and his sister – out of his history.

Did his ‘first family’ back home in Falkland know anything of the whereabouts of their husband and father? Did they know of the existence of this second family? The second William Dowie was only one year old when his half-sister, Margaret Dowie, my grandmother, was married and the information that her father was alive (and a ‘market gardener’) was stated on her marriage certificate.

They probably did know – for William Shillinglaw Dowie had not cut himself off from his siblings. As we saw, in 1920 one of his Glasgow nephews was living with him and that boy’s father, Donald Dowie, had moved his family from Glasgow to Seattle – quite close to Tacoma. Back in Falkland William Dowie’s wife must, over the years, surely have been able to make contact with her husband’s Glasgow family and garner some information as to his whereabouts.

Back in November 1889 did William Shillinglaw Dowie set off for America with a promise that when he had settled and found work he would send for his wife and two children? Or – and this seems more likely – had there been a marriage breakdown and – because he could – he set off for pastures new? Whatever the reason the result was a deserted wife, forced to return to her parents’ home, and two children left fatherless.

William Shillinglaw Dowie died in 1946, a few months after I was born. But he had presumably been ‘dead’ to his first family since 1918 when his son described him as such when giving the information to be included on his wedding certificate. His American son died in 1973. Did he know about this father’s other family? He does not seem to have left any children to carry on that line – allowing no possibility of interrogating that particular strand of the past.

It takes little imagination to guess the heartache that lies behind this family story. The deserted wife died in 1927, still living in what had been her parents’ home, now home to her own widowed daughter (my grandmother) and her two children. The pattern of a single mother left alone to bring up her children was repeating itself.

And how bizarre to think that although his wife and children probably knew next to nothing about the life of William Shillinglaw Dowie once he had crossed the Atlantic, nowadays not only am I able to uncover all this hidden history with the click of a few computer keys but I can even view a photograph of this errant great-grandfather’s grave.

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Suffrage Stories: Christabel, The Ballot Box And That Hat

Christabel ballot 1909

Pretend you are taking a GCSE paper. One of questions states that this picture shows Christabel Pankhurst casting her first parliamentary vote. You have to decide whether this statement is true or false.

What clues might you find to point you in the right direction?

Actually there is one so glaring that I am amazed that it can be overlooked. Have a look at her attire.

Q.When were women of Christabel’s age able to vote for the first time?

A. December 1918.

Q. Does that dress and hat look like an outfit suitable for going to the ballot in December of any year?

A. Hardly.

Q. Are the hat and dress of a style worn in 1918?

A. Most definitely not.

Q. So – if not 1918 when might that flowing gown and flower-bedecked bonnet have been in the mainstream of fashion?

A. Spring 1909.

Yes, that is the correct answer.

In fact the photograph shows Christabel casting a vote in a ballot box that was one of the main features of the WSPU Fair at the Prince’s Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, that ran between 13-26 May 1909. As Votes for Women, 23 April 1909, stated ‘A unique feature of the Exhibition.. will be the polling booth which will occupy one of the corners of the great hall. At this booth women as well as men will cast their votes upon many of the most interesting questions of the day.’ And that is what we see Christabel doing.

And as for that hat? It does strike one as a little incongruous. She isn’t usually seen in anything so maidenly frivolous. And so it is interesting to know that the hat was a gift to her from Frederick Pethick-Lawrence. Moreover when, in the late 1950s, after Christabel’s death, he came to prepare her autobiographical manuscript for publication (Unshackled:the story of how we won the vote)  it was a photograph of her wearing his hat that he used for the frontispiece.

I have been amazed how this photograph, described as Christabel casting her first parliamentary vote, has been tweeted and retweeted. It was even used in Amanda Vickery’s ‘Suffragettes Forever’ BBC 2 programme to accompany the voice over telling us that women first voted in December 1918. How this thoughtless use of an incorrect image (by no means the only one) jarred.

Click here to see what Christabel looked like as she campaigned in Smethwick in late 1918 – for she was, of course, both a candidate and a voter. She is centre left in the photo – and you’ll be relieved to see that she is sensibly dressed – complete with muff – to combat the winter chill.

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Mrs Hartley Brown And Miss Townshend -19th-c Interior Decorators: Who Were They?

Travels in S KensingtonIn a chapter on ‘Decorative Art in England (Travels in South Kensington, 1882) Moncure Conway commended Rhoda and Agnes Garrett for their ‘admirable treatment of the new female colleges connected with English Universities’. It has always been a niggle that neither I – or anyone else – as far as I know – has ever been able to find any evidence that the Garretts did work on the interior of any women’s college.

As one member of the Garrett family, Elizabeth, was a close friend and supporter of Emily Davies, founder of Girton, another, Millicent, was a founder of Newnham, and Rhoda and Agnes had received their training in the office of J.M. Brydon, sharing an office with Newnham’s architect, Basil Champneys, it would not have been at all surprising if they had been involved with the interior decoration of one or other of the colleges. But neither in  Garrett family letters nor in the press is there any mention of Rhoda and Agnes working on the interior of Newnham – or of Girton.

Merton Hall, Cambridge. (Photo courtesy of Cambridge 2000)

Merton Hall, Cambridge. (Photo courtesy of Cambridge 2000)

In fact the only mention of work being done by women interior decorators on a Cambridge women’s college relates to furnishings for an early incarnation of Newnham –  when, between October 1871 and 1874,  it was housed in an ancient, rambling house, Merton Hall. The house belonged (and still belongs) to St John’s College, whose Master was very sympathetic to the Lectures for Ladies’ scheme that had been instigated in Cambridge by Millicent Fawcett, Henry Sidgwick and Jemima Anne Clough.

Merton Hall is first mentioned by Moncure Conway in ‘Decorative Art and Architecture in England’, an article published in Harpers New Monthly Magazine, November 1874. In this, after discussing the work of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett, he tells us that Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend had set up in the same business as the Garretts, in premises at 12 Bulstrode Street. He then goes on to say that ‘These ladies, who have been employed to decorate the new ladies’ College (Merton) at Cambridge, have not only devised new stuffs for chairs, sofas and wall panels, but also for ladies’ dresses.’ The fact that he uses the past tense seems to indicate that the work was already complete.

A further allusion to this partnership is made by Emily Faithfull when discussing new trade opportunities that have been opening for women. In Three Visits to America (1884) she mentions 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.’

That seems quite clear: Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend had been involved with furnishing Merton Hall (later Newnham) and neither Conway or Faithfull, although discussing the Garretts’ work, made any mention of the Garrtts being similarly employed.

However, when Moncure Conway came to publish Travels in South Kensington in 1882 the Garretts were going from strength to strength and, if the silence in the press is anything to go by, Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend had gone out of business. One construction might be that, while making no mention of the latter two, Conway lauds the success of the Garretts and, carelessly assigns to them the ‘admirable treatment of female Colleges’. It may be that only one firm of female interior decorators worked on the furnishings of a female college – and that was the partnership of Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend.

But who were Mrs Hartley Brown and Miss Townshend? I have to confess to drawing a blank on Mrs Hartley Brown – but can make an educated guess at the identity of Miss Townshend.

In his Harper’s 1874 article Conway (who, as we see was prone to getting things a bit muddled) mistakenly describes Mrs Hartley Brown as ‘a sister of Chambray Brown, Esq – a very distinguished architect’. In fact what he meant was that ‘Miss Townshend was a sister of Chambray Townshend…’. The latter was indeed an architect, although not even his wife – indeed particularly not his wife – would have called him distinguished. Unfortunately for us Chambray Townshend had eight sisters. And the question is ‘which one went into business as an interior decorator?’

Well three can be discounted, being in 1874 already married. Of the remaining five, very little is known of the lives of three, although Alicia, who didn’t marry until 1880, is known to have studied art at the Slade and is I suppose a possibility. However I suspect that the two strongest candidates of the five are Isabella (1847-1882) and Anne (1842-1929).

Anne certainly seems to have the most productive work record. According to family information she trained as a nurse at London’s Foundling Hospital and was later Matron at the Hospital for Hip Disease in Childhood (Queen’s Square). When and for how long she was engaged in nursing I don’t know. By 1882 she had moved into philanthropic administration and was secretary of the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants (MABYs).

Then in 1888 she became the first secretary of the Ladies’ Residential Chambers Co (the founders of which included Agnes Garrett and Millicent Fawcett) and remained involved with the company until 1910. In 1890, when the company was planning a new set of chambers in York Street, Marylebone, it was Anne Townshend who was deputed to consult with Thackeray Turner, the architect, over the company’s specifications for the new building. However nowhere in the minutes of the Ladies’ Residential Co is there any suggestion that she was ever involved with the interior design of either of the buildings.

Isabella Townshend is the more artistic candidate – and she does have a very clear Cambridge connection- being one of the Girton Pioneers. In 1869 she was one of the first five to join Emily Davies at her new college at Hitchin (it was not yet ‘Girton’). She left without taking a Tripos at Easter 1872. Could she then have gone into the interior decorating business?

In Girton College, Barbara Stephen comments that ‘Miss Townshend was not striking in either appearance or manner‘, while reporting Barbara Bodichon’s opinion that [Isabella’s] ‘interests were wide and her mind original’ Barbara Stephen was too young ever to have met Isabella; perhaps she made her rather harsh judgement on the basis of this photograph she included in her book

girton PioneersHowever, Isabella certainly made a very strong  impression on her fellow Pioneers  – particularly on Emily Gibson. When Isabella left Hitchin in the 1872 without taking a Tripos (perhaps it was this high-handed approach to all that Miss Davies had to offer that attracted Barbara Stephen’s disapproval) Emily followed suit and the following year married Isabella’s brother, Chambray Townshend.

In Some Memories for Her Friends., Emily wrote of Isabella: ‘She was more mature than many of us, and in quite a different stage of development, but the sort of position she held among us, the sort of influence she exercised over me was chiefly due to her having been swept over by a very early wave of that current of aestheticism which was then just beginning to gather force. The sort of doctrine she taught, or rather that she gave living expression to, was, that the most valuable means of culture was to be found in the enjoyment of the beautiful in nature and art, that a beautiful combination  of colours, a delicate bit of decorative work seen and cared for in a reverent and appreciative spirit, could do more for us in the way of training and development than much steady grinding away at mathematics and classics.’

‘She had considerable ability, indeed, many of us gave her credit for a touch of genius, yet she never accomplished much definite work of any kind.’..Isabel took the utmost pains to live from hand to mouth. She would work hard now and again when she felt the subject in hand to be worth working at, but she scorned to tie herself down to do things against inclination for the sake of obtaining some definite mundane good.’

Isabella Townshend, self-portrait, (c) Girton College, University of Cambridge. Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Isabella Townshend, self-portrait, (c) Girton College, University of Cambridge. Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Isabella Townshend was undoubtedly ‘artistic’. Isn’t this a wonderful self-portrait – bequeathed to Girton by Emily Townshend? It wouldn’t at all surprise me if Isabella had not ‘devised new stuff’ for her dress and designed it herself. But did she have the stamina to set up in business?  Emily Gibson mentions that in the period between leaving Cambridge and her marriage to Chambray Townshend, he and Isabella were particularly friendly with Walter and Lucy Crane – so she was certainly moving in art design circles.

There is no doubt that interior decorating ran in the family veins. In his Harper’s article Moncure Conway wrote  ‘I have become convinced by a visit to a beautiful house which Chambrey Townshend arranged at Wimbledon, that there can be nothing so suitable for somewhat dark corridors and staircases as a faint rose tint. In Mr Townshend’s house, however cold and cheerless the day may be, there is always a glow of morning light. This gentleman has shown that a sage-gray paper with simple small squares (such as Messrs Marshall & Morris make) furnishes a good dado to support the light tints upon walls not papered.’

The house may well have been the Townshend family home at 12 Ridgway Place, Wimbledon, where the unmarried sisters lived with their mother.

Unfortunately Chambray Townshend took the same laissez-faire approach to work as did Isabella. Of  him Emily, his wife, later wrote  ‘Chambrey Townshend had little push and no business ability to back up his remarkable artistic abilities.’ After his death she regretted she hadn’t devised some opening for his remarkable talent for house decoration ‘when architectural work was not forthcoming’.

If the interior decoration business was run by Mrs Hartley Brown and Isabella Townshend, it may be that Isabella soon lost interest. In the early 1880s she went to Italy to study painting and died in 1882. The Girton Register has it that she died in Italy, ‘of typhoid fever contracted at Capri’. It may well be that she became ill in Italy, but the Probate Register shows that she died on 20 July 1882 at Ealing and was buried at Perivale on 25 July 1882.

So, although Anne Townsend had the stamina and application to run a business, I’m inclined to think that it was Isabella Townshend who, for a brief period, was in partnership as an interior decorator with Mrs Hartley Brown and who provided the furnishings for Merton Hall, the early incarnation of Newnham.

For more about the interior decoration business run by Rhoda and Agnes Garrett see here.

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Suffrage Stories: ‘Home Art Decorator’ To The Queen – And The ‘Human Letter’

For some time I have been meaning to investigate Charlotte Robinson, ‘Home Art Decorator’ to Queen Victoria, mention of whom I came across years ago while researching the interior design career of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. Now that I have done so, I’ve discovered, as an added bonus, her family link with one of the WSPU’s more imaginative publicity stunts.

 

Charlotte RobinsonCharlotte Robinson was born c 1859 in Settle in Yorkshire, one of the younger children in the large family of a Yorkshire solicitor. He died in 1870, leaving an estate of c £20,000. A later biographical piece about Charlotte noted that she (as presumably were all the children) was left a share of his property and it was this that gave her the freedom to develop a career.

By 1871 Charlotte had been sent as a boarder to a small school in Bolton but was later moved to the rather more prestigious Queen’s College in London. Education complete she returned home for a time  – the 1881 census finds her living with her brother, William, a solicitor, in Keighley. She then spent some time travelling abroad.

Emily Faithfull Emily Faithfull

For some of that time, certainly in 1883, Charlotte was travelling in America with Emily Faithfull  –  described on the manifest of the ship on which they travelled to New York as ‘Secretary’. You can read a very interesting article about Emily Faithfull here. It would seem, from remarks recorded by Emily that she had met Charlotte when the latter was still a pupil at Queen’s College.

Emily Faithfull was, of course, a fierce advocate of work for middle-class women so it’s unsurprising that, when interviewed in the 1890s for Manchester Faces and Places,  Charlotte described how on her return from her travels ‘she resolved to invest her money in a business which she could control herself instead of returning to the usual round of gaieties, varied by intermittent charitable enterprises.’ The journalist then elaborated –  ‘Having always been interested in decorative art, friends who knew her marvellous deftness of touch and infallible sense of colour, strongly advised her to turn these special gifts to account.’

In an interview that appeared in the Women’s Penny Paper, 9 February 1889, Charlotte went into more detail. ‘The idea of house decoration as a profession came to me while travelling through America. I was much struck with the interiors of some of the magnificent houses to which I was invited in some of the principal cities between New York and San Francisco, and on my return to England began to supplement previous artistic study. My first professional business was in furnishing houses, now I decorate them through, as well as working in conjunction with my sister, Mrs McClelland, who presides over the studio from which come the beautiful friezes you have just been admiring.’ So that is how Charlotte Robinson came to become a ‘house decorator.

She was setting up in the house decoration business ten years after the trail had been blazed for women by Agnes and Rhoda Garrett and, like them, she stressed the necessity of undergoing a training. However, although we know that the Garretts were pupils of the architect John Brydon, I’ve been unable to discover where or with whom Charlotte Robinson trained. All that is revealed in the Manchester Faces  interview is that she ‘went through the necessary course of study and thoroughly qualified herself for the work.’ As Emily Faithfull put it in a later article Charlotte studied ‘house decoration from hearth tiles to frieze painting’.

According to Emily Faithfull, Charlotte Robinson  first went into business in London. This must, I think, have been immediately on their return from America – and was probably by way of dipping a toe in the water. But very soon – probably in late 1884/early 1885 – the two women moved to Manchester and, as Emily wrote, ‘regardless of that bugbear which terrifies most women – she [Charlotte] put up her own name over the door.’

That door gave entrance to 20 South King Street, in the central Manchester shopping district, the premises serving primarily as a shop. It would seem from other remarks that Charlotte’s design work was done at home – 10 Plymouth Grove – the house she shared with Emily Faithfull. By 1886 a part of 20 South King Street had been given over to a ‘Typewriting Office’, run by a Miss Giles. As the Manchester Courier remarked when reporting this ‘Doubtless the typewriter will soon become as popular here as in America’. One can imagine that this was a development of which Emily Faithfull was fully supportive.

It is clear from every description that Charlotte Robinson’s ideas of interior design were the antithesis of those of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett. It is impossible to imagine the latter displaying mirrors such as one to be found in Charlotte Robinson’s establishment – for on it was painted ‘a pool fringed with rushes in which a wild duck and her brood were swimming, while the old mallard was taking wing to enjoy the pleasures of the world beyond – after his kind – leaving to the mother the care of the little fluffy yellow ducks, whose very feathers seemed to move with the passing wind’. (Manchester Courier, 6 February 1885).

Items such as this were produced not in Manchester but in London, in the studio of Charlotte’s sister, Mrs McClelland (33 Warwick Avenue, Paddington). Epsey McClelland was twelve years older than Charlotte – in the 1891 census she is described as a widow, a ‘decorative artist’, living with her daughter at the Warwick Avenue address. In an article on ‘Ladies as Shopkeepers’, reprinted in Pall Mall Gazette, (23 December 1887), Emily Faithfull extolled Charlotte’s taste –  ‘Her furniture designs are simple and unique; she has dainty and quaint arrangements for cosy nooks and odd corners, and has good reason to be proud of the work of the artists employed in in the studio over which her clever sister, Mrs McClelland is the presiding genius.’

In 1887 Charlotte Robinson took stands at two exhibitions. In Saltaire in June she showed  ‘..beautiful painted screens, brackets, plaques, a corner cabinet richly decorated with painted flowers and an excellently painted frieze.’ (Leeds Mercury 3 June 1887).

Of the Manchester Jubilee Exhibition, June/July 1887, the Cabinet Maker and Art Furnisher wrote:- ‘Miss Charlotte Robinson showed a frieze, corner sideboard, overmantel, draught screen, fire screens, Tuckaway tables, and other knickknacks, all, more or less decorated with the light and fanciful painting for which she had made a name.  It is in some aspects too “pretty” for our taste, but it is none the less skilful.  This lady is happy in the sprightly woodwork forming the  foundation of her paintings.  The corner sideboard is particularly pleasing.’

We can get a clearer picture of the ‘light and fanciful painting’ from a description given of Charlotte’s stand at the Glasgow Exhibition the following year. ‘Visitors to this stand ought to note the billet-doux writing table, a facsimile of that purchased by the Princess of Wales, and invented and patented by Miss Robinson. Beside this is the ‘Interloper’ chair purchased by the Countess of Rosebery. Both are painted with white French enamel, and decorated with blue tom tits. There are two friezes, specially designed for drawing rooms bearing groups of roses and chrysanthemums and one for a smoking room, with a design of wild ducks in flight.’ (Glasgow Herald 25 May 1888).

Blue tom tits for the ladies and wild ducks for the gentlemen – an aesthetic very different from that of the Garretts, whom Sir Hubert Parry commended – writing in his diary while staying in their house – ‘The quiet and soothing colour of the walls and decoration and the admirable taste of all things acts upon the mind in the most comforting manner. I was quite excised of the vulgar idea that everything ought to be light & gaudy & covered with gilt in London.

In late 1888 Charlotte received the accolade of being appointed ‘Home Art Decorator’ to Queen Victoria. Over 20 years earlier Emily Faithfull had been appointed publisher and printer in ordinary to the Queen, her brushes with scandal having apparently done nothing to dent her reputation in the eyes of the royal family.  On 9 October 1889 the Leeds Mercury reported that  ‘Miss Charlotte Robinson has had the honour of submitting to her Majesty some dessert d’oyleys painted on silk, from sketches taken near Palé as mementoes of Her Majesty’s visit to Wales’ and, as we have seen the Princess of Wales had already bought one of her writing tables’.

By October 1888 business was sufficiently prosperous for Charlotte to open a London showroom – in Mayfair – at 20 Brook Street – and in the same month was appointed as editor of ‘the decorative department’ on the magazine, The Queen, in succession to Mrs Talbot Coke. She was now in a position both to dictate taste and to supply the means of achieving it. She held her position on The Queen for the rest of her life. A small measure of this power was the fact that in an advertisement a Gloucester furnishing store, Messrs Matthews, regularly mentioned that their stock was approved by the leading Art Critics of the Day – such as Charlotte Robinson, Mrs Talbot Coke and Mrs Panton.

The interview given to the journalist from the Women’s Penny Paper took place in the Brook Street showroom, among the ‘cream coloured music racks, dainty billet doux tables, LouisSeize screens etc which provide an artistic public with useful as well as beautiful wedding and birthday gifts’. Charlotte commented that ‘I spend a great deal of time in Manchester, where I have a large business to control, and much is taken up in travelling “back and forth” as we say in the north, between the various houses I have to decorate and furnish in London and the country.Through The Queen I have to advise about houses in every part of the world.’

However for all the reports of how busy she was with her commissions –  ‘She can drape a room in less time than it takes most people to think of it’ – there is no information now available to tell us who her clients were or which were the houses she decorated. In the case of the Garretts I was able, from a variety of sources, to piece together a short list of their clients, but I can find no trace at all of Charlotte Robinson’s private clients. There is mention that in in June 1892 she was commissioned to decorate a hotel being erected in Manchester for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, that she did some work for Cunard, and that she was called upon to redecorate the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Manchester Town Hall.  The latter is a superbly Gothic creation and certainly no place for tom tits and wild ducks.

Emily Faithfull died in 1895, leaving all her property to Charlotte.  In her will, which had been written in 1893, she wrote that’ I feel sure that any loving members of my family, who may survive me, will appreciate my desire that the few possessions I have should be retained for the exclusive use, and as the absolute property, of my beloved friend Charlotte Robinson, as some little indication of my gratitude for the countless services for which I am indebted to her, as well as for the affectionate tenderness and care which made the last five years of my life the happiest I ever spent.’

After Emily’s death Charlotte Robinson continued to cut a dash in Manchester society. The local newspapers record her attendance at numerous balls and conversaziones – for instance, in July 1899 dressed in white brocaded silk and heliotrope velvet. On these occasions she is often in the company of Julia Dux, who lived close by in Plymouth Grove.

Charlotte Robinson’s career was brought to a premature end, however, by her death at home, in October 1901. She left £3100 – and the executors of her will were her sister, Epsey, and her niece Elspeth McClelland.

The latter, then aged 22, continued along the path that her aunt had, to a degree, forged and, with the changing times, was able to become more fully a professional and practise as an architect. You can read an account of her career here. and a 1905 article (issue 32, p, 114) about her in a Spanish architectural journal here She, like her aunt Charlotte, was clearly a woman of independent thinking and, not unsurprisingly, was swept into the Edwardian suffragette movement, achieving a certain notoriety in 1909 when she was one of the ‘Human Letters’ sent as a publicity stunt to 10 Downing Street. You can see a photograph here of Elspeth posing for the camera – with Daisy Solomon, her fellow ‘Letter’, on the left and Annie Kenney in support on the right. Under her married name – Mrs Elspeth Douglas Spencer – she has an entry in the Suffrage Annual and Woman’s Who’s Who.

Thus, by way of Charlotte Robinson’s ‘home art decoration’ , we can trace a line of endeavour that stretches from Emily Faithfull’s involvement in the 1860s with the Langham Place Group (middle-class women intent on improving work opportunities for their sisters) to a woman architect who, in  her short life, managed to design and build several houses – as well as giving birth to three children. It was, apparently, that third birth that in 1920 killed her – putting an end to another interesting career.

For more about the interior design work of Rhoda and Agnes Garrett see Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle, published by Francis Boutle.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Queen Victoria’s Funeral: 2 February 1901

Proclamation_-_Day_of_mourning_in_Toronto_for_Queen_Victoria_February_2,_1901

Kate Frye and her family were never ones to miss an ‘Occasion’ and as occasions went few were more important in the nation’s eyes than the funeral of Queen Victoria.

Kate went by tube with her mother and sister, Agnes, to Lancaster Gate and remarked on the vast numbers of people pouring into Hyde Park. They then walked to Edgware Road, near Burwood Place, to a Leverett and Frye grocery store – one in the chain owned and run by Kate’s father.

Saturday February 2nd 1901

It [the shop] had all been boarded in – the big round step and the two skylights in front and at the side so there was lots of room and it was quite private. The window had been let to a party – Mr Hunt’s friends took the two skylights – we and another lady had the step – till the five chance customers who had bought the only seats sold turned up then they had the front behind the barrier. Much to our surprise who should walk in but Annie and Guy Gold and later Amy – Mrs Watney – and her son Jack. We all saw most perfectly .

[Kate sat or stood on a box on the high step from 9.15 to 1.15 – it was cold]. Miles and miles of soldiers – a regal soldier’s funeral truly and the most impressive one possible. We could see them coming half the length of the Edgware Road – from the Marble Arch and they looked like some long long wave. The brass helmets then the banners. I never took my eyes off  the coffin whilst it was in sight – as if I couldn’t let our Queen go. Before the body had gone a band playing Chopin’s Funeral March and now ever will the scene come back to me when I hear those sad strains – that to me is the only Funeral March.

Some of the uniforms were magnificent – but the German Emperor had a Field Marshall’s uniform as had the King. I do love the Emperor’s face – he is so striking – I am glad to have seen him. The King looked round our way – so I saw him well – he looked very pale and puffy but nicer than I expected.

 

The funeral procession was making its way to Paddington Station, from where the coffin journeyed on to Windsor – which explains why it was travelling up the Edgware Road. Kate, along with the rest of Britain, was not to be so impressed by the German Emperor in later years. I suppose Kate was surprised to see Annie and Guy Gold because they were members of higher-status branch of the family and would not, perhaps, have been expected to choose a grocer’s shop as their grandstand.

Queen Victoria's funeral

Queen Victoria’s funeral

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Death Of Queen Victoria: 22 January 1901

Kate, who had just celebrated her 23rd birthday, is living with her family in middle-class comfort at 25 Arundel Gardens, north Kensington.

Tuesday January 22nd 1901

The Queen is Dead. We heard the paper boys in the street about nine o’clock. As I write the bells are tolling. The earth will be a very black place for a few weeks. I am about to undress for bed but stopped to write these few lines first.

Kate's friend Stella would most certainly have ensured that her mourning outfits were as glamorous as these. Kate had to make do with what she had. (Image courtesy of Cult Nation website)

Kate’s friend Stella would most certainly have ensured that her mourning outfits were as glamorous as these. Kate had to make do with what she had. (Image courtesy of Cult Nation website)

Wednesday January 23rd 1901

I looked out a black coat and skirt of Agnes’ to send to Abbie [an impoverished cousin] as I know she has not black at all – and of course could not buy any, poor girl – and one would feel it so much now.

Stella [an older, glamorous, friend, reported that at Whiteleys] the people were standing 8 and 10 deep at the glove counter waiting to be served [with black gloves].

What a blessing we all have a few black garments – it would be a terrible rush to get any made. Last night I took some coloured ribbon from an otherwise all black hat & pinned in a black feather  I had by me –so with my black coat and skirt and a black silk front to a blouse I was quite alright.

It seemed a funny sort  of day – between a bank holiday and a Sunday. [Went with Stella to tea at the Empress Club – new premises] which really are magnificent – a most gorgeous place. [For more about the Empress Club see here.]

[Afterwards they walked along Bond Street and Oxford Street to Marble Arch tube station] I never saw such a sight as the shop windows – everything black in them – even the fancy shops and as for the Drapers it looks too awful. Everyone is dressed in mourning – men with the deepest of hat bands etc – not a piece of colour anywhere – and of course black shutters to all the shops. [A fancy dress party that Kate had been so looking forward to – she had her Nell Gwynn costume ready – was cancelled.]  Our future is a blank. All theatres still shut.

Tuesday January 29th 1901

They were selling little crape rosettes in the streets – as they sell red, white and blue ones on festive occasions – they looked very horrid.

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

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Suffrage Stories: The Mysterious Mrs Alice Green, Emily Wilding Davison And Kitty Marion

In the Introduction to my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide I wrote:

‘Although women may be “hidden from history” they are not, on the whole, hidden from the Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths nor from the Principal Registry of the Family Division (in England and Wales) or the General Register Office in Scotland.’ 

However there is no getting away from the fact that, despite one’s best efforts, there are some women who resist all attempts at discovery. One such is the rather mysterious ‘Mrs Alice Green’ who we come across in the intertwined stories of Emily Wilding Davison and Kitty Marion.

For instance, in The Life and Death of Emily Wilding Davison (p 131-32)  Liz Stanley and Ann Morley tell us that for some months in 1913 Emily Davison was staying with Mrs Green at 133 Clapham Road. We  assume that it was from here that on 4 June she set out for the WSPU office and then the Derby. They also note The Suffragette (13 June 1913) as mentioning that a Mrs Green was at Emily’s bedside in the Epsom Cottage Hospital. However, although Stanley and Morley do so much to reveal other branches of Emily’s friendship network they pass Mrs Green by without comment.

And I’m not surprised –  because ‘Mrs Alice Green’ is more resistant than most to the historian’s intrusive gaze. But, lifting the dusty Victorian curtain, the earliest sighting I have of her is at the Dover Register Office on 11 June 1898 where, as ‘Alice Kellie’, spinster, 26 years old, she married Edward Basil Green. The couple each gave their address as 4 Eastbrook Place, Dover.

But who was ‘Alice Kellie’? From searching through all the resources of Ancestry and FindmyPast I could find no suitable candidate and was sufficiently intrigued to order a copy of the marriage certificate in the hope it might offer a clue. Well, the only extra information it gave me about ‘Alice Kellie’ was that she was the daughter of ‘James Kellie (deceased), boot (or book?) dealer’. That actually didn’t get me any further because I couldn’t find a trace in any census of a suitable James Kellie. Who is to know if Registrars are given the true facts? I can find sufficient evidence in my own family history to know that they often are not.

On the other hand I had no difficulty in uncovering the background of the bridegroom. Edward Basil Green had been born in 1873 in Folkestone, the youngest son of Samuel Richard Green ( 1837-1882),  a mechanical engineer, and the grandson of Edward Green, a Yorkshire ironmaster and founder of E. Green and Son. At the time of the marriage he would have been 25 years old – yet the certificate has his age as 27. The bride’s age is given as 26. If the bridegroom felt compelled to add a couple of years could this mean that the bride was perhaps rather older. Who’s to know!

What the marriage certificate did tell me was that no member from either family was there to witness the marriage. The certificate is signed by the wife of the Registrar and by either the wife or the daughter (they both had the same name) of the tobacconist whose shop was next to the Register Office. This lack of family support may be explained by the next sighting I have of the happy couple – as they became parents of a son (Edward Basil Green) on 27 August 1898. It looks as though Alice Kellie was about seven months pregnant when she married Edward Green.

And that is the last I time I catch sight of Alice Green before she appears 15 years or so later as a friend and supporter of Emily Wilding Davison. I cannot see that either she or her husband were on the electoral roll as inhabitants of 133 Clapham Road and, indeed, cannot spot them in London until they appear on the 1921 electoral roll (with their son) living at Powis Terrace in north Kensington. From 1930 until 1939 Alice and Basil (as her husband was known) continued to  live in this area – now at 13 Colville Mansions.

In the meantime Mrs Green, as well as supporting Emily Davison, had also helped Kitty Marion, being one of three (Dr Violet Jones and Mary Leigh were the others) who took her to Paris on 31 May 1914 to show Christabel Pankhurst the result of the treatment that she had suffered in prison. As Kitty Marion was on the run at the time as a ‘mouse’, Alice Green was taking something of a risk in accompanying her.

In 1915 Mrs Alice Green was secretary of the Emily Davison Club that Mary Leigh had formed to perpetuate their friend’s memory. In October 1915 Mrs Green was one of those who contributed towards Kitty Marion’s fare to the US – the party to bid her farewell was held at the Emily Davison Club. Meetings of the Club were held in 144 High Holborn, which housed the offices of the Women’s Freedom League and the WFL’s Minerva Cafe.  Over a period of years, from the 1920s until at least 1938, the Greens were also, with others, such as Charlotte Despard, Elizabeth Knight, Octavia Lewin, leaseholders of 144 High Holborn.

From her involvement with the suffrage movement I get the impression that Mrs Green was reasonably well off, although I cannot discover how her husband was employed. The family does not appear in the 1911 census – presumably they followed the WFL/WSPU boycott. As a mechanical engineer did he, perhaps, work for the family firm?

Any difficulties there may have been over the shotgun wedding had long since been forgotten. In 1923 Edward Basil Green was left £10,000 in the will of his uncle, Sir Edward Green, and many years later his son was the executor of the will of one of his Green aunts.

It’s not only Alice Green’s birth that is obscure, but, very surprisingly, I cannot even discover when she died. Her husband was living at Minehead when he died in 1958 – but probate was granted to a solicitor (and not, rather surprisingly, to his son) and I haven’t gone so far as to investigate his will.

The career of Alice and Basil Green’s son is rather easier to follow – he became chairman of Doulton, retiring in 1963. I wonder if his descendants have any information about ‘Mrs Alice Green’ – or are aware of the part she played in supporting two of the most militant of the suffragettes?

 

 

 

 

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Collecting Suffrage: ‘Votes For Women’ Hooks And Eyes

VfW Hooks and Eyes

 

In over 30 years spent hunting for and selling objects related to the women’s suffrage campaign, this little box is the only example I have ever found of ‘Votes for Women’ Hooks and Eyes. Although I had it photographed in black and white back in the 1990s, the box in reality is tricked out in the WSPU colours of purple, white and green.

The manufacturer registering ‘Votes for Women’ as its trademark was not the only maker of hooks and eyes to discern a market for its goods among the supporters of the suffrage cause. Votes for Women  (eg issue for 23 April 1909, p 26) carried advertisements for ‘Smart’s invisible hooks and eyes ‘ which were the’ patented  invention and property of two members and supporters of the Women’s Social and Political Union.’

These items might well have been found amongst the stock of the suffrage shops opened by the various suffrage societies.

As well as being  campaigners, the majority of suffragettes and suffragists were, of necessity, also needlewomen. So here was an opportunity to back the Cause while sewing fastenings onto their skirt plackets or bodices.

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Mariana Starke: Travels in Europe 1791-1794

At the end of my last ‘Mariana Starke’ post I left Mariana, her mother, father and her sister, Louisa, in the winter of 1791 journeying south through Europe. On 3 December Mrs Crespigny, Mariana’s friend and patron, noted in her diary that she had received letters from Lyons; from the context I presume these were from the Starke party.

We next glimpse the Starke family at Nice on 18 April 1792 – at Louisa’s deathbed. She was just 20 years old.

Mariana and her parents, presumably still accompanied by Mrs Crespigny’s servant, ‘Scott’, then  left Nice in May in order to travel north to Geneva. It is this journey that Mariana describes in ‘Letter 1’ of Letters from Italy, the work that eventually developed into Information and directions for travellers on the continent,  the guide to European travel for which she became famous.

starketp_smMariana’s magnum opus has a complicated publishing history, each stage in its development reflecting the changing ability and inclination of the British (and, indeed, American) public to travel and consume culture during the period 1792-1838 as Europe swung between war and peace.

The first edition of the work that eventually developed into Information and directions for travellers on the continent was published in December 1799 (with 1800 publication date on title page) by ‘R. Phillips of 71 St Paul’s Churchyard’ and was entitled:

Letters from Italy, between the years 1792 and 1798, containing a view of the revolutions in that country, from the capture of Nice by the French republic to the expulsion of Pius VI from the ecclesiastical state: Likewise pointing out the matchless works of art which still embellish Pisa, Florence, Siena, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Venice etc. With instructions for the use of invalids and families who may not choose to incur the expence attendant upon travelling with a courier. It was printed by T. Gillet, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, for R. Phillips, no 71, St Paul’s Church-yard, in 1800.

The two-volume work followed in the epistolary tradition well established by male – and a few female – travel writers but, as you will see from the lengthy, explanatory title, included not only comment on the current state of affairs but detailed information on all the art and antiquities that the author considered should be viewed by the tourist, together with exhaustive recommendations – and warnings – covering all practical details of routes, inns, shopping, laundering, eating etc in order to make the journey – particularly if taken for reasons of health – as comfortable and economical as possible.

Mariana’s publisher, ‘R. Phillips’, was Sir Richard Phillips (1767-1840) considered by his contemporaries an eccentric and a radical and, even more preposterously, renowned as a vegetarian. Five years later Phillips published William Hayley’s Ballads, illustrated by William Blake. It may be that Phillips was already in Hayley’s circle in 1798/1799 when Mariana would have been looking for a publisher.  The firms of J. Walter and Debrett, with whom she had previously done business, had either not been approached or had rejected this new venture.

I have no idea if, when she set off with her family in the autumn of 1791, Mariana thought that she would publish, in any form, reports of her travels. With her mother, she was the sole survivor of the party and did not, I think, return to England until 1798.  However, at some point during those seven years the idea of turning her experience into a publication must have occurred to her, for in the ‘Advertisement’ to the second edition (1815) she notes that ‘The first Edition of this Work was written abroad, where the Author had so many domestic duties to fulfil, that she could only find leisure sufficient to draw up a hasty statement of facts…’. For during those sometimes harrowing years it was Mariana to whom responsibilities as both nurse and journey planner fell – but it’s clear that, nevertheless, she did keep notes that could be worked up into a book.

We can follow a variety of clues in order to spy on Mariana as she travelled. For instance, we know that, having journeyed north to Geneva in May 1792 the Starkes returned quickly to Nice, arriving on 22 September, when they learned of the impending war between Sardinia and France. By the 27th the French fleet was off Nice. In her Letters Mariana describes how ‘I immediately went to the quay, with an intention of hiring an English merchantman (our nation being at peace with France), and getting my family and friends embarked before the city was bombarded, a circumstance which we hourly expected to take place; but no English vessel could I find ready for sea…’ After a great deal of anxiety the Starkes were eventually able to escape by sea. Having been ‘advised to make as little parade as possible on our way to the port, my family went two and two by different paths, while I, being obliged to stay to the last, walked down, dressed as a servant, passing all the French posts without the smallest molestation…‘ With her love of theatricals, I can imagine that Mariana rather revelled in playing this part.

The Starkes reached Genoa on 14 October 1792, went from there by sea to Leghorn (Livorno) and then on to Pisa. There they encountered, among other English visitors, Lady Spencer (mother of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire), to whom, in 1811, Mariana dedicated the first poem in her slim volume, The Beauties of Carlo-Maria Maggi Paraphrased.

In April and May 1793 the Starkes were in Rome, meeting there with the family of John Flaxman, the sculptor. If the Starkes had not previously been known to the Flaxmans – the latter having been in Italy since 1787 – during the course of the next couple of years a firm friendship was cemented.

Pisa

Pisa

The Starkes returned to Pisa where they spent the winter of 1793/4 and it was there that Richard Starke died, aged 74, on 5 March 1794. He was buried on 9 March at Livorno. [For a very interesting article about Richard Starke’s grave see here.]

We know that some days later, on 21 March, Mariana was visiting her friend Lady Bolingbroke who was also in Pisa. [I can’t at the moment check the reference but believe it comes from the Journal of Sarah Bentham, held in the Colchester Papers at the National Archives.]  Lady Bolingbroke was born Charlotte Collins, daughter of the Rev Thomas Collins, who had been tutor to Viscount Bolingbroke. A friend of the novelist Charlotte Smith, Lady Bolingbroke had translated some of Smith’s poems into Italian and presumably shared a similar literary friendship with Mariana. Poor Lady Bolingbroke certainly needed to think beautiful thoughts in order to take her mind off the scandal that had enveloped her marriage (for gossipy details see here). Previous sightings of Mariana and Lady Bolingbroke together had been made in Pisa by American-born Count Rumford in late 1793.

Mariana and her mother remained in Pisa before moving on to Florence, where we shall renew our acquaintance with them in the summer of 1794.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Kate’s Wedding Day – 103 Years Ago Today – 9 January 1915

One of the pages from her diary in which Kate describes her wedding day. It was she who attached the photographs

One of the pages from her diary in which Kate describes her wedding day. It was she who attached the photographs

After an engagement of eleven years Kate Frye and John Collins are at last about to be married – in All Saint’s Church, Hove. No wedding photographs were taken so we have to imagine Kate in her ‘best black frock – new boots, my silk hat which is quite pretty – squirrel coat and muff. Agnes’ present [a gold watch and bracelet] has blue stones in it and I borrowed a handkerchief from Mother. I was wearing a mixture of old and new.’ John, of course, wore his officer’s uniform.

The moment of departure arrived, the hiatus between the old life and the new.

 My Wedding Day and my Birthday. 37. 

 ‘Just after 12.30 Mother, Agnes and I left in the taxi for All Saints Church, Hove. We walked up the Church – Mother and I together and she and Agnes went into a seat. Then I saw John coming from the Vestry. I was only conscious that he looked alright and not nervous. I spoke very, very slowly I noticed, as if I were weighing every word – and I said “obey” most deliberately and carefully. I would have rather had it left out altogether but had come to the conclusion that if I had the Church of England marriage service at all there wasn’t much more objection to that one word than to much of the other. That I still object fundamentally to unequal vows is one thing very sure, but it has been so restful not to have to go and argue with the Vicar beforehand, which I meant to do and should have done if I had not been so tied to the house. He would not have altered it I am sure and it would have spoilt all the joy of the good feeling. It probably sounds lazy. One ought to battle for one’s conviction.’

There was no father figure to give Kate away, no best man to support John and no bridesmaids. It was as simple a wedding as could be. Perhaps one All Saints regular might have slipped in a pew, but otherwise Mother and Agnes were the only witnesses. Did Kate have any moment of regret that hers was not a grand wedding? She had witnessed so many over the years as Gilbey, Blyth and Gold brides, bedecked with satin and lace and trailing bridesmaids, were supported up the aisle by their prosperous fathers. She had inspected mountainous displays of presents, listened to the congratulatory speeches and seen the happy couples depart on honeymoon visits to the Italian Lakes, or Paris, or Switzerland or Rome.  But, if there was ever a twinge of disappointment, Kate did not confide it to her diary. She thoroughly enjoyed herself, taking pleasure from everything the day had to offer.

‘Brighton was all en fête as the King and Queen had come to visit the wounded – and as chance would have it when we were turning off the front we saw a little group of people and finding the King was expected we waited for about ten minutes. Then past they came, the King quite deliberately turning to John and returning his salute. It was exciting and on my Wedding day too. I wanted to stop them and tell them all about it.’

Returning to Portland Road from All Saints, which Kate described as ‘such a gorgeous Church – like a small cathedral’, Mr and Mrs John Collins walked up the short tiled path and into number 58. The winter sun shone through the decorative door panels of art-nouveau stained glass as married life at long last began. ‘I just took off my hat and coat and John came upstairs. And John kept kissing me and I said “someone’s coming” in the old way, forgetting it wouldn’t matter.’ For tea ‘we had a wee cake covered with white sugar and I cut it with John’s sword’ and then it was off to Brighton station ‘to catch the 4.40 train. It proved slow – but it didn’t seem to matter – we just sat and hugged each other – Government compels us now-a-days to travel with the blinds down so it was alright.’

From Victoria they took a motor taxi to the Great Central Hotel at Marylebone Station, where they had decided to spend their wedding night. ‘I suggested we had better not pay too much, but it was really rather nice on our arrival not to be consulted and just taken to the first floor – Room No 123. I suggested to John – my husband – that he could go on down while I changed but he flatly refused so he sat and watched me do my hair and then did my dress up for me.

We went straight into dinner about 8.15 and had nine rather bad courses. Very few people there and the room gradually emptied till we were the last. I was hungry and ate quite a lot. Then we strolled round the palm court where a band was playing but we didn’t seem to want people so we went in the drawing- room.

Then we both said we were tired so I said I thought I had better go to bed – it was then 10. John said he would come, but I told him not for twenty minutes. He didn’t like it but gave in and I went and got the key and went up alone. I was so excited – who isn’t at such a moment?

I undressed all backwards and was only just done when John arrived. Ours was a gorgeous room, the bed in an alcove. We had meant to have a fire, it would have been nice, but really the room was so warm we didn’t need it. I laughed at first. Later I shed a tear or two and John would turn up the light to look at me. Then he saw my tears and wept himself. We did try to go to sleep, but I don’t think John had more than two hours and I had considerably less. But we were very, very happy.’

The bill for Kate's two nights of honeymoon - together with the identification number of their room. Although these items were not inserted into the diary, Kate kept them with her other papers for the rest of her life.

The bill for Kate’s two nights of honeymoon – together with the identification number of the room allocated to ‘Capt and Mrs Collins’9. Although these items were not inserted into the diary, Kate kept them with her other papers for the rest of her life.

The Hotel Great Central is still there – now the Landmark Hotel. In 1919 Kate was to renew her acquaintance with it in very different circumstances when it had been turned into a hospital for officers and John was admitted as a patient, seriously ill with Spanish Flu.

[Incidentally – very incidentally –  it was on the site of the  Hotel Grand Central that in the 1870s and 1880s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson ran her first ‘New Hospital for Women’. It was because the houses in which  the hospital operated were due to be demolished to make way for the new station and hotel that she was forced to look elsewhere – eventually selecting the Euston Road site on which to build what became the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital – see Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery.]

Kate’s wedding day was re-enacted in episode 2 of ITV’s The Great War: The People’s Story (shown on 17 August 2014) – in which Romola Garai plays Kate and Tom Turner plays John.

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

Kate

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Suffrage Stories/Suffrage Walks: The Suffragette Fellowship Memorial, Westminster

How many of you know – and have been to look at – this Memorial?Calling All Women 1971_0001

It is sited in Christchurch Gardens, a paved turning running from Victoria Street, Westminster, towards Caxton Hall and was commissioned by the Suffragette Fellowship to commemorate ‘ the courage and perseverance of all those men and women who in the long struggle for votes for women selflessly braved derision, opposition and ostracism, many enduring physical violence and suffering.’ The Memorial was unveiled in 1970, on 14 July, Emmeline Pankhurst’s official birthday .

I find it interesting that it took nearly 60 years from the time that the WSPU had, to all intents and purposes, disbanded for the survivors to commemorate with a piece of public art (rather than a plaque, of which there are several related to the suffrage movement) any others than the Pankhursts (that is, Emmeline and Christabel).

I am not aware of any documentation associated with the decision to commission Lorne McKean and Edwin Russell, the young (husband and wife) couple who designed the memorial, although I have noticed that in most citations it is Russell alone who is usually named as its sculptor. I have been in touch with Lorne McKean (Edwin Russell died in 2013) and she comments:

‘Edwin (my husband) and I worked on many of our sculptures together. Usually one of us took the leadership on a particular sculpture and in the case of the Suffragette memorial this was Edwin. I do recall that the actual idea that developed from just the idea of a shape more like a memorial grave stone to the S shaped scroll that you now see developed organically between us. We have always been really bad at signing things as it always seems to us the least relevant part of the work. But have grown to appreciate that it is interesting to others’.

I like the hint that the scroll design may have evolved from first  equating ‘memorial’ with ‘gravestone’.

However, the only other primary evidence I can show you of the event – and the thinking behind it -comes from the pages of the 1971 edition of Calling All Women, the Suffragette Fellowship Newsletter.

Suff Fellowship 2

Suff Fellowship 1

 

And yet…and yet….While the inside pages of the 1971 edition of Calling All Women were given over to reports of the unveiling of this new memorial – one intended to commemorate the involvement of all suffragettes – what was the image chosen for the cover? Yes, of course, Mrs Pankhurst. Once again, the power of her image – set so splendidly against the Palace of Westminster – had trumped that of the newcomer.

Calling All Women 1971_0002

It is as though, even at this late stage in the history of the suffragette movement, there was a force at work intent on proving that maxim put forward by Thomas Carlyle (incidentally one of Mrs Pankhurst’s favourite writers – and she wasn’t a great reader) that ‘the history of the world is but the biography of great men’ or, of course, women. This is not a sentiment that appeals to me and may explain why I have devoted so many years to uncovering the lives of those suffrage campaigners who were by no means great. It is just these women – and men – that the Suffragette Fellowship Memorial is there to commemorate.

So -pay a visit to Christchurch Gardens, think of your favourite non-famous suffragette – and contemplate.

 

See also this Parliament and Women in the 20th Century blog post.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1914: 25 December

Kate is spending Christmas with her mother and sister in digs at 58 Portland Road, Hove. This is their first Christmas since the death of Kate’s father, Frederick Frye, and very different from the glorious festivities that they enjoyed in the days of wealth and plenty. John Collins, Kate’s fiancé, is in the Army, stationed at Shoeburyness. They are to be married at All Saints Hove on 9 January 1915. Miss Green, who lives in Warwick Avenue, London, and is very well-off, is a very keen and active supporter of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Friday December 25th 1914 – Christmas Day

Called at 7 – and off to All Saints Hove for Communion at 8. Such a gorgeous Church – like a small Cathedral – I am glad its a nice Church.

Back again and Mother and I had breakfast together – then leaving dear love [Kate’s little dog – aka ‘Mickie’] for Miss Miles to look after the 3 of us to morning service. Agnes came back for Mickie and Mother and I went on the Parade and met Agnes coming back. In at 1.20 to a Christmas Dinner of hot Roast Beef and a weird pudding pretending to be a Christmas Plum.

The meal was brought to a sudden close by my opening one of the parcels which had arrived in the morning by post. I didn’t know the writing but it was a registered parcel and I found a pair of silver Table Napkin rings from Miss Green for a wedding present. We had so laughed about wedding presents of such a nature that we roared with laughter and I went on reading her letter aloud and then as it was so sad burst into tears. She had once been going to be married on the 4th January but her man had died. Really it was most pathetic. So then we quieted down and sat over the fire and read our letters etc. Nothing from John – when last I heard he was preparing for a Christmas present from the Germans. Dover has already had one – a bomb dropped from an Aeroplane but it fell into a garden and did no damage.

We had a quiet day and my cold came on with great violence and I felt very tired and seedy altogether and not at all Christmassy. I have had £10 from Aunt Agnes [Gilbey] for a wedding present and £7 from Constance [her cousin, daughter of Aunt Agnes] for Christmas and wedding. Mother has given me 5 shillings and Mickie a sponge bag and Agnes a little Jewel Box. Last year this time our Christmas was over  – John was on the point of departure. I wonder how Daddie is enjoying his Christmas – I hope his is a peaceful one.

All Saints Hove - postcard from Kate's archive

All Saints Hove  1914 – postcard from Kate’s archive

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here. I rather think you might find it an enthralling Christmas read.

cover e-book

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1914: 24 December 1914

Kate  is beginning her Christmas holiday. ‘Young Bernard Shaw’ was the son of her cousin, Agnes Shaw (née Gilbey) Shaw. Almost exactly a year later another of Agnes’s sons, Arthur, was killed in France; he was only 19.

The purchases that, with diffidence, Kate showed her mother, were modest items of clothing – mainly underwear – that she had put together as her trousseau. She felt rather guilty about spending money on herself.

 

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Thursday December 24th 1914

Up 7.30. Breakfast 8.30 and packed up by 9.30. Off soon after in a Taxi for Victoria and the 10.15 train to Hove. A crowded carriage – otherwise a comfortable journey only so saddened by seeing in the Roll of Honour killed in action young Bernard Shaw – Agnes’s second boy – 21 years old. Such a radiant young life ended and done with and what a heart ache for Agnes. Got a porter to bring my luggage and walked to 58 Portland Road. It was a lovely day though wet under foot. Agnes [her sister] and I took dear love [her little dog] just to see the sea after I had seen my baggage in – my room is messy and bitterly cold.

We sat over the fire all afternoon. Agnes went out after tea and I unpacked and showed Mother my purchases – I was a little diffident – but it went very well. Then Agnes had to see them. Then to a little needlework. Very tired and bed early. It’s a queer sort of Christmas.

KateFor much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here. I rather think you might find it an enthralling Christmas read.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1914: 23 December

Kate is working at the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage office in Knightsbridge, superintending the workroom that the society had set up to give employment to women dressmakers thrown out of work by the outbreak of war and the drop in demand for finery. She and John, her fiancé of many years, had at long last decided to get married. The chosen date was to be 9 January 1915, Kate’s birthday. At this time she was living in digs in Pimlico.

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Kate c. Christmas 1914

 Wednesday 23 December 1914

A real busy day at the office getting everything tidied and straightforward for my holiday. Had quite a surprise first thing by a presentation of an Ink Pot from all the girls – so really nice of them. They had given Miss Grey a flower stand – it’s most awfully generous of them. I told Miss Grey later on that I was going to get married and she was very interested and full of good wishes.

Miss Simeon left at lunch time and Gladys who had not come till about 11.30 left at 3.30 – so although I had accepted an invitation to tea up in the Work Room I had to give it up, but they brought mine down – a cup of cocoa and a lots of Scotch cakes made by Miss Grey. The girls were crazy with excitement all day. I had a thorough clear out and tidy up of everything – then locked up – at 5 o’clock. Had such a queer feeling as I came away – like locking my old self within – because probably my old self never will return – if I am married by then it will be so different.

I was rather tired but ate my supper – made up a big fire and started to pack up – had not finished before midnight.

Kate

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her e-book biography – see here -only £1.19 to download from Amazon . I rather think you might find it an enthralling Christmas read.

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Suffrage Stories/Women Artists: Caroline Watts And the ‘Bugler Girl’

watts bugler

This image of the ‘Bugler Girl’-  or ‘Clarion Girl’ – had a resonance for the suffrage campaign on both sides of the Atlantic.

The design was originally used on a poster to advertise the NUWSS spectacular procession of 13 June 1908. [For an article about the banners created for that occasion see here.]

The artist is known to be Caroline Watts but, as ever with the artists who contributed so much to the imagery of the suffrage campaign, I asked myself  -who was she? This is what I discovered.

Caroline Marsh Watts was born at Handsworth in 1868, a daughter of Robert Watts, a button manufacturer, and his wife Mary Maria. Caroline was the youngest child in the family of six children and her mother died, aged 36, a year or so after her birth. Robert Watts never remarried and their maternal grandmother moved into the household to help run the business and care for the children. In 1871 Robert Watts’ business, which he ran in partnership with John Shakespeare Manton, had 470 employees – with premises at the Regent Works, Regent Street and at Frederick Street, Birmingham.

By 1891 the family (Robert Watts, two of his daughters, Mary and Caroline, his mother-in-law and 4 year-old grandson) had moved south and were living at Ailsa Road, St Margaret’s Twickenham. Robert Watts had retired and Caroline was an art student – we know she studied at the Slade.

Robert Watts died in 1894, leaving something over £8000, and by 1901 Caroline had set up home with her sister Mary – and one servant – at 83 Charlwood Street, Pimlico. Mary was employed as a ‘compiler of indexes’ and Caroline was ‘an artist – painter’.

In fact, from at least 1899 Caroline had been commissioned as an illustrator for a series of translations of Arthurian and other romances. These were the work of the renowned folklorist Jessie L. Weston and the majority were published by the firm of David Nutt.

One of Caaroline Watts' illustrations to 'Tristan and Iseult', translated by Jessie L. West and published by David Nutt, 1902

One of Caaroline Watts’ illustrations to ‘Tristan and Iseult’, translated by Jessie L. Weston and published by David Nutt, 1902

At the turn of the century the firm of David Nutt was run by Alfred Trubner Nutt, the son of the founder. Alfred Nutt was also president of the Folk-Lore Society – hence his interest in publishing texts such as those written by Jessie Weston. As these were so close to the publisher’s heart I imagine he took considerable care when selecting their illustrator and because Caroline Watts continued to receive commissions from Alfred Nutt I would think she must have become part of the publisher’s friendship circle. It may well have been through association with this firm that Caroline’s sister Mary developed her career as an indexer.

Illustrated by Caroline Watts and published by David Nutt in 1904

Illustrated by Caroline Watts and published by David Nutt in 1904

Nutt’s French wife, Marie. subscribed to NUWSS in 1906 and in February 1907 took part in the ‘Mud March’. After the tragic death of her husband (he drowned in the Seine while attempting to rescue his invalid son whose pony had bolted and run into the river; the son was saved by passers by) – Marie Nutt took over the running of the firm of David Nutt and in the next few years published many texts relevant to the women’s suffrage cause.

Such was the suffrage zeitgeist amongst London-based women artists at the time that Caroline Watts may have been drawn towards the NUWSS by any number of associations, but her connection with Marie Nutt is one clear thread.

It doesn’t take much imagination to recognise that Caroline Watt’s design for the ‘Bugler Girl’ is closely associated with the heroic images she was creating for commissions from Alfred Nutt.

The NUWSS was at pains to make clear that the militant imagery of the ‘Bugler Girl’ didn’t represent a violent organization. As a member of the NUWSS governing-council explained, ‘Our Bugler Girl carries her bugle and her banner; her sword is sheathed by her side; it is there, but not drawn, and if it were drawn, it would not be the sword of the flesh, but of the spirit. For ours is not a warfare against men, but against evil..’

The image, created as I mentioned, to advertise the June 1908 NUWSS procession was subsequently used – often in black and white rather than colour – on posters and flyers advertising NUWSS meetings and from November 1913 was used on the front page of the NUWSS paper, ‘The Common Cause’.  However such was the strength of the image that it also had a lease of life in the US.

'Bugler Girl' Women's Political Union badge (image courtesy of Ken Florey's Woman Suffrage Memorabilia website)

‘Bugler Girl’ Women’s Political Union badge (image courtesy of Ken Florey’s Woman Suffrage Memorabilia website)

In his most useful and interesting book – Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia – Ken Florey reveals that Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Stanton and a long-time resident in England, poached Caroline Watts’ ‘Bugler Girl’ design for use by the Women’s Political Union, the WSPU-inspired society she had founded on her return to the USA. Significantly the design was recoloured in purple, white and green (colours of course, borrowed from the WSPU) and became a well-known icon of the US women’s suffrage movement. [See here for more information from Ken Florey on the use of the design in the USA and here for a 2011 article about a contemporary reinterpretation of the image.]

Caroline Watts may well have produced other designs for the suffrage campaign but the only other that I can find reference to is held in the Artists’ Suffrage League archive in the Women’s Library@LSE. It is catalogued as ‘[Liberty] Original drawing, ink on paper, a woman freed from her chains, opening a door and looking out on to a sunrise; inscription below image “But little do or can the best of us:/That little is achieved through Liberty./Who, then, dares hold – emancipated thus -/His fellow shall continue bound? Robert Browning”. Signature bottom left “CM Watts‘”‘

I have been unable to discover much more about Caroline Watts’ life. In 1911, presumably an NUWSS supporter, she didn’t boycott the census, and can be found living with Mary, who was still indexing, at Hillcroft, Oakdene Road, Godalming. Caroline described herself as ‘Artist (Painter and Black and White Illustrator). I have been unable to find any trace of her work as a painter passing through the salerooms.By 1918 the sisters had moved to Middlehill Road, Colehill, Dorset, where Caroline died, aged 51, in 1919.

 

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Suffrage Stories: An Army Of Banners – Designed For The NUWSS Suffrage Procession 13 June 1908

An Army of Banners

 

Army Banner Picture1In June 2008 I was invited by The Women’s Library to give a talk on suffrage banners to mark the 100th anniversary of the first of a new style of spectacular processions staged by the British women’s suffrage movement. For it was on the afternoon of Saturday 13 June 1908 that over 10,000 women belonging, in the main, to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies processed through central London to the Albert Hall, where they held a rally.The image above was that used to publicise the procession.

The talk I gave was accompanied by a Powerpoint illustrating all the designs for the banners mentioned or, indeed, the banners themselves. Although, or copyright reasons, I am unable to insert these illustrations directly into this article I have provided links on which you can click to see them for yourselves.

1908 ProcessionAnd what was the reason for the procession?

It was to draw the country’s – and the government’s -attention to the women’s demand that they should be given the vote – on the same terms as it was given to men.

Yet by 1908 the campaign was already 42 years old. Since 1866 thousands of meetings had been held in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets throughout the entire British Isles – from Orkney to Cornwall and from Dublin to Yarmouth. Some of these had been no more than small gatherings in cottages, others had been held in middle-class drawing rooms, in Mechanics’ Institutes, in market places and in church halls –  while many others had been held in the largest public halls of the largest cities of the land. Yet despite all this activity women had not achieved their goal.

At times they had thought they were coming close – when, for instance, a franchise bill managed to jump a few of the parliamentary hurdles. And 1908 was one of those times. In 1906 a Liberal government had been elected – and the suffragists, despite many past disappointments, always had higher hopes of the Liberals. And now, just a few months previously, in February 1908, a Liberal MP had introduced yet another women’s suffrage bill in Parliament – and it had actually passed its second reading – before being blocked. Another failure, of course, but this was the greatest progress that a suffrage bill had made since 1897. The leaders of the NUWSS thought that the time was ripe to capitalise on this quasi- success and show the country how well-organised and united women could be in publicising their claim to citizenship. Incidentally there was also a new prime minister to impress. Asquith had just taken office in April, succeeding the dying Campbell-Bannerman.

The image used on the advertising flyer for the procession was also used a little later on the badge given to those organising local NUWSS societies throughout the country. We can see that the bugler girl is calling her comrades to rally to the banner  – and it was banners that were recognised at the time – and are remembered today – as the most significant visual element of that procession a hundred years ago.

The journalist James Douglas, reporting for the Morning Leader put it rather well ‘They have recreated the beauty of blown silk and tossing embroidery. The procession was like a medieval festival, vivid with simple grandeur, alive with an ancient dignity.’

‘Blown silk and tossing embroidery’- a wonderful phrase – conjuring up an alluring image.. In fact a high wind that afternoon meant that the silk was certainly blown and the embroidery tossed.

And his observation that the procession was like a medieval festival – invoking concepts of ‘grandeur’ and of ‘ancient dignity’ – was just what the organisers were aiming for. The designer of the majority of the banners was Mary Lowndes, a successful professional artist, very much a product of the Arts and Crafts movement, who specialised in the designing of stained glass. A year later she put down on paper her thoughts on ‘Banners and Banner Making’, tracing women’s involvement in this craft right back to the ‘warrior maidens’ of a romanticized – if not an entirely  mythical – medieval past. She lamented the use in recent years of manufactured banners – the implication being that these were carried by male groups – both civil or military – but that ‘now into public life comes trooping the feminine; and with the feminine creature come the banners of past time’ She applauds what she calls ‘the new thing’ – writing that by this she means the ‘political societies started by women, managed by women and sustained by women. In their dire necessity they have started them; with their household wit they manage them; in their poverty, with ingenuity and many labours, they sustain them.’

The NUWSS had actually staged its first procession through the streets of London the previous year – in February 1907.  This had had a startling novelty value – it really was the first time that large numbers of middle-class women had taken to the streets. On that occasion, too, banners had played their part. However February was not a good month for a procession – it was not for nothing that the occasion acquired the soubriquet the ‘Mud March’(for more about the Mud March see here). To be fair – the timing of the procession had been chosen with a purpose – to coincide with the opening of parliament (which was then held in February). However the NUWSS organisers learned from their mistake and June was chosen as a more suitable season for their second public procession.

Instructions NUWSS procession June 1908

Instructions NUWSS procession June 1908 BackThis particular June Saturday was selected because the International Conference for Women’s Suffrage was about to be held in Amsterdam – it was starting on Monday 15 June. This meant that many important delegates from around the world were passing through London and were able to take part in the British demonstration. The other main suffrage organisation, the WSPU – the Women’s Social and Political Union – had chosen the following Sunday, 21 June, on which to stage their most ambitious rally yet – it was to be known as ‘Woman’s Sunday’– processions culminating in a rally in Hyde Park. The two events have sort of rolled into one in the popular memory – but the NUWSS procession was the first of the two. The WSPU, too, carried a brilliant display of banners – but most of theirs were made by commercial manufacturers and, sadly, none seems to have survived.

An announcement that the NUWSS procession was to take place on 13 June was made in a letter that appeared in the Times on 8 May. This was signed by leaders of the NUWSS, including Millicent Fawcett, the president. The letter stated that ‘Professional women, University women, women teachers, women artists, women musicians, women writers, women in business, nurses, members of political societies of all parties, women trades unionists, and co-operative women all have their own organizations and will be grouped in the procession under their own distinctive banners, which have been specially designed for the occasion by the Artists’ League for Women’s Suffrage.’ The letter then appealed both for funds to help pay for the banners and ‘for the personal support and presence in the procession of women who conscientiously hold that every kind of constitutional action should be taken in support of the rights they claim.’

So what was this Artists’ Suffrage League?

It had been founded in January 1907 by Mary Lowndes to involve professional women artists in preparations for the Mud March. Among the founding members were an Australian artist, Dora Meeson Coates, and Emily Ford, whose sister, Isabella, was a member of the procession’s organising committee. The Fords came from a Leeds Quaker family with a long history of involvement in the suffrage movement. Emily was by now living and working in a studio in Chelsea, a close neighbour of Dora Meeson Coates and of other women artists who supported the suffrage cause. The ASL’s secretary was Barbara Forbes, Mary Lowndes’ companion – and sister-in-law – who worked alongside her in her stained glass business.

The Artists’ Suffrage League representatives on the NUWSS committee organising the 13 June procession were Mary Lowndes and Mrs Christiana Herringham. In 1903 Mrs Herringham had been the originator of the National Arts Collection Fund, which made its first purchase of a painting in 1906. Ironically this was Velazquez Rokeby Venus, which in 1914 was to be badly damaged by the action of a militant suffragette, Mary Richardson (for more about this incident see here and here). Mrs Herringham had been a supporter of suffrage societies since at least 1889, and by 1907 was subscribing to both the NUWSS and the WSPU.

In a letter to the Times that appeared on the day of the procession, Millicent Fawcett noted that, besides Mary Lowndes and Emily Ford, other artists involved in the production of the banners included May Morris, daughter of William Morris, and Mrs Adrian Stokes – she was an Austrian artist, Marianne Stokes, who had been a friend of Millicent Fawcett for some years – for instance they were both staying with mutual friends at Zennor in Cornwall when the 1891 census was taken. From newspaper reports it would appear that ’80 ladies’ had been involved in the production of 70-80 embroidered banners that were made specifically for this procession – and that they had been working on them since the beginning of the year.

Amazingly – of the banners made by the Artists’ Suffrage League for this procession many are still in existence – most of them held in the Women’s Library@LSE, with another selection housed in the Museum of London. We are extremely fortunate in that not only have the banners themselves been preserved, but so have the original designs. For in the Women’s Library collection is the actual album in which Mary Lowndes sketched out her designs for the banners, the colours to be used indicated in watercolour, and, in many instances, with swatches of likely fabric also attached. However, the designs that were included in the album are not dated and one cannot assume that all necessarily relate to banners designed for the June 1908 procession. For instance the album contains a design for a banner for the Manchester Federation of the NUWSS– but the Federation didn’t come into existence until 1910.  So I have tried to be careful and to relate the designs to the reality of the banners as described in newspaper reports of the day. There are a few newspaper photographs of sections of the procession but, on the whole, they are not as helpful in identifying specific banners as are the words that accompanied them. The NUWSS missed a trick in that, unlike the WSPU the following week, they did not think of publishing photographs of the procession as postcards.

However the procession – and its banners – certainly did attract columns of newsprint – a good selection of which were carefully cut out and pasted up in another album kept by the Artists’ Suffrage League. In fact a leaflet was printed by the NUWSS containing extracts from the press reports specifically about the banners.

The ASL banners had been on display in Caxton Hall, Westminster, for a couple of days before the procession – and the press had been invited along to view them. The Daily Chronicle reporter had clearly got the message – writing that ‘the beauty of the needlework.. should convince the most sceptical that it is possible for a woman to use a needle even when she is also wanting a vote’.

It was not only the skill of the needlewomen that was remarked on. The Times was always rather loathe to give any credit to the suffrage cause, but was prompted – after its usual weasel words casting doubt as to whether the procession caused ‘great masses of the people to be deeply moved on the suffrage question’-, to admit that ‘in every other respect its success is beyond challenge. To begin with, the organization and stage-management were admirable, and would have reflected credit on the most experienced political agent. Nothing was left to chance or improvisation: and no circumstance that ingenuity or imagination could contrive was lacking to make the show imposing to the eye. Those taking part in the demonstration were all allotted their appointed stations, and every care had been taken to enable those stations to be found with the greatest ease.

It was 3 o’clock when the start was made. At the head was borne the banner of the NUWSS, on which was inscribed the legend ‘The franchise is the keystone of liberties’. Beneath the folds of this banner – which has not survived – marched Lady Frances Balfour and Mrs Henry Fawcett, wearing her cap and gown – the robes of her honorary doctorate from St Andrews University.

Then, as the Times, reported, came all the provincial detachments. The NUWSS could trace its descent from the first suffrage society that had been formed in 1866 – but by 1908 it had been transformed out of all recognition from this first, very tentative, incarnation. Through the 19th century local groups had been formed in towns and cities around the county, aligning themselves with the main societies – in London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh.  In 1896 they all grouped together under the umbrella of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. The NUWSS had continued to develop and in 1907 had adopted a new constitution and strengthened its organisational structure. The provincial societies, although they had a measure of autonomy, were given strong leadership from the London headquarters. But it was the London Society, under the command of Philippa Strachey, that was responsible for the organisation of the procession – just as she had the Mud March the previous year.

It was important to the organisers that it should be made clear that the procession was representative of women of the entire country – which was why so much emphasis was given to indicate on the banners the names of the towns from which they came. As a convenient shorthand the designs for these banners used existing emblems associated with the town or region. The Westminster Gazette took the point, commenting that ‘Nothing like them for artistic skill, elegance and emblematic accuracy – to say nothing of their great number – has ever been seen in a public demonstration of this kind before.’

And the Scotsman reported, ‘The most remarkable feature of the procession was the great display of banners and bannerettes. It was said there were as many as 800 of them, and the designs and mottoes which they bore appeared to be almost as numerous. Many of them were effective works of art, and bore striking inscriptions’. Unfortunately few of these local, provincial, banners are amongst those that have survived. They would have been taken back to the home town and were certainly then used in many other local demonstrations – before, I suppose, eventually becoming damaged or forgotten. That is why it is so fortunate that we have Mary Lowndes’ original designs as a record of what has disappeared.

The provincial detachments processed in alphabetical order. First came Bath, then Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackburn, and Bradford. Of these we have no record of either the design or the banners themselves – which were probably designed and made locally.

But then came Brighton. And I know that this Mary Lowndes design really was made up into the banner carried on the day – because it appears in a photograph published in the Daily Mirror. The dolphins were a long-established symbol of the town – appearing in the Brighton coat of arms and ‘In deo fidemus’ was certainly the town’s motto at the beginning of 20th century. The swatches attached to the album design, however, indicate that the colours used were dark and light green and gold – rather than blue that appears here

By 1908 the Brighton Society had over 350 members and as Brighton is close to London the society should have been able to produce a sizeable contingent of supporters to walk with their banner.

 I found this next design particularly interesting, referring as it does to the Bristol Women’s Reform Union  –not a name that will be very familiar even to close students of the suffrage movement – which is why it is rather exciting to see its existence given credence by this design. The society had been founded in the early 1900s by Anna Maria and Mary Priestman from Bristol – radical liberal, Quaker campaigners – whose involvement went back to the very first years of the suffrage movement. The Reform Union existed in parallel to the main suffrage society in Bristol, but aimed to set the question of the suffrage in the context of wider social reform. It finally amalgamated with the Bristol NUWSS society in 1909.

The Cardiff banner (courtesy of Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives).

The Cardiff banner (courtesy of Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives).

Next came Cardiff – one newspaper reporting that the ‘Dragon of Cardiff excited general attention’. There is no design for Cardiff in the Lowndes album it is more than likely that it was made by members of the newly-formed Cardiff and District Women’s Suffrage Society and is the one that has now (in 2016) been donated to the Special Archives and Collection of Cardiff University (for the full story see here).

Next came the women of Cheltenham. The town had over the years proved to be a very effective centre of the suffrage campaign in Gloucestershire. A fashionable spa, the town was attractive to single women of means. In 1907 the town had collected 900 signatures to the Women’s Franchise Declaration – another in the long series of mammoth petitions that had been presented to parliament. The Cheltenham banner has not survived – but a newspaper report does tells us that it bore the motto ‘Be Just and Fear Not’

 The design of this next banner – beneath which marched the women of East Anglia – had been, in part at least, suggested to Mary Lowndes by Millicent Fawcett – an East Anglian herself – whose hometown was Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast  In her report of the procession that appeared in the Times on the big day, she particularly mentioned this banner – writing that it ‘shows the three crowns of the East Anglian St Edmund and a representation of the wolf traditionally associated with the miraculous preservation of the martyr’s head – and the motto – Non angeli, sed Angli’. Many of the elements – the three crowns and the wolf – are still in the coat of arms of Bury St Edmunds. The wording is the reverse of what Pope Gregory is reputed to have uttered when, in 573AD , he was shown some captive British children in Rome – that is ‘Not Angles, but Angels’ – the rewording is supposed to mean ‘Not angels, but Angles – that is, citizens.’ A nice hit at the ‘Angel in the House’

Army banner Picture5 And here is a photograph taken on the day – showing the banner with in front from left to right, Lady Frances Balfour, Millicent Fawcett, Emily Davies and Sophie Bryant, headmistress of North London Collegiate.

For the Mud March the previous year Millicent Fawcett had not worn academic dress –but it had been decided that today it would be worn –  to imbue the occasion with as much dignity as possible .  Next to her, with bonnet, bag and umbrella, is Emily Davies who, in 1866, with Elizabeth Garrett, had handed to John Stuart Mill the very first women’s suffrage petition. She was now 76 and yet was still to be around, in 1918, to cast her vote for the first time. One newspaper reported Emily Davies saying on 13 June ‘It is a great day for the movement, I would not have missed it for the world.’

Scotland was, of course, represented in the procession. Here is Mary Lowndes’ design for the banner – and here is the reality. The black and red, triple-towered castle is as it appeared at the time on the city of Edinburgh coat of arms – with the thistles added  to highlight Scotland’s commitment to the cause.

The next banner of which we have a record is that for Fleet, in Hampshire..I must admit that when I saw the design for this banner in the Lowndes album I was a little doubtful as to whether the town of Fleet would have mustered a contingent for this particular procession – there is no record of a suffrage society in the town at this time. But to my delight I came across a newspaper report that specifically mentioned this banner – which was made up, as shown, in yellow and orange – and with the motto as depicted – ’Delay of Justice is Injustice’ – an ancient proverbial concept – the wording put into this form by Walter Savage Landor. Because this Fleet banner was proved to be ‘right’ I have extrapolated from this that so are other Surrey and Hampshire ones the designs for which are in the Lowndes album

Thus Guildford is just such a one – depicting Guildford castle and two woolpacks – anciently the town’s staple trade– both of which feature on the Borough of Guildford coat of arms today.  A Guildford NUWSS society was definitely formed in 1909 but I don’t think that there was one in 1908. However this area of Surrey was the home of women who were not only committed suffragists – but who also had long association with the Arts and Crafts movement – and clearly the combination of suffrage and needlework was appealing. Christiana Herringham’s sister, Theodora Powell, was the secretary of the Godalming society formed in 1909 – and she was also instrumental in the founding of the Guildford society. The president of that was Mrs Mary Watts, widow of the artist, G.F. Watts

Godalming Women's Suffrage banner (image courtesy of Godalming Museum)

Godalming Women’s Suffrage banner (image courtesy of Godalming Museum)

By the way, a later Godalming banner was worked by Gertrude Jekyll and is now held in a local museum.

Next came the banner of Haslemere and Hindhead – a banner of which we know – although it is now lost – because it was described in the press reports

It bore what might appear the surprising motto:

‘Weaving fair and weaving free

England’s web of destiny’

At least one scholar has assumed that Haslemere – then a small sleepy Surrey town – could not have been associated with the weaving industry – and, as one can so easily do, made the assumption that a Lancashire name with a similar name must have been intended – but in 1908 Haslemere did support a weaving industry – of a sort. It was far removed from the dark satanic mills of Lancashire – but had been founded in 1894 as a branch of the Peasants Art Society – weaving cotton and linen. Haslemere was in fact a haven of an artistic community. By 1909 it, too, like Godalming and Guildford, had its own NUWSS society. The chairman was Mrs Isabel Hecht.

The next banner in the alphabetical procession was that of North Herts, which, according to the press report, ‘declared in black and white that it was undaunted’. To put it more prosaically the banner included the wording ‘North Herts’ and ‘Undaunted’. It had been known as the Hitchin Suffrage society – but became North Herts Women’s Suffrage Association, with Lord Lytton as its president – his sisters, Lady Betty Balfour and Lady Constance Lytton were also associated with the society, though Lady Constance was, of course, much more famous for her association with the WSPU. One of the secretaries of the Association, Mrs Edward Smithson, who lived in Hitchen, had been a founder member in the 1880s of the York Suffrage Society – an example of the dedication that many women, whose names are not now remembered, had given over decades to the suffrage cause.

(Image courtesy of Kirlees Museums and Galleries)

(Image courtesy of Kirlees Museums and Galleries)

Next came Huddersfield. There is a Huddersfield banner still extant, held in the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield. It, too, is a work of art, designed and made by a local suffragist, Florence Lockwood – depicting local mills and with the motto ‘Votes for Women’. This wording might more usually be associated with the WSPU than with the NUWSS, but Florence Lockwood definitely gave the banner to the local NUWSS society. However I rather think that it post-dated 1908 – and was probably not the one carried in the 1908 procession

Hull’s banner, however, probably was – although it wasn’t singled out for mention in any newspaper report. In fact the Hull NUWSS society, which had been founded in 1904 by Dr Mary Murdoch, sent the largest contingent of any provincial society to walk in this suffrage procession. Local members subscribed over £100 to meet the expense of the trip and hired a special train for the occasion .The device of the three crowns is still used today on the city coat of arms

Keswick, too, had a banner in the procession – described as an ‘exquisitely painted view of Derwentwater’. In fact the Keswick society had two banners at its disposal – the one that Catherine Marshall, the young and energetic secretary of the society,  refers to at one point – with no further description – as ‘our banner’ and a private one lent by her cousin’s wife, Mrs John Marshall of Derwent Island. It is possible that it was to this one that the press report referred. The ‘our banner’ one is, I think, the one that still exists, with Catherine Marshall’s papers in the Cumbria Record Office.

A Kingston NUWSS society was formed in 1908 – here is the design for its banner. The swan seems to have been a fanciful device conjured up by Mary Lowndes– the Kingston coat of arms at the time sported three salmon – with no mention of a swan.

 The Sheffield Daily Telegraph commented particularly on the Leeds banner, noting ‘One device with the golden fleece bore the phrase ‘Leeds for Liberty’’ – so we can be certain that this banner was indeed carried in the procession. Leeds had a long history of involvement in the suffrage movement. The fleece, three stars and owls all derive from the Leeds coat of arms . ‘Leeds for Liberty’ certainly has a heartier ring to it than the city’s motto, which was (and is)  ‘Pro Rege et Lege’ (for King and the Law). Annotation on the design shows that the banner was 4ft 4” wide by 6ft 6in high. ‘With bamboo poles and cords complete £2. The lovely blue and gold strips are given by Mrs – Herringham. The owls are silver.’

Leicester, too, had a long history of involvement in the suffrage movement. By 1908 there had been a local suffrage society in the town for 36 years and here is Mary Lowndes’ design for their banner.

After Leicester came Liverpool. The Liverpool NUWSS society had taken its banner very seriously – commissioning a local artist to design it. It is a most impressive work of art – featuring a Liver bird and a galleon and carrying the message –  ‘Liverpool Women Demand the Vote’. The society had opened a shop in Bold St, one of Liverpool’s most fashionable thoroughfares, and in the days before the procession, displayed the banner there. On 13 June members of all Merseyside branches accompanied their banner to London, travelling on specially hired trains. The banner still exists – now in the care of Merseyside Museums.

The next design – that for a banner for Newcastle – highlights the difficulty of assigning a date to a design. Newcastle certainly had a banner in the June 1908 procession – but I am not convinced that it was this one, designed by Mary Lowndes. Newspaper reports of the June procession describe Newcastle’s banner as carrying the message, ‘Newcastle demands the Vote’ – perhaps along the lines of the Liverpool one. Needless to say the three castles do feature on the city’s coat of arms – of which red, white and black are the dominant colours. The design may have been changed, or used on another occasion.

Next came North Berwick. An attractive design – and the town’s coat of arms does includes the ferry boat. I haven’t come across a suffrage society specific to North Berwick, but there were clearly women from the town who were sympathizers.

Next came the banners of Nottingham and Oxford. We know that the members of the Oxford society cooperated with the Birmingham society to reserve seats on a special train and that 85 members travelled to London on the day, accompanied by their banner. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear to have survived.

Portsmouth women, too, carried a banner – remarked on by the press for its motto, echoing Nelson, ‘Engage the enemy more closely’. It, too, has disappeared

We do, however, have a record of the design of Purley’s banner – although I don’t think Purley ever supported a suffrage society – but it presumably formed part of the Surrey coterie – its banner designed by Mary Lowndes. I must say that, although I have been able to decode most symbols on the banner designs, I couldn’t fathom out why this one should have what appeared to be shamrocks across the top. But they may, just possibly, be oak leaves – the Purley oaks – an ancient local landmark – feature in one version of an old coat of arms

Next in the alphabetical order came Reading. And there was a Reading banner – for newspaper reports mention that ‘A dozen women tugged at the ropes of the big banner of Reading to prevent it being blown over’. Alas it has vanished.

Likewise there was a banner for Redhill, and one for Sevenoaks, the latter carrying the motto, ‘What concerns all should have the consent of all’, and for Stratford-on-Avon. All have disappeared.

We do, however, have the design for the Walton banner – again part of the Surrey group.

The Warwick banner was designed by Mary Lowndes. I haven’t been able to establish that the motto has any significant relevance to the town. But it is a good strong message

 By way of contrast the West Dorset design in the album is very faint – the faintest of all. Whether or not it was made up I am not sure – nor whether it was carried in this procession – but it is evidence that even in that quiet rural area women suffragists were sufficiently stirred to request a banner to represent them.

The Woking banner carries the motto ‘In arduis fortitudo’- fortitude in adversity’. I think the design displays a degree of artistic licence – the town didn’t receive a coat of arms until 1930. An NUWSS society was formed in the town in 1910 – and of course the fact that one of its residents, Ethel Smyth, gave sanctuary to Emmeline Pankhurst when she was released from hunger striking, did ensure it some suffragette notoriety.

We know that contingents of supporters from Worcester and York – together with their banners – also took part in the procession – but neither banner has survived.

A large Irish contingent was also present – marching under at least one banner, which I have seen faintly in a newspaper photograph. And with the marchers were Thomas and Anna Maria Haslam, both of whom had been leaders of the campaign in Ireland since 1866 – and both of whom were now over 80. It is an indication of how seriously the procession was taken that, despite age and infirmity, they had made the effort to travel over from Dublin to take part in the procession.

The local societies were followed by a group of colonial and foreign representatives, many of whom, as I have already noted, were passing through London that weekend on their way to Amsterdam. It was, of course, thought appropriate that some women pioneers of countries other than England should be commemorated by this group.

Advance knowledge that this was to happen had irritated one correspondent to the Times, for, writing from Kensington on 10 June, ‘E.M. Thompson’ had declared, ‘A few days ago I found a youthful adherent of the suffragist cause industriously embroidering a woman’s name on a small bannerette intended for the great occasion. Neither she nor I had ever heard of this lady before, but my devoted young friend was quite satisfied with her task, and informed me that it was the name of an “American pioneer, now dead”. Personally I have no particular wish for a vote, but under any circumstances I should most emphatically refuse to march under an American banner in company with Russian, Hungarian and French women, to demand from the English government a vote to which I considered that I was entitled as an Englishwoman. It seems to me little short of impertinence for those who, up to the present, have failed to get votes in their own countries, to interfere with our home politics, and by swelling the size of the procession to help to give a wrong impression of the number of women in England in favour of the movement.’

Army Banner Picture6 I wonder which of the ‘American pioneers, now dead’ was being commemorated in embroidery by that industrious young suffragist?  Banners had certainly been made to flaunt the names of Susan B Anthony, Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two former banners are still held in the Women’s Library.

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton one, however, is not with them. It was assumed to be just missing – that is ‘missing’ in a general sense – like many other of the banners. However when undertaking this research, I discovered that in August 1908 this particular banner had been sent over to New York – sent by Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, to whom it had been presented. She and her daughter, Mrs de Forest, had been present at the Albert Hall meeting on 13 June. As the New York Times reported ’The most gorgeous souvenir is the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton” banner of white velvet and purple satin that was used to decorate the Albert Hall. The name is embroidered in enormous letters in purple and green, the suffrage colours, and the whole mounted on a background of white velvet).’ As you can see from this report there was already some confusion as to what constituted suffrage colours. The purple, white and green combination was first used by the WSPU the following Sunday – for their Hyde Park rally. But there is no doubt that the Elizabeth Cady Stanton banner was carried in the NUWSS procession on 13 June.

Among those marching with the American contingent were women representing the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women of New York, the organisation founded by Harriot Stanton Blatch in 1906 – and which later changed its name to the Women’s Political Union. Also present were the niece of Susan B. Anthony and the Rev Anna Shaw, who was one of the speakers at the Albert Hall meeting. She specifically mentioned that she and her fellow Americans had not come to tell British lawgivers what to do for the women of this country – they could do that for themselves – but to extend to them the right hand of comradeship in the warfare which they were waging. A statement that was greeted, according to the newspaper report, by cheers.

Australian bannerThe Commonwealth of Australia was represented by a banner – painted rather than sewn – that had been designed by Dora Meeson Coates.  It bore the message ‘Trust the Women Mother As I Have Done ‘, a reference to the fact that Australia had granted women the vote 6 years preciously, in 1902. That banner was given by the Fawcett Library to the Australian government in 1998 and now hangs in Parliament House in Canberra.

As already noted there were delegates from other countries – such as Russia, Hungary and South Africa – in the procession, marching under the banner of the International Delegates – now held in The Women’s Library.

Reports suggest that the banner celebrating Marie Curie, then considered, at least by the women’s movement, as one of the foremost living scientists of the day, was carried by Frenchwomen. This is Mary Lowndes’ design for it.

After all the provincial societies came the Second Detachment –  comprising doctors and other women graduates. I always thought it rather touching that the printed leaflets setting out the arrangements for the day specifically mentioned that there would be robing rooms available at 18 & 19 Buckingham St, just off the Strand, and at the Albert Hall to allow some privacy for the arranging of academic dress.

This group clearly impressed the Times. Their reporter wrote ‘Next marched the women doctors, in caps and gowns, followed by the lady graduates of the Universities of the UK, most of whom were also in academic dress. A brave show they made’.

Harding lunaticsThe fact that women were now being granted academic degrees by many of Britain’s universities was often used in other propaganda material – such as this poster designed by Emily Harding Andrews. (For more information about this artist see here.)

The intention was, of course, to emphasise women’s suitability for citizenship – particularly when contrasted with those whom they considered less worthy examples of the male of the species.

The Liverpool Post and Mercury reported that ‘One of the most beautiful banners was the doctors’; it was of rich white silk, with the word ‘Medicine’ in gold letters across the top, a silver serpent embroidered in the centre, and a border of palest green on which were worked the rose, shamrock, and thistle.’ The banner is now missing – but, quite by accident, I did come across a photograph of it in one of the Women Library’s archival holdings [Vera Holme album 7VJH/5/2/14].

The leading women doctors of the day – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and her sister-in-law, Mary Marshall, together with Flora Murray, Elizabeth Knight and Elizabeth Wilkes were among those walking in this section.

The doctors carried banners commemorating Elizabeth Blackwell, the first British woman to qualify as a doctor –  although she had had to do so in the US. This banner is now held in the Women’s Library collection. The letters and the symbol are appliquéd.  The symbolism is interesting. Instead of the rod of Asclepius (a snake entwined around rod – the symbol of the authority of medicine) here it is entwined around a lamp. The lamp was associated with the light of knowledge and might also be a version of the cup of Hygiea – the daughter of Asclepius – who was celebrated in her own right as a giver of health.

Another banner commemorates Edith Pechey Phipson, who had been a member of the first small group of women to qualify as doctors after Elizabeth Garrett. In 1906 she had represented Leeds at the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance conference at Copenhagen and had been one of the leaders of the Mud March in February 1907.  She had died just a couple of months before, on 14 April 1908, and this banner was obviously intended as a special tribute. Perhaps we could date its manufacture to the preceding two months.  It survives in the Women’s Library collection.

The profession of Education was represented by a specific banner.  The Sheffield Daily Telegraph helpfully described it, reporting that ‘Miss Philippa Fawcett has presented the education banner, with its device of an owl and a small boy climbing the ladder of learning’.  It has, however, disappeared

 But that carried by the Graduates of the University of London  – designed by Mary Lowndes – is now in the Museum of London collection.

Cambridge was represented by a particularly beautiful banner, now on permanent display in Newnham College. As a newspaper reported, ‘’The alumnae of Cambridge University, a detachment nearly 400 strong, were headed by the gorgeous banner of light blue silk which has been designed for the occasion,’ It was noted that these women didn’t wear academic dress – because the university still refused to grant them degrees – and would, of course, continue to do so for many more years. They did, however, as was reported, wear ‘on their shoulders favours of light blue ribbon’.  Mary Lowndes had designed the banner and, as executed, the words ‘Better is Wisdom Than Weapons of War’ (a quotation from Ecclesiastes) were added below the Cambridge device. The pale blue silk had been given by Mrs Herringham from a quantity of materials that she had brought back from her travels in India.

After the Cambridge brigade marched business women. There were:

Shorthand Writers.  The motto on their banner – designed by Mary Lowndes and held in the Women’s Library, is rather cleverly lifted from Robert Browning’s Asolando.  And then came the Office Workers – their banner now, I think,held  in the Museum of London. The Manchester Guardian described its device as, ‘Three black ravens bearing quills on a gold ground ‘

Next came a group of very active suffragists – the Women Writers’ Suffrage League -mustered under a striking banner that had already given rise to controversy,

This is the design in Mary Lowndes’ album. But the clerk to the Scriveners Company had written a letter, published in the Times on 12 June, saying that he had read that a banner bearing the arms of the Scriveners was to be carried and that any such banner certainly did not have the approval of his company. As it was, on the banner, as executed, WRITERS was substituted for SCRIVENERS. A letter from Mary Lowndes, published in the Times on 13 June, insisted that a black eagle upon a silver ground was certainly not the blazon of the Scriveners’ Company – but it would seem that the women had changed the associated wording at some point after the design was made.

women writers bannerThe resulting banner, worked by Mrs Herringham, appliquéd in black and cream velvet, was given by Cicely Hamilton and Evelyn Sharp and was carried in the 1908 procession by them and by Sarah Grand, Beatrice Harraden and Elizabeth Robins. Cicely Hamilton wrote of the banner that it was ‘distinctive in black and white, impressive in velvet, and swelling, somewhat too proudly for comfort, in a gusty breeze’. This photograph was probably taken on a later occasion.  In 1908 among the other women marching behind this banner were Mrs Thomas Hardy and Flora Annie Steele. This banner is now in the Museum of London collection.

Beside the banner advertising their own society, members of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League carried with them another series of banners now held here in the Women’s Library – banners bearing such names as Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph particularly noted this one – writing ‘Names of famous women are emblazoned on some of the banners and ‘Emily Bronte and Charlotte Bronte’ are two which Yorkshire women will be pleased to see on a simple green banner’. The addition of a white rose stresses the women’s Yorkshire connection.

Others commemorated Fanny Burney and Maria Edgeworth. The Museum of London also now holds another two from this series – commemorating Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot.

After the writers came banners glorifying Great Women of the Past. This was an obvious theme – and one that was to be used in later processions and stagings – such as Cicely Hamilton’s ‘Pageant of Great Women’.

These banners have survived well. Most were designed by Mary Lowndes and all were made by members of the ASL. Of them the Sunday Times wrote ‘The new banners of the movement are wonderful. Many of the banners were designed to celebrate the memory of the great women of all ages, from Vashti, Boadicea and Joan of Arc down to Mrs Browning, George Eliot and Queen Victoria. It was an attempt to represent pictorially the Valhalla of womanhood…As the procession moved away it presented a vista made up of wonderful colours, and it reminded one somehow of a picturesquely clad mediaeval army, marching out with waving gonfalons to certain victory.’

Reports indicate that a banner to Vashti led this element of the procession – but no trace of it remains.

Next came Boadicea. This is Mary Lowndes design – the actual banner is now in the Museum of London collection. Boadicea was a popular heroine of the moment – the bronze statue of her riding her chariot beside Westminster Bridge, right opposite Parliament, had been erected just six years previously, in 1902. In December 1906 each guest at the banquet at the Savoy put on by the NUWSS for released WSPU prisoners had been given what was described as ‘an emblematic picture of Queen Boadicea driving in a chariot, carrying a banner with the message “Votes for Women”‘. And by the autumn of 1908 the WSPU was selling in its shops ‘Boadicea’ brooches.

Joan of Arc was another great heroine of the suffrage movement and the idea of the warrior maiden with God on her side was invoked by both the constitutional and militant societies. Joan’s own banner was loved by her ’40 times better than her sword’, wrote Mrs Fawcett in a short biographical essay on Joan published by the NUWSS. The title page of this biographical pamphlet carries the same emblem of the crown and the crossed swords as appears here on the banner. The motto is, of course, Joan’s own.

In 1909 Elsie Howey, a WSPU activist, dressed as Joan and rode on horseback to greet Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence on her release from prison. You can see a photograph of Elsie in that week’s issue of Votes for Women. In 1909 a Jeanne d’Arc Suffrage League was formed in New York and on 3 June 1913 Emily Wilding Davison is reputed to have stood before the statue of Joan that took pride of place at that year’s WSPU summer fair  -before setting off for Epsom and martyrdom. The statue had Joan’s words inscribed around the base – ‘Fight On, and God Will Give Victory’ and these were the words emblazoned on a banner carried at Emily’s funeral 11 days later. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in 1912 the Catholic Women’s Suffrage League’s banner, designed by Edith Craig, had St Joan as its motif and a few years later the society actually renamed itself the St Joan’s Social and Political Alliance. And, it was a version of Joan, uttering the words ‘At Last’, that the NUWSS used to greet the eventual attainment of partial suffrage in 1918. Images of Joan are to be found in the work of many women artists associated with the suffrage movement – Annie Swynnerton and Ernestine Mills spring to mind.

St Catherine of Siena, another woman visionary who combined piety with political involvement, also merited a banner Josephine Butler had written a biography of St Catherine in 1878. The banner was probably designed by Mary Lowndes and is held in the Women’s Library. Siena’s colours are black and white and the lily is symbolically associated with St Catherine

St Teresa’s banner, again designed by Mary Lowndes, is now in Museum of London. She featured also in Cicely Hamilton’s Pageant of Great Women  – as the only woman on whom the title ‘Doctor of the Church’ has ever been conferred.

The banner to a Scottish heroine, Black Agnes of Dunbar – is now in the collection of the Museum of Scotland in Chambers St, Edinburgh. Of it the Daily Telegraph wrote ‘ There was one flag which attracted much attention. It was carried in front of the Dunfermline deputation. On a yellow ground was the representation of a portcullis, and beneath the large letters “Black Agnes of Dunbar” were the lines reminiscent of the defence of Dunbar castle by the Countess of March nearly 6 centuries ago: “Came they early, came they late, They found Black Agnes at the gate”. The banner perhaps should be placed earlier – with the provincial societies – but it fits well here – alongside the banner to

Katherine Bar-Lass – Katherine Douglas – who tried to save King James I by putting her arm in place of a missing locking bar in a door. This event took place in Perth and it may be that this banner heralded the deputation from that town. The banner is now held in the Women’s Library collection.

There is no difficulty in explaining why Queen Elizabeth I should be commemorated among the Great Women with a magnificent banner. Indeed the queen was something of a favourite of Millicent Fawcett who, in August 1928, unveiled an ancient statue of the queen at St Dunstans in the West, Fleet Street, having worked with a campaign for its restoration. She even left money to ensure its upkeep. (For more about Millicent Fawcett and the statue of Queen Elizabeth see here.)

Millicent Fawcett had also championed Mary Wollstonecraft, whose reputation during the 19th century had never recovered from William Godwin’s memoir of her. Mrs Fawcett wrote a preface to an edition of Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1891, the first for 40 years. Mary Wollstonecraft’s banner is held in the Women’s Library.

As is the rich and beautiful banner is to the astronomer Caroline Herschel, the discoverer of five new comets. Lady Caroline Gordon, the very elderly grand-daughter of Caroline’s brother, Sir William Herschel, had a letter published in the Times of 12 June 1908. She wrote ‘I observe that in the woman’s suffrage procession tomorrow it is intended to carry banners bearing, among others, the names of Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville, thereby associating these honoured names with the cause. A more unfounded inference could hardly be drawn. My great aunt, Miss Herschel, never ceased during her very long life to insist on the fact that she was only her brother’s amanuensis, and it was the glory of her life to feel that she had a real work to do and a province all her own, which was to help him in his arduous labours, and keep worries and troubles from him. She sank herself and her own great and valuable discoveries entirely. All who knew Mrs Somerville (and I was one of them) can testify to the great humility and simplicity of mind which were her characteristics. Her work was done for work’s sake, not for any wish to show what a woman could do. Such a thought would be utterly distasteful to her. To think that the names of these two noble women should be paraded through the streets of London in such a cause as woman’s suffrage is very bitter to all of us who love and revere their memories’.

Here is Mary Somerville’s banner. On 15 June Millicent Fawcett replied in the Times (her letter was dated 13 June – she had taken the time and trouble on such a busy day to write it).‘May I be permitted to point out that suffragists believe that the names of “distinguished women who did noble work in their sphere” are in themselves an argument against relegating a whole sex to a lower political status than felons and idiots? This is quite independent of whether the particular distinguished women named on the banners were suffragists or not. The names of Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth are found on the banners. The inference is surely clear. Lady Gordon affirms that her distinguished great-aunt Caroline Herschel was no suffragist. No one in their senses would expect a German lady born in 1750 to be one. Her services to astronomy were well recognized in the scientific world of her time. Her extreme modesty gave an additional luster to her name. Her chief work in astronomy was undertaken and carried through after her brother’s death and it was for this that she was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828. Mrs Somerville’s case is quite different. She belongs to our own nation and to the modern world, and was an ardent suffragist. She wrote expressing her deep gratitude to JS Mill for raising the question of women’s suffrage in parliament. She signed parliamentary petitions again and again in favour of removing the political disabilities of women, and was a member from its foundation to the date of her death in 1872 of the London Society for promoting the movement.’

 Mary Kingsley, the  traveller and explorer, was another heroine who merited a banner, although no supporter of women’s suffrage.

The Elizabeth Fry banner was designed by Mary Lowndes and was, I know, donated by a Miss Prothero. Although I don’t know exactly who Miss Prothero was, I am sure there must be a Quaker connection. It is now in Museum of London collection. Josephine Butler had died only 18 months before the procession. Her banner is now held in the Women’s Library.

 Lydia Becker was very suitably represented by the pick and shovel of the pioneer.  She had worked for over 20 years at the suffrage coal face – organizing, devising, interviewing, writing, lobbying and speaking. Her banner, unfortunately, is one of the few of this series that is now missing, another being that commemorating a very Victorian heroine, Grace Darling, a figure who features in many of the suffrage pageants..

The final banner in the sequence, a rich riot of colour commemorating other pioneers  is held safely in the Women’s Library collection. The first four it lists are particularly related to Bristol.

After the Pioneers came the artists, the musicians and the actors. The beautiful banner made for the Artists’ Suffrage League itself is now in the Museum of London. Christiana Herringham helped to embroider it – with its motto ‘Alliance Not Defiance’, supplying silks for it that were among those she had brought back from India.

A banner bearing the heading ‘Music’, designed by Mary Lowndes, was given by ‘Mrs Dawes and worked by her and her daughters’ – but has now disappeared.

Jenny Lind’s banner, was carried in the procession by her daughter, Mrs Raymond Maude, who was described as ‘a striking figure in green and white, with a Tuscan hat’ [ I think a ‘Tuscan hat’ was a wide-brimmed straw hat]. The banner was designed by Mary Lowndes and is now held in the Women’s Library collecction.

Artists were represented by Mary Moser, who, with Anglica Kaufmann, was the first woman  to be elected to the Royal Academy. She was renowned as a flower painter –and was paid the enormous sum of £900 for the decorations, which notably featured roses, of a room she painted at Frogmore for Queen Charlotte. These decorations can still be seen – as can this banner, now in the Women’s Library collection.

Angelica Kauffman also had a banner– but it is now lost.

Sarah Siddons’ banner which was carried in this section of the procession is now held in the Museum of London.

As is the banner to ‘Victoria, Queen and Mother’ – which was carried in the procession of Maud Arncliffe –Sennet – who, I must say, I always think of as something of a self-publicist – an opinion not actually belied by finding that she had had, or caused to have had, a photograph taken of herself on the day, holding the banner – there is a copy of that postcard, too, in the Museum of London collection.

After the banners commemorating the heroines of the past came one celebrating Florence Nightingale – then still alive – a heroine in her own lifetime. The banner was carried by a contingent of hospital nurses, marching in their uniforms. The Daily Express  reported that ‘The Florence Nightingale banner received the greatest notice. It bore the word “Crimea”, and at the sight old soldiers saluted and bared their heads.’

As an added gloss I might mention that in June 1908 a bill to allow for the registration of qualified nurses was before parliament –it passed its second reading on 6 July and many leading suffragists, such as Millicent Fawcett, Isabella Ford, and Hertha Ayrton had signed a letter to the Times in support of the bill.

There followed also groups of women farmers and gymnasts, each with their own banner. Women gardeners carried a banner worked in earthy colours – green and brown,  with the device of a rake and a spade. All these now, unfortunately, are lost.

After the nurses came the Homemakers – we can see the banner here – although the photograph was probably taken on another occasion. As the Sheffield Daily Telegraph put it, ‘The sacred fire of the domestic hearth is pictured by the home workers, who ‘remember their homeless sisters, and demand the vote’. Another newspaper report describes this contingent as comprising ‘Housekeepers, cooks, kitchenmaids and general servants’ – and laments that they were not wearing their uniforms. Note also in the photograph the banners for Marylebone, Camberwell and North Kensington.

After the home makers – came working women – working women of all sorts, carrying a variety of banners. These would appear to be plainer than the Artists’ Suffrage League ones and were locally made.

After the working women came the Liberal women, who, as one newspaper reported, bore a banner announcing that they demanded the vote…as well as Conservatives, who were led by Lady Knightley of Fawsley, and by Fabians, whose banner, had been designed by May Morris, with the motto ‘Equal Opportunities for Men and Women.’.

Then came members of the Women’s Freedom League – the press particularly mentioned its leader, Mrs Despard, together with Teresa Billington-Greig and young Irene Miller,  The WFL banner was black and yellow, figured with a device of Holloway, where many of its members had recently been imprisoned, and with the inscription ‘Stone walls do not a prison make’. The WSPU, although not invited to take part, did supply a banner under their insignia – declaring ‘Salutation and Greeting. Success to the Cause’.

Finally, closing the long procession, came the hosts –  London Society of the NUWSS. This is the design for the society’s banner. The banner itself is now in the Museum of London collection

This section included detachments from the various London boroughs – such as Camberwell, Croydon, Chelsea and Holborn. The Daily Telegraph tells us that ‘The Holborn deputation was headed by a picture of some of the ancient shops opposite Holborn Bars, and the words “The old order changeth”.  Enfield’s banner survives and is now in the Museum of London – but we have no design for it so it probably was not one of Mary Lowndes’ creations.

This design for Wandsworth in the Mary Lowndes album has the initials ‘A.G.’ at the side – and I did wonder if these could possibly refer to Agnes Garrett – sister of Millicent Fawcett. It is by no means impossible that she was involved in the banner-making – given that her professional career had been devoted to the designing and making of furnishings. But I don’t know.

Wimbledon was a very committed suffrage stronghold – both of the NUWSS and of the WSPU – and both groups featured the windmill on their banners. Of the NUWSS one only this design survives – but the Women’s Library does hold the actual WSPU banner.

All in all the procession, which was accompanied by 15 brass and silver bands, – one reporter particularly mentioned that hearing the Marseilles being played in these circumstances quite brought a tear to his eye – and the Albert Hall rally that followed, were both deemed a great success. Afterwards a decision was made by the NUWSS to keep the banners together and tour them. It was realised that ‘undoubtedly we have here an opportunity of presenting an artistic feast of the first order under circumstances that make it in itself, and in all attendant conditions that may be grouped around it, a unique act of propaganda.’

They lent out the banners to the local societies, charging £3 10s for all 76 banners or £2 for half the number –with the express proviso that they were not to be used for what was termed ‘outdoor work’..

In 1908 exhibitions of the banners were held at Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, Liverpool, Camberwell, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Lady Frances Balfour opened those last two – and performed the honours again at Brighton in January and Fulham in March 1909. We can be sure that the local societies made the most of these occasions. I know that when the banner exhibition was held in December 1908 at the Glasgow Fine Art Institute it was accompanied by tea, a small string band and a pianola. The Society clearly expected a reasonable attendance, finding it worthwhile to buy in – to sell to visitors – 200 copies of the pamphlet describing the banners.

Thus not only did the banners allow suffragists to rally round as they were paraded through the streets but they also provided a focus for further conscious and fund-raising efforts that neatly combined a forceful political message with what been described, very eloquently, as the power of ‘the subversive stitch’.

P.S.

Kate Frye was a banner bearer – for North Kensington – in this procession – and you can read all about her experience on the day here.

Copyright

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Suffrage Stories/Women Artists: Emily Jane Harding Andrews

Harding lunatics

Many of you familiar with the propaganda produced by the British women’s suffrage campaign will recognise this image, which was  printed by Weiners of Acton and published as a poster by the Artists’ Suffrage League. In The Spectacle of Women, Lisa Tickner dates it to c 1908; the catalogue of The Women’s Library@LSE to c 1912. I would tend to support the earlier date.

The artist is known to be Emily Jane Harding Andrews. But who was she? What can we discover of the life behind that image?

She was born Emily Jane Harding in 1851 at Clifton in Bristol, the eldest of the several children of Thomas Giles Harding (1827-1899), a commercial traveller, and his wife, Rosa Jane (nee May). Emily and her sister, Rosa Elizabeth Harding, were educated at Clifton Ladies’ College and in October 1868 both gained certificates of art in the second grade in a prize giving at the Bristol School of Art.

By 1871 the family had moved to London . They moved around the Kensington, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush area but their first address was 21 Holland Road, Kensington. Emily clearly continued with her art studies. She exhibited portrait miniatures at the Royal Academy in 1877, 1897, 1898. Now in the National Portrait Gallery is a chalk portrait of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (d 1881), dean of Westminster. Was this the work that she exhibited at the RA in 1877?

By the time the 1881 census was taken Emily was married to a fellow artist, Edward William Andrews – although I cannot find a record of the marriage. He was ten years older than her and had been born in Kidderminster. By the time he was 21 was describing himself on the census form as ‘Artist portrait painter’. The only paintings I can locate by him are copies of two portraits after Gainsborough – see here.

In 1881 Emily and her husband were living, with one servant, at 23 Iverson Road, west Hampstead. By 1891 they had moved to Chalcot Gardens, Hampstead, an area popular with artists, and now had no servant. In 1901, still fending for themselves, they were living in a flat in 95 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead.

Through the 1880s and 1890s Emily produced illustrations for a series of books – mainly for children. They included Bright Pages for Children of All Ages, 1886, Helen Milman’s The Little Ladies, 1890, Merry Moments for Little Folks by Rose E May, published by Frederick Warne, 1893. Emily’s sister, Rosa (or Rose) had married Frederick Lamartine May, son of a well-known bookseller, and a relation on their mother’s side. She also provided the illustrations for Disagreeable Duke: a Christmas whimsicality for holiday boys and girls by Elinor Davenport-Adams, published by George Allen, 1894 and in the same year for Lullabies of Many Lands by the editor and translator Alma Strettell, 

Frontispiece from 'Slav Tales'

Frontispiece from ‘Slav Tales’

 

In 1896 Emily Harding (the name under which she then published her work) was both the translator (from the French) and the illustrator of  Fairy Tale of the Slav Peasants and Herdsman by  Alex Chodsko, published by George Allen.

Another of Emily Harding's illustrations from 'Slav Tales'

Another of Emily Harding’s illustrations from ‘Slav Tales’

I don’t know how Emily Harding Andrews made contact with the Artists’ Suffrage League, although it’s hardly surprising, moving as she did in artistic, bookselling and publishing circles. Besides the poster illustrated as the introduction to this article, Emily Harding Andrews designed another for the ASL – ‘Coming in with the Tide – Mrs Partington’ – and was on sufficiently close terms with Mary Lowndes, the ASL’s leading light, to propose a design for a Christmas card -sent with an informal note on the reverse. It can now be found in Mary Lownes’ ASL album in the Women’s Library@LSE.

A rough design by Emily Harding Andrews for a suffragette Christmas card. It was never issued Image courtesy of VADS)

A rough design by Emily Harding Andrews for a suffragette Christmas card. It was never issued Image courtesy of VADS)

Emily Harding Andrews' comments on the reverse of her draft design (Image courtesy of VADS)

Emily Harding Andrews’ comments on the reverse of her draft design (Image courtesy of VADS)

 

Although clearly supportive of the suffrage campaign, Emily Andrews, like Mary Lowndes, did not boycott the 1911 census. This shows us that – married for 31 years, with no children – she was living, aged 61, as a boarder at 15 Bank Place, Bayswater. She still described herself as an artist. Her husband, on the other hand, was enumerated in his one-room studio at 48 Fortune Green Road, Hampstead. Had they separated?

Edward Andrews died in 1915, while living at 1 Linden Gardens, Hornsey Lane. He left £160; his wife is not named as an executor.

I next find Emily Harding Andrews in 1918, living at 6 St George’s Square, Camden, at the same address as another artist of her generation, Julia Bracewell Folkard and an Elizabeth Folkard. However, this seems to have been Emily’s base for only a short time and I can find no further trace of her for another 17 years, until in August 1935, aged 85, she set sail for Sydney, Australia. On the passenger list her address is given as ‘South Street Mission, Hammersmith’, although in what capacity she was living there I cannot say.

Gertrude, one of Emily’s much younger sisters, had emigrated to Australia with her husband, Edward Nevill Parker, in the 1890s. He had died in 1931 and I suspect that, in her old age, Emily went out to join Gertrude for I next find her living at Illawa, Judd Street, Cronulla, Sutherland, NSW. Emily died in Sutherland in August 1940 and her ashes were scattered in Woronora Cemetery, which was also the last resting place of her sister and, years later, of a nephew.

This is only the briefest outline of a long life lived. I shall have to imagine all those decades of London days, of Emily living and working in a succession of studio flats, of visiting publishers, of struggling to gain commissions, of the brief flowering of interest in the suffrage campaign, of, perhaps, sinking with old age into penury and then, the last adventure, sailing to the other side of the world – to the heat and light of Australia.

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Women Artists: ‘Painting Days At School of Art Are Perfect Bliss’ (1892-1914)

I originally gave this paper at the Women’s History Network Conference, Southampton, September 2005

 ‘Painting Days at School of Art are perfect bliss: the manuscript diary (1892-1914) of Sarah Madeleine Martineau, art student and craft worker’.

This paper is based on the manuscript diary of Sarah Madeleine Martineau, the first entry in which is for 1 January 1892 and the last for 25 January 1914. I bought the diaries a few years ago, at the time giving them merely a cursory glance and registering only that the world they depicted was one that appealed. At odd intervals I have undertaken some research into the life and work of Sarah Madeleine Martineau and now think that what the diaries reveal is of some general interest.

the Martineaus' house at 122 King's Avenue would have been very similar to this, no 103. (Image courtesy of  Ideal Homes: A History of the South-East London Suburbs)

The Martineaus’ house at 122 King’s Avenue would have been very similar to this, no 104. (Image courtesy of Ideal Homes: A History of the South-East London Suburbs)

She was born in London at 4 South Road (later 122 King’s Avenue), Clapham Park, on 2 May 1872, the final child in the family of David Martineau, the senior partner in a firm of sugar refiners and a leading Clapham Liberal. David Martineau’s grandfather was a brother to the father of Harriet Martineau and Dr James Martineau. In 1856 David and his wife, Sarah, settled in South Road, in leafy Clapham Park. The Martineaus’ house and its immediate neighbours have been demolished, making way for tower blocks, but it was then quite new, was large, double-fronted and detached, set well back from the road, with stabling, and grounds ample enough to include a tennis court.

The Martineaus were Unitarians and with another South London family, the Nettlefolds of Streatham Grove, Norwood, were pillars of the Unitarian church in Effra Road, Brixton. The Martineau family comprised four sons and four daughters, the eldest child, Daisy, being 16 years older than Madeleine. Of the Martineaus’ sons, two married Nettlefold sisters; Unitarians tended to stick together. Although enjoying an active social life the younger Martineau daughters do not seem to have attended many formal parties or dances. Of the daughters only Daisy married; Lillie, Lucy and Lena (such were the diminutives by which they were known) probably lived together in the family home, certainly until the 1940s, and then either together, or near each other, in south London, for the rest of their long lives. At the 1891 census besides members of the immediate family there were also living in the house a cook, a parlour maid, two house maids and a 20-year old cousin, Charles Worthington. Lena possibly had a tenderesse for Charlie; she always mentions any little attention she received from him, but in 1895 he died suddenly – the relevant entry reads: ‘Charlie, the sweetest man that ever lived is dead. He died on Christmas day..’

David Martineau’s sister, Mary, who lived close by with their mother, can be spotted as a member of many of the women’s causes of the day, for instance signing the 1889 Declaration in Favour of Women’s Suffrage. Lena Martineau and her sister Lucy, who was three years older, had been boarders at Roedean school in Sussex, which, recently founded, was much favoured by the daughters of the wealthy non-conformist middle class. When Lena begins her diary in an exercise book in January 1892 one of the first entries relates that Barbara Shore Smith, who had been a contemporary at Roedean, had come to stay and in May 1892 Lena and Lucy went to visit Barbara, then at Girton, staying in lodgings near the college. Lena must have been well aware of all the feminist causes of the day, but, although writing her diary through the years of the main suffrage activity, makes no comment whatsoever on any aspect of the woman question. It must also be mentioned that in the entire 22 years covered by the diary she only mentions one book. On 23 February 1893 she wrote, ‘Have been reading a book called ‘Mona Maclean, medical student’, & think it splendid.’

Perhaps Lena was uninterested in the written word but her free-thinking, prosperous, well-educated family set great store by art.  Lucy and Lena were clearly given every encouragement to practise any aspect of art in which they were interested. Thus apart from visiting friends, playing tennis, taking what seem exceptionally long walks and bicycle rides, and helping with bazaars and garden parties, Lena seems to have been fully occupied with attending art classes and visiting galleries. There were prominent role models very close to home. The two daughters of Dr James Martineau, Gertrude and Edith, together with their sister-in-law, Clara Martineau, were all working artists, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy and at the Dudley Gallery. Their work now sells well – a watercolour by Edith Martineau sold for over £3,500 in 2005. The Martineaus were committed visitors to art galleries. For instance in the diary’s first year, on 22 April, Lena wrote, ‘Lucy and I met Papa at the private view of the Old Water Colours. It was very hot and full, but a good many very nice pictures.’ I am afraid that Lena’s criticism of the art that she took such care to see rarely rises above this level of comment.

In her new diary on Friday 8 January 1892 Lena Martineau wrote: ‘Art School began again on Monday, but we did not go till Tues. I have a side view of the girl so shall soon have done it..’  The Art School that she and Lucy attended was Clapham Art School, in Vernon Road, Clapham High Street, which had been founded in 1885 and was associated with the Government Schools at South Kensington – students were expected to take the Government examinations. In January 1892 Lena was taking drawing and painting classes, which she very much enjoyed, writing on 3 February ‘Joy! Mr Nightingale [the headmaster] told me that I am to begin painting my next head’ and on 21 February the entry that gave this paper its title ‘Painting days at School of Art are perfect bliss!’. In May she sat exams in the Life and Antique – ‘Given the choice of faun or the discobolus, we did the latter’. In July she heard that she had passed the exams, both 2nd class.

After a summer break, some of which was spent sketching in Wales, Lena returned in October to Clapham Art School. Her entry adds, ‘Found that Miss Pemberton is working there now’.

Sophie Pemberton

Sophie Pemberton

From the context it would appear that Lena already knew Sophie Pemberton, a Canadian artist, just three years older, who had already studied in Paris at the Academie Julien. Her father was the first surveyor general for Vancouver Island and Sophie was living in Alexandra House in Kensington, which had been built to house women music and art students and to where she often invited Lena for tea. It was – and remains, though much altered – a rather glamorous hostel, replete with terracotta panels and intricate Doulton tiles and picture panels.

In May Lena took Life and Still-life exams. Of the latter she wrote ‘the group was a top hat and two oranges on green baize!. Got home in time for some tennis’. On the 29th there was the recurrence of a problem that plagued the art school, ‘I went to the Art School but finding no model returned – & had my hair cut.’  I suspect that Clapham School of Art did not meet Sophie Pemberton’s standards because she instigated a move to Westminster School of Art in Tufton Street, Dean’s Yard, where, by October, she, Lucy and Lena were enrolled. As with the Clapham School, Westminster followed the South Kensington regime. It is worth noting that Lena chose to attend such a school, where the syllabus was geared to an examination system, rather than one of the many art schools established to cater for the ‘ladies’ market.

Of Mr Loudan, the principal instructor at Westminster and a portrait and genre painter, Lena remarked ‘Very squashing, makes me scrape out but does not say much’. On 7 December she wrote ‘Today Mr Loudan was very crushing to me’. However she persevered happily, the following March reporting that  ‘Our new model on Monday was a boy and on Thursday Mr Loudan praised me for better colouring and came twice to me’.  That May she again sat the Life and Antique exam. All this intermingled with much gallery visiting; Venetian pictures at the New Gallery, a visit to Herkomer’s studio to see the work of some of his Bushey students (‘Very good some of them’.), and to the Guildhall (‘splendid exhibition’). She returned to Westminster Art School in October and on the 4th recorded ‘Lucy and I went to town today for the summer sketch criticisms at school of art. Mr Loudan presented me with £3, as third prize for the year’s composition sketches. Delightful surprise..’

In the autumn of 1897 Lena and Lucy travelled over to Park Walk, Chelsea, to visit the complex of the Stanley Studios, where Sophie Pemberton was based. Sophie’s star was on the ascendant; that year she had exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy summer exhibition. Unfortunately there was no studio available there, and with Ethel Le Rossignol, a school friend with whom they proposed to share and who much later became a practitioner of spirit-channeled art, Lucy and Lena embarked on a search.  By the end of November they had found a studio, at a rent of £35 a year – and were very pleased with it. They had fun arranging to move in, buying things with which to decorate, including a new stove and oriental rugs. Lena hired models and also arranged for family and friends to sit for her. The studio gave the sisters an opportunity to invite round their friends, in a way they probably did not do at home. On 6 March ‘Barbara Nightingale came to tea at studio yesterday’. [Barbara Nightingale was the same person as Barbara Shore-Smith – there had been a change of family name.] In April Lucy had a picture accepted by the Royal Academy, Lena describes the subject as being 3 parrots; the exhibition catalogue gives it the title ‘Red, White and Blue’. The picture was sold to a Captain B for 7 guineas.

In 1899 and 1900 Lena continued working from the studio, concentrating on pictures to submit to the Royal Academy. However they were all rejected or crowded out. In the summers, with Lucy and Ethel Le Rossignol, she took sketching lessons from professional artists, the first year in Mayfield in Sussex and the next summer at Brockham Green in Surrey. In November 1900 she returned to the Westminster Art School, taking lessons in modelling from life.

She also began to learn metal repoussé, possibly at the Westminster School – her diary is not entirely clear on the point. Lena was following the spirit of the times. There had in the last five years been a definite upsurge of interest in craft work. Lena, however, quickly gave up this class in order to attend a modelling design class at St John’s School of Art and Science at New Cross, where a Mr Miller and a Miss Jean Milne, who had been fellow students at Westminster, were master and assistant mistress. Lena placed the receipt for the course (10/- for the term ending 12 April) between the pages of her diary and began modelling a door knocker.

However, for whatever reason, at the end of the term she did not continue at New Cross, but went over to Chelsea to investigate the modelling class at the South West Polytechnic in Manresa Road. She duly joined that class and ‘settled to join the handicraft studio for metal repousse on Tuesday afternoons’. In May she sat a Modelling Design exam, which she passed 1st class, and a Life exam and was awarded a book prize in the National Competition work at South Kensington for her ‘head of Papa’. The National Competition was run by the Science and Art Department of the Committee of the Council on Education and several thousand students from art schools around the country competed for the prizes.

In October Lena began classes again, taking a modelling life class at the Manresa Road Polytechnic and one in modelling design at St John’s. She was also doing metal work, perhaps at the polytechnic. I think she must have given up her studio some time before this and in November (1902) when she decided to make a commitment to metal work and bought a muffle furnace, she made her workshop at home in the harness room. In December she went over to Whitechapel to the Sir John Cass Institute ‘as I think of going there for metal work and design after Christmas’. The Sir John Cass Institute had only opened the previous June so Lena was obviously well aware of developments in the field of craft education. She then left the St John School of Art at New Cross and in January 1903 ‘started work at the Sir John Cass Technical Institute’. The head of the Arts and Crafts Department was Richard Llewellyn Rathbone, Harold Stabler was teacher of drawing and design, Gilbert Bayes was teacher of modelling, and there were also teachers of jewellery and enamelling.

Lena took the enamelling class on Tuesday evenings, jewellery on Wednesdays and design on Fridays. During the day on Tuesdays she still attended modelling classes at the Polytechnic.

'Walberswick Marshes' by Bertram Priestman (courtesy of BBC - Your Paintings)

‘Walberswick Marshes’ by Bertram Priestman (courtesy of BBC – Your Paintings)

She continued with these classes until the end of the summer term and then went to Walberswick with Lucy to take sketching lessons from Bertram Priestman. She returned to the Cass in October and found that Jean Milne was also now working there. Among her fellow students were Violet and Frances Ramsay and Thalia How. She attended the Cass for all three terms that year and returned to Walberswick in September for two more weeks of sketching with Bertram Priestman.

When she returned to the Cass in October 1904 she learned that she had received a book prize for a figure she had sent up to the National Competition. She once again rented a studio, this time in Tachbrook Street. Lena was now established in her jewellery making; a pendant she had made was given to Barbara Nightingale as a wedding present as she embarked for India to marry  ‘a Mr Stephens’. In her studio she began modelling a bust of her father and began another happy round of studio teas; Jean Milne and Thalia Howe were among the guests. She continued at the Cass throughout 1905, receiving a prize for metal work at the end of the year.

Catalogue of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition, 1906

Catalogue of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition, 1906

In January 1906 she had at least two pendants accepted for the Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the Grafton Galleries. One of her pieces was described in the Exhibition catalogue as a necklace and enamel pendant and was priced at £2 12s 6d. There was increasing organization in her area of the art world and in April she notes the first meeting of the Sir John Cass Arts and Crafts Society and in May that she had ‘applied to join a new club called the United Arts Club.’ The Studio reported that as ‘it is hoped the club will become a recognised medium for effecting sales, it was of importance to establish at the outset the standard of work which will entitle members to the privilege of having their work included in the quarterly exhibitions’. Lena was accepted as a member.

In June the Sir John Cass Arts and Crafts Society held its first exhibition and Lena noted in her diary ‘One of mine is to be photoed for the Art Journal’. In fact the December 1906 issue of the Art Journal includes both a silver necklace and a copper and enamel candlestick by Madeleine Martineau. Among the other pieces photographed were a copper tea caddy by Jean Milne, a pendant each by Thalia How and Violet Ramsay and a brooch and a necklace by Harold Stabler.

In November 1907 at the Cass annual show Lena exhibited two jewel cases and a metal fruit dish with a figure pedestal.  In December she received a prize from the Cass Institute, the book selected being a copy of Lewis Day’s Enamelling. In May 1908 she ‘took up a case of jewellery to agents for Liverpool exhibition’, in November she was exhibiting at the Sir John Cass society show and also sent a case of jewellery to a show in Cambridge. At the end of the month she ‘took a case of jewellery to the United Arts Club and another to the Lyceum Club’. From the Cambridge show she received a first class certificate.

She does not mention if any items were sold from these exhibitions. In February 1906 she had noted that a ‘pendant I sent to show at Alderley Edge has 2nd prize and is sold to Katherine Greg’ and that from the Cass show in November 1907  ‘one thing of mine was bought, a copper clasp’. In February 1909 came her first commission. The relevant entry reads ‘I have been to Club today to meet lady who wishes for a gold medal to be made for the poets club to award the best poem’. The lady was a Mrs Higginbotham and the Club was the United Arts. Lena began the medal on 11 April and delivered it two months later. She had not been working at it all this time; she had enjoyed a two-week holiday in Italy. However on 20 July she received ‘ a rude letter from Mrs Higginbothom this morning refusing to take the medal, and saying it is not worth more than 15/- to a guinea!. Tho all 18ct gold with pearls and enamel.’ Lena reported the matter to the Club who arranged for her to make an appointment to speak to Mrs Higginbotham in person.

Harold Stabler

Harold Stabler

However Harold Stabler advised her not to go but to write. The matter ended with Mrs Higginbotham returning the medal to her. There is no mention of her ever receiving another commission. She kept busy in the autumn, exhibiting jewellery at an exhibition in Dresden and at the Cass society’s annual show.

In January 1910 she took a case of jewellery and an epergne to the New Gallery for display at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition and two cases of jewellery to the Society of Women Artists. She is noted as an exhibitor in the catalogues of both exhibitions. Her work shown at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition included a gold pendant and chain, entitled ‘ St Cecilia’; a gold necklace, a gold enamelled pendant and a gold necklace with tourmalines. For what it is worth it so happens that in the copy of the catalogue held by the British Library Lena Martineau’s pieces have been annotated in the margin in pencil. There are very few other markings – Cobden Sanderson’s books are so marked – and the impression is that the holder of the catalogue walking around the exhibition had approved of her pieces. There is no indication, however, of whom this visitor was.

In February 1911 she won 1st prize in the competition organised by the Studio for the design for a necklace pendant . The prize was 3 guineas – and, of course, her name was published in the magazine. In June when the Studio reported on an exhibition organised by the Sir John Cass Arts and Crafts Society it mentioned that ‘the jewellery included a dainty gold necklace by Miss Martineau’. Then on 24 November her father died. For whatever reason after this she made very few diary entries and the diary ends, at the bottom of the final page of the book, on 19 March 1914. I do not know if she carried on with her diary beyond the final 1914 entry. Until November 1911 entries had been made quite regularly and contain far more detail than I have been able to include in this paper.

Moreover, in the few 1913 and 1914 entries she makes no mention of any artistic endeavour. However, a (February, I think) 1914 article in the Studio ,‘Some Examples of Modern English Jewellery’, is illustrated with what the magazine says is ‘a small selection of recent work by artists whose productions are familiar to exhibition visitors’. Among the artists so recognized was S. Madeleine Martineau, with an ‘enamelled gold pendant with four pears, wreath and bird repousse’.

Lena's pendant - second row far right - illustrated in 'The Studio', 1914

Lena’s pendant – second row far right – illustrated in ‘The Studio’, 1914

As the Studio describes the work illustrated in the article as ‘recent’ it is likely that this piece was less than three years old, – that it was in fact made in the period after the last mention in her diary of her jewellery work. However, when the next Arts and Crafts Exhibition was held in 1916 Lena Martineau was not an exhibitor, although Violet and Frances Ramsay, Jean Milne and Thalia How all were. This would seem to be reasonably definite proof that she was by then no longer part of the arts and crafts scene.

But life has odd quirks. It was because the bird piece had been photographed for the Studio that when it was bought c. 1973, as part of a collection, by a dealer specialising in art nouveau jewellery, he was able to identify its maker. As Lena Martineau only died in 1972 – aged over 100 – my surmise is that the piece, along with others in the same collection, had remained with her all her life and had formed part of her estate. Once the dealer was able to identify this piece, others in the same collection were attributed to her.

Lena's bird pendant as illustrated in V. Becker, 'Art Nouveau Jewelry', 1985

Lena’s bird pendant  – top left – as illustrated in V. Becker, ‘Art Nouveau Jewelry’, 1985

Around the same time, interest in arts and crafts and art nouveau jewellery was developing, and two books by Vivienne Becker, Art Nouveau Jewelry and Antique and Twentieth Jewellery: a guide for collectors, drew on this art nouveau dealer’s stock of photographs for illustrations. A few facts about Lena Martineau’s life were surmised, mostly incorrectly.

It is not my contention that Lena was a feminist icon, a forgotten heroine. What is interesting about the life revealed in the diary is its very ordinariness. She had no struggle to receive her art education; her family backed her in her attendance at classes, in renting studios, and by sitting for her. Her diary reveals how much freedom a young woman – 20 when it opens – had in following her inclinations in this direction. There is nothing in her diary to suggest that she felt thwarted or discontented in any way. Moreover, whether or not she deserves the accolade, Sarah Madeleine Martineau has now entered the canon as an arts and crafts jeweller, the presumption being, merely because she is included, that her work was exceptional. However, in reality it is only because it has been possible to identify a little of her work – although that certainly is because she was considered by her contemporaries (except for Mrs Higginbotham) as being more than competent – that she has received this measure of recognition. Her diary gives a fascinating glimpse into the life behind the pendants.
Sarah Madeleine’s Manuscript Diary is now held in the collection of The Women’s Library@LSE.

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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.

 

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Armistice 1918 And Remembrance Days 1928 and 1956

 

John Collins

John Collins

For the latter part of the First World War Kate Parry Collins (nee Frye) lived in a cottage in the tiny Buckinghamshire hamlet of Berghers Hill – on tenterhooks for news of her husband, John, who had been fighting in France since the end of 1916. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during the Battle of Arras – and, to Kate’s great relief, came through the war unscathed. We can imagine the emotion that lay behind the following entry in her daily diary.

Monday November 11th 1918 [Berghers Hill]

I was thinking and wondering every inch of the morning, and could not settle to anything. Was cleaning a collection of shoes about 11.30 in my room, the windows were open – I sat up and listened. Boom-Boom-Boom – then a Hooter and then I thought it time to bestir myself and went in to Agnes [her sister] then downstairs to Kathleen [the daily maid] and out to listen to the various sounds proclaiming that the Armistice has been signed. And thank God for our many and great mercies. Mother was down the hill and had called at the Manor House – the news was all over the green [Wooburn Green] and soon up here – and the remarks of the hill were marvellous. As soon as I could settle to anything I sat me down and wrote to John. Is he safe, and will he really be spared to come home to me?

[She eventually manages to buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph] ‘Yes, the glorious news, as announced ‘Surrender of Germany’ Armistice signed at 5 a.m. Cease fire at 11 a.m. The D.T. has news of Abdication of the Kaiser and Crown Prince, and flight to Holland. The whole of Germany is seething with revolution. It seems as if it will be a second Russia.

Kate snapped shopping in London in the 1920s

Kate snapped by a street photographer while shopping in London in the 1920s

Ten years later, Kate and John were living in a tiny north Kensington flat. For the past three years, at 11 o’clock on Remembrance Day,  they usually visited the Royal Artillery memorial at Hyde Park Corner – John having been a member of the RA. But on this special 10th anniversary of the Armistice they planned to join in the main London celebration. Kate was determined that she would have a Sunday free from domestic chores in order to dedicate herself to remembrance.

Saturday November 10th  1928 [Leinster Square, London]

A great day of preparation so as to be free for Remembrance tomorrow. So John went out for me and did the rest of the shopping and I first did the usual housework and a bit extra then dinner at 5.30. Shoulder of lamb, onion sauce, potatoes, sprouts, apple crowdies and a large one for tomorrow. Then cleared away, washed up, put all ready for the morning and scrubbed the kitchen. Sat down rather broken – but determined to wake at 7 tomorrow.

Sunday November 11th  1928

I woke at 7.30 and up straightway and J and I both up to breakfast. Up – washed breakfast and off. Train to Westminster – a packed tram and an impossible place – such a crowd. I jumped on a bus to get out of it. fortunately it took us to Charing Cross. We tried Whitehall from top – no good. I was afraid of the crowd – so eventually just off by Whitehall Court and heard the singing and the last post – a marvellous two minutes silence. A rest in the Club – then an hour and a quarter pilgrimage to pass the Cenotaph – again most wonderful. Came on to rain so made for Lyons for lunch in Victoria Street. Then to go through the Abbey past the Tomb [of the Unknown Warrior] and for the 3 o’clock service.

 

Kate in bed - headphones at the ready

Kate in bed – headphones at the ready

Home by bus, raining still – the queue [stretching] from Trafalgar Square. Our dinner – frightfully tired. Service on wireless. Bed – then Albert Hall meeting in bed with one earphone each up to 11pm. A really wonderful day of Remembrance.

Twenty-eight years later, after several years of caring for John at home as he became increasingly afflicted with dementia, Kate was finally forced to allow him to be admitted to the local asylum. They did not have sufficient money to pay nursing-home fees. She recorded the following entry in her diary on the first Remembrance Day after he was lost to her.

11th November 1956 [Hill Top, Berghers Hill]

To Cenotaph at Wooburn. I sat and wept – but tried to pull myself out of the tears. But so sad without John here with me. Remembering all the 11 o’clocks we had heard together.

KateTo discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – do read the e-book, Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette published by ITV as a tie-in with their series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. It can be downloaded from  from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you think of Kate and the life she lived. 

To read in detail about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book – see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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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.

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Suffrage Stories: Kitty Marion, Arson, A Route Taken – And A Touch Of Solipsism

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

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.

Hurst Park pk cat 182

 

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 identical to the one on the right here. (Photo courtesy of Twickenham Museum)

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

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.

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Suffrage Stories: Mrs Pankhurst’s Headstone – And Its Sculptor

Brompton Cemetery - with Mrs Pankhurst's headstone

Brompton Cemetery – with Mrs Pankhurst’s headstone

Emmeline Pankhurst died, at the age of 69, in a Wimpole Street nursing home on 14 June 1928. On 18 June her funeral service was held in St John’s, Smith Square (a church in which, incidentally, there had, in early March 1914, been an explosion attributed to suffragette activity). Afterwards her coffin was taken to Brompton Cemetery for burial. Among the hundreds attending both ceremonies was Kate Parry Frye (now Mrs Collins). In her diary Kate described the day:

 Monday June 18th 1928  [London: Flat C, 57 Leinster Square]

Cloudy and a cold wind but the rain kept off. Two buses to Westminster and to St John’s Church Smith Square. Had no ticket but being very early before 10 – I was let in up in the Gallery of the Church and sat over the Chancel and in front of Mrs Pankhurst’s Coffin. The flowers were marvellous – most beautiful. A wonderful service but very sad – sad in itself and to see & feel us all so old and grey and ill. A bus to Brompton Cemetery an enormous crowd there. Followed the Coffin and saw the end –  then got away.

That occasion, fittingly enough, marked the end of Kate’s involvement with the women’s suffrage campaign.  Kate, whose years as an active suffragist are faithfully recorded in her diary (published as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary) made no mention in her diary of the passing a couple of weeks later – on 2 July – of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act.  It was as though, with the death of Emmeline Pankhurst, a chapter in her life had closed (though you can find out very much more about her life before and after suffrage in Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette).

I was thinking of Kate on a deliciously dank autumn morning last week when I found myself in the neighbourhood of Brompton Cemetery and thought I mustn’t let the opportunity pass to walk yet again in her footsteps. I had visited Mrs Pankhurst’s grave some years ago – but that was before I had encountered Kate Frye and before the day of the digital camera – or blogs. Now I imagined  Kate there, among the large number of women who crowded around on that windy way. Confined to the paths, most could have seen little of the ceremony.

DSC01354(1)I’m not sure that Kate returned to the Cemetery so doubt that she ever saw the headstone that was erected some time after Emmeline Pankhurst’s burial. The grave is easily found – on the left-hand of the central path, encountered soon after you’ve passed through the imposing North Lodge  (Old Brompton Road) entrance. It was also one of the very few graves at which flowers have recently been left. I suspect that such tributes are regularly made and, needless to say, as you will see from the photo, they are likely to approximate WSPU colours.

The tall headstone is sloping slightly – although perhaps not as much as my photography suggests!

As I quote in the entry on Emmeline Pankhurst in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide, the headstone was ‘designed by Julian P. Allan, whom Kitty Marshall described as “a clever girl”.’ When researching (in pre-internet days) for that book (published in 1999) I had neither the time nor, indeed, the resources to attempt to discover who this ‘clever girl’ was. Now a little digging has produced her intriguing story.

Julian Phelps Allan was born Eva Dorothy Allan in Hampshire in 1892 – so ‘the clever girl’ was actually 36 at the time of Emmeline Pankhurst’s death. After the registration of her birth we next catch sight of her nine months later as she sets sail with her mother (‘Mrs Allan’) and her brothers, 5-year-old Leonard and 3-year-old Cecil, bound for Belize. Well, of course I immediately wondered why they were making that journey and set out to explore all the various databases that might prove useful.

I slowly pieced the answer together. They were returning to British Honduras where Mr Allan – Gordon Allan (1856-?) – was surveyor-general. In 1885-6 he had published ‘A Plan of Belize’. Further research uncovered his marriage in 1884 in west London to Ada Phelps Richards, the eldest in the large family of a widowed brewer. Before taking over the family firm her father had been a civil engineer and Ada had been born in Brazil, presumably when he was engaged on some south American scheme. I suspect that Gordon Allan died in the 1890s in British Honduras because I next found his son, Cecil G. Allan (who had been born in British Honduras) in 1901 as a pupil at the London Orphanage Asylum at Watford. The criterion for admission to that establishment was that the pupil had to be fatherless – but not, apparently, motherless.

For in 1911 Ada Phelps Allan was still alive – a patient in the Merchant Taylors’ Convalescent Home for Ladies at Bognor. Indeed she did not die until 1944. In 1911 her daughter, Eva, was boarding in the home of carpenter and joiner at 40 Achilles Road, West Hampstead.  The census recorded her as ‘student at college’. Her landlady’s daughter was a student at Clark’s College so perhaps that was where Eva also was studying. It was an appropriate educational institution for a young woman of her background – and, probable lack of means – to attend. Clark’s very successfully trained young men and women to pass the Civil Service examinations.

I can imagine – though don’t know for certain – that Eva spent the following few years working efficiently in offices – until she became a member, during the First World War, of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She served as a ‘unit administrator’ – the equivalent of officer rank.

After the war she studied sculpture at the Westminster School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools. You can read an account of her work as a sculptor here. The commission for Mrs Pankhurst’s headstone came early in her career. Doubtless she moved in circles that overlapped with those of suffrage activists. It was also around this time that she dropped ‘Eva Dorothy’ in favour of the more androgynous ‘Julian Phelps’ (‘Phelps’ being her maternal grandfather’s second name – and  a name inherited by her mother and most of her mother’s siblings).

DSC01355

 

The headstone she made for Emmeline Pankhurst is of red sandstone, in the form of a Celtic cross. The  inscription is simple – ‘In Loving Memory of Emmeline Pankhurst wife of R.M. Pankhurst LLD At Rest June 14 1928.’ No mention of children, or a life’s work for women.

DSC01356

The shaft carries this somewhat enigmatic haloed figure.

DSC01357

 

The head of the cross shows what I take to be the hand of God reaching down from the heavens as two angels minister in some symbolic way.

I wonder how the commission was described in the brief to the sculptor?

See here for Julian Allan’s own – very different – memorial. I’m rather amazed to discover that she was actually still alive when I first came across her name –  researching The Reference Guide She died in 1996 – aged 103.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: Talk at Wooburn Festival, 24 September 2014

Tomorrow – 24 September – I shall be presenting Kate Frye to the Wooburn Festival. I shall be talking about her life – from the age of Victoria to that of Elizabeth – in Bourne End and Berghers Hill – and describing her efforts to interest the area in ‘Votes for Women’.

Kate Frye cover

The talk will be illustrated with many photographs from Kate’s extensive archive and there will be an opportunity to look at other items of local interest from her collection that I will bring with me.

cover e-book

See here for full details of the talk – 7.30 pm at Bourne End Library.

Copies of Campaigning for the Vote will be on sale – signed if you wish!

For full details of both the Kate Frye books see here and here.

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: The Women’s Freedom League Toy Factory At Hackney, 1915

We are familiar with the toy factory opened during the First World War by Sylvia Pankhurst’s East London Federation of Suffragettes at Bow in London’s East End, but how many of us know that another suffrage society, the Women’s Freedom League, operated a similar factory in Hackney?

The Toy Factory at Hackney run by the Women's Freedom League, 1914

The Toy Factory at Hackney run by the Women’s Freedom League, 1915

At the beginning of the First World War the WFL announced that, among the schemes prompted by the new situation, they had opened a toy factory ‘where girls and women have been trained to turn out perfectly finished and well-dressed dolls – the specialities being the Dombey boys and the Tipperary Twins.’

With the outbreak of war the various suffrage societies had recognised the need to provide employment for women put out of work as dress-making establishments suffered a sudden drop in demand. In the autumn of 1914  the thoughts of the women of the nation were, unsurprisingly, on other than on sartorial matters. The New Constitutional Society, for instance, hoped to help destitute dressmakers by opening a war-relief work-room , organised by Kate Frye (for details see  Campaigning for the Vote –  to see Romola Garai as Kate Frye in that work-room as realised by ITV see here ) .  The NCS opted to make clothes.

The ELFS and the WFL, however, decided to take advantage of the gap in the market that had opened now that toys could no longer be sourced from Germany, hitherto the main supplier of presents for British children.

But where in Hackney was the WFL toy factory?  It looks from the photograph as though it was located in a private house, probably comprising only a couple of rooms. This wasn’t a factory on the scale of Lesney – Hackney’s other – once-famed – toy maker. 

Update: Reading Jennie Churchill’s Women and War Work  I’ve discovered that the toy factory was in South Hackney…but have not yet pinpointed a road. Interestingly, the photograph at the head of this blog post came from a postcard album compiled by  Louisa Thompson-Price, who is named as a contributor to the chapter that mentions the WFL toy factory.

How long was the factory in production? Mrs Sarah Ann Mustard (1864-1936), of 48 Moresby, Upper Clapton, had been president of the Hackney branch of the WFL from about 1910 and it is she who described the work of the factory at a WFL meeting- in Mayfair – on 26 March 1915. However, the WFL’s newspaper,The Vote, then goes decidedly quiet on the factory and its products. It is especially curious that none of the reports of the many fund-raising bazaars makes any mention of Hackney-made toys for sale – nor does The Vote carry any small ads for its wares.

And yet the WFL had felt it worthwhile to ask Fleet Street photographer, Barratts, to come along to their ‘factory’ and take a photograph. This doesn’t seem to have been published in The Vote, but, fortunately, was issued as a postcard – allowing us a glimpse of one all- but- forgotten War Work effort with, in the background, an array of its products.

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First World War – And Wars Before: Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors

This week I’m busy packing up books and ephemera to take on Friday to the Women’s History Network Conference – held this year at the University of Worcester. In this First World War centennial year Home Fronts: Gender, War and Conflict  is the Conference theme – see here for details.

I usually have a small  selection of ‘Women and the First World War’ material in my catalogues  (latest is  Number 185 – see here)  – and often when cataloguing spend time poring over photographs trying to identify the uniforms worn by young women of that period as they pose in studios or are photographed in camps or hospital wards – checking them against a variety of ad hoc sources.

Ingham

 

This rather pleasurable occupation will now become much easier – by consulting a fascinating book that comprehensively covers all the branches of the Services open to women.

In Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors Mary Ingham takes as her starting point the early 19th century – for it was then that the Army began to employ schoolmistresses to educate the children of the soldiers stationed in garrisons across the Empire . For this one service she cites holdings at The National Archives, National Army Museum, Adjutant General’s Corps Museum, British Library, Westminster College Archives and gives details of several printed sources.

VAD

She then covers in considerable detail all the nursing and medical services attached to the various branches of the armed services – from the Crimean War onwards. I must say I’m rather taken with the work in the First World War of the Almeric Paget Massage Corps, the honorary secretary of which was a niece of Charlotte Despard. And I know that I if I’d been a VAD I’d have been completely stymied by the instructions on how to pin on my nursing cap. However I’m sure many a period drama wardrobe mistress has welcomed such a diagram as is reproduced in the book. Flowing – and so fetching – that cap must have enticed many a young woman to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment. If we are looking now for details of the service of any one such woman Mary Ingham directs us to  a variety of archival sources.

Members of the WRNS and WRAF at Warsash Air Station 1918 (courtesy of RAF Museum website)

Members of the WRNS and WRAF at Warsash Air Station 1918 (courtesy of RAF Museum website)

The book then details the work of the Women’s Auxiliary services – and the WRNS, the WRAF, the Women’s Forage Corps and the Women’s Land Army.

Mary Ingham gives full and most helpful information on how to access the relevant records for all the services and, most usefully, lets us know when records are not available – or do not include as much information as we might expect. This kind of knowledge – doubtless accrued painfully  – is so useful in managing expectations. We don’t waste our time on wild goose chases – Mary has done the chasing for us.

I am sure that academic researchers and family historians alike will find Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors  both interesting and useful. And it’s packed with illustrations. More information may be found at Mary Ingham’s website.

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Suffrage Stories: Bloomsbury Links in Life And Literature (Part 4)

For my first two posts on the links between ‘Bloomsbury’ and women’s suffrage see here and hereIn ‘Bloomsbury Links’ (Part 3) I mentioned that in 1916  Ray Strachey took over the post of parliamentary secretary to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and  moved to Westminster to be close to the NUWSS office. From 1916 until 1934  she was also chairman of the Women’s Service Bureau, which originated in the war work of the London Society for Women’s Service. In 1925, when the financial position of the latter society (now called the London Society for Women’s Service) was critical, funds were raised by the presentation at the Scala Theatre of two specially-staged charity performances of The Son of Heaven, a play written by Ray’s brother-in-law, Lytton Strachey.

The play – a’tragic melodrama’ -was set in China at the time of the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. It’s director was Alec Penrose, whose  (first) wife was the production’s wardrobe mistress, Ralph Partridge played ‘The Executioner’, Geoffrey Webb, later Slade professor of Fine Art at Cambridge, played ‘Wang Fu’ and Gerald Brennan was among the extras.  Gertrude Kingston -now elderly and a one-time member of the Actresses’ Franchise League, was the only ‘professional’ member of the cast.

The accompanying music was composed and conducted by William Walton – his first commission for the stage. Of it Constant Lambert (who played the timpany in the production’s orchestra) commented – ‘So great was [Walton’s] obsession with ragtime that he was unable to prevent some unmistakeable touches of Gershwin from entering the score!). The critic from The Stage described the music as ‘ambitious and decidedly heavy’.

Duncan Grant designed the costumes and sets. These included an Omega Workshop screen and a carpet designed by Vanessa Bell, who was also responsible for the cover of the programme.

Vanessa Bell, Original design for carpet for 'Son of Heaven' c 1924 (courtesy of Henry Sotheran Fine Prints)

Vanessa Bell, Original design for carpet for ‘Son of Heaven’ c 1924 (courtesy of Henry Sotheran Fine Prints)

Robert Medley, a painter and member of the cast, remembered the colours used –  ‘clear ochres and greys, offset by pinks, oranges and emerald greens’ (Frances Spalding, Duncan Grant). The costumes were painted in a decidedly Omega style by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell and proved all  too much for Gertrude Kingston. She refused to wear her costume and the designers were forced to dress her instead in a black brocade ‘Manchu’ robe belonging to Lady Strachey. All in all it seems to have been a rather entertaining venture, although I cannot tell you how much money it raised for the LSWS.

WomensServiceHseIn 1930, when the London and National Society for Women’s Service (as it had confusingly been renamed in 1926) wished to publicise not only its existence but also that of their new purpose-built hall , ‘Although very doubtful of success, Miss [Philippa] Strachey undertook to approach Virginia Woolf, to ask if she would be willing to give a talk on ‘Literature’. In the event Virginia Woolf did agree to speak and on the appointed evening, 21 January 1931, shared the platform with her new friend, Dame Ethel Smyth, who spoke on ‘Music’.

The hall, with a library, restaurant and offices, was part of Women’s Service House, the  LNSWS’s new Westminster premises. Millicent Fawcett laid the foundation stone on 29 April 1929, barely three months before her death; the hall was intended as her memorial – rather more useful than a statue  but, alas, without a statue’s popular appeal (on this bee in my bonnet see more here). Known as the Millicent Fawcett Hall, it still stands at 31 Marsham Street, now put to good use by Westminster School as its drama centre.

Back in January 1931 the sub-committee of the London Society responsible for arranging the  evening’s entertainment felt obliged to install a microphone for Mrs Woolf – at the cost of £8; there was no suggestion that Dame Ethel required amplification.

The speakers attracted one of the society’s largest audiences and Virginia Woolf received a review in The Woman’s Leader (now, incidentally, edited by a niece of Mrs Pankhurst): ‘She “was with us, but not of us”. Her eyes are on the stars, as though she listens to some far-off song – but a song of which even an audience of modern and practical minded young women can catch an echo when Mrs Woolf speaks.’

ThreeGuineasThe ‘song’ proved to be the genesis for Three Guineas, and it was to the LNSWS’s library, adjacent to the hall, and to its librarian, Vera Douie, that Virginia Woolf turned when seeking verification of the facts, gathered into footnotes, that fuelled the book’s anger.

The Library at Women’s Service House, 1924 © & source The Women's Library

The Library at Women’s Service House, 1924
© & source The Women’s Library

In March 1938, for instance, she wrote enquiring about peace organisations and the numbers of women involved in working for peace. Vera Douie sent her a full reply, enclosing Mrs Fawcett’s pamphlet on ‘What the Vote Has Done’. A couple of months later , in gratitude for the help she had received, Virginia Woolf offered to supply the library with any books, new or antiquarian that it required. The offer was gratefully accepted; in 1938, for example, Virginia Woolf gave to the library both volumes of the newly published Miss Weeton. Journal of a Governess, a text from which she had copied quotations into her Three Guineas Reading Notebook, and in July 1940 paid for two books by Mary Carpenter, Juvenile Delinquents (1853) and Our Convicts (1864), that had appeared in the catalogue of an antiquarian bookseller. Both the latter are still part of the Cavendish Bentinck collection in the Women’s Library@LSE – although the name of their donor is not noted in the catalogue entry.

On 26 March 1941 Vera Douie wrote to Mrs Woolf to say how much she had enjoyed reading her biography of Roger Fry and asking, in her usual delicate manner, for two more books. This time, however, her request was in vain. Virginia Woolf was dead by the time the letter was delivered to Monks’s House.

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Suffrage Stories: ‘A Song Of Their Own’ – Ipswich Suffrage- And Ada Ridley In Particular

Song of their Own

I do enjoy reading studies of the work of local suffrage societies – and this is a good one.  Without over explaining the national campaign Joy Bounds neatly describes the particular work of Ipswich suffrage campaigners, setting their efforts in the wider context. Her research on Constance Andrews, the leading light of the Ipswich branch of the Women’s Freedom League,  is particularly welcome – and useful.

The delight of such studies is that names hitherto little known are brought to our attention. While it was outside the scope of Joy Bounds’ study to dwell in depth on the many individuals whom she highlights, it is now possible – in a blog such as this – to pick up the baton, as it were, and attempt to discover more about these women. Their engagement with the suffrage movement is, in a way, only an excuse.  I am still so curious about women’s lives.

In particular I am  interested in women who put their artistic skills to work for the suffrage cause and was keen therefore to discover more about the life of Ada Paul Ridley,who is mentioned in A Song of Their Own. She either designed or sewed (or perhaps  designed and helped sew) the banner (‘Be Just and Fear Not’) that the Ipswich contingent carried in the WSPU’s 1911 Coronation Procession. There is a suggestion that ‘her women’ worked it – I wonder who they were? The banner, alas, has long since disappeared.

Lisa Tickner includes Ada Ridley in her list of suffrage artists in an appendix to The Spectacle of Women, but mentions only her work on this banner and the fact that she had exhibited at the ‘London Salon’ in 1908. This was the first exhibition organized for the progressive Allied Artists’ Association Exhibition by Frank Rutter (a devout suffragist) – and held at the Albert Hall. I doubt that Ada Ridley was amongst the more progressive element, but she was keeping interesting company.

So who was Ada Ridley?

Well, she was born c 1864 and her sister, Elizabeth (Bessie), whom Joy Bounds mentions as also being  involved with Ipswich suffrage, was born in 1867. They were two of the four daughters (there were also two sons) of Albert Cowell Ridley, one of Ipswich’s leading businessmen. He was a wholesale druggist –  in partnership with Edward Grimwade (sometime mayor of Ipswich), trading as Grimwade, Ridley & Co. The firm’s premises were in Princes Street – and have long since made way for the iconic Willis building.

The Ridley family was non-conformist – Baptist. In the 1870s Albert Ridley was a member of the Ipswich Board of Guardians and in the 1880s, a Liberal,  was elected to the Ipswich Town Council.

Formerly Helenscote, 73 Henley Road, Ipswich

Formerly Helenscote, 73 Henley Road, Ipswich9

The Ridleys  lived at Helenscote, 73  Henley Road, Ipswich – a large, gabled house. (The house, now known as Marlborough House was until relatively recently The Marlborough Hotel, but is now divided into flats.)

In the 1870s Edward Grimwade and his family lived close by – at 1 Henley Road. In April 1871 Grimwade chaired a meeting in Ipswich at which Rhoda Garrett was the main speaker, with her cousin, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and her uncle,  Newson Garrett, sitting beside her on the platform. The Ipswich Journal – not a supporter of the woman’s cause – gives a lengthy, somewhat jaundiced account of the meeting – but it is clear that it was actually rather successful.

Grimwade’s daughter, Harriet, became secretary of the Ipswich committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage that was set up in the wake of this meeting. This suffrage society doesn’t appear to have been very active – although Harriet Grimwade definitely was. She was a very active philanthropist as well as eventually, in 1883, being elected a member of the Ipswich School Board.  When she first stood for the School Board, in 1880, the Ipswich Journal  paid her the rather back-handed compliment of saying that it would be as well if she were not elected as it would be a pity to distract her from her all her charitable work.

There was no mention of Albert Ridley’s presence at the 1871 meeting- although he may well have been there.  In fact there was a direct Garrett/Ridley relationship. Millicent’s sister, Alice, was married to Herbert Cowell, a cousin of Albert Cowell Ridley (Herbert’s father was brother to Albert’s mother). Despite Herbert’s expressed distaste for the women’s movement, Alice more or less defied him to succeed her sister, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, as the member of the London School Board for Marylebone. I imagine that Albert Ridley’s views on the Woman Question tended more towards those of Edward Grimwade than those of Herbert Cowell.

Whatever they were, Albert Ridley did ensure that Ada had a good education. She attended Ipswich High School for Girls and, while a pupil there, in 1879  passed the government examination in Freehand Drawing, taken at the Ipswich School of Science and Art , in 1880 she received the school prize for Needlework – a copy of In Memoriam – and in 1881 won a prize at the Art School (though still a pupil at the High School) for the best drawing of a plant. Her reward was to be given said plant – a begonia. In 1883 she matriculated from the High School –  in the first division (University of London) and in 1884  moved to  the Ipswich School of Science and Art, where she was awarded a first class certificate in Botany- Elementary Stage. Ada clearly remained close to Harriet Youngman, who was headmistress of the High School during the time she was there. When the 1901 census was taken Ada was staying with her as a visitor in the cottage near Saffron Walden to which she had moved on retiring as headmistress.

Although the only sightings I have of Ada during the next ten years are as a rather successful tennis player (mixed doubles matches at the Ipswich Lawn Tennis Club) and as a pianist at various local entertainments, she clearly maintained her interest in art, winning a second prize in a Studio  competition in 1894. In 1893 she was the judge of ‘Plain Needlework’ at an Industrial and Art Exhibition held at the Gainsborough House headquarters of the YWCA.

Albert Ridley died in 1896, leaving c £25,000 – out of which Ada and her siblings were each to receive £1000  immediately. Her mother died in 1916, leaving £14,000 – so I think we can assume that the family lived reasonably comfortably.

In April 1911 a service at Llanaber Church near Barmouth was held to dedicate reredos that Ada Ridley had helped carve. They had been designed in the Celtic Arts and Crafts style by John Dickson Batten, who was an illustrator and one of the early members of the Society of Painters in Tempera. The founder of this society was Christiana Herringham, a suffragist who in 1908 had helped embroider banners for the Artists’ Suffrage League and the Women Writers’ Suffrage League, as well as one for the Cambridge Suffrage Society. The Battens must have known Christiana Herringham and as in 1904 their Kensington home was at 16 Edwardes Square, they must have known Laurence Housman, who lived with his sister, Clemence, writer and artist, at 1 Pembroke Cottages, on the corner of the Square. It’s not too wild a guess to suppose that Ada Ridley was brought into this circle.

Anti-suffrage Alphabet (courtesy of UCL Library Services)

Anti-suffrage Alphabet (courtesy of UCL Library Services)

There is no doubt that by 1911 Ada most certainly was well acquainted with Laurence Housman  because in that year she was a contributor to a lovely book – An Anti Suffrage Alphabet – designed by Housman and which Leonora Tyson (of the Streatham WSPU) printed to order by hand. Earlier in the year, on census night (2 April), both Ada and Bessie Ridley had been absent from home. Their mother was enumerated at Helenscote with their unmarried brother and one of their nieces – but of her two resident daughters there was no trace. Were they spending the night at the Museum Rooms, taking part in the boycotting party that Joy Bounds describes so well?

But that is all I’ve been able to uncover. How did Ada spend the rest of her long life?  I can find no trace of any further involvement with either art or the woman’s cause. She seems such a capable woman that I can’t believe she sat at home doing nothing for the next 40 or so years. She died in Ipswich in 1958 – leaving c £17,000 -one of her executors being the niece who was staying in the house while her aunts were out gallivanting on census night.

 

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Suffrage Stories: Bloomsbury Links (Part 3)

I have written two previous posts about the Bloomsbury Group and Women’s Suffrage – see here and here, the latter one dealing with the involvement of Lady Strachey and her children. In this third Bloomsbury post I describe something of the importance of one of her daughters-in-law – Ray Strachey.

Ray Strachey

Ray Strachey

In 1911 Lady Strachey’s son, Oliver,  married, as his second wife, Ray, the daughter of Mary Costelloe (later Mary Berenson) and granddaughter of Hannah Whitall Smith, a Philadelphian Quaker and feminist.

The Costelloes’ association with the Cause stretched well back into the 19th century. In 1889 both Mary Costelloe and her mother had signed the Declaration in Favour of Women’s Suffrage organized by the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage. In the 1890s Mary, with her parents, her husband, and her sister Alys (who was later to marry Bertrand Russell), subscribed to the Central National Society for Women’s Suffrage. In March 1890 Frank Costelloe, Ray’s father, was described as a ‘warm friend’ to the Women’s Franchise League. It is therefore not surprising to discover that Ray Costelloe while a student at Newnham (1905-08) was an active member of the Cambridge University Women’s Suffrage Society, probably to the detriment of her academic work.

In the summer of 1908 Ray and her friend Elinor Rendel conducted a suffrage caravan tour of the Lake District. While on this tour the young women stayed at Keswick, at Hawse End, the home of Frank and Caroline Marshall, who had founded the local branch of the NUWSS, and who were the uncle and aunt of Ray (later Garnett) and Frances (later Partridge).

Catherine Marshall

Catherine Marshall

The Marshalls’ daughter, Catherine, moved to London and became parliamentary secretary of the NUWSS, in 1912 masterminding that society’s alliance withe the Labour party. Through family association the suffrage campaign drew into is maw the least likely followers; Julia Strachey, Oliver’s daughter by his first marriage, led an NUWSS procession in Littlehampton on 19 July 1913.

By 1913 Ray Strachey was chairman of the LSWS and Philippa Strachey was its secretary, the two forming an extremely affectionate and close working relationship that lasted until Ray’s death in 1940. A fellow worker for the Cause described how Ray Strachey was ‘someone who takes up lost causes and then they are no longer lost’ and particularly remarked how Ray always sought Pippa’s advice.

In 1916 Ray Strachey succeeded Catherine Marshall as parliamentary secretary of the NUWSS and in this capacity was responsible for supervising the passage of the Reform Bill that in 1918 at last gave women (over 30) the vote. Ray moved her household from Bloomsbury to Marsham Street in Westminster in order to be close to the society’s office.

strachey the causeAfter the end of the First World War Ray Strachey was editor of The Common Cause and then of its successor, The Woman’s Leader, 1920-23, and acted as political private secretary to Lady Astor after the latter’s election as the first woman member of the House of Commons. Ray Strachey was the author The Cause (1928) which stood for very many years as the only history of the ‘constitutional’ suffrage movement, and of Women’s suffrage and Women’s service: the history of the London and National Society for Women’s Service, 1927.

In 1938 Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s Hogarth Press published Our Freedom and Its Results, a collection of essays edited by Ray Strachey, which charts the effect of women’s emancipation on politics, law, employment, morals and social life.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: What Was Kate Doing One Hundred Years Ago Today – The Day She Appears On Our TV Screens?

Tonight Kate Parry Frye – in the guise of Romola Garai – appears on our television screens (Sunday 17 August, ITV at 9pm). What was she doing on this day 100 years ago?

Kate was still on holiday from her work with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, spending the time with her sister and mother in their rented rooms at 10 Milton Street, Worthing. However, this was no summer idyll such as the Fryes had enjoyed in days gone by. Then they had rented a large house and travelled down from London with their four servants, to spend a season by the sea. Now that they were virtually penniless, these rented rooms were all they could call home. In the life of Kate and, more tragically in that of  her sister, we see the jarring disconnect when young women, brought up to a life where marriage was to be their only trade, are left with insufficient money to support their social position and expectations. As such Kate’s life story is very much a tale of its time.

Monday August 17th 1914

Gorgeous day. Up and at house work. Out 12.30-  just to the shops. Wrote all the afternoon  and after tea to 6. Papers full of interest. Preparing for the biggest battle in the World’s History. There is no doubt the English have landed over there. I hear from John most days – that he is very busy but not a word of what his work is. Mickie [her Pomeranian] and I went out after tea. Agnes still a bit limp.

John Collins, Kate’s fiancé, who had long been an officer in the Territorial Army, had already been recalled to his barracks at Shoeburyness – leaving his engagement with a touring repertory theatre company. Kate’s sister, Agnes, at the first hint of the European trouble had taken to her bed, prostrate. Kate, a would-be playwright, was busy writing – although exactly what she was writing at this time she doesn’t divulge. On her death forty-five years later she left behind a box of unpublished scripts – and one that was published. She  hoped one day to achieve fame and fortune. As it was she would soon be back at work at her suffrage society’s headquarters – with a new role as organizer of their War Work Work Room.

Work Room set up by the New Constitutional Society for Women's Suffrage - of which Kate was in charge. Note the NCS flag in the background - the only image of it that survives

Work Room set up by the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage – of which Kate was in charge. Note the NCS flag in the background – the only image of it that survives

Kate

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you think of Kate and the life she lived. 

To read in detail about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book – see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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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.

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NOW PUBLISHED: Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life Of An Edwardian Actress And Suffragette

Kate

 

Based on her prodigious diary, this e-book is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the  ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here. Kate appeared in the second episode – which you can now watch here.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  from Amazon .

Writing up her diary in her miserable rented room in Worthing on 7 August 1914 Kate could not have thought – even in her wildest dreams – and she certainly did on occasion allow herself wild dreams of fame – that one hundred years later YOU would be able to read her life story.

It is something of a fairytale – from the discovery of the boxes of wringing-wet diaries in a north London cellar to the publication of Kate’s story, now available for the World to read at the click of a mouse.  It is a dream realised, not only for the Kate I have got to know so well and who through her diary entries makes us privy to her hopes, but also for myself. To be given the chance to resurrect the story of an ‘ordinary’ woman (though she most certainly was not ordinary to herself) is the culmination of a lifetime of biographical reading.  Moreover it is ‘hidden lives’ -such as Kate’s – that have been of abiding interest.

There is a certain fitness that at a time when the major publishing conglomerates tend, for safety’s sake, to concentrate on the lives of those whose names are already known – for whom a market already exists – that it is a television company, ITV, that is taking a bow at a venture and allowing you to read the life of an ordinary woman. Kate, I am sure, would have been most interested to watch The Great War: the People’s Story. For her entire life she was entranced by the telling of tales – in novels, on the stage, on film, on radio and, in her latter years, on television and it so happens that the one play she succeeded in getting published was set on the Western Front – in the final hour of the Great War.

When editing Kate’s suffrage years as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary I did briefly debate (and did so at much greater length in a post – Kate Frye and the Problem of the Diarist’s Multiple Roles)  the ethics of mining a diary and presenting only one aspect of the subject’s life. I have now been able to reconcile any doubts I might have had. Kate’s suffrage diary undoubtedly adds to our understanding of the suffrage campaign and it is now with considerable satisfaction that I am able to present to you Kate’s life in its entirety.

Coincidentally yesterday I spotted a new blog review of Campaigning for the Vote that not only gives a delightfully long review of that book – but also reveals that the writer is longing to know more about Kate and – at the last moment – is pleased to have just downloaded the e-book and begin a deeper acquaintance.

 

If you are interested to find out more about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book. .In London it is in stock in Foyles, Charing Cross Road, and at the Persephone Bookshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street. and is available by mail order from the publisher –  see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary

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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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 7 August 1914

TODAY’S THE DAY ITV is publishing  Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this e-book is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here. The first episode of the series can be seen on ITV at 9pm on Sunday 10 August – I think Kate makes her entrance in Episode 2 – 17 August.

Leading up to publication I’ve shared with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Today’s in the last in this series. Writing up her diary in her miserable rented room in Worthing on 7 August 1914 Kate could not have thought – even in her wildest dreams – and she certainly did on occasion allow herself wild dreams of fame – that one hundred years later YOU would be able to read her life story.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. It will also be available  -today –  any moment now – on Amazon.

 

Kate

Through her day-to-day experience as recorded in her diary we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate Frye was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft – but has now begun her summer holiday, staying with her mother and sister in Worthing.

‘Friday August 7th 1914

News of British steamer – the Queen Amphion – having been sunk by a German mine – some of them saved, but many including some German prisoners blown to bits. Nothing else official. Rumours of course of all kinds – some to make one’s heart ache. But the admiration of the World for plucky Belgium. A lovely day. Up and did my room – our landlady is so disorganized it is the only way of getting it done before night. Jobs.

Mother went out and did the shopping then I took Mickie out to the Beach 12.30 to 1. Had a Telegram from John when I got in asking me to meet him in London tomorrow. So after lunch I went off to find out about trains and send the answer – telling him to let me know where to meet.

Then on the Parade for a miserable walk until 4.45. Jobs in the evening and sat talking to Agnes. Mother out in the evening. I did not go but sat upstairs. Agnes still in bed and very weak. I felt dead tired. After supper there was a wild rumour so I rushed out to get a later paper. The Germans have asked for an Armistice at Liege. It says they have 25,000 dead and wounded. It seems impossible. The wonderful German army. There could only be an excuse for the Kaiser taking his country to War, and that would be that his army is invincible – that nothing could vanquish it and that he is prepared to conquer Europe. If not the man must be a fool.’ 

And with that decisive opinion we take our leave of Kate – at least for the time being.

To read in detail about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book – see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 6 August 1914

Tomorrow – 7 August 2014 – ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft – but has now begun her summer holiday, staying with her mother and sister in Worthing.

Thursday August 6th 1914

A fearful wind all day. Up late and household jobs seeing after Agnes etc – out at 12 with dear love, bought a paper and sat in a shelter reading it until 1. There is very little official news, but I think there is no doubt they are arranging for an expeditionary force to go to help France and Belgium. Germany seems ruthlessly violating every treaty that was made and will soon end by not having a single friend in Europe or elsewhere. The Belgians area making a most spirited and heroic defence of their forts – and so far the Germans have had a set back which could never have calculated upon. They thought the Belgians would let them calmly walk through their country to attack France. A nice sense of honour  they must have got themselves. We have the sinking of a German mine layer to our credit.

The reading of the paper and rushing out for the latest Editions has become a vice with me, but I can’t keep away from them. Read in the afternoon, and who should arrive but Stella Richardson at 3.30 till 4.45 and had tea with us. But I felt in no mood for her with her cheap opinions. I am afraid I flared out at her. Agnes was of course in bed all day, said she felt a bit better.

I had a card from John – he has his orders – has to report himself at Shoeburyness on Sunday. Oh dear!!! A letter from Constance full of War news – their men being called up – the younger generation volunteering etc – and Jack Gilbey off to the front. That pretty gay young lad. What a responsibility the Kaiser has taken upon himself to be sure. Oh if only someone could get at him and his precious son and do for them. John thinks banishment to Bacup the best punishment – we want to get him here and hammer him all over beginning with his feet. I have heard someone suggest cutting his head off and making it into sausages for the Germans to eat – and that she would willingly turn the handle. I wonder what history will make of him?

John's card_0001

Johns's card, written on Wed 4 Aug and posted on 5 August from Exeter, where he was playing with a touring theatre company

Johns’s card, written on Wed 4 August and posted on 5 August from Exeter, where he was playing with a touring theatre company

It was ironic that Stella Richardson should choose this moment to call. She was very much a representative of the ‘gay and reckless’ life that Kate had once enjoyed. You will be able to read about Stella – and her husband – and their relationship with Kate – in Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette.

Kate’s diary is certainly a faithful record of events. On the Today programme this morning a naval historian mentioned the sinking of that mine layer as being one of the first naval actions of the War.Moreover,  I think it’s interesting that on a day such as this – with no knowledge of what lies ahead (perhaps, despite what John predicts, the war will be over by Christmas) – that Kate thinks, however fleetingly, in terms of the Kaiser’s place in history. While concerning herself with the quotidian, she is well able to appreciate that hers is but one moment in time. It is this self-awareness that gives the diary a measure of importance as a document of social history.

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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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 5 August 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

For ITunes preview of the book see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft – but has now begun her summer holiday, staying with her mother and sister in Worthing.

‘Wednesday 5th August 1914

Agnes in bed. I had slept in the dark hole and had a fearful night with the cats tramping in and out and fighting in the garden. I tidied Agnes and the doctor – Dr Hudson – came soon after 10. He didn’t say much but keep her in bed – no solid food – probably catarrh of the stomach and a chill – some inflammation. He was nice.

I had begun to think Mother would not have a comfortable journey to Wooburn as the government has taken over all railways and so many men are travelling to join their regiments – all reserves and Territorials called out – and she didn’t feel inclined to go with Agnes so seedy. I went up to the station to inquire and found as far as they knew trains were running fairly smoothly but they could not guarantee anything.

So I came back and she decided not to go – so Mick and I went off again to send a Telegram to Constance. They would not change a £5 note at the Post Office. Wrote some letters and then read all afternoon. A stroll in the evening – feeling utterly miserable. Heard again from John – has not had his orders yet but they must be on their way. England Mobilizing!!! What a thought. Could get to nothing that required concentration of thought – so greased Dear Love all the evening. A strange occupation with England going to War – but like life.’

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Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 4 August 1914: And What The War Held For My Family

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

Kate Frye c 1906

As a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft – but has now begun her summer holiday, staying with her mother and sister in Worthing.

Tuesday August 4th 1914

A beautiful day as regards weather. Well it is settled England is to go in with France to protect her and Belgium. What a slap in the face for Germany !!! And as Italy won’t fight with Germany and Austria that is another set back. Germany expects to be allowed to walk over anywhere just as she pleases. What a brutal country – and what a Kaiser!!!

A letter from John from Exeter saying he is expecting a letter every minute giving him instructions to join his Unit. He writes in very low spirits. I think South Africa was enough for him. Agnes said she felt very ill – so I got up and arranged the room and got her up to my room and Mother went out for the doctor. He wasn’t in so she left a note. Agnes seemed better and not so low spirited when I had her in a cheerful room, but oh dear I don’t want the work of it. I feel so tired myself and disagreeable and overwrought I want to shriek.

I went out 12 to 1 with ‘Dear Love’. Read papers all the afternoon, writing and needlework in the evening waiting for the doctor – then as he didn’t come I went round and asked him to come early tomorrow morning if not tonight. He was still out so did not turn up.

This entry from Kate’s diary speaks for itself. That the day’s events – both national and domestic -have left her tired, disagreeable and overwrought seems entirely natural. Who wouldn’t want to shriek?

But what of those who did not keep diaries? Perhaps I’ll take the opportunity on this commemorative day to tell briefly how the War affected one other small family.

My mother, Christmas 1914. On the reverse of this postcard is written 'With Best Wishes for a Merry Xmas From Meg, Tom and the 'Wee Un'.

My mother, Christmas 1914. On the reverse of this postcard is written ‘With Best Wishes for a Merry Xmas From Meg, Tom and the ‘Wee Un’.

On 4 August 1914 my mother, Margaret Wallace, born on 5 October 1913, was one day short of ten months old. She was living with her parents in Edinburgh where her father, Thomas Wallace, was a cashier in a brewery. On 2 December 1915, a couple of months after her second birthday, he joined up, aged 27.  He qualified as a signaller and telephonist (First class signalling certificate )with the Royal Garrison Artillery, was mobilized on 17 August 1916, setting sail from Plymouth for France.

Thomas Livingston Wallace

Thomas Livingston Wallace

He served in France  until November 1917 when the 289th Siege Battery was redeployed  to northern Italy. I have read 289 Siege Battery’s War Diary (held in the National Archives -WO 95/4205 289) which covers the period from Dec 1917 to May 1918 and gives a very interesting picture of army life up in the mountains above Vicenza. The officers seem to have enjoyed reasonably regular short breaks, allowing them visits to Rome.

Thomas Wallace’s army record seems uneventful. On 22 March 1918 he was admonished by the C.O. for turning up 85 minutes late to 9pm Roll Call, so I hope he had been having some fun. I doubt he ever got to Rome. On 19 April he was awarded First Class Proficiency Pay of ‘6d per diem’ and on 17 May was sent on a ‘Pigeon Course’ at General Headquarters, rejoining his Battery a week later. Three weeks later,  on 15 June, during the first day of the battle of Asiago he was killed. Army records show that his effects – comprising photos, 21shillings, metal wrist watch (broken) and signaller’s certificate – were returned to his widow, my grandmother.

The story handed down in the family ran something along the lines that, as a signaller, Thomas Wallace had been alerted to the fact that the Austrians were about to make a surprise attack, that communications had been disrupted and that he was relaying this information by travelling down the Line in person when he was killed. One is naturally very wary of ‘family’ stories, knowing full well how they get corrupted in the telling  but in records held in the National Archives, I did read, in a report of the battle of 15 June,

“289 Siege battery detached and section from them to engage suitable targets among the enemy’s advancing infantry

10.15 Runner and motor cyclists used because lines cut to brigade headquarters

Casualties in Brigade: 1 officer and 4 other ranks killed.’

The report of course doesn’t name the ‘other ranks’ but I wondered if Gunner Thomas Wallace was not one of those men.

He is buried at Magnaboschi Cemetery, a lovely tranquil spot, which when we visited some years ago we approached on foot through meadows. A fair proportion of the men buried in this small cemetery were also killed on 15 June 1918. The War Graves Commission information for Thomas Wallace is correct, whereas that created by the War Office is careless enough to have him killed in France. It just shows that one should never trust even the most official of records without corroborating evidence. Some years ago I did manage to get his entry corrected in the Roll of Honour of the Royal Garrison Artillery, contained in Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. Wasn’t it just typical, I thought, when you know something about anything ‘They’ would get it wrong.

 

Thomas WallaceThat cemetery was a world away from the life my grandmother knew – the villages and small towns of Fife. I doubt she ever saw a photograph of his grave. She never seemed to recover from his death. Life on a war widow’s pension was a struggle. She kept all the letters he sent from the War – and when I was about 12 years old I was allowed to read one or two. I particularly remember one that described his crossing of the Lombardy Plain on the way to Italy. Alas, those letters disappeared around the time of her death in a nursing home in the early 1960s.

My widowed grandmother, with my mother and her brother, in the doorway of their Falkland cottage

My widowed grandmother, with my mother and her brother, in the doorway of their Falkland cottage

Like so many other children of their generation my mother and her brother, who was born in December 1917, grew up without a father. That was all they had ever known.

My mother in her University of St Andrews graduation gown

My mother in her University of St Andrews graduation gown

What were that young couple saying to each other as they discussed the news of War in their Edinburgh tenement  on 4 August 1914?  Until now they had surely been more content with life than had Kate Frye. Did they sense the cataclysm awaiting them? Alas, however well one may understand the situation of those close by ties of blood, without a written record it is impossible to know them in the way that a diarist – such as Kate – has determined that we should know her. It is  Kate’s mood that I feel still reverberating this centennial Fourth of August.

 

Incidentally, although Thomas Wallace may not have seen much more of Italy than the Lombardy Plain and the Dolomites, one of his great-granddaughters is now exceptionally well-acquainted with Rome – find her at Understanding Rome. Isn’t it remarkable the pattern Life makes?

For more about Kate Frye see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 3 August 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Monday August 3rd 1914

I think the Blackest Bank Holiday that the world has ever known. What an appalling day – the most dire and awful depressio over everyone – like a pall shutting out the idea of holiday – jollity, sunshine and air – everything dead and dumb and yet one’s nerves turned up to a frightful pitch.

A European War and England must be drawn in. It is all rushing upon us now – a huge welter of realisation of what we are in for – what our navy means to us, and what the machines of death will bring to innocent men and their wives and families.

I am all for peace – always for peace, war is too repulsive, but I am for the honour of England too – and come what may we must link ourselves with France and help keep off the aggressive – brutal – nation that is at her doors. What an awful day. I shall never forget it.

Agnes in bed very seedy in that miserable dark hole of a room – would not even have the blind up all day. I went out in the morning and evening for strolls – not a smile on the face of anyone one met – simply a grim, hard, and quiet manner, but terror at our hearts. What will the war mean towards us?

Read the papers all the afternoon. The Bank Holidays are to continue for 3 more days to let the staff get things into order and issue £1 & 10/- notes to make up for the shortage of gold. Some people are getting panic stricken – taking out their money. Then some people are buying up huge quantities of food stuffs and stocking their houses as for a siege. How mean and beastly of them – the people with money trying to get some advantage over the poor who cannot hoard – and of course creating an artificial demand and raising prices needlessly. One lady bought 18 hams – besides a huge amount of other goods – some people giving orders of £75. I hope their foodstuffs will be chasing them round the house before they can eat it. 

Travellers are getting stranded in Austria and Germany where they are mobilizing and using the railways for that purpose so that people cannot get home. Oh dear – oh dear. It’s awful.

I did not go out after tea but greased Mickie’s skin for 2 hours. He is in an awful state. I brought a small pot of my stock of grease when we left the Plat last September.

Well, Kate’s words speak for themselves. Hers was the experience of most of Britain – a month ago she would never have dreamed that the country was about to enter a European War. Then, on 3 July,after a morning of canvassing for ‘votes for women’ in Peckham,  she and John had pottered down to Worthing for a short weekend-break.  As unremarkable a couple of days by the seaside as one could imagine. Here she was in Worthing again – and the world she had known was turning upside down.

Worthing Parade, 1914

Worthing Parade, 1914

Do look at this article on Worthing History  to read about the enticing range of entertainments Worthing had to offer on that Bank Holiday Monday while Agnes, typically, lay in her ‘dark hole of a room.’ Kate, although she may not have gone to listen to the illuminated concert on the Parade, at least went out to sample Worthing’s mood and when at home soaked up what information there was in the papers. Knowing  how near to penury her family now  was, we can recognise why she took a very personal interest in the reported selfishness of the wealthy.

NOW PUBLISHED (7 August) Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £5. 14 from Amazon.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 2 August 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Sunday August 2nd 1914

Not out all day as furious wind, everything jangling and banging. I felt seedy and got up late. Agnes too was very queer – says she knows she is going to be ill. Read and dozed in the afternoon and did some writing in the evening.

Germany has declared war against Russia for interfering against Austria over Servia – and against France!!! Goodness alone knows why unless this is what she has been preparing for and planning for years. England must be drawn in – I don’t see in honour what else we can do. John may be called to a Fort at any minute. Oh the whole idea frightens me.

John Collins

John Collins

John Collins, had been involved with the army all his life, despite being the most un-warlike of men. The Collins family had long  been leading members of Knaresborough (Yorkshire) society. John’s father, however, had been a younger son, had not inherited any family wealth and had gone into the army, becoming a colonel.  In 1900, after a brief spell as a student at Cambridge, John had served out in South Africa as a private  with the Yeomanry Field Hospital, Bearers Company during the Boer War.  Ever since returning he had worked in the theatre while continuing as a member of, first, a Volunteer brigade and then as an assiduous member of the Territorial Army. His theatrical career had been punctuated by length periods spent at training camps – on Salisbury Plain and at coastal forts such as Shoeburyness. So we can see why the thought of war caused Kate a particular fear.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 1 August 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Saturday August 1st 1914

Very warm. Up late. Agnes, Mickie and I to the Beach 12 to 1. Work in the afternoon. Rain in the evening so I went out by myself to the Library. But I can’t read – there is too much in the papers, and all this uncertainty makes one restless.

This must be one of the shortest entries in Kate’s entire life-time of diaries. As such, as she says ,it is an indication of the impossibility of concentrating on anything other than the hitherto inconceivable fact that a European war would not now be averted. It was merely a matter of waiting to see which countries would be involved.

Kate with Mickie in happier days - at The Plat

Kate with Mickie in happier days – beside the river Thames at The Plat, Bourne End

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 31 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Friday July 31st 1914

Up late – felt very weary. Mother very upset and twitchy. Her depression is because we had had letters from the Lawyer about the old man’s affairs and it seems years ago he borrowed £500 from Aunt Agnes and since 1911 has paid no interest. It’s too appalling – no wonder she is upset. Surely we know the worst now – can there be any more of these horrors. It does indeed make life miserable. We could never hope to pay it off – and considering we are living on Aunt Agnes’ bounty what would be the good.

Mickie and I went and sat on the beach 11 to 1. Writing all the afternoon. Agnes and I out in the evening. Quite cool.

Frederick Frye, Kate’s father, had died four months ago. During his lifetime, even when he had lost his business and the family homes, he refused to discuss  financial affairs with his womenfolk. His wife and elder daughter were probably temperamentally unsuited to dealing with such matters, but Kate would have very much preferred to have known what was going on. As it was, ever since about 1900, they had been admonished to cut back on spending on dresses and on outings to the theatre – but had no awareness whatsoever of the dreadful state of the family finances. The fact that Frye had borrowed money from her sister – and had long ago abandoned all pretence of even paying interest on it – clearly was an appalling blow to Kate’s mother. It says a great deal for Agnes Gilbey’s generosity that they only found out about the loan from their lawyer. Aunt Agnes herself  had never mentioned it and had, indeed, offered her sister, Jenny Frye, a generous allowance when she was left destitute after her husband’s death.

This family gloom eclipsed for today any mention of the war situation in Kate’s diary. ‘Mickie’, her little dog, and ‘writing’ (I wonder what it was she was writing?) offered the only consolations.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 30 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Thursday July 30th 1914

The holiday that I have longed for – from the point of view of rest but know that I shall not enjoy from the point of  view of enjoyment – has come at last. It is years since I have had a holiday free from some anxiety that I can’t believe in this one much.

Up at 7. Breakfast at 8 and my man came for the luggage and got a Taxi and I left here at 9.30 – parting from the Misses Heffer in great friendliness. At Victoria it was a pandemonium. I don’t know what was the matter with the station – it couldn’t be all the holiday traffic, but I had to fight to get a Porter and to get my luggage put in the train – and we were 20 minutes late in reaching Worthing.

The journey seemed short as I had bought no end of papers to read of the Crisis – it is becoming too awfully serious for words. Home politics are clean out of it at this moment – everyone’s interest is fixed further afield. Fancy a European War at this period of our so-called civilization.

Mother met me at Worthing station looking most depressed – oh dear I am so tired of it. Agnes not well to start with. I arranged with a porter to bring my things and walked up with Mother to 10 Milton Street. ‘Dear love’ raced up the road – he was ever so pleased. Agnes does not look well. Mother is going to Wooburn on Wednesday so I am to have her room to save 2 moves. We had lunch and sat and talked. Tea at 4 then I unpacked a little bit – it’s an awful muddle being in anyone else’s room. The three of us then took a walk, supper and bed. I feel utterly tired and depressed.

Well, as Kate guessed – she – and the rest of Britain – had not picked the right year if they wanted  a quiet summer holiday untroubled by anxiety. The pandemonium at Victoria was an indication that, with the crisis in Europe mounting, people had found a sudden necessity to travel. Holiday makers from the Continent , of whom Kate had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there appeared to be many more in London than usual, were cutting short their stay in Britain and returning home.

Waving good-bye to soldiers returning to the Front, Victoria Station 1915

Waving good-bye to soldiers returning to the Front, Victoria Station 1915. All too soon scenes such as this would be the daily routine at Victoria.

Kate had been born in 1878 and during her lifetime had  known  a Europe in the main at peace. I don’t think there was a mention in her 1913 diary of the troubles in the distant Balkans – she had been far too caught up in the suffrage struggle at home.  In the days when the Fryes were still prosperous she had spent long, languid holidays at spas in Germany and Austria  – how difficult it must have been to contemplate – at least initially -that the people she had met there were likely now to be ‘the enemy’. The war that had involved her generation had been fought in far-off South Africa  – a rather more suitably exotic stage on which to mount the clash of arms.

In the meantime it was back to the gloom of family life – such of it as remained – in rented rooms in Worthing. The ‘holiday’ element merely meant that for a month or so Kate didn’t have to go into the Office each day – or canvass for ‘Votes for Women’ around London. She obviously wasn’t expecting much in the way of pleasure – but at least would be with ‘Dear love’ – aka as ‘Mickie -, her beloved Pomeranian.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 29 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

 

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Wednesday July 29th 1914

A busy morning of packing and cleaning and washing. I had ordered a chop so had my meal in – and [went]  out at 3. Took a coat and skirt to try and sell but no one would have it – so had to take it to the Office. Gladys was there – very important and bad tempered. How she snapped at me. Mrs Chapman came in and she was discussing the grave crisis of the War. The area is spreading. She is going to Austria – and Alexandra and Gladys too – to the Tyrol – but they will never get there if things develop.

Had tea and said good-bye to Miss Burnaby who is leaving the staff as she had a very good appointment elsewhere – and good-bye to Miss Simeon and Gladys. It seems so final somehow. I could wish I wasn’t going back. I have grown so sick of the work. In saying good-bye to Gladys she said to me ‘Please don’t make a speech’ in such a rude, aggressive manner. I tried to turn it off by saying if I were doing so it was because I had had so much practice lately, and she said ‘Oh, Yes. Mr McKillop has been in today singing your praises – saying how well you speak that you ought to be made to speak, and what a splendid organiser you are, and what a wonderful person altogether.’ So I suppose that was the trouble. I got my salary and holiday cheque and made off.

Bus to Whiteleys and shopped, tried to get rid of coat and skirt – bus to Oxford Street and strolled all round the British Museum as I remembered a shop buying off me once. No good – so I enjoyed the curio and picture shops. Walked down to the Strand – had a vile meal at Slaters there – walked to Trafalgar Square and got my 24 Pimlico bus back at 9 o’clock. I wonder when I shall stroll about London again. Finished my packing and then to bed.

How Kate must have disliked lugging an old coat and skirt around London all day – in the vain hope of selling them for a shilling or two. Especially having listened to others in the Office making plans for the kind of continental holiday she had once enjoyed – and never would again.

Kate had already had considerable experience of selling garments belonging to members of her family to a variety of ‘old clo” women – usually around Kensington – as well as jewellery – and even her parents’ old false teeth – so I imagine she had become rather inured to the associated humiliation. By ‘strolled around the British Museum’ she means, of course, the streets around the BM, rather than the Museum itself. Bloomsbury was then a centre for curio shops, second-hand bookshops and picture dealers and picture framers. It still is, to a certain extent, if one blanks out the tatty souvenir shops.

And the number 24 is still the bus that runs from Trafalgar Square to Pimlico.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 28 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Tuesday July 28th 1914

Jobs of writing and tidying. Out at 2. Lunch at Slaters. Then to Office to work until 5.30. Bus to Victoria – shopping on my way back and a little unfurnished room hunting. Found some very nices ones in a respectable house in Charlwood Place. In 7.30. Meal at 8. Writing till bed at 10.30

A nondescript day – no mention of what she was reading in the newspaper of trouble in Ireland and Europe. But interesting to learn that Kate was contemplating taking an unfurnished room – something more permanent than her Claverton Street digs. All the furniture she possessed was in storage at Whiteleys. She had saved what she considered belonged to her from being auctioned the previous year when the family home, The Plat, and all its contents went under the hammer. In her diary she lovingly listed these few chairs, rugs, bookcases etc. It was little enough – but she longed to have a home of her own and her own furniture about her. Charlwood Place looks very appealing – and could almost be considered Belgravia rather than Pimlico – which would certainly have appealed to Kate. On occasion she had felt unable to reveal that she lived in Pimlico – then a rather declassé area.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary. 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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 27 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV published an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the  ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

As a lead-up to publication I shared some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Monday July 27th 1914 [Kate has been staying for the weekend at the Kennels, a house in which her aunt Agnes Gilbey was living on the Gilbey estate at Wooburn]

Breakfast 8.30. Put my things together, had a talk to Mrs Wootten on the Telephone at The Plat then with Constance walked to the Manor Farm and she showed me all over it. It is a dream of a place, and the garden is perfect. Then she saw me off by the 11 o’clock train to Paddington.

At Maidenhead Mrs Burls was seeing her daughter Olga and ‘Emma Murry’ off and they got in my carriage – she recognised me so I had to chat. I was very absorbed in the paper. Great and serious news – a terrible conflict between the Nationalist Volunteers in Dublin and the Police – 3 shot dead and many wounded. Will this mean an Election? Things seem really serious in Ireland – and then the even more serious continental news.

By underground to Victoria and bus to Claverton St. Just unpacked my things and then bust to Victoria – lunch at Slaters and met Mrs Chapman at 3 o’clock and we went to Peckham together canvassing. We kept on until about 5.30 – having the usual sort of experiences – then tea together in an ABC and I saw Mrs Chapman off. I did some more canvassing, then bought an evening paper and went into a Lyons and ate a macaroon to read it. There is going to be serious war and Russia and Germany are beginning to fall out now. Oh dear.

To the Triangle at 7.45 – and our meeting at 8. I took the Chair and Miss Hawley and Miss D’Oyly were the speakers. I got the names of 10 sympathisers and we had  a nice meeting but did not keep it going so long as ususal. I was back home at 10.15. had some supper of a kind and then to bed.

The significance of looking around the Wooburn Manor Farm lay in the fact that Aunt Agnes Gilbey, together with her unmarried daughter, Constance, and her widowed daughter, Katie Finch-Smith, were soon to move into this house on their estate – and remain there for the remainder of their lives. Olga Burls who sat with Kate in her railway carriage on the way back to London was then about 17 years old and, with the middle name ‘Gilbey’, was in some way related to the family. I can only guess that ‘Emma Murry, whose name was put in quotes by Kate,’ was a dog – unless, of course, she was a maid!

As we can see Kate was still – just – marginally more concerned about events in Ireland, which might trigger a General Election and thereby disrupt her planned holiday break,  than with war preparations in Europe. And, of course, Peckham still needed to hear the message – ‘Votes for Women’.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 26 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Sunday, 26th July 1914 [Kate is staying for the weekend at the Kennels, a house in which her aunt Agnes Gilbey was living on the Gilbey estate at Wooburn]

A cold and showery day. I had a beautiful bath and was down to breakfast. Constance of course had been to Church but as she was not ‘feeling her best’ much to her annoyance she could not go to morning service. Aunt Agnes came downstairs and said she felt better. She stayed up until after supper. We had a fire in the drawing-room it was so chilly.

I wrote letters and chatted all the morning. Gilbert, Edith and their 3 daughters came to luncheon. A most uninteresting party – really Edith is a block. She never wrote to Mother when Daddie died – or referred to it in any way. She is horrible. Gilbert brought the news that the Stock exchange was in an awful way yesterday – in a state of collapse over the War rumours. Things are so allied nowadays that I suppose Servia and Austria make a panic everywhere – in case England is drawn in too. The ‘Chalklands’ family went off about 3.

I got ready and we went for a stroll all around the garden and on the hill. The valley did look lovely – the silver thread of the Thames running through it madee me very sad too – I cried a little. Then I sat out of doors until tea was ready, and just as we had started tea Newman’s Jack [that is Jack Gilbey, son of Newman Gilbey] – now a full blown Lieutenant and one of his younger brothers Frank arrived on a Motor Cycle. He has ridden from Aldershot and fetched his brother from Beaumont [Jesuit boarding school then at Old Windsor, Berkshire]  and came on to tea with his grandmother. They are most fascinating boys – Jack is a dear and so amusing. How well I remember the 3 in the old days Harry, Jack and Charlie. Charlie is now engaged to Lettice Watney. It seems simply absurd – she may be only a year or so older, but in type and character she seems a middle aged woman. What strange marriages they make.

After the two boys had gone Constance and I hurried off to evening service at the Parish Church. Mr Unsworth preached but was not very interesting. Back and changed for supper, when I had 2 goes of everything to make up, as I told them, for going supperless tomorrow. Bed at 10.10. They really have been more than kind and though I dreaded coming I have enjoyed myself.

The description of Constance ‘not feeling her best’ – inside Kate’s inverted commas – was probably a euphemism for ‘having her period’. In Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette  I do discuss the blight that menstruation appeared to cast over the lives of Kate’s circle – but I’ve not previously come across it as a reason for not being able to go to Morning Service. Unless, of course, when 11 o’clock came Constance was actually feeling unwell.

Gilbert and Edith Gilbey lived at ‘Chalklands’, a house at Bourne End that was subsequently owned by the writer Edgar Wallace. At this stage their family comprised three daughters (one of whom, Brenda, was to become too keen a supporter of Hitler for Kate’s liking at the beginning of the Second World War), to which a son was added in 1917.  All three of Newman Gilbey’s sons, Harry, Jack and Charlie, were fortunate enough to survive the coming war – although there were casualties among their cousins, including two of the sons of Gilbert and Newman’s sister, Agnes Shaw.

A few years earlier Lettice Watney had helped Kate organize a dance in aid of funds for the London Society for Women’s Suffrage –  in the days when Kate was still a volunteer for the Cause. Lettice was exactly a year older than Charlie Gilbey; they were married in June 1915. Lettice’s ancestry is inextricably linked, back through several generations, with the Gilbey and Gold families

Gilbey - Gold wedding

 

 

In April 1892 Kate and Agnes Frye were bridesmaids at this double Gilbey/Gold wedding . Agnes, carrying yellow roses, was among Mary’s bridesmaids – Kate was among Lizzie’s bridesmaids, who were themed with pink roses.  As Agnes remarked of a Blyth/Gold marriage in 1897  ‘Are they all going to marry each other?’ I can see that this phenomenon continues down until the present day.   Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette describes the way, for good and ill, the lives of the Frye family were intertwined with that of the Gilbeys.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 25 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

Kate

As a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing.

For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Saturday July 25th 1914

Up and packed – and put my things in order and left with a cardboard Dress Box as my luggage at 12.15. To Victoria by bus and to Praed Street by train – had some lunch at Lyons and then to Paddington for the 2 o’clock train to Wooburn. Met Mr Woodward – he knew me and came up and spoke to me – it is years since we met. He had not heard of Daddie’s death.

I felt so awful going to the old place – I just glued my eyes to the window – I couldn’t help it – when we came to Winter Hill and Cock Marsh and the river and then the train stopped on the Bridge and I saw the dear old ‘Plat’. It was a gorgeous day, but a very high wind and the river was lashing about and the trees swaying and there stood the house. It really seems utterly grotesque that it should be all as it is – that the others live in poky lodging and I exist on £2 per week in a dreary London Bedsitting room – sometimes it seems it cannot be.

I saw Pratt on Bourne End platform and some of the old porters but most of the faces were new and the riff raff on the Platform was the usual holiday season tripper crew. Then on to Wooburn where Constance met me with the Victoria and took me for a lovely drive before going to the Kennels. The country looks too fair for words – and the Harvest is very forward. Aunt Agnes and Constance alone at the Kennels – and Aunt Agnes in bed as she does not feel very well. I went up to see her and she was ever so cheery and bright. Then Constance and I went in the garden and I had a feed of fruit – then a wander through the woods – back and another chat with Aunt Agnes.

Changed for dinner and then a chat to Constance until ten and then bed. She sees less narrow than she did. Of course I could not speak of my work – that is Taboo – but I mentioned one or two facts concerning it – that if, as seems possible, we are in for a General Election I shall not get off next week for my holiday etc and there didn’t seems quite such a stiffening. But perhaps someone she respects has come out for Suffrage – or is it the Bishop of Kensington? I shall be sorry if I can’t get away for a rest – it won’t be a real holiday, not a success I feel sure cooped up with Mother and Agnes at Worthing and all the nagging that goes on between them – but I don’t feel I can go on with this work without a break. I have grown to loathe it.

I suppose if an Election comes I shall go through with it but I shall much fear a collapse – and fought on the Irish Question we shan’t get a look in – shan’t be listened to. Now there seems such European complications – Austria and Servia. Perhaps our domestic parliamentary quarrels will have to take a second place. The papers seem full of rumours of trouble here and elsewhere.

 

Bourne End Regatta 1911 - showing the railway bridge in the background and the grounds of The Plat on the left

Bourne End Regatta 1911 – showing the railway bridge in the background on which Kate’s train halted and the grounds of The Plat on the left

It is rather fitting that Kate should make her first mention of the gathering clouds over Europe – as well as the situation in Ireland – on the day on which she returns to the scene of the ‘gay and reckless’ days of her childhood and youth. When the Fryes were living in The Plat, their house beside the river Thames at Bourne End in Buckinghamshire, it had seemed inconceivable the life should not carry on along the primrose path. But here was Kate looking down on The Plat and its grounds from her train, drawn to a halt on the railway bridge over the Thames, knowing that what had once seemed impossible had happened – her family was homeless and penniless. Perhaps the knowledge that catastrophes like this could happen made her more able to realise that something might occur  to push ‘our domestic parliamentary quarrels’ into second place.

These thoughts were going through Kate’s mind as she re-entered the world she had lost – the world of the wealthy Gilbey family. For she was on her way to spend the weekend with her aunt, Agnes Gilbey, and her cousin Constance, who were living at this time at the Kennels – one of the Gilbey homes on their Wooburn estate, a short distance from Bourne End. Here life ticked on as it always had – cocooned and comfortable – fuelled by the income from the extremely successful Gilbey wine and spirits empire.

As Kate says, she knew it didn’t really do to talk about her suffrage work even with Constance, who was her own age and a friend of her youth. Although – in what were to prove the final days of the pre-war suffrage movement – Kate did think she discerned a slight broadening of Constance’s sympathy in this regard. You can see from this how outré the   idea of ‘votes for women’ could still seem to some youngish women – despite or perhaps because of – all the campaigning, militant and non-militant, of the last few years. But, whatever her views on this, Constance was throughout her life to prove a good friend to Kate.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 24 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here. KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Friday July 24th 1914 Felt rotten. Up late. Jobs and writing but practically gave myself a holiday. It was a very heavy day. I had ordered a chop to come in so ate my dinner within. Had tea and then out – but rather late as I had waited to see if we were in for  thunderstorm. Some supper at Lyons at Charing Cross – then to Covent Garden and up in the gallery to hear Charpentier’s ‘Louise’. It had already commenced but I found a seat near the door-  the Russian Opera at Drury Lane must have made a huge difference to Covent Garden. Edvina was singing as Louise. I was disappointed at first but I think it improves immensely as it goes along and the end is fine and so splendidly acted – it made one feel wrought up. It is a very elaborate opera. I heard Ruby Heye [sic – I can’t really make out this name] – Ivan’s friend – in a small part and if she was the girl I picked out she was good. Not in until 12.15.

Louise Edvina (image courtesy of Past Tense Vancouver Histories website)

Louise Edvina (image courtesy of Past Tense Vancouver Histories website)

Louise Edvina was a Canadian soprano, the first to perform in London as ‘Louise’ in Charpentier’s eponymous opera. As Kate hints, the Drury Lane Theatre season of Russian opera and ballet rather eclipsed the Covent Garden Opera House offerings. Among the wonders of the 1914 Russian season were ‘Boris Gudonov’ with Chaliapin, ‘Prince Igor’, ‘Coq-d’Or and ‘Daphnis and Chloe’. ‘Ivan’ was Ivan Phillipowski, a young pianist whom Kate had met when they shared digs in Dover in 1913. Ivan was then in his late teens – very much younger than Kate – but he appears to have been rather smitten with her – or so Kate confided to her diary. Ivan was to have a  successful musical career and in the inter-war years Kate occasionally went to his concerts. Or, at least she went when she could do so without her husband knowing. John was clearly rather jealous.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary. 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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 23 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing.

For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

‘Thursday July 23rd 1914

To Office to attend the Committee for the last time as we break up next week. It was simply awful – Alexandra Wright lost her temper before everyone and made a scene. And then Miss McGowan lost hers and was frantic and Gladys was very rude to her. I felt like walking downstairs and away, but I made myself go back and I gripped Ailie [Alexandra] by the arm and did what I could to soothe her.

Everyone left but Mrs Hartley- she is very good with everyone and we four went out to lunch at Harrods together. But it was all most sickening. Came back and worked in the office until 6 o’clock and did some packing up there. Bus to Victoria – shopped and walked down. Rested till my meal at 8 o’clock and afterwards some writing.’

Well, from my pretty extensive reading of the minutes of suffrage societies I can say that such scenes were not at all infrequent. Of course usually we can only glimpse the atmosphere in the committee room from the wording and tone of minutes of a meeting. Here we have it unglossed. This was a fight – but about what, heaven knows.

Mrs Hartley, who appears here as a peace-maker but about whom Kate can sometimes be quite sharp, has an interesting history. She was born Beatrice Julia Sichel in Timperley, Cheshire, in 1857 – daughter of Julius Sichel, a merchant and Austrian vice-consul, and his wife, Matilda Britannia (nee Lloyd).  Beatrice Sichel was orphaned after her mother died in 1872 and her father in 1874 – at Dinard. She was then adopted as her daughter by Eliza Lynn Linton, the novelist., and in 1880, at Hampstead, married Lion Hertz, who had been born in the Netherlands though a British subject. They had three children and, although I can find no record of Lion Hertz’s death in Britain, in the 1891 census Beatrice Hertz is described as a widow. By 1898 Mrs Hertz had changed/anglicized her surname – and those of her children – to ‘Hartley’. She had been hon secretary of the Hampstead branch of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage before defecting to help form the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

the_Gentle_Art_of_Cookery_coverMrs Hartley’s daughter, Olga, was co-author with Mrs Hilda Leyell of the rather influential The Gentle Art of Cookery (one of the re-issues of which I remember being delighted to receive as a Christmas present many, many years ago), was associated with her in ‘Culpeppers’, the chain of herbalist shops- as well as publishing at least a couple of novels. I’ve often wondered what cookery books Kate possessed when she had to start cooking in earnest after the end of the First World War. I wonder if the New Constitutional Society – and vegetarian – connection persuaded her to buy this book.

The war was to cast its shadow over Mrs Hartley – as Kate reveals in her diary  entry for 30 November  1918 – ‘Mrs Hartley’s son Lynn was killed a month or two back. Poor woman and that is a tragedy indeed, she was simply devoted to him. Poor Mrs Hartley’.

See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 22 July 1914

 

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing.

For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

‘Wednesday July 22nd 1914

To meet Miss Jerningham at 11 at Victoria and with her to Peckham by Train and we canvassed until 1.30 and then had lunch together at Newmans. Back as far as Victoria and I did some shopping and got in at 3.30. Tea at 4.30 after a rest.

Changed and then bus to Victoria and train to Praed Street and to see Miss Lockyer. I had telephoned to her yesterday as I have been meaning to go for weeks. It poured with rain, but cleared up just as I got there. She was very pleasant and seemed glad to see me, but she is very flithered [sic]. Told me all about the Frank Whiteley Divorce case which is to come on and the reasons for it – all very terrible but it never seemed likely to be a success. She was a horrid little woman.

Then at 7 to Pembridge Crescent to have dinner with Alexandra and Gladys. Mr Wright was in to the meal but I did not see him afterwards. Both the girls rather miserable –  the cottage or rather the Mother at Hythe does not seem a success.’

 

‘Newmans’, which may have had branches in both Peckham and Brixton, was, I think, a provisions dealer – with a shop that also incorporated a cafe. It may have been similar to the shops in the chain – Leverett & Frye – operated from the 1870s by Kate’s father. At least one of the Leverett & Frye stores – the one in Charlotte Street in London – had included a cafe.

William Whitelely 'the Universal Provider' on board the Fryes' launch on the Thames in the good.old days

William Whitelely ‘the Universal Provider’ on board the Fryes’ launch on the Thames in the good.old days( Imaage from my Kate Parry Frye collection)

Miss Lockyer had been ‘lady housekeeper’ to William Whiteley, ‘the Universal Provider’. He had been the owner of Whiteley’s department store in Westbourne Grove before he was gunned down outside his office in 1907. Kate’s father had been a  friend of Whiteley and for a time the families had been close. In their teens Kate and her sister were often paired up – at dinners and at outings to Ascot – with Frank Whiteley and his brother, Will. As she grew older, however, Kate professed to lose interest in them, thinking them too ‘shoppy’, although still enjoying the occasional whirl through London in Frank’s car. Frank had married in 1904 but in 1914 had filed for divorce, citing the cause as his wife’s misconduct with Capt Lancelot Gladwin. The settlement of the divorce case was reported in newspapers on 1 August 1914 and Ethel Whiteley and Gladwin married in October. The ‘horrid little woman’ was, of course, the transgressing Mrs Whiteley, not Miss Lockyer.

Kate had known Gladys and Alexandra Wright since 1906, when they all campaigned for the Liberals at the General Election. it was thanks to them that she was working for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. Their parents seem to have lived rather separate lives. The girls and Mrs Wright often rented houses in the Hythe area for extended periods, but I don’t think they were joined there by Mr Wright. You can read much more about Alexandra and Gladys in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

 

 

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 21 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing.

For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting  a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.

Tuesday July 21st 1914

A very close day. Up late and did lots of jobs. Out 1.30 – lunch at Slaters and then to the Office where I worked until 5.30. Walked to Hyde Park Corner, then a bus to Victoria. Shopped and walked from there.

Started writing, dinner at 8 and more writing again. It does seem strange without John. He was arrived safely at Weston.

A most uncharacteristically short diary entry. A sultry day in London, uneventful hours at the Office. I’m sure we all know days like this .Working at the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage headquarters did not involve such a variety of thrills and spills as Kate had enjoyed/endured while organizing for them in the provinces. With the outbreak of war, however, life in the NCS Office would soon be very different – with Kate playing a leading role.

But I’m glad that this evening, back in her lonely room in Claverton Street, Kate felt sufficiently energized to begin some ‘writing’. Not letters, I think – she may have been making a start on a new play.

See also  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 20 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Monday 20th July 1914

Woke up at 6 and thought of John and then went to sleep again. Called at 8. Breakfast at 9 and then slept on until 10.30 when I realised I had not breakfasted – so got up and recooked the egg and dressed and went out at 2 o’clock. Had some lunch and did some shopping – in at 3.30 – had a rest and went to sleep again.

Tea at 6 – and then off to Peckham for the open-air meeting. Self in Chair and Mrs Kerr as speaker. We finished at 10.15. Home soon after 11. We did not have quite such a big crowd as usual. I was bitterly tired.

Well, life certainly does seem dreary for Kate without John.

As yet Kate, who was a keen reader of newspapers, has not commented on events in Europe or in Ireland- and nor does she mention details of the increasingly militant WSPU campaign. For instance, on 14 July an attempt was made to burn down Cocken House, owned by Lord Durham, on 15 July the Secretary for Scotland was attacked with a dog whip, on this very Monday suffragettes interrupted a service in Perth Cathedral protesting against forcible feeding of suffragettes in Perth Prison, and on 17 July a WSPU member had attacked Thomas Carlyle’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery (see my post about the current NPG exhibition commemorating this here). It was against this background that the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage continued with its strategy of holding open-air meetings in the hope of  converting the inhabitants of south London to the idea of ‘Votes for Women’.

See also  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 19 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Sunday July 19th 1914

Slept until late. John came in early to fetch his things and then did his packing and made his arrangements and did not come until 12.30. We sent by bus to Charing Cross and had lunch at Appenrodts in the Strand.

Then a bus to Hampstead Heath. It looked very threatening and we had one shwoer, then it cleared off and we were able to wander and sit about – there were couples sitting and lying at every turn. It really is a most beautiful place. We wandered about and came to Spaniards Road so found our way to the Old Bull and Bush where we had a 1/- tea amd sat in the garden and watched people being photographed. It wasn’t very nice.

Then by Tube to Covent Garden and to the London Opera House to a meeting of the Theatrical folk called together by Mr Poel to consider the way of getting the Shakespeare Tercentenary Festival to come off in 1915 into the hands of the Profession. Stewart Headlam – very old now, was in the Chair. Mr Poel spoke, Mr Mulholland, Miss Horniman and Miss Lena Ashwell. It was a very small gathering in front. John and I were practically first in the theatre and sat in the front row – one was admitted on one’s performance card. Very few people of any note were there. It seemed strange to be figuring at a theatrical meeting again – but I always feel to belong more to that than anything and I do agree with Mr Poel that Shakespeare was an actor and wrote essentially for the stage and that we should claim him as one of us.

The meeting began at 8 and was not over until past 10. We walked to the Corner House – such a dense throng of people about the streets it was difficult to get along. I have never walked through Leicester Square before on a Sunday night – it is horrible. So as they close early Sundays we had to make a hasty meal of sandwiches. Walked to the Bus and only got one as far as Victoria and walked from there.

Said good-bye as John is due at rehearsal at 12 o’clock tomorrow at Weston-super-Mare and his cab is ordered for 6 am. He was miserable at saying good-bye. I should like to go and see him act for a week during my holiday. I mean to go if I can, but my plans never come off. Otherwise we are not due to meet until Christmas. He has signed on with the Alexander Marsh Repertory company for another year at the old salary £3 per week. It is splendid experience but if they are all as awful as he says they are he may get into some bad ways. I wonder if he can act. I have enjoyed having him here these three weeks – he is very cheery but I have often felt too tired to be nice. I have tried to give him a good time – the three weeks has slipped by.

He waited to see me upstairs and I waved from the window, and he walked backwards down the middle of the road. Then I shed a few tears. it’s all very miserable.

The Old Bull and Bush (Image courtesy of pubshistory.com website)

The Old Bull and Bush (Image courtesy of pubshistory.com website)

This really was a holiday for Kate and John -a wander on Hampstead Heath was such a typical London thing to do, but I don’t ever remember them going there before – and is fittingly poignant in retrospect as John’s farewell to peace-time London.  The garden behind the pub was dotted with tables and chairs where they sat to eat their 1/- (one shilling) tea.

William Poel, by Alfred Aaron Wolmark, 1907, Royal Shakespeare Company Collection, the artist's estate; (c) Mrs Diana S. Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

William Poel, by Alfred Aaron Wolmark, 1907, Royal Shakespeare Company Collection, the artist’s estate; (c) Mrs Diana S. Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth actually fell in 1916. This gathering of the ‘Profession’ was probably in response to a meeting held in July by ‘ a group of distinguished men’ headed by Lord Bryce, president of the British Academy. It looks as though the ‘Profession’ felt it was being excluded from the commemoration plans and wanted to make its own mark. William Poel had founded the Elizabeth Stage Society in 1895 and as an actor and theatrical manager was particularly devoted to staging Shakespeare. Kate had had several brushes with him at the beginning of her theatrical career. Stewart Headlam was a leading clergyman – who, among his many activities, was involved with the London Shakespeare League, Annie Horniman and Lena Ashwell both ran their own theatre companies.

Throughout their lives John and Kate were devoted Shakespearean – and you will be able to read about their continuing involvement with the theatre in Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and sufffragette. In the 1920s John worked with the William Bridges-Adams company at the old wooden Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and even in the mid-1950s. well into their old age,  John and Kate were still making expeditions to Stratford to see productions starring the new generation of actors – Richard Burton, Anthony Quayle, Michael Redgrave and Peggy Ashcroft.

You can read my post about the London Opera House (which was in Kingsway) and the suffragette movement here.

Presumably John’s interview with Frank Benson a couple of days earlier had come to nothing and he had decided to tour again with the Alexander Marsh Repertory Company – which specialized in Shakespearean productions. It was, as Kate said, ‘good experience’ – but it was now over 10 years since he started in the theatre.

See also  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 18 July 1914

 


On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Saturday 18 July 1914

Very tired – and struck work. Up late. John in about 12 and both went out at 12.15. Bus to Charing Cross – lunch off salad at Eustace Miles.

Then we tried to get in ‘The Belle of New York’ on John’s card – no good – so we wandered about and eventually got in ‘The Palace’ to see the Revue ‘The Passing Show’. I was so glad as I wanted to see Elsie Janis. She is clever -something quite out of the way, the real thing in talent and a beautiful dancer. The revue was funny in parts but a mad sort of affair – Arthur Playfair and Basil Hallam.

We walked to Piccadilly coming out – had tea at Lyons and then by bus to Earls Court to the Spanish Exhibition. A much commoner affair than the White City – like a Fair in parts but we enjoyed it. Had a good dinner which made us feel better and did a few side shows. The Spanish singing and dancing in the Empress Hall was too awful  – we were in fits. Stayed until just upon 12 – then a train to Victoria and walked down. Nearly one o’clock when I got in. I was very tired but not unhealthy – very different to last week and I had enjoyed the outing.

Eustace Miles’ Restaurant was the best-known vegetarian restaurant in London – see my post on the Eustace Miles Restaurant and Suffragettes. Incidentally Hallie Miles, Eustace’s wife, is one of the diarists who, with Kate, features in the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. So, as we think of Kate and John eating their salad at this restaurant 100 years ago today, we can ponder on the gossamer strands of coincidence that intertwine to place them both in a television programme in 2014.

‘The Belle of New York’ had been all the rage in the late 1890s and in her late teens Kate had loved to dance routines from the show – especially if she had an admiring audience.

song sheet cover for ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’ words by Harry B. Smith, music by Jerome D. Kern sung by Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam in Alfred Butt’s production of the revue The Passing Show, Palace Theatre, London, 20 April 1914 (photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914; published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, and T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, New York, 1914) (Image and caption courtesy of footlightNotes.tumblr.com

song sheet cover for ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’
words by Harry B. Smith, music by Jerome D. Kern
sung by Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam
in Alfred Butt’s production of the revue
The Passing Show, Palace Theatre, London, 20 April 1914
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914;
published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, and
T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, New York, 1914) (Image and caption courtesy of footlightNotes.tumblr.com)

‘The Passing Show’ had opened in April at the Palace Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. It was while playing in it that American-born Elsie Janis (1889-1956) and Basil Hallam met and fell in love.  However the War, now barely three weeks away, was soon to kill Hallam. In 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, he hurtled to his death from an observation balloon when his parachute failed. Elsie Janis worked throughout the War, entertaining British and American troops.

Poster for the Anglo-Spanish Exhibition (image courtesy of Swann Galleries, NY)

Poster for the Anglo-Spanish Exhibition (image courtesy of Swann Galleries, NY and Artvalue.com)

The Anglo-Spanish Exhibition was subtitled  ‘Sunny Spain’. A newspaper reported that ‘Spanish music and song will be a feature of the open-air entertainments’  and that ‘In the Empress Hall will be found realistic reproductions of Spanish cities, Spanish cathedrals, Spanish villages and pleasure resorts’  This was the nearest Kate was ever to come to Spain.  The Exhibition closed at midnight – so Kate and John had spent the whole evening there, staying until the very end.

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Suffrage Stories: 100 Years Ago Today – 17 July 1914: The National Portrait Gallery and Thomas Carlyle

One hundred years ago today – on 17 July 1914 – a suffragette, Margaret Gibb, who also went by the name of Ann Hunt, took a cleaver to a portrait of Thomas Carlyle that was hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. See the damaged portrait here.

Margaret Gibb was held by an attendant, charged and, on 21 July, sentenced to six months imprisonment. She was released on 27 July – presumably under the Cat and Mouse Act, having gone on hunger strike. See here for a surveillance picture of Margaret Gibb taken in the exercise yard at Holloway. On 31 August she was spotted again at the Gallery and, although the WSPU had called a halt to its campaign, was refused admission then – and in the future.

One hundred years later the NPG has  mounted al display case exhibition – in Room 31 –  showing something of the effect of WSPU militancy on the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. Margaret Gibb’s story is related and includes a comment to the effect that it was doubted that the picture’s attacker knew that Carlyle was a particular hero of Emmeline Pankhurst – an aperçu I remember making when referring to the damaged portrait in the entry on Emmeline Pankhurst’ in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide. I’d be rather thrilled if I was the originator of the comment – but I daresay others have thought of it independently. I was particularly struck by two small photographs of Mary Richardson in the display that date from 1918 and show her sitting, delicate and pretty, in a room neatly furnished with flowers and 18th-century furniture. This is an image far removed from the chopper-wielding attacker of the ‘Rokeby Venus’ – (see here for a post on Mary Richardson).

Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright, 1909 (c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright, 1909 (c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In the entrance – Room 30 – to the gallery that contains this display case the National Portrait Gallery has now hung the full-length  portrait of Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright – opposite the Brackenbury portrait of her mother – Emmeline Pankhurst.  Christabel’s portrait, in which she is wearing a green dress – apparently a favourite colour – was painted in 1909 and first shown at the WSPU Skating Rink Exhibition. It was bought by Una Duval and remained in her family before being  bequeathed recently to the NPG.

Good as it is to raise the profile of the women’s suffrage campaign – all this attention on the WSPU only highlights for me the lack of attention given to the constitutional campaigners – those who worked for sixty years without wielding cleavers. So let me take the opportunity here of repeating my mantra  – and drawing attention to my post on the subject –  Make Millicent Fawcett Visible.

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.

 

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 17 July 1914

 

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Friday July 17th 1914

John arrived unexpectedly early, before I was up, but I just let him in to hear the news – he has had a letter from Benson saying he would see him, so was off. I had received a letter from Mr Dingle saying he could not speak – so as soon as I was up I went off to the Men’s League at Westminster and saw someone there who called Mr McKillop in from an office next door, and he like a lamb said he would come to Isleworth in Mr Dingle’s place. I expected to have to rush round London.

So I walked up to the A.A. and found John just having lunch with a very pretty woman and joined them as I wanted to hear what Benson said, but it was a very short interview. John saw me to Charing Cross then went off to a meeting and I came back to Victoria and bought some food then came in and had a rest and fell asleep.

John came in at 5 and we had a meat tea and then off together, Bus to Victoria – train to Hammersmith – train to Isleworth arriving at 7.15 – at the Upper Square. There were hundreds of children ready to greet us, I got a friendly feeling and they were very good but a great nuisance. John went off to find the Lorry as it was not punctual, but he missed it and it arrived alright and I got it fixed up.

By the time the speakers, Miss Dransfield in the Chair, Mrs Merivale Mayer and Mr McKillop and Miss Fraser to help had arrived we were absolutely mobbed – and we got a huge gathering. The first Suffrage meeting of any kind which had been held in Isleworth.

Mrs Mayer as usual was very disagreeable when she arrived, but it was really such a magnificent meeting she was quite pleased at the end, and as usual she spoke splendidly and we quite got the people round.

Having settled up early well came away together – Mr McKillop left us from the train, we parted from Mrs M.M. at Hammersmith and Miss Fraser at Victoria.

John and I were starving and we went into a restaurant at Victoria. John had salmon and cucumber – at 11.15! It was a lovely day.

John Collins was ‘resting’ at the moment – as is clear from the amount of time he was able to devote this month to helping Kate with her suffrage work. He would have been very excited about the prospect of employment in Frank Benson’s Company. The A.A., where Kate surprised him lunching with ‘a very pretty women’, was the Actors’ Association, the club in Covent Garden to which they both belonged.

The Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage to whose office Kate went for help when her speaker had failed was at 136 St Stephen’s House on the Embankment. The massive building was demolished, apparently in the early 1990s. We have already met the obliging Mr McKillop, who had for some years earlier been librarian to the fledgling London School of Economics. Kate had warmed to him after he praised her public speaking.

Upper Square, Isleworth (image courtesy of Hounslow Local studies website)

Well, this must have been the site of Isleworth’s first ‘Votes for Women’ meeting – or, at least, the first of which Kate had heard tell. Presumably during her canvassing she had met with plenty of local people who would have given her this kind of information. By ‘fixing up’ the Lorry Kate meant that she decorated it with posters – inquisitive children were suffragettes’ constant companions.

Calra Merivale Mayer

You can read about Mrs Merivale Mayer in Campaigning for the Vote – suffice it to say that Kate found her a great trial and, I am sure, knew nothing of her somewhat scandalous history. If she had known she would doubtless have felt vindicated in her dislike for this most difficult of the New Constitutional Society’s speakers. But Kate gave credit where it was due and often commented, as she does here, that despite the ructions she caused Mrs Mayer was an excellent speaker.

 

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.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 17 July 1914

 

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Friday July 17th 1914

John arrived unexpectedly early, before I was up, but I just let him in to hear the news – he has had a letter from Benson saying he would see him, so was off. I had received a letter from Mr Dingle saying he could not speak – so as soon as I was up I went off to the Men’s League at Westminster and saw someone there who called Mr McKillop in from an office next door, and he like a lamb said he would come to Isleworth in Mr Dingle’s place. I expected to have to rush round London.

So I walked up to the A.A. and found John just having lunch with a very pretty woman and joined them as I wanted to hear what Benson said, but it was a very short interview. John saw me to Charing Cross then went off to a meeting and I came back to Victoria and bought some food then came in and had a rest and fell asleep.

John came in at 5 and we had a meat tea and then off together, Bus to Victoria – train to Hammersmith – train to Isleworth arriving at 7.15 – at the Upper Square. There were hundreds of children ready to greet us, I got a friendly feeling and they were very good but a great nuisance. John went off to find the Lorry as it was not punctual, but he missed it and it arrived alright and I got it fixed up.

By the time the speakers, Miss Dransfield in the Chair, Mrs Merivale Mayer and Mr McKillop and Miss Fraser to help had arrived we were absolutely mobbed – and we got a huge gathering. The first Suffrage meeting of any kind which had been held in Isleworth.

Mrs Mayer as usual was very disagreeable when she arrived, but it was really such a magnificent meeting she was quite pleased at the end, and as usual she spoke splendidly and we quite got the people round.

Having settled up early well came away together – Mr McKillop left us from the train, we parted from Mrs M.M. at Hammersmith and Miss Fraser at Victoria.

John and I were starving and we went into a restaurant at Victoria. John had salmon and cucumber – at 11.15! It was a lovely day.

John Collins was ‘resting’ at the moment – as is clear from the amount of time he was able to devote this month to helping Kate with her suffrage work. He would have been very excited about the prospect of employment in Frank Benson’s Company. The A.A., where Kate surprised him lunching with ‘a very pretty women’, was the Actors’ Association, the club in Covent Garden to which they both belonged.

The Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage to whose office Kate went for help when her speaker had failed was at 136 St Stephen’s House on the Embankment. The massive building was demolished, apparently in the early 1990s. We have already met the obliging Mr McKillop, who had for some years earlier been librarian to the fledgling London School of Economics. Kate had warmed to him after he praised her public speaking.

Upper Square, Isleworth (image courtesy of Hounslow Local studies website)

Upper Square, Isleworth (image courtesy of Hounslow Local studies website)

Well, this must have been the site of Isleworth’s first ‘Votes for Women’ meeting – or, at least, the first of which Kate had heard tell. Presumably during her canvassing she had met with plenty of local people who would have given her this kind of information. By ‘fixing up’ the Lorry Kate meant that she decorated it with posters – inquisitive children were suffragettes’ constant companions.

Calra Merivale Mayer

Clara Merivale Mayer

You can read about Mrs Merivale Mayer in Campaigning for the Vote – suffice it to say that Kate found her a great trial and, I am sure, knew nothing of her somewhat scandalous history. If she had known she would doubtless have felt vindicated in her dislike for this most difficult of the New Constitutional Society’s speakers. But Kate gave credit where it was due and often commented, as she does here, that despite the ructions she caused Mrs Mayer was an excellent speaker.

 

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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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 16 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Thursday July 16th 1914

Jobs and writing. John in in the morning. Out together at 1.30 and lunch at Slaters. Bus to the Office and John went in with a message and then joined me at the Tube and we went to Hammersmith and then train to Isleworth and we bill distributed until 6. It was very hot and we both got so tired. John was quite exhausted – says he couldn’t do my work. We got the Townsfolk – the Brewery people and the Pears soap people so did it thoroughly – 1000 handbills.

Then train to Hammersmith and just caught a nonstop train to Victoria and rushed in to change. Got in 7.45 – and was out again at 8 in my best and we went as hard as we could to the Shaftesbury Theatre to see ‘The Cinema Star’. Had Dress Circle seats. We were about 10 minutes late, but really we had enough. It is rot and there is very little real fun. It is a long time since I saw a London Musical comedy. I don’t think they improve. Miss Ward and Miss Cicely Courtneidge were the stars.

Supper at the Corner House. I felt deadly tired. All the world is now mad over prize fighting – Gunboat Smith v Carpentier. It was a sort of Mafeking night. We caught the 12.10 train from Charing Cross. Had to walk from Victoria and got in at 12.45.

 

Image courtesy of London Borough of Hounslow website

Image courtesy of London Borough of Hounslow website

Kate and John presumably stood at the Pears Soap factory gates, handing out handbills advertising the ‘Votes for Women’ meeting the New Constitutional Society was holding the next day in  Upper Square, Isleworth. The brewery they also canvassed was probably the Isleworth Brewery in St John’s Road.

”The Cinema Star’ had opened on 4 June and starred Jack Hulbert and Fay Compton as well as Cicely Courtneidge and Dorothy Ward.  The Shaftesbury Theatre was owned by Cicely Courtneidge’s father. With Harry Graham, Jack Hulbert had adapted the play from a German comic opera, ‘Die Kino-Konigin’, and it played very successfully, despite Kate’s verdict of ‘rot’, until the outbreak when anti-German sentiment resulted in its abrupt closure. Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert married in 1916.

Carpentier and Gunboat Smith (image courtesy of boxingshots.tumblr.com)

Carpentier (left) and Gunboat Smith fighting on 16 July 1914 (image courtesy of boxingshots.tumblr.com)

The American boxer, Gunboat Smith, had that evening fought the French champion, Georges Carpentier, at Olympia for the ‘White World Heavyweight Championship’. Smith was disqualified in the sixth round. Kate had good reason to describe street celebrations as ‘a sort of Mafeking night’. She had been in the Criterion Theatre on 18 May 1900 – when the relief of Mafeking was announced during an interval. By the time she left the theatre the streets of London were, as she put it, ‘alive with revelry’. You will be able to read all about Kate’s early life in the forthcoming e-book.

See also  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

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.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 15 July 1914

 



On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, living in a room at 49 Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

 Wednesday July 15th 1914

Writing in the morning. John in at 11.30. Jobs. Out 1. Lunch together at Slaters. Coming out we met one of John’s Brother Officers when he was in the Field Artillery – Mr Graham. I have not seen him since the day we met at Burnham but he remembered me instantly. ‘Why, we went yachting’, he said. He is very nice looking.

Then John saw me off at Victoria for Lordship Lane – and though we asked two officials the train dashed on and landed at Crystal Palace. I was mad. Had to wait some time to get back – then a long walk to find Mrs Melling 75 Underhill Road and the meeting was half over. Miss McGowan had organised it and I had asked some of my new Peckham People and wanted to go to see them and because the Rev Hugh [Chapman] was down to speak – but I felt I was not going to meet him and he was not there. Ill and has had to go away. Miss McGowan was in the Chair, Mrs Chapman speaking. A very fine meeting, about 50 people there, but very few would join.

It started to pour with rain, but I had my coat and flew for a train and when I got out near home it was stopping a bit.

John was watching for me and came in with me while I tidied myself. He had changed. Then bus to Charing Cross – walked to the Popular had dinner and then to the St James’s Theatre to see ‘An Ideal Husband’. George Alexander not in it, and some one else playing Phyllis Neilson Terry’s part. It was a most cruel and awful performance – vilely and atrociously produced and most of them were in fits of laughter.

As for the play I could hardly sit it out – such Anti-suffrage old fashioned twaddle – as for the last act – tosh. I rose up and tramped out before the curtain fell. If I had paid for my seat I should have fussed. We were simply prancing with disgust. I never did like Oscar Wilde, but this play is the limit. Back by bus from the usual spot.

 

John Collins had, as a very young man, fought in the Boer War and ever since, as well as being an actor, had been a member of the Territorial Army – hence Kate’s mention of a ‘Brother Officer’. It was now not long before he would be involved in another war.

The New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage was clearly concentrating a good deal of its effort at this time on wooing the inhabitants of Peckham and East Dulwich. Kate had organized an open-air meeting in the centre of Peckham a couple of days ago – today’s was what was termed a ‘drawing-room meeting’ – in the home of a sympathiser. The Rev Hugh Chapman, whom Kate was keen not to miss, was the brother-in-law of the NCS president and was the vicar of the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. Kate was somewhat enamoured of him. For full details of her past – somewhat surreal – encounters with him see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

Programme for the 1914 production of 'The Ideal Husband' (courtesy of oscarwildesociety,co.uk)

Programme for the 1914 production of ‘The Ideal Husband’ (courtesy of oscarwildesociety,co.uk)

The St James’s Theatre was in King Street, off St James’s Square, and in 1914 was owned and managed by Sir George Alexander. ‘An Ideal Husband’opened on 14 May 1914 and  closed on 24 July. The critics were rather more sympathetic to the production than was Kate. But then most were probably not suffragists! As Kate remarked, at least she – and, presumably, John – had not had to pay for their tickets. As members of the Profession they usually received complimentary tickets whenever they asked for them which, given that they were both addicted to theatre-going and  relatively impecunious, was just as well.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 14 July 1914

 


On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

KateAs a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the