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Suffrage Stories: 1911 Census: View House of Commons Talk – Vanishing For The Vote – The Suffragette Boycott

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A couple of months ago, to coincide with the publication of  Dr Jill Liddington’s latest book, Vanishing for the Vote, I was pleased to take part in a three-hander talk – with Jill and Prof Pat Thane – in the House of Commons – in which we discussed the suffragette boycott of the 1911 census. This talk was videoed and has now been uploaded to the Parliamentary YouTube channel. You can view it here.

Jill and I had together undertaken the initial research into the identities of those who had either made clear on their census forms that they were not prepared to answer the government’s questions or who had failed to be included on any census return. This work resulted in a jointly-written article in History Workshop Journal – see here to read it – and a talk I gave at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census  – which you can listen to here.  The details of 500 women protesters may be found in the Gazetteer that Jill and I compiled and which comprises the final section of Vanishing for the Vote.

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Suffrage Stories: The 1866 Suffrage Petition – And The Geyser

PetitionBack 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 1500 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.

Some of the names on the petition are well-known, but it is the unknown that I find particularly interesting. For example, Fanny Maughan of 214 Goswell Road, London EC  attracted my attention because that address is a very close to where I live. Although Fanny’s house has long been swept away to make room for a high-rise housing estate, I wanted to know how her name might have come to be on one of those petition slips.

She was born Fanny Elizabeth Seamer in Hackney in 1838, when her family was living in Down Terrace, Clapton. Her father, a hairdresser, died when she was young and her mother remarried John King, a piano maker. The ‘new’ family lived in Bishopsgate and Fanny acquired half-brothers, one of whom was named John Lovett King.   In 1863 Fanny married Benjamin Waddy Maughan in Islington and three years later signed the women’s suffrage petition.

How did Fanny Maughan come within the orbit of the petition gatherers? Well, there is a tiny possible clue in her half-brother’s middle name, from which I would guess that her step-father was connected to the circle surrounding William Lovett, chartist and artisan radical. More to the point her father-in-law, John Maughan, born into a non-conformist (Wesleyan) family, became a friend of William Lovett, an associate of George Holyoake, and a member of the London Secular Society. The men in these circle were all supportive of John Stuart Mill – and the petition – and someone must have suggested that a visit should be made to 214 Goswell Road, to request Fanny Maughan’s signature.

Although Fanny Maughan has left no discernible trace other than that signature on the petition, we have good reason to think daily of her husband. For 1n 1868 Benjamin Waddy Maughan invented the first domestic water heater that did not rely on solid fuel. His invention – which he called The Geyser – used gas to provide a constant stream of hot water.

Maughan's geyser  By 1881 he and Fanny were living at Heydon House, Quarry Road, Hastings and Benjamin was described on the census as ‘Gas Engineer Fitter, employing 28 hands’. However, by 1887, when Fanny died, the couple were back living in Islington and Benjamin had a factory at Gloucester Road in Hackney, just off Hackney Road.

Alas, all did not go well for Benjamin Maughan and the 1911 census shows him, described as ‘formerly house painter’, as an inmate of the Islington Workhouse, with a note that he had become deaf when he was 63 years old. I cannot even with certainty find a record of his death. But how interesting that the geyser, an invention that, in time, did much to unshackle women from household chores, should have been so closely associated with the 1866 women’s suffrage petition. I sincerely hope that Fanny Maughan – and the cook and the housemaid that the family were able to afford in the 1880s – were able to benefit from Benjamin’s invention.

Copyright

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.

 

Ann Dingsdale also researches the 1866 petition –  access her thesis here and her blog here

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Suffrage Stories: Five Reasons To Love Sally Heathcote Suffragette

I knew only of Mary Talbot as the author of the Costa-winning Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes when, a year ago, she got in touch, sending me PDFs of the bulk of Sally Heathcote Suffragette and asking what I thought of it.

I had no hesitation in deciding that Sally Heathcote Suffragette was a winner.

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1) Not only does the book tell the story of the militant suffrage movement with clarity and verve, but, most interestingly, approaches the narrative from an unfamiliar angle.  And I must say it is an angle that appeals to me. For Sally’s  story applauds the efforts of Frederick and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, whose work for the cause has been overshadowed by the antics of the more headline-grabbing suffragettes. By not offering any resistance to their ousting from the WSPU by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst they have, until now, been consigned to the shadows.

The Pethick Lawrences were militant up to a point – they both went to prison – but they drew the line at bombings and fire-raising. Apart from the danger involved, they could see that this level of violence would only further antagonise both government and public.

Sally Heathcote  brings to the fore the social philanthropy – and socialism – that lay at the heart of the Pethick-Lawrences’ involvement in the suffrage cause and their support for pacifism during the First World War. They  effected ‘deeds’ – running the Maison Esperance, the Esperance Club and the Green Lady Hostel- as well as publishing ‘words’ – in the shape of the paper Votes for Women. You can read more about the Pethick-Lawrences’ work after their expulsion from the WSPU here.

2) I love the accuracy of Sally Heathcote – not only of the history, but of the visuals. For instance I was very taken by Kate Charlesworth’s drawing of the interior of Lincoln’s Inn House – as in the picture in the bottom frames here.

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Below is the interior of Lincoln’s Inn House in reality – a (rather blurry) photo I took in what is now a Bill’s Restaurant last summer. I just love the fact that the detailing of the staircase railing is so right.

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I asked if either Kate or Mary had visited the building   – but no. We worked out that Bryan’s source had been this page in Votes for Women.

3) All the well-known suffrage scenes are captured brilliantly. You can see from Kate’s drawing of Christabel speaking in Trafalgar Square how her fresh-faced spontaneity had the power to entrance her audience.  And I do like the comment in the bottom right of the picture -there’s no doubt Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence’s prose was on occasion over-purpled.

 

 

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4) I love Sally because one page alone refers to two constituents of the suffrage campaign that have long appealed to me. The first is dear Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, whose life-long efforts have until recently been sadly undervalued. I remember that when  the massively long text for my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide was being copy-edited, the excellent editor did demur about the length of the entry on Mrs Elmy. However, I managed to convince him that she was really important and that back then, in 1999, very little had been written about her – so she was allowed her long entry. So I’m very pleased that Mary has taken notice of her. The postcard (and, of course, I’m very keen on real photographic postcards) shows her on Mrs Pankhurst’s platform during the 1908 Hyde Park rally. You can just see that Kate has drawn a hint of the bouquet that Mrs Elmy was carrying. Mrs E. mentioned in a letter that it was composed of ferns, purple lilies and lilies of the valley – the colours with which  Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence branded the WSPU for this grand occasion.

The second reference is to Maison Esperance – the dressmaking establishment set up by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to put her ideals into practice and provide her workers with good working conditions – such as an 8-hour day. I have always thought this a laudable and intriguing enterprise.  Alas, as Mary admits in another frame in the text, the experiment did not last long. Was the provision of good working conditions uneconomic? Or was it that the Maison’s garments did not flatter? Why did Emmeline, with her marketing skill, not get the Cara Delevingne or Alexa Chung of the day to be seen wearing them?   However, the associated girls’ club and the Green Lady Hostel at Littlehampton were successful.

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5) Finally, apart from everything else, I applaud the understated – but very pointed – message in the final frame.  Read the book – look at the pictures – and discover what this is.

 

Do have a look at Mary Talbot’s website to find out more about Sally Heathcote Suffragette  – about Mary and Bryan Talbot and Kate Charlesworth – and about associated conferences and book signings.

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Suffrage Stories: Anti-Suffrage Sneaks And Their Stealthy Stickering

Below is an item that I found in a postcard album compiled by Mrs Louisa Thomson Price, one of the leaders of the Women’s Freedom League.

Anti SuffrageMrs Thomson Price acquired this sticker at a ‘Anti-Suffrage campaign’ demonstration held on 16 July 1910 in Trafalgar Square  – during which men mingled with the crowd and stickered ‘well-known women suffragists’ with ‘Votes for Women Never’ slogans.  The Daily Telegraph, in describing the demonstration, particularly remarked on ‘the large number of suffragists and supporters of “votes for women” who were in attendance’,  commenting that ‘the militant Suffragists utilized the occasion as a great opportunity for doing propaganda work among the enemy.’

While Mrs Thomson Price declared that this stealthy stickering was ‘typical of the methods of the ‘Men’s League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage’, The Daily Telegraph reveals that ‘a most effective ending to the afternoon was the march past of the WSPU Drum and Fife Band playing ‘The Marseilles’. Well, that was certainly a more open spoiler.

This anti-suffrage demonstration was held a few days after the suffrage Conciliation Bill had passed its second reading in the House of Commons and  a week before the WSPU’s massive 23 July rally in Hyde Park.  The suffrage campaigners’ hopes were high -and the anti-suffragists were presumably just a little nervous. They need not have worried – for on the very day of the Hyde Park spectacular the prime minister, Asquith, informed Lord Lytton, chairman of the Conciliation Committee that the Conciliation Bill would progress no further than parliamentary session. It was yet another example of how difficult it was to get the political machine to change gear if those in the engine room were not minded to operate the levers.

Mrs Louisa Thomson Price (1864 -1926) was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. In 1888 she married John Sansom, a member of the executive of the NSS.From c 1886  she worked as a journalist – as a political writer, then a very unusual area for women, and drew cartoons for a radical journal, ‘Political World’. She was a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband, in 1907 she married George Thomson Price.

Louisa Thomson Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League, became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote, and was a director of Minerva Publishing, publisher of the paper.  She took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favour of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL. and £1000 to endow a Louisa Thomson Price bed at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: Words – As Well As Deeds

This article was published in the March 2003 issue of Antiquarian Book Review.

‘Deeds Not Words’ was Mrs Pankhurst’s motto. The slogan flourished in the early 20th century – it was even embroidered on a banner – a reaction to the apparently unproductive campaign for the enfranchisement of women that had already been waged for nearly 40 years.

Hammersmith deeds The debate as to whether the vote was won by the slow drip of reasoned argument or by the sharp crack of breaking glass is one that still occupies historians. Althought it is the deeds of Mrs Pankhurst’s suffragettes – the spectacle of processions, the breaking of windows, the burning of houses and churches – that has coloured the popular perception of the suffrage campaign, without the ‘words’ that had over many years shaped the idea that women had an equal right with men to citizenship, the ‘deeds’ would have been committed in a vacuum. The women’s suffrage campaign was, during its entire 62 years, underpinned by ‘Literature’ in all its guises.

Works written in support of women’s enfranchisement had little difficulty in achieving publication. The instigators of the movement were members of the articulate radical middle class and were in close contact with communicators. A tentative beginning had been made in 1851 with Harriet Taylor’s article The Enfranchisement of Women, which, shortly after her marriage to John Stuart Mill, was published anonymously in the Westminster Review ( a journal of which Mill had in the past been editor). This was followed in 1855 by a pamphlet, The Right of Women to the Elective Franchise, written by Agnes Pochin, wife of a future Liberal MP, and published by John Chapman, that ‘Publisher of Liberalisms’.

Among the names of the 1500 women who signed the suffrage petition that Mill presented to parliament in June 1866 (marking the formal beginning of the campaign), were several with connections to the publishing or bookselling trades – including  Elspet Strahan, sister of Alexander Strahan, a liberal with a zeal for social reform and the publisher of the eponymous publishing house. He had recently launched the Contemporary Review, in which he published an article on ‘female suffrage’ in March 1867, written by Lydia Becker.

Lydia Becker

Lydia Becker – with books

Based in Manchester, Lydia Becker was to be the driving force behind the 19th-century campaign. Among other signatories to the petition were Louisa Farrah, wife of a radical publisher and bookseller (282 Strand, London); Eliza Embleton, a bookseller from Leeds (Burley Street);  the wife of James Renshaw Cooper, a radical Manchester bookseller (1 Bridge Street); and the wife and daughter (both named ‘Harriet’) of Edward Truelove, radical publisher and antiquarian bookseller (2240 Strand), who had been imprisoned for publishing Robert Owen’s Physiology in Relation to Morals. (See here for an interesting blog by Dr Tony Shaw about Truelove and his grave, on which the two Harriets both appear.)

 

Edward Truelove's grave in Highgate Cemetery. Photo courtesy Dr Tony Shaw

Edward Truelove’s grave in Highgate Cemetery. Photo courtesy Dr Tony Shaw

Once the campaign had been launched, ‘words’ in support of women’s enfranchisement multiplied rapidly. The societies that had formed to promote the cause published a plethora of pamphlets – one of the first, of which 4500 copies were distributed, was a reprinting of the speech made by Mill to Parliament during the debate on the second reform bill in May 1867.

The accounts of the earliest Enfranchisement of Women Committee show that in its first year of existence over £94 was spent on printing. This was set against receipts from the sale of pamphlets of only £6 11s. Political publishing was not a profitable business. In reality, political publishers who were prepared to put their imprint on books and journals to promote the woman’s cause were not so unworldly as to risk their money. A study of the ledgers of companies, such as Trubner and H.S. King, reveals that many of the suffrage publications, including Lydia Becker’s The Women’s Suffrage Journal, were published only on a commission basis.

Under this arrangement, the author or the society undertook all the risk of publication, while the publishers merely provided the service of printing, binding and distribution, for which they gave the book their imprint, charged a fee and took a percentage of sales. Publishers’ ledgers, where they have survived, provide an interesting keyhole through which to view the suffrage campaign. Lists of payments make it possible to identify an author who published anonymously, the print order for a  book, journal or pamphlet can give us an idea of the ambition of the author or society; and the number of pulped gives a reason why so many of the items are now extremely scarce – and expensive.

The suffrage campaign appeared to have made such considerable progress in its first years that Mill, a canny businessman as well as philosopher, felt the time was ripe to publish the work that he had first drafted in the early 1860s on ‘the woman question’. As he wrote in a letter to The Times on 9 April 1869: ‘It is not specially on the Suffrage question, but on all the questions relating to women’s domestic subordination and social disabilities, all of which it discusses more fully than has been done hitherto. I think it will be useful, and all the more, it is sure to be bitterly attacked’. Mill knew full well the publicity value of controversy.

John Stuart Mill remained a hero to the more constitutionally-minded elements in the suffrage campaign

John Stuart Mill remained a hero to the more constitutionally-minded elements in the suffrage campaign

The Subjection of Women was published by Longmans in May 1869, went into a second edition in the same year, and has remained ever since a central text of the women’s movement.

Helen Blackburn, Women's Suffrage, 1902

Helen Blackburn, Women’s Suffrage, 1902

It took until 1902 for the first history of the campaign to appear. Women’s Suffrage: a record of the women’s suffrage movement in the British Isles with biographical sketches of Miss Becker was painstakingly compiled by Helen Blackburn, who had for many years worked as secretary of the Central Committee for Women’s Suffrage.

The new force that emerged in 1903, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, did not delay so long before giving itself a distinctive history. A series of articles written by Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline, as The History of the Suffrage Movement, appeared in the WSPU’s new paper, Votes for Women, starting in the first issue in October 1907 and concluding in September 1909.

Pankhurst SuffragetteThis history was, naturally, shaped to emphasise the Pankhursts’ centrality to the movement. Bibliophiles might like to note that the book that emerged from the articles, The Suffragette: the history of the women’s militant movement, was first published in America in 1911 by Sturgis & Walton and sheets where only then shipped back to Britain, where it was subsequently published by Gay & Hancock.

The publication in 1912 of Women’s Suffrage: a short history of a great movement (TC & EC Jack), written by Millicent Fawcett, did something to redress the balance. She had been involved with the campaign since its earliest days and since 1907 had been leader of those who described themselves as ‘law-abiding’ in contradistinction to the militants.

Metcalfe Woman's EffortAgnes Metcalfe’s Woman’s Effort: a chronicle of British Women’s Fifty Years Struggle for Citizenship (1865-1914), published in 1917, gives a detailed overview of the campaign, concentrating on the efforts of the militants.

 

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In 1920 Mrs Fawcett completed her history of the suffrage campaign, begun in A Short History, with another pithy summary of events that had led to the passing of the Representation of the People Act, 1918,  granting the vote to women over the age of 30.

All these books were bought (as ownership inscriptions found in them testify) by sympathisers to the cause, were part of the stock of the small lending libraries run by many of the local suffrage societies and also found their way into the public library systems and even into prison libraries. While imprisoned, suffragettes were able to read lives, such as those of Joan of Arc and Garibaldi, that they considered (by analogy) relevant to their cause – the cult of the ‘hero’ clearly appealed to those conscious of their role in history.

Daniel Maclise, John Francis Maguire

Daniel Maclise, John Francis Maguire

Alongside the polemics, the women’s suffrage campaign also provided a rich seam mined by writers of fiction. John Francis Maguire, MP for Cork and an active supporter of the woman’s cause, was the first, publishing in 1871, a year before his death, a three-decker, The Next Generation (Hurst & Blackett). The action was set in 1891, by which time the ‘Rights of Woman’ movement..was a wonderful success [and had] long since been accepted with satisfaction almost universal’. Eighty-nine women MPs sat in parliament and Mrs Bates was chancellor of the exchequer.

The following year, ‘Arthur Sketchley’ in Mrs Brown on Women’s Rights (George Routledge) worked what Maguire had correctly identified as a ‘fruitful theme’, and demonstrated that his comic heroine, Martha Brown, had already got the measure of ‘women’s sufferages’. Mrs Brown surveys her first suffrage meeting: ‘Why, surely no Members of Parlyment aint a-coming to sich a ‘ole as this; for I’d ‘eard Miss Snapley a-braggin’ as Professor Fairplay were a-goin’ to take up the question in the chair, along with a old lady in the name of Mill, and a good many more as all ‘oped to be in Parlyment afore they died.’

The subject also, of course, lent itself to melodrama as well as to comedy. Emily Spender published in 1871 a novel, Restored (Hurst & Blackett, 1871) dedicated to the leader of the Bath society for women’s suffrage, of which she herself was an active member. In the novel a wicked husband, repossessing his young wife, declaims ‘If you had read your Bible a bit more, and John Stuart Mill, a little less, you would have been a better woman, Frederica.’ [Incidentally Emily Spender, the great-aunt of Sir Stephen Spender, spent her later years in Italyand was the model for E.M. Forster’s ‘Miss Lavish’ in Room with a View.]

Throughout the 19th century, a stream of novels used support for, or antipathy to, the suffrage cause as a shorthand by which to delineate characters or to put plot machinery into gear. An indication that the campaign was losing its momentum at the end of the century may be surmised from the fact that between 1900 and 1906 no ‘suffrage’ novels were published.

Robins, The Convert. Photo courtesy of Lorne Bair

Robins, The Convert. Photo courtesy of Lorne Bair (click here to find a 1st US ed for sale)

However, in 1907, the year after the WSPU took its campaign to London, three novels appeared. The most famous of these is The Convert (Methuen) written by Elizabeth Robins, who was a keen supporter of the WSPU and based her scenes and personalities on activities of which she had been an eyewitness. Describing a suffrage rally in Trafalgar Square she drummed home the argument for the existence of the WSPU:

‘You’re in too big a hurry’, someone shouted, ‘All the Liberals want is a little time.’

‘Time! You seem not to know that the first petition in favour of giving us the Franchise was signed in 1866…We must try some other way. How did you working men get the suffrage?, we asked ourselves. Well, we turned to the records and we say. We don’t want to follow such a violent example. We would much rather not – but if that’s the only way we can make the country see we’re in earnest – we are prepared to show them.’

The Convert was in fact Elizabeth Robins’ novelisation of her play Votes for Women!,  written during the autumn of 1906 and  first staged at the Royal Court Theatre in April 1907. For Kate Parry Frye’s description of a visit to see the play on 16 April 1907 click here.

Elizabeth Robins, as author of 'Votes for Women!' featured on a card in 'The Game of the Suffragette'

Elizabeth Robins, as author of ‘Votes for Women!’, featured on a card in ‘The Game of the Suffragette’

In the years that followed, the real-life activities of the suffragettes were reflected by the derring-do of their fictional equivalents in a steady stream of novels. Novelists could now take their middle-class readers into places they might not previously have sought to enter – even the prison cell – and were given legitimate reason to describe the indignities that might be wrought on women’s bodies, whether through the horrors of force-feeding or at the hands of policemen in battle outside the House of Commons. A hero of one such tale (A. Mollwo, A Fair Suffragette) is racked by ‘the picture of [a] fragile, slender little body at the mercy of this yelling, excited crowd, torn first one way, then another, insulted by angry policemen, knocked under the feet of horses.’

Words describing the WSPU Deeds - from Kate Frye's diary

Words describing the WSPU Deeds – from Kate Frye’s diary

All in all, the wide range of  ‘suffrage’ literature published during the course of the campaign – histories, tracts, speeches, leaflets and novels – offers historians and collectors a fascinating lens through which to view not only the political battle in all its complication, but also the changing perception of the position of women that in the end was so necessary to the winning the vote.

 

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Women And The First World War: The Work Of Women Doctors

I wrote the following article back in 2006 and it was published in that July’s issue of Ancestors, a magazine published by The National Archives but now, alas, defunct.

The Work of Women Doctors in First World War

On 15 September 1914, six weeks after the outbreak of the First World War, Louisa Garrett Anderson, daughter of Britain’s first woman doctor, wrote to her mother, ‘This is just what you would have done at my age. I hope I shall be able to do it half as well as you would have done’. Louisa was writing in the train on her way to Paris where, with her companion, Dr Flora Murray, she proposed to set up a hospital to treat the war wounded.

Louisa Garrett Anderson (r) and Flora Murray - plus dog. (Phot0 courtesy of BBC website)

Louisa Garrett Anderson (r) and Flora Murray – plus dog. (Phot0 courtesy of BBC website)

Neither woman had any previous experience of tending male patients. Louisa was a surgeon in the New Hospital for Women, founded by her mother, and Flora was physician to the Women’s Hospital for Children that she and Louisa had established in London, in the Harrow Road.  Although it was now nearly 40 years since British women had become eligible to study and practise medicine, they were still barred from posts in most general hospitals. Their work was confined to general practice and to the hospitals that had been founded by women to treat women and children. The war, however, created new conditions and by its close around one-fifth of Britain’s women doctors had undertaken medical war work, both at home and, more particularly, abroad.

This experience was not at first gained through the conventional conduit of the Royal Army Medical Corps or through the joint committee of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John that had been formed to co-ordinate voluntary medical work. The War Office, believing it had sufficient reserves of male medical personnel, refused to employ women doctors in war zones. However in the chaos of war the relief of suffering was open to any groups – even groups of women – able to raise the necessary funds and staff.

In autumn 1914 British agencies, such as the Serbian Relief Fund, the Society of Friends, the Wounded Allies Relief Committee and the British Farmers, quickly organized medical teams for service overseas. Many of these, such as the Berry Mission and the Almeric Paget Massage Corps, were happy to include women doctors. Of other ‘free enterprises’ the Women’s Imperial Service League, the Women’s Hospital Corps, and the Scottish Women’s Hospitals employed only women doctors.

Mrs Stobart (centre) with her group in Antwerp. Sept 1914. Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum Collection

Mrs Stobart (centre) with her group in Antwerp. Sept 1914. Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum Collection

The Women’s Imperial Service League was formed by Mrs Mabel St Clair Stobart in August 1914. Unlike most women of her day Mrs Stobart already had experience of organizing a medical mission to a war zone. In 1912 she had founded the Women’s Convoy Corps, taking it to Bulgaria during the first Balkan war. Mrs Stobart’s team had comprised three women doctors, ‘for the purpose of fully demonstrating my argument that women are capable of undertaking all work in connection with the sick and wounded in warfare.’  Similarly, at the invitation of the Belgian Croix Rouge, on 22 September 1914 she took the Women’s Imperial Service League unit to Antwerp.

Florence Stoney, wearing the decorations she received for her service during the First World War

Florence Stoney, wearing the decorations she received for her service during the First World War

The doctor-in-charge was Dr Florence Stoney, who before the war had set up the x-ray department at the Royal Free and the New Hospital for Women and who brought with her the very latest in x-ray equipment.  Accompanying her were five other women, Drs Joan Watts, Helen Hanson, Mabel Ramsay (for her account of the expedition click  here) , Rose Turner and Emily Morris. As the Germans overran Belgium the women were quickly forced to evacuate.

In April 1915, after working for a time in France, the Stobart Unit set out for Serbia, under the auspices of the Serbian Relief Fund.  That country had lost many of its own doctors and was grateful for the assistance of the Unit, which by now comprised 15 women doctors. The Unit dealt with those wounded in battle but also played an important part in treating the neglected civilian population. Typhus was a major threat to the health of both soldiers and civilians and the Unit set up roadside dispensaries so that patients could be treated before they entered towns and spread infection further.  This work came to an end when Bulgaria invaded Serbia in October 1915 and the Unit was forced to retreat.

George James Rankin, Mrs M. A St Clair Stobart (Lady of the Black Horse(c) British Red Cross Museum and Archives; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation)

George James Rankin, Mrs M. A St Clair Stobart (Lady of the Black Horse. (c) British Red Cross Museum and Archives; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation)

Mrs Stobart, a feminist but fiercely independent, had not been directly involved in the pre-war suffrage campaign, unlike many of her doctors. Drs Helen Hanson and Dorothy Tudor, who went out to Bulgaria with her in 1912, were members of the Women’s Freedom League and Dr Mabel Ramsay had been secretary of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage society in Plymouth. Indeed women doctors, as a class, had been very much involved in the suffrage movement, the greater number being associated with the non-militant National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Most women could not afford to jeopardize their livelihood and professional standing by serving a prison term.

As tax payers many doctors were members of the Tax Resistance League, prepared to commit acts of civil disobedience that did not result in imprisonment.  Louisa Garrett Anderson and Flora Murray were relatively unusual in being supporters of Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union. Indeed in 1912 Louisa Garrett Anderson had joined the hunger strike when imprisoned in Holloway after taking part in a WSPU window-smashing raid. However on the outbreak of war the suffrage campaign was suspended and within eight days women doctors, both suffragettes and suffragists, were planning how best to give practical support to the war effort.

Louisa Garrett Anderson and Flora Murray wasted no energy in approaching the War Office. Instead, on 12 August, they called in person at the French Embassy, offering to raise and equip a surgical unit, comprising women doctors and trained nurses, for service in France. Within a week the French Red Cross had accepted this offer. The newly-formed Women’s Hospital Corps quickly raised £2000 and on 17 September 1914 Louisa Garrett Anderson was in Paris, writing that ‘we found Claridge’s Hotel [in which their hospital was to be housed] a gorgeous shell of marble and gilt without heating or crockery or anything practical but by dint of mild ‘militancy’ & unending push things have advanced immensely.’

Working alongside Anderson and Murray were Drs Gertrude Gazdar, Hazel Cuthbert and Grace Judge. On 27 September Louisa wrote to her mother: ‘The cases that come to us are very septic and the wounds are terrible. .. We have fitted up quite a satisfactory small operating theatre in the ‘Ladies Lavatory’ which has tiled floor and walls, good water supply & heating. I bought a simple operating table in Paris and we have arranged gas ring and fish kettles for sterilization…After years of unpopularity over the suffrage it is very exhilarating to be on top of the wave, helped and approved by everyone, except perhaps the English War Office, while all the time we are doing suffrage work – or woman’s work – in another form…I wish the whole organization for the care of the wounded…could be put into the hands of women. This is not military work. It is merely a matter of organisation, common sense, attention to detail and a determination to avoid unnecessary suffering and loss of life.’

In March 1915, after running a second hospital at Wimeueux, close to heavy fighting, the Women’s Hospital Corps received the accolade from the War Office of being put in charge of a new military hospital in London, housed in the former St Giles Workhouse in Endell Street, Covent Garden.

Endell Street Military Hospital, 1919. Courtesy  Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk

Endell Street Military Hospital, 1919. Courtesy Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk

The hospital staff comprised women only and included 15 doctors, surgeons, ophthalmic surgeons, dental surgeons, an anaesthetist, bacteriological and pathological experts and seven assistant doctors and surgeons, together with a full staff of women assistants. Members of the executive staff were ‘attached’ to the Royal Army Medical Corps, holding equal rank and receiving equal pay with Army doctors, but were not commissioned and did not wear army uniform. Flora Murray’s rank was equivalent to that of a lieutenant-colonel and Louisa Garrett Anderson’s that of a major. For a ‘Woman’s Hour’ podcast about the Endell Street Hospital click here.

The hospital proved particularly successful in gaining the loyalty of its patients. One, Private Crouch, wrote in 1915 to his father in Australia: ‘The management is good, and the surgeons take great interest in and pains with their patients. They will persevere for months with a shattered limb, before amputation, to try to save it…The whole hospital is a triumph for women, and incidentally it is a triumph for suffragettes’. The Endell Street hospital was retained in service until October 1919, longer than many other temporary military hospitals, and in its time treated over 24,000 soldiers as in-patients and nearly the same number of out-patients.

Plaque commemorating the Endell Street Military Hospital (photo courtesy of Plaques of London website)

Plaque commemorating the Endell Street Military Hospital (photo courtesy of Plaques of London website)

Louisa Garrett Anderson who, like all the other women surgeons, had had no previous experience of trauma surgery, was particularly interested in the treatment of gunshot wounds. She backed the BIPP treatment (bismuth and iodoform paraffin paste), publishing articles on the subject in the Lancet. Both Murray and Anderson were, in 1917, among the first to be appointed CBE.

Elsie Inglis, 1916

Elsie Inglis, 1916

On the very day in August 1914 that Anderson and Murray were offering their assistance at the French Embassy, Elsie Inglis, a Scottish surgeon, proposed to a meeting in Edinburgh of the Scottish Federation of the NUWSS, of which she was secretary, that help should be given to the Red Cross. Matters swiftly progressed until Inglis was able to offer a unit of 100 beds to either the War Office or the Red Cross. After receiving a sharp rebuff, she, too, approached the French Ambassador with an offer to send hospital units to France. A similar proposition was also made to the Serbian authorities.

By 19 November 1914 the first Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit For Foreign Service was in Calais, dealing with an outbreak of typhoid. The doctor in charge was Alice Hutchinson, who in 1912 had been a member of Mrs Stobart’s Women’s Convoy Corps. In fact it was for service in Serbia that this unit had been recruited and, after dealing with the Calais emergency, by spring 1915 it was able to set up a 40-tent hospital at Valjevo, 80 miles from Belgrade.

Scottish Women's Hospitals Collecting box 1914-1918. Image courtesy of National MuseumsScotland. www.nms.ac.uk

Scottish Women’s Hospitals Collecting box 1914-1918. Image courtesy of National MuseumsScotland. http://www.nms.ac.uk

On 2 December 1914 the SWH’s first French unit (that is, the first intended for France) left Waverley Station, bound for Royaumont, where it was to be housed in a 13th-century Abbey.

Norah Neilson-Gray. The Scottish Women's Hospital : In The Cloister of the Abbaye at Royaumont. Dr. Frances Ivens inspecting a French patient. Picture courtesy Imperial War Museum Women's Work Section

Norah Neilson-Gray. The Scottish Women’s Hospital : In The Cloister of the Abbaye at Royaumont. Dr. Frances Ivens inspecting a French patient. Picture courtesy Imperial War Museum Women’s Work Section

The unit comprised seven doctors, under the charge of Dr Frances Ivens.  It was one of the hospitals closest to the front line and at its peak was, with 600 beds, the largest British voluntary hospital in France.  On 25 September 1915 Miss M. Starr, a VAD at Royaumont, wrote of a casualty that had just arrived, ’One arm will simply have to be amputated, he had had poison gas, as well, and the smell was enough to knock one down, bits of bone sticking out and all gangrene. It will be marvellous if Miss Ivens saves it, but she is going to try it appears, as it is his right arm. He went to X-ray, then to Theatre, and I believe the operation was rather wonderful, but I had no time to stop and see’. Four days later she wrote,  ‘The operating theatre is a horrible hell these days, it goes on till 2 and 3 in the morning. Then there is another fitted up temporarily on one of the Ward kitchens’.

In mid-1917 Royaumont opened a satellite camp hospital even closer to the line, at Villers Cotterets. From there in May 1918 Dr Elizabeth Courtauld wrote, ‘Terrible cases came in. Between 10.30 and 3.30 or 4 am we had to amputate six thighs and one leg, mostly by the light of bits of candle, held by the orderlies, and as for me giving the anaesthetic, I did it more or less in the dark at my end of the patient’.

Between January 1915 and February 1919 the surgeons at Royaumont and Villers Cotterets performed 7204 operations. The hospital had an excellent x-ray unit, necessary for locating bullets and shrapnel before surgery, and placed great importance on bacteriological examinations.  To prevent death from gas gangrene the doctors followed the procedure developed in 1915 of extensive excision of the wound, which was then kept open, with an appropriate dressing, for later suture.

In May 1915 a second Scottish Women’s hospital was established by the ‘Girton and Newnham’ Unit, in tents, near Troyes. Its doctors included Laura Sandeman, Louise McIlroy and Isabel Emslie.

In November 1915 the unit was moved from France to Salonika, attached to the French Expeditionary Force. By April 1915 Elsie Inglis was in Serbia, in charge of another unit, the ‘London’. She worked there and in Russia until the autumn of 1917 when, with her unit, she returned, mortally ill, dying the day after arriving at Newcastle.

In Serbia the necessity was less for war surgery than for combating disease. Dysentery, typhus and malaria were rife. The SWH laboratory attached to the Girton and Newnham Unit was the best equipped in Serbia and its pathologists were kept busy.  In it Isabel Emslie carried out cerebro-spinal fluid examinations for the consultant physician to the British Army, writing later, ‘I was proud and most willing to help by giving this voluntary contribution to the British, who had not thought fit to accept our SWHs.’

Girton and Newnham Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals about to embark on board ship at Liverpool, October 1915. Photo courtesy of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Archive

Girton and Newnham Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals about to embark on board ship at Liverpool, October 1915. Photo courtesy of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Archive

In the summer of 1916 another SWH unit, named the ‘American Unit’ because it was financed by money raised in the USA, was sent to Ostrovo, 85 miles from Salonika. It was to remain in Serbia until mid-1919. Isabel Emslie became its chief medical officer in 1918.

Dr Isabel Emslie. : Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.ukCourtesy

Dr Isabel Emslie. Courtesy Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk

She later wrote, ‘I did the operating and was ably assisted by the keen young doctors, latterly arrived from home, who were able to brief me on the latest methods, for it was now four years since I had been home. I undertook major operations which I never imagined would have fallen to my lot, and I would never have had the temerity to tackle all the specialist operations if there had been anyone else capable of doing them. Looking back on a long life of medical work and service, I believe that my sojourn in Vranja was the most worth-while period of my war experience and possibly of my life’. The work of the SWH in Serbia only ended in March 1920, by which time over 60 British women doctors, some of whom were working independently of the SWH, had served in the country.

By 1916 the War Office, recognizing that the supply of male doctors was dwindling, reversed its policy and sent a contingent of 85 medical women to Malta. Others followed and, for the remainder of the war, were to be found working in Egypt, Salonika and the Sinai Desert. These women were attached to the RAMC, receiving 24s a day, the pay of a male temporary officer. However they did not have equal rights, were forced to pay for their own board and were not permitted to wear uniform.

In Britain, again in response to the shortage of male doctors, a few women were appointed to posts in military hospitals. For instance Dr Helena Wright was a surgeon at Bethnal Green Military Hospital and Dr Florence Stoney, following her work with Mrs Stobart’s Unit, was appointed to the x-ray department of the Fulham Military Hospital. In addition, as the war dragged on, new posts became available to women doctors in connection with the new women’s services, the WAAC, the WRNS, and the WRAF.

During the war the necessity of providing the country with doctors forced the medical profession to allow women access to schools previously the preserve of men. The London School of Medicine for Women also played its part, expanding rapidly until, by 1919, it was the largest medical school in the country.

In How to Become a Woman Doctor, published in 1918, the author optimistically wrote that ‘War-time appointments at large hospitals have given great satisfaction and done much to break down old conservative ideas’. However, with the return to peace, the forces of reaction regrouped. The Royal Free once again became the only London teaching hospital offering clinical instruction to women. Women doctors, even those who had gained extensive experience in all aspects of medicine during the previous four years, were relegated to the type of position that they had held before the war. Although doctors such as Louise McIlroy, Frances Ivens and Isabel Elmslie had distinguished post-war careers, these were not based on the practical experience they had gained during the war.

The war-work of women doctors was quickly forgotten. It is only in the last decade or so that detailed research on the subject has been published. This has been facilitated by war diaries and collections of letters donated to archives either by the women medical workers themselves or by their descendants. If you believe that you have in your possession any such material, do consider depositing it at one of the archives listed below.

 

Taking it further

Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ  holds books, papers and photographs relating to the work of medical women in the First World War.

The Liddle Collection, Leeds University Library, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT – is a specialist collection of primary material relating to the First World War, including papers of women doctors.

The Wellcome Library, 210 Euston Road, London NW! 2BE  holds the archive of the Medical Women’s Federation, which includes some material relating to the work of women doctors in the First World War.

The Women’s Library@ LSE – holds papers relating to Louisa Garrett Anderson, Flora Murray and the Women’s  Hospital Corps

Mitchell Library, 201 North Street, Glasgow holds the main archive of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals

 

Further Reading

Eileen Crofton, The Women of Royaumont: a Scottish women’s hospital on the Western Front (Tuckwell Press, 1997)

Monica Krippner, The Quality of Mercy: women at war, Serbia 1915-18 (David & Charles, 1980)

Leah Leneman, In the Service of Life: the story of Elsie Inglis and the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (Mercat Press, 1994)

Flora Murray, Women as Army Surgeons (Hodder & Stoughton, 1920)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: The Women’s Tax Resistance League And The Sad End Of Mrs Kineton Parkes

98 St Martin's Lane, home of the Women's Tax Resistance League

98 St Martin’s Lane, home of the Women’s Tax Resistance League

Flat 10, Talbot House, 98 St Martin’s Lane, on the borders of Covent Garden, was from 1910 the office of the Women’s Tax Resistance League and the home of Mrs Margaret Kineton Parkes (1865-1920), its indefatigable secretary. In 1889  she had married William Kineton Parkes, novelist, art historian and librarian to the Nicholson Institute in Leek, Staffordshire, built as a memorial to Richard Cobden. The couple had two sons, Gabriel and Maxwell, but by 1909, when Margaret Kineton Parkes moved to London, they appear to have separated.

TRL Talbot House 98 st Martin's Lane

 

Needless to say Mrs Kineton Parkes was not at home on the night of 2 April 1911 when the census was taken. The Women’s Tax Resistance League had been one of the societies that strongly supported the WFL/WSPU call to boycott the census and she doubtless spent the night at the Aldwych Skating Rink and the Gardenia Restaurant. Her son, Maxwell, was enumerated at the Letchworth home of Clara Lee of Norton Way, Letchworth, who was herself a census evader. Gabriel Parkes spent census night in Wandsworth at the home of a fellow agricultural student.

I suspect that Mrs Kineton Parkes was dependent on her work for the Women’s Tax Resistance League for her income. She certainly sent out frequent letters to other societies, advertising her services as a lecturer. For further information see my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide (entries under ‘Parkes, Mrs Margaret Kineton’ and’Tax Resistance League’).

Women's Tax Resistance League badge

Women’s Tax Resistance League badge

In February 1914 Maxwell Parkes set sail for Wellington, New Zealand, his occupation described on the passenger list as ‘Farming’, although he was later, in various documents, described as ‘traveller’ (as in ‘commercial traveller’) and as ‘photographer’.

In August 1914, with suffrage campaigning put aside for the duration of the war, Mrs Kineton Parkes became financial secretary to the newly founded Women’s Emergency Corps. In March 1915 she was given a cheque as a testimonial for her work for the Women’s Tax Resistance League. This was presented at a ceremony held at the home of  Miss Gertrude Eaton, who had been an active tax resister and the chairman of the meeting was Mrs Cecil Chapman, president of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

On 2 November 1917 another meeting was held by member of the Tax Resistance League at Gertrude Eaton’s home, this time to wish Margaret Kineton Parkes ‘heartiest good wishes for health, happiness and prosperity’ prior to her departure on 16 November for New Zealand, travelling out to stay with her son Maxwell near Dunedin. She left with the society the text of a history of the Tax Resistance League, which was I think published as a pamphlet in 1919.

During 1918 and 1919 Margaret Kineton Parkes travelled the length and breadth of New Zealand, lecturing on women’s war work, on the struggle for the vote in Britain, and advocating a total prohibition on the sale of alcohol in NZ. See here for her views on the latter as reported in the Wairarapa Daily Times, 8 August 1919.  You can read here her comments on the passing of theUK  Representation People Bill, as expressed to the reporter from the Otago Times, 15 February 1918.

Mrs Kineton Parkes was still lecturing at the end of November 1919 and her death on 13 May 1920 was described as ‘sudden’.

Seacliff Mental Institution, Dunedin, New Zealand

Seacliff Mental Hospital, Dunedin, New Zealand

In fact she died in the Seacliff Mental Hospital, some miles outside Dunedin, the institution in which the writer Janet Frame was many years later to be a patient. Mrs Kineton Parkes was only 55 years old; an inquest was held and the coroner’s report gave the cause of her death as ‘exhaustion from acute delirious mania’. A sad end.

 

 

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories/Suffrage Collecting: WSPU Illuminated Address

Illuminated address presented to Adelaide McCarthy

Illuminated address presented to Adelaide McCarthy

Illuminated addresses such as this were first presented to WSPU prisoners on their release from Holloway in September 1908. 

The addresses, signed by Emmeline Pankhurst, were designed by Sylvia Pankhurst and incorporate the purple, white and green colours that the WSPU had adopted three months earlier, in June 1908. The ‘angel of freedom’ device was one that Sylvia was to use on other WSPU artefacts – a neat piece of WSPU ‘branding’.

As ever, the suffrage collector needs to be on guard against modern reproductions that pass as the original. As a dealer I was once offered what appeared to be the address presented to suffragette Clara Codd. However, always rather suspicious, my research quickly revealed it to be a copy sold, entirely legitimately, by Bath-in-Time (the gallery of Bath Central Library). I was told that the unfortunate person offering the address to me had bought it as the real thing from a (presumably) rather unscrupulous source. Caveat Emptor.

 

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Suffrage Stories:’We Believe That The Rousing Of The Irish People Had Best Be Left To Irish Women’

‘We believe that the rousing of the Irish people on this matter had best be left to Irish women’

This article is the text of a paper that I gave in 2003 at a conference held at Portsmouth University to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the WSPU. Eleven years later we are now approaching the 100th anniversary, on 25 May, of the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, the campaign for which had been so closely entwined with that for ‘Votes for Women’. In the circumstances it seems timely to remind my readers of the important – and complicated – part that Irish politics played in the women’s suffrage campaign.

In 2003 I had decided to devote the paper to the Irish suffrage campaign because, although the Irish Question and the British government’s attempts to deal with it, had a profound philosophical and a practical impact on the WSPU campaign both in Ireland and in mainland Britain, it is not a subject that is often given much consideration at English conferences.

The title of the paper – ‘We believe that the rousing of the Irish people on this matter had best be left to Irish women’ – is taken from an article published in The Irish Citizen of 14 September 1912. This was a Dublin suffrage paper, founded a few months earlier with financial help from the Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrences, still (if only for another month) leaders of the WSPU. The article was written either by Hanna Sheey Skeffington, the leader of the militant Irish suffrage society, the Irish Women’s Franchise League, or by her husband, Francis, the paper’s editor, and was prompted by what the paper described as the first public meeting held by the WSPU in Dublin, at which the speakers had included Sylvia Pankhurst and Georgina Brackenbury.

The article continued: ‘Many will regret that the campaign for women’s suffrage in Ireland was not left entirely in the hands of the Irish suffrage societies, which are sufficiently numerous and sufficiently varied in their appeal. But the advent of the WSPU might have been predicted from the moment when Mr Redmond and his party decided to import Mr Asquith into Ireland. That some of the English militants would follow their chief enemy might have been foreseen. We believe however that the rousing of the Irish people on this matter had best be left to Irish women, who understand the psychology of their countrymen as the ablest English advocate never can.’

I will take these several sentences as my text and use them to analyse the Irish suffrage campaign and the WSPU’s part in it.

‘Many will regret that the campaign for women’s suffrage in Ireland was not left entirely in the hands of the Irish suffrage societies, which are sufficiently numerous and sufficiently varied in their appeal’. And indeed they were. The suffrage campaign had begun in the 1860s in Ireland as it had in England, although its early development had been even more hesitant in Dublin than it had in London. The Irish suffragists were initially drawn from the Quaker circles that had been long involved in radical causes, such as the anti-slavery campaign. However those women in Ireland who signed the 1866 petition were not sufficiently motivated to found a suffrage society immediately.

Thomas and Anna Maria Haslam, portrait by Sarah Cecilia Harrison, courtesy of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

Thomas and Anna Maria Haslam, portrait by Sarah Cecilia Harrison, courtesy of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

There was a Dublin committee between 1870 and 1873 but the campaign stagnated until 1876 when a new Dublin society was founded by Anna Maria and Thomas Haslam. This Dublin society was, although in its way radical for Ireland, not particularly effective.

In 1871 a Belfast committee had been formed by the formidable Isabella Tod; a close ally of Lydia Becker – and, like the Haslams, a staunch Unionist.

Isabella TodThis society certainly gives the impression of having more drive than that in Dublin and Isabella Tod maintained closer contact with Manchester and London than did Mrs Haslam.  Although both societies were affiliated to the Central Committee in London, they suffered from being at a distance from the political engine. There was also the feeling that the Irish suffragists were doubly at a disadvantage, not only, as all women, were they lobbying for entry into a political system which, by its very nature, was the only source of the entrance ticket, but for entry to the political machine of what was considered by many in Ireland to be that of a colonial power.  Perhaps as a result, the suffrage societies in both the south and the north concentrated their efforts in the 1880s and 1890s on local emancipation, campaigning to gain for women the municipal franchise – because Ireland had not been included in the acts that enfranchised single and widowed women ratepayers in England and Scotland in 1869 and 1882 respectively. During the course of this campaign Mrs Haslam strongly objected to what she saw as English interference. However, reading between the lines, the London societies saw her work as rather ineffective and actually criticized one of her pamphlets as inaccurate. Between 1886 and 1895 the Dublin suffrage society appears to have published no reports and held no public meetings, considering that the state of the country was unfavourable to such activity. However, in 1897 both the Dublin and Belfast societies joined the new National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and from 1903 both were drawn into the revived suffragist campaign.

In Dublin, as in Manchester and London, this revived campaign led to the formation of a new type of suffrage society, the Irish Women’s Franchise League, founded in 1908 by women who were Irish Nationalists, but who were prepared, until the vote was achieved, to put the women’s cause before that of Home Rule.

Margaret Cousins

Margaret Cousins

The IWFL established links with the WSPU and in 1909 Margaret Cousins, one of its co-founders, spent three weeks in Clement’s Inn learning tactics directly from the WSPU. Ireland had long had a symbolic importance to the Pankhurst family as it had to all radicals. In her autobiography Emmeline Pankhurst particularly singles out the effect that the fate of the Manchester Martyrs had on her (they were hanged in the 1860s for the accidental killing of a policeman during a Fenian riot),  noting that it was this that brought home to her that ‘justice and judgment lie often a world apart’. According to Sylvia Pankhurst, her father was ‘the first English Parliamentary candidate to pledge himself to Irish self-government when he stood at a by-election in Manchester in 1883’. Christabel made her first visit to Dublin in March 1910, returning again in October 1911 and Mrs Pankhurst toured Ireland in October 1910, returning again in April 1911. The Irish Citizen was, therefore, not entirely correct in calling the WSPU’s 1912 meeting its first in Dublin. While in Cork in October 1910 Mrs Pankhurst had inaugurated a new branch of the IWFL, indicating how closely at that stage the two societies were working. As for the north, Mary Gawthorpe had visited Belfast at about the time of Christabel’s first visit to Dublin.

Ireland did certainly support a variety of suffrage societies. Whereas in England, Scotland and Wales new local societies, whether militant or constitutional, tended to be formed as branches of one of the main national societies, in Ireland many localities sponsored their own individual society. Besides Mrs Haslam’s Dublin-based society, now known as the  Irish Women’s Suffrage and Local Government Association,  and the IWFL, there was, for instance, the Munster Franchise League in co Cork, the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Belfast and many separate, small suffrage societies in individual towns.

Indeed, by 1911 the proliferation of societies was such that it was considered sensible to found a Federation of Irishwomen’s Suffrage Societies. The Federation soon developed a synergy of its own, leading quickly to the formation of the Irish Reform League based in Dublin, and of a new Belfast Suffrage Society. Neither the IWSS, nor the IWSLGA nor the Irish Women’s Franchise League joined the Federation. The effect of the suffrage lobby in Ireland, small as it was, was further diluted by these divisions.

The Irish suffrage campaign had to all intents and purposes been left for 45 years in the hands of Irish societies – which, battling against even greater cultural and political difficulties than had the women of mainland Britain, eventually achieved the municipal franchise for women but could hardly have been said to have roused the Irish people.

‘But the advent of the WSPU might have been predicted from the moment when Mr Redmond and his party decided to import Mr Asquith into Ireland.’

At a parliamentary level, from the 1880s to the outbreak of the First World War, there was a synergy between the woman’s movement and the Irish movements – both unionist and nationalist. All were pressure groups attempting to influence the political machine – that is parliament and, increasingly, the cabinet – and each development in the campaign of one affected in some way that of the other. The Irish Question, in parliamentary arithmetical terms, was at this time crucial to the possibility of the suffrage campaign’s success. After the second 1910 election, in December, the 84 members of the Irish parliamentary party, led by John Redmond, held the balance of power in the House of Commons and, on the understanding that a Home Rule bill would be introduced, agreed to support the Liberal party. Now, indeed, Irish women suffragists for a time considered that they were in a strong position, with two chances of success. The first as a result of any national measure introduced by the imperial parliament – that is the Liberal government backed by the Irish party – and as Irishwomen, under a Home Rule bill. However it became clear that the Irish party – as a party – was not interested in supporting women’s suffrage. Irish Nationalist MPs, whatever their personal feelings, were not prepared to load, as they saw it, a Home Rule bill with another controversial question. Unwilling to jeopardize any Home Rule bill by risking their influence with Asquith, who, it was rumoured, threatened to resign if the Conciliation bill was passed. they reneged a second time in 1912.

Until then, close as the IWFL was to the WSPU, it had not been able to imitate the WSPU’s electoral tactic of urging those who did have a vote to use it in such a way as to prevent a government candidate from being elected, the tactic that in Britain was summed up in the slogan, ‘Keep the Liberal Out’. Ironically, this was a technique which had been first used by the Irish nationalists under Parnell in the 1880s and which the Pankhursts adopted early in the WSPU campaign.  Between 1908 and 1911 the IWFL’s task, as Margaret Cousins put it, was, rather, ‘to see that votes for women was incorporated in the Home Rule Bill for which Ireland was fighting.’  In early 1913, when it had became clear that neither the Liberal party nor the Irish Parliamentary party was prepared to include women in any Home Rule bill, the IWFL did adopt a policy of opposing the election of nationalist candidates. The conflict between nationalism and suffragism haunted the Irish suffrage campaign.

In June 1912, despite a large demonstration by Irishwomen in Dublin, the government ignored a resolution from the IWFL to amend the Home Rule bill by adopting as the basis for its franchise the local government register – which would, of course, have given many women the vote. This marked a watershed in the Irish campaign. The IWFL now adopted not only the WSPU’s by-election policy but also its militant tactics – Hanna Sheey Skeffington and others broke windows of government buildings in Dublin. For a previous post about two of these other women – Rosalind and Leila Cadiz (aka as ‘the Murphy sisters’) – and the pendants which they received to commemorate their efforts see here.

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington

Hanna Sheehy Skeffington

Although several of these women had already been imprisoned in England after taking part in WSPU- organized deputations or window-smashing raids, this was the first time that acts of physical suffrage militancy had been carried out in Ireland. Four of the women received prison sentences. In court, from the dock, Hanna Sheey Skeffington shouted, ‘Remember Mr Asquith is coming in July’. Irish nationalists considered this visit to be an indication of the government’s imprimatur on the Home Rule bill and the popular press was clear that any demonstrations by suffragettes would be classed as anti-nationalist, and therefore ‘English’. You can see how complicated Irish political priorities and the perception of them could be.

‘That some of the English militants would follow their enemy might have been foreseen.’  Indeed the WSPU campaign was now brought, with a vengeance, to Ireland. The Prime Minister’s speech on the second reading of the Reform bill early in July made clear that his government had no intention of extending the franchise to women. Thus, within a few weeks, the suffrage campaigners had seen both the chances of enfranchisement that they had been nurturing– whether under the Home Rule bill (which had particularly interested the Irish suffragettes) and the Reform bill (of interest to all women) swept aside.  Three WSPU members, Mary Leigh, Jennie Baines and Gladys Evans (the first two had been members of the WSPU since the earliest days) followed Asquith to Dublin. It later became clear that they had done this of their own initiative. Emmeline was staying with Christabel in Paris at the time; but both, of course, gave their firm support to the expedition after the event.

On 18 July Mary Leigh threw a hatchet, to which a suffrage message was attached, into the carriage in which Asquith was travelling through the streets of Dublin with John Redmond and that evening Gladys Evans attempted to set fire to the Theatre Royal, in which he was to speak (for more about Gladys Evans see here). There had hitherto been no attempts at suffrage arson in Ireland.  Members of the IWFL  harried Asquith, but in no such spectacular manner and the 27 July issue of The Irish Citizen, while full of their activities, does not directly report the WSPU attacks, except to print a letter from Margaret Cousins stating that ‘the IWFL had no connection with or knowledge of the action of English suffragettes in Dublin’.

Although distancing themselves from the WSPU, disliking what they saw as English interference in Ireland, the IWFL prisoners did embark on a sympathetic hunger strike with the WSPU prisoners, who had received lengthy jail sentences with penal servitude.. The Irishwomen, however, were not forcibly fed, this procedure being only carried out in Irish prisons on English prisoners. Jennie Baines and Mary Leigh were both released, ill, the former after 12 days, the latter after five weeks; Gladys Evans endured the forcible feeding until 3 October, when she was released into the care of a member of the IWFL This incursion into the south of Ireland by WSPU militants was, however, a ‘one-off’,  –  as the Irish Citizen had suggested the opportunity of harrassing Asquith on Irish soil had been too good to miss.

We believe, however, that the rousing of the Irish people in this matter had best be left to Irish women, who understand the psychology of their countrymen as the ablest English advocate never can.

The first acts of suffrage militancy in Ulster were committed by Irish suffragettes on 16 November 1912 when windows were broken in the GPO in Belfast as a protest against the defeat of Philip Snowden’s amendment to include women in the third Home Rule Bill. Two IWFL members had, for the same reason, broken windows in the Custom House in Dublin. Two months later, on 28 January 1913, when it seemed likely that the second reading of this Home Rule bill would pass without an amendment including women in the franchise, Margaret Cousins and others again attacked the windows of a government building, this time of Dublin Castle.  The women were each sentenced to a month’s imprisonment and went on hunger strike until they were treated as political prisoners. It is noteworthy that all acts of suffrage militancy in Ireland by Irish suffragettes up to this time were reaction to the continued failure to include women in Home Rule bills rather than in the Reform bills with which women in the rest of Britain were concerned.

By the autumn of 1913 with the Home Rule bill assured, although women were still excluded from it, the focus of the Irish suffrage campaign moved from Dublin to Ulster, reflecting the growing importance of that arena in national politics. This stage of the campaign was, however, to be, in the main, waged by the WSPU. The IWFL appears to have blamed the various Ulster suffrage societies for not working sufficiently hard and thus allowing a vacuum into which the WSPU could slip. In early September 1913 Sir Edward Carson announced that if a Home Rule bill were passed, he would set up a separate provisional government in Ulster. Moreover, a letter, dated 10 September, from Sir Edward to the secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council intimated that the draft articles of this Provisional Government would include the franchise for women on the basis of the Local Government Register. Needless to say Carson had never before been considered as a politician sympathetic to the suffrage cause – and suffrage campaigners, while on the surface accepting it as something of a coup, certainly wished to see this statement clarified. The WSPU – with Dorothy Evans as its organiser -had arrived as a formal presence in Ulster very shortly before and their aim over the next few months was to get Carson to state in public that women would be enfranchised under any Ulster government. This he never did.

If the arrival of the WSPU did not put much fear into Carson it certainly threw the Belfast-based Irish Women’s Suffrage Society into confusion. Shortly after the arrival of the WSPU in Belfast, the IWSS passed a resolution to declare itself in favour of militancy – if you couldn’t beat them, join them. Matters became even more complicated as individual members of the older societies changed allegiance. In fact by 20 April 1914 so many members of the IWSS had joined the Belfast branch of the WSPU that the former society collapsed. The Irish Citizen continued with its objection to an English society bringing its campaign to Ireland.   However, although the WSPU tactics might be classed as ‘English’ they were now being carried out by Irishwomen. Despite this, the Irish Women’s Suffrage Federation, in completely disassociating all its constituent societies from any involvement in militancy, stated ‘The Northern Committee of the IWSF wish to place on record their disapproval of the policy of the WSPU in Ulster, and to explain the fact that the WSPU is an English association, and has no connection with any Irish suffrage organisation’.

It is clear why the WSPU thought Ulster a particularly suitable arena in which to employ its militant tactics. The suffragette campaign in the whole of the United Kingdom in that year before the outbreak of the First World War was set against the background of increasing militarism in Ulster. The Ulster Volunteer Force had been formed in January 1913, an illegal organisation, but with strong links to both the Orange Order and the British army. In retaliation nationalist Ireland raised the Irish Volunteers. In her editorials in The Suffragette, Christabel Pankhurst drew legitimacy for her campaign of terrorism from the success that threats of violence by the UVF were achieving in Ulster. The WSPU, like the UVF, and unlike the IWFL in Dublin, did not confine itself to threats against government property only. Houses, bowling pavilions, pillar boxes and railway stations were fired, culminating on 31 July 1914 in an explosion in Lisburn Cathedral, after which Dorothy Evans and three other women were arrested, imprisoned and went on hunger strike, only being released after the outbreak of war.

There was never much WSPU action in the south of Ireland, although branches were set up in Dublin and in Cork, the latter by Geraldine Lennox, then on the run as a ‘mouse , and Flora Drummond spoke in Cork and Dublin in February 1914.  Nor, it must be said, was there much activity at all in 1914 from the IWFL. The political agenda was, of course, now concentrated on Ulster but it has also been suggested that the IWFL kept a low profile because it did not wish to be associated with what was perceived to be the ‘English’ campaign in the north. The WSPU was not particularly interested in rousing the Irish people, but was more intent on using and increasing the turmoil in Ulster as a means of putting pressure on the political machine at Westminster. As Christabel later put it in Unshackled, ‘It was not that we were concerned to question or assert the moral justification of Ulster’s militancy, actual or prospective, but we did claim the same immunity from prosecution and imprisonment for militant women whose grievance was at least equal and whose militancy was far milder’

The WSPU intervention in Ireland had the effect, then, of diminishing, for a year from September 1913, the campaign that had been waged by the Irish suffrage societies. We have no way of knowing whether the militant campaign might have had some positive effect – it was, of course, called off in August 1914. Dorothy Evans then returned to England – although she remained a close friend and co-worker of Hanna Sheey-Skeffington. That militancy – Unionist militancy, that is – could have an effect on the Asquith government was made clear when the Home Rule bill – which received the Royal Assent on 18 August 1914 – excluded Ulster, although its enaction was postponed until the end of the war.

Throughout the years of war the Irish suffrage societies carried on the campaign in their various ways. They found it was to be no easier to wrest the vote from Irish politicians than it had been from the English. In fact the Irish parliamentary party tried hard to prevent the extension to Ireland of the 1918 Representation of the People Bill, by which the Westminster parliament gave the vote to women over 30.

The Sheey Skeffingtons were probably correct, in principle, in stating that the rousing of the Irish was best left to Irishwomen.  However, there is no escaping the fact that in the years before the First World War, because there were so many Irish suffrage societies that, because of the divisive nature of Irish society in general, were unable to pool their efforts, little success had been achieved in influencing either the Irish public or Irish politicians to give women the vote. The WSPU was not interested in the nuances of the Irish Question, but saw Ireland – specifically Ulster – as another battle ground on which to engage with the enemy. Christabel Pankhurst used the parallels of the Unionist and the suffragette campaigns to emphasise the injustice being done to women by the Asquith government.

Perhaps the incursion from England gave the Irish societies food for thought. It is certainly true that during the war years the Irish societies managed a greater degree of co-operation than heretofore.  For the December 1918 general election the IWFL co-operated with Sinn Fein to run two women candidates, Winifred Carney in Belfast – who was not successful – and Constance Markievicz, in Dublin, who, famously, was – the first woman MP elected to the British parliament, although she did not take her seat at Westminster.

Constance Markievicz, police photo on her arrest after the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916.

Constance Markievicz, police photo on her arrest after the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916.

In 1922, six years before women in Britain, Irishwomen over 21 were granted the vote, albeit reluctantly, by the Irish parliament. In the final stage of the Irish suffrage campaign it was most certainly the effort of Irishwomen, still led by Hanna Sheey Skeffington, that achieved the final victory.

 

Further reading: E. Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland: a regional survey, Routledge, 2008 (paperback).

 

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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: Millicent Fawcett’s Bookplate

Here is Millicent Fawcett’s bookplate


MGF bookplate
Rather lovely, I think.

New Dawn, Aesthetic Lilies, Aesthetic Dress (not that Millicent, unlike Rhoda and Agnes Garrett, ever favoured such a style in reality) and the tools of her trade, the Scales of Justice, Books, Pen and Ink

Artist unknown

For those who have not yet seen Millicent at work at her desk in the drawing room of 2 Gower Street, click here

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Mariana Starke: With Thanks To Mrs Crespigny From ‘The Poor Soldier’, ‘The British Orphan’ And ‘The Widow of Malabar’

The period 1789-91 was a busy and important time for Mariana Starke, who was still only in her mid-twenties. For her very public success she owed everything to the patronage of Mrs Crespigny, for more about whom see Mariana Starke: The Mystery of the Bodleian Diary.

Mrs Crespigny, courtesy of Kelmarsh Hall and the Public Catalogue Foundation

Mrs Crespigny, courtesy of Kelmarsh Hall and the Public Catalogue Foundation

In March 1789 Mariana’s long poem, The Poor Soldier, An American Tale was published by J. Walter (who in 1787 had published her first work, A Theatre of Education). The work was advertised as ‘founded on a recent fact and inscribed to Mrs Crespigny’. The poem tells how Mrs Crespigny,  travelling in her coach across Westminster Bridge, stopped to give alms  to a beggar. He turned out to be an American Loyalist, Charles Short, who had lost his home, wife, children and leg during the American Revolution. Remaining loyal to the Crown, he had resisted the call to join the Congress forces and had ‘left his happy Cot, his fair domains/ To war for thee on Carolina’s Plains’.

The poem tells how Mrs Crespigny intervened to grant him his heart’s desire, a place, as a veteran soldier, in the Chelsea Hospital. Alas, though, the offer came too late for the Poor Soldier, who died before he could take up his place. Although Mariana was herself a true-blood Royalist/Loyalist, and those in America fighting to free themselves from Britain were of the planter class, I wonder if her knowledge of her great-grandfather’s involvement with Virginia – as the owner of tobacco plantations, added to her interest in this story. The poem proved sufficiently popular for the publisher to issue a second edition in July 1789.

A couple of weeks after the first publication of The Poor Soldier,  The Times reported on 7 April that ‘At Mrs Crespigny’s temporary theatre at her house at Camberwell Miss Starke and Mr Starke  took part in The Tragedy of Douglas.’ The performance had, in fact, taken place on 4 April with a cast that included Mrs Crespigny, her son, William, Mariana Starke, her brother, Richard, and a Mr Bayley. The play had been written by John Home in the 1750s but for this production Mrs Crespigny had given it a new, happy, ending. On 30 April the Public Advertiser reprinted her new Prologue, in which she warned that ”If in our play some alter’d scenes you find/They owe their merit to a female mind’.

Two months later, in July (as described in a previous post), ‘The Sword of Peace’,  was back on stage at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and the text was published by J. Debrett..

In its issue dated 29 December 1789 The World mentioned that Mrs Crespigny was planning another theatrical and tried to dispel the rumour that the new play was ‘by a lady’. The report also mentioned that Mr Starke was’exerting his pencil’ and Miss C. Fanshaw had adorned the theatre with a Tragic and a Comic Muse ‘painted in a novel and very superior stile’. ‘Mr Starke’ was surely Mariana’s brother Richard and ‘Miss C. Fanshaw’  Catherine Fanshawe (1765-1834),who is now better known as a poet than a scenic designer, but see here for an example of her art . The Starkes had been very friendly for many years with the Fanshawes, who were Surrey neighbours.

This play, The British Orphan, opened at Mrs Crespigny’s Camberwell theatre on 7 April 1790.The Public Advertiser of 10 April reported that ‘The author of The British Orphan was not announced but he is certainly of the modern school. The principal incident of the piece is founded on the idea of suspended animation..”The dresses were extremely splendid and the scenery was characteristic and painted with great spirit’. For all the attempts to dissemble and pass the author off as a man, it was Mariana who was this author ‘of the modern school’; the play, alas, was never published and no text survives. The cast included Mrs Crespigny, Richard Starke, Mr Thomas (who may have been the Mr Thomas who was soon to marry Millecent Parkhurst), and a Mr Fitz-Gerald, who wrote the Prologue. The accompanying music was composed by R.J.S. Stevens, who mentions the experience in his Recollections. His work was a setting of a poem by Mariana, Saints and Angels hear our strains, hear our strains from purging fire. Interestingly, he appears to have been vehemently opposed to private theatricals ‘a species of entertainment very injurious to young minds; destructive of their innocence and modesty; and equally endangering their piece and happiness.’

Mrs Larpent, wife of the inspector of plays in the Lord Chamberlain’s office, was in the audience for the first night of The British Orphan, writing in her diary on 7 April ‘..to Camberwell to Mrs Crespigny’s to see Miss Starke and others, act The British Orphan, a tragedy written by Miss Starke. Mrs Crespigny acted the heroine, and Roxana, in The Sultan, which was the Afterpiece. The Scenery was very pretty, the dresses very elegant. The Acting outrée. And the whole absurd. I was shocked – I disapprove the whole. Acting revolts in Women against Feminine delicacy – in Men against Manly decorum – My spirits were hurt with contemplating so much folly, I could not be amused. I was sorry to see Miss Starke thus traverstie – and as she was – as I should grieve to see a worthy man I esteemed, intoxicated’. Mariana had, as author, presumably written for herself a part that required her, for some of her scenes, to  dress as a man – and thereby outrage Mrs Larpent’s sensitivities.   She was, in fact, the heroine, Eliza, who arises out of her coffin after a period of  suspended animation. Mrs Crespigny played her sister, Isabella.

Barely a month later, on 5 May, Mariana’s new play, The Widow of Malabar, was given its first public performance at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden. Embellished with the rituals of Indian sati – a burning funeral pyre – and with specially composed music, it was something of a spectacle. Mrs Larpent was again in the audience – ‘We went to the Play, saw The Widow of Malabar, a free translation from the French, by Miss Starke on the fate of an Indian widow, who burns herself. I was ennuiée. I will not criticise. Dramatic Interest is wanting, it is a showy performance’. If by  ‘showy performance’ she meant to single out one actress, she may have been referring to ‘Miss Brunton’, who The World reported on 6 May, had received the play as a present from Miss Starke, that is, this first night was a ‘Benefit’ performance for her. ‘Miss Brunton’ was likely to be Ann Brunton, the elder of a family of actress sisters.

Ann Brunton (as Cordelia in 'King Lear', 1785)..This engraving by T. Cook and William Brent, courtesy of Women in Theatre Collection, Univeristy of Illinois Library

Ann Brunton (as Cordelia in ‘King Lear’, 1785)..This engraving by T. Cook and William Brent, courtesy of Women in Theatre Collection, Univeristy of Illinois Library

Fortunately other critics, such as that writing for the Whitehall Evening Post (6 May), were kinder to The Widow of Malabar than was Mrs Larpent and on 27 May it was announced that ‘Miss Starke’s Widow has been accepted by Mr Harris for the next season’. Thus the play was back at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden for more performances in January 1791.

Thanks to the newly discovered diary in the Bodleian Library we know that Mrs Crespigny was in the theatre on that second, as it were, first night – 12 January – ‘Miss Starke’s play The Widow of Malabar came on and it went off extremely well  – but Lady Salisbury took my Box which caused great confusion’. She was back a week later on Wednesday 19 January forThird night of The Widow. Miss Starke had a very full house. I sent [?] vast numbers – filled 10 rows of pit & nearly all the Boxes – & numbers [?] into the Gallery.’

The play was a considerable success, often staged in succeeding years. Although derived from La Veuve du Malabar,  a play by Lemierre, Mrs Larpent was incorrect in referring to it as a translation, it was, rather, a free interpretation. In Mariana’s version the widow is saved from the funeral pyre by an Englishman. In the edition of Mariana’s play, published by William Lane in 1791, her dedication, dated 24 January,  is, unsurprisingly, to Mrs Crespigny, who had given such active support, not least of all by packing the theatre with her friends during the previous fortnight.

See D. O’Quinn, ‘Battling Hindu Superstition on the London Stage’ in M. Franklin (ed), Romantic Representations of British India, Routledge, 2006, for an interesting discussion of the text of Mariana Starke’s The Widow of Malabar.

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Mariana Starke: ‘The Sword Of Peace’, 1788

On 9 August 1788  Mariana Starke’s play, The Sword of Peace; or, a Voyage of Love, received the first of six public performances that season at London’s Theatre Royal, Haymarket.  

sword of peace

This was certainly not the first play that Mariana had written,  but was the first to be professionally staged. See Mariana Starke: First Productions for mention of Ethelinda, which, possibly in 1787, Mariana had sent to George Colman, the manager of the Theatre Royal. He had been encouraging, but in the end had rejected it. He would, therefore, have been an obvious choice to receive her next dramatic work and in the Preface to the published edition of The Sword of Peace she thanks him most warmly. To Mariana’s play Colman added a Prologue and his son an Epilogue.

In her introduction to the online edition of The Sword of Peace Jeanne Moskal has suggested that prior to its short run at the Theatre Royal, the play may already have been produced in the private theatre of her friend and patron Mary Crespigny [see Mariana Starke: The Mystery of the Bodleian Diary]. This is possible, but if such a production was staged it is surprising that papers such as ”The World and Fashionable Advertiser’ and ”The Public Advertiser’ make no mention of it, while carrying information of other theatricals at Camberwell Grove that  involved Mariana and her brother, Richard. Mrs Crespigny’s activities were good ‘copy’for these papers and it seems unlikely they would have overlooked such an interesting item.

As the reader can so easily consult the online text of The Sword of Peace, together with the associated apparatus of notes which includes a summary of the play, I will not repeat it here, but would like to make one observation.

The Starkes' home, Hylands House, Epsom

Hylands House, Epsom, 0ne-time home of Governor Starke and his family’  (the two brick bays being a rather unfortunate later addition). A house, in the late 18th-century, replete with memories of and talk about life in India

This is an idea that occurred to me as to what Mariana might mean in her Preface when she observes that ‘the character of David Northcote is a real one. To Indians this is needless: the sketch, however, is not too faint, I hope, for others: it was dictated by a heart glowing with gratitude and admiration of his noble and unbounded goodness!’

It has been suggested, by Jeanne Moskal among others, that ‘David Northcote’ is based on Lord Cornwallis, who succeeded Warren Hastings as Governor-General of India. This assumption is quite probably correct. Hastings had been arrested in 1787, at a time when Mariana would probably have been writing the play; his trial was underway in Westminster Hall when The Sword of Peace played at the Theatre Royal. As ‘David Northcote’ was created as an exemplar of a good man in the midst of venality it may well be that Mariana was commending Cornwallis .

However, with the Hastings trial figuring so prominently in the news it seems just a little odd for the author to hope, even with the falsest of modesty, that ‘the sketch is not too faint’. Actually at the time it must have seemed blindingly obvious.  It occurred to me, however, that she may actually have had in mind a model for ‘David Northcote’ found rather closer to home, but more distant in time – one about which there might more justifiably be  a fear that the ‘sketch’ might be too  ‘faint’ .

Could ‘David Northcote’ have been modelled on Mariana’s father, Richard Starke, who, even at this time, 30 years after he had been forced from office, was always known as ‘Governor Starke’?

The name of the character does have resonances close to Mariana’s own circle. ‘David’ could be a nod to Fort St David, from which her father was ousted in 1756 by ambitious Robert Clive.

Mariana would have discussed the making of her play with her great friend, Millecent Parkhurst, whose father, John Parkhurst, was giving her advice on the construction of her dramas. John Parkhurst’s wife was born Millecent Northey, whose  family lived at Woodcote House, Epsom. When Mariana was pondering a surname for the hero of The Sword of Peace could she have created it out of this local association? For an essay on the Northeys and Woodcote House see here.

Among the final lines of the play, when Mr Northcote is created ‘Resident’, one of the characters describes how

‘They [the local inhabitants] do nothing but call him father—they keep blessing him and his children; and King George and his children; and their great prophet and his children’.

Would – could – that mention of ‘blessing him and his children’ have been a knowing authorial wink. The emphasising italics are in the original and there does not seem any reason for an allusion to Northcote’s children in terms of the play. Indeed, there is no mention of his being married, or having children. So was that a little joke -Mariana calling blessings on herself and her siblings, as well as her father -that the audience might have shared?

In terms of the plot of The Sword of Peace, a slight parallel between the careers of ‘David Northcote’ and Richard Starke occurred in 1752 when Governor Floyer of Fort St David was dismissed – accused of allowing a ‘Spirit of Gaming’  and ‘general neglect and want of order’ to prevail, as well as running up ‘Extravagant Expences’. Among the men entrusted to reinstate order was Richard Starke.

On 1 May 1787 ‘Governor Starke and family’ and ‘other names to India not unknown’ were present in the Playhouse, Covent Garden, for the performance of a new farce, Bonds Without Judgment, or, the Loves of Bengal, performed as a benefit for the actress, Mrs Wells. The plot concerns the fate of two young women who are sent to India in search of husbands…There is no mention in the World and Fashionable Advertiser’ report of 2 May 1787 of the author of the piece, but I understand it was one Edward Topham. The piece was acted for four nights in May 1787 but was never printed.

Could this play have motivated Mariana  to write her own? It is worth mentioning that the Prologue to ‘Bonds Without Judgment’ was written by ‘Mr Berkley’, surely her friend and collaborator, George Monck Berkeley (for whom see Mariana Starke: First Productions). In fact Oulton, The History of the Theatres of London suggests that Berkeley rather than Topham may have been the author of the entire piece. Incidentally, Mrs Crespigny took a very numerous party to Bonds Without Judgment.

The Sword of Peace was published in 1789, in London by J. Debrett and in Dublin by H. Chamberlaine, and returned to the Theatre Royal that year, on 30 July, for a further four perfomances.

 

Source: H.D. Love, Vestiges of Old Madras

P.S. UPDATE I knew that Mariana was not Richard and Mary Starke’s first born; a son, John, had died shortly before she was born and was buried at Epsom. I have now just found the gory details in a news report  in ‘The Public Advertiser’ of 21 June 1762, to the effect that this young boy, aged 20 months, had died the previous week after falling out of the coach in which he was ‘taking an airing’ with some women servants and was then run over by the vehicle’s wheels. Horrific.

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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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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: Millicent Fawcett and Queen Elizabeth I

Now that the Women’s Library Reading Room is open on the 4th floor of LSE Library, here is another idea  for those who might want to stretch their legs during their visit.

Why not take a gentle meander along Fleet Street and visit Queen Elizabeth I as she stands in her niche over what was the entrance to the Parochial School attached to the church of St Dunstans in the West? Not only is this thought to be the only surviving statue of the Queen carved in her lifetime, but she has a very close connection to Millicent Fawcett, in whose honour the Fawcett Library (as the Women’s Library was originally known) was named.

 

Statue of Queen Elizabeth I at St Dunstan's in the West

Statue of Queen Elizabeth I at St Dunstan’s in the West

It is thought that the statue was carved in 1586. It then led a rather adventurous life before coming to rest in this niche on the facade of St Dunstans in the West when the church was rebuilt here in the 1830s. Nearly a century later it was in a dilapidated state and its restoration was financed by Dame Millicent Fawcett and her sister, Agnes Garrett, together with ‘Miss Jones of Lincoln’s Inn’ and Gwen John. The latter was not, as is sometimes stated, Gwen John the artist, but Gwen John, playwright and actress, author of a biography ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and a play ‘Gloriana’. Gwen John, whose real name was Gladys Jones, lived with Winifred Jones (‘Miss Jones’), presumably her sister, at 9 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn. See here for National Portrait Gallery of this Gwen John.

Millicent Fawcett, c 1928

Millicent Fawcett, c 1928

In a rather neat sequence of events, on 28 June 1928 Dame Millicent Fawcett presided at the Annual General Meeting of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, at which the preservation of old churches was the topic of discussion, on 2 July the  Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, for which she had been campaigning since 1866, became law, and on 31 July she unveiled the restored statue of Queen Elizabeth I. See the unveiling here, although Millicent Fawcett, modest as ever, cannot be seen. However the curtain she caused to be moved, moves. Which is sort of symbolic of the influence she exerted during her long life.

While the statue was undergoing restoration it was discovered that it had originally been coloured. So, the statue was repainted, following the original colours as closely as possible. The farthingale and corsage were white, the face was tinted a flesh colour and her crown was gilded.  Alas, this colouring is no longer obvious to the passer-by and the Queen has rather faded back into the facade of the building.

Millicent Fawcett died just a few days over a year after unveiling the statue and in her will left £700 towards its upkeep, although that fund may now have been exhausted and wound up.

If you wanted to pause, you could combine veneration of the Virgin Queen and thoughts of the venerable suffrage campaigner with a coffee from the stall that is now a permanent fixture just below her niche.

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Suffrage Stories: 1911 Census: Vanishing For The Vote

TO BE PUBLISHED ON 6 MARCH 2014

Vanishing for the Vote 1 001

As readers of this blog will know, since 2009 I have been involved in research on the suffrage boycott of the 1911 census. With Dr Jill Liddington, I worked to uncover the women who followed the call to boycott the census. We studied the circumstances of those who did – and those who did not – refuse to complete the census form and produced, first, a paper for the Women’s History Network Conference, held in Oxford in September 2009, and then an article ,‘Women do not count, neither shall they be counted’: Suffrage, Citizenship and the Battle for the 1911 Census‘ published in the History Workshop Journal in 2011.

It was intended to develop this research into a book, but I decided to pursue other projects  – such as the setting up of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery and writing Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary as well, of course, as running my bookselling business,’ Woman and Her Sphere’ –  while Jill turned the census research into Vanishing for the Vote. 

I continued, however, to be very interested in uncovering 1911 census boycotters – and wondering about their lives –  and, at odd moments, wrote up my discoveries for the Woman and Her Sphere blog – and gave a paper, ‘No Vote No Census’ ,at the National Archives Conference on the 1911 census, held in the autumn of 2011. You can listen to it here.

Jill later asked me to help compile the extensive  Gazetteer of Suffragettes/Suffragists that constitutes the end section of Vanishing for the Vote.  This is  based on the original research we carried out, supplemented by details of many additional boycotters that prolonged acquaintance with the digitized census has now uncovered.

I am sure that all who are interested in the Edwardian suffrage campaign will be delighted to read Vanishing for the Vote – which takes us right into the lives of the women – and their families – who were prepared to defy the census enumerator in order to highlight their lack of citizenship.

Vanishing for the vote recounts what happened on one night, Sunday 2 April, 1911, when the Liberal government demanded every household comply with its census requirements. Suffragette organisations urged women, all still voteless, to boycott this census.

Many did. Some wrote ‘Votes for Women’ boldly across their schedules. Others hid in darkened houses or, in the case of Emily Wilding Davison, in a cupboard within the Houses of Parliament.

Yet many did not. Even some suffragettes who might be expected to boycott decided to comply – and completed a perfectly accurate schedule. Why?

Vanishing for the vote explores the ‘battle for the census’ arguments that raged across Edwardian England in spring 1911. It investigates why some committed campaigners decided against civil disobedience tactics, instead opting to provide the government with accurate data for its health and welfare reforms.

This book plunges the reader into the turbulent world of Edwardian politics, so vividly recorded on census night 1911. Based on a wealth of brand-new documentary evidence, it offers compelling reading for history scholars and general readers alike.

Sumptuously produced, with 50 illustrations and an invaluable Gazetteer of suffrage campaigners.

To be published by Manchester University Press:

Hardback £65

Paperback: £16.99

37 Lavender Gardens, Battersea -home of John Burns, minister in charge of the Census

37 Lavender Gardens, Battersea -home of John Burns, minister in charge of the Census

Burns' house is remarkably similar in style to that of Henry Nevinson and his wife, Margaret, at 4 Downside Crescent, Hampstead. However, although sharing a similar attitude to architecture, Burns and the Nevinsons were poles apart as regards the Census. While Henry Nevinson was in the thick of the Census parties in central London, Margaret spent the night in this house with a group of women, all of whom refused to give details to the enumerator.

Burns’ house is remarkably similar in style to that of Henry Nevinson and his wife, Margaret, at 4 Downside Crescent, Hampstead. However, although sharing a similar attitude to architecture, Burns and the Nevinsons were poles apart as regards the Census. While Henry Nevinson was in the thick of the Census Night fun in central London, Margaret spent the night in this house with a group of women, all of whom refused to give details to the enumerator. It was not a happy marriage.

32 Well Walk, Hampstead. 'Vanishing for the Vote' reveals something of the domestic argument that went on behind this front door on Census night between Jane Brailsford and her husband, Henry.

32 Well Walk, Hampstead. ‘Vanishing for the Vote’ reveals something of the domestic argument that went on behind this front door on Census night between Jane Brailsford and her husband, Henry. The Census had a knack of highlighting domestic disharmony.

118 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, home of WSPU activist, Maud Joachim. The enumerator was handed out through this door a census form returned with 'Informaiton Refused'.

118 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, home of WSPU activist, Maud Joachim. The census enumerator stood at this door and was refused all information

Clemence Housman resisted the Census as well as Tax. Her Census story is well told in 'Vanishing for the Vote'.

Clemence Housman resisted the Census as well as Tax. Her Census story is well told in ‘Vanishing for the Vote’.

2 Campden Hill Square, home of the Brackenbury family, later became known as 'Mouse Castle' when escaping suffragettes found shelter under its roof. On Census Night it was home to an estimate 25 women and one man.

2 Campden Hill Square, home of the Brackenbury family, later became known as ‘Mouse Castle’ when escaping suffragettes found shelter under its roof. On Census Night it was home to an estimated 25 women and one man.

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Kate Frye’s Diary: What Happened When The Thames Flooded At Bourne End?

There is nothing new in Thames floods. Over 120 years ago (although from reading Kate Frye’s diary it seems like yesterday) the Thames overtopped the banks at Bourne End and flooded the garden of the Fryes’ home. Luckily the water did not enter the house, which is slightly raised from the lawn.

As Kate, then 13 years-old, noted –Saturday Oct 24th 1891. Woke to find the lawn flooded all over, right up to the bank. From ten until one we were on the water – which is quite deep – in canoes.

There was another flood  in June 1903, when this photograph of Agnes (on the left) and Kate was taken. The image was used by Mr and Mrs Frye for their 1903 Christmas card.

Kate Frye and her sister, Agnes, paddling a canoe on the lawn of their home, The Plat, at Bourne End, Buckinghamshire in October 1891

Kate Frye and her sister, Agnes, paddling a canoe on the lawn of their home, The Plat, at Bourne End, Buckinghamshire in June 1903. Photograph by A. Plummer, photographers, of 90 Queen Street, Maidenhead.

On 18 June 1903 Kate wrote in her diary: ‘Our lawn was covered and patches of water went nearly to the pigeon house. It came to the gate. It was so exciting. Agnes and I went to get to [Arthur] Wootten to get a canoe from Townsend’s for us – and we forthwith started. it was splendid sport – we were out all morning. Mrs Bird came along – then rushed back for her camera and photographed us – then Gilbert [Gilbey] arrived and did likewise – and then Plummers the photographer from Maidenhead who we had telegraphed for arrived and took several views.

The water is right in the Quarry Hotel now and up to the centre of the door at Bridge Bungalow. A day like this it is most picturesque but what a disastrous June. We have had to put off our Ascot party – the river won’t be in a fit state for weeks.’

Sunday 21 June 1903 ‘We went across to Cock Marsh in the afternoon and we had great fun. It was wonderful going down stream – we simply tore and going through the Bridge was like shooting the rapids. We had to go down to Mill House before we could get on to Cock Marsh.’

KateYou can discover much more about Kate Frye’s life in Bourne End (and, later, in the nearby hamlet of Berghers Hill) in The Great War: The People’s Story – Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette. This is an e-book published by ITV as a tie-in with the new series The Great War: The People’s Story. Kate Frye, played by Romola Garai, appears in episode 2 – to be shown on ITV at 9pm on 17 August. Download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – : http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £5. 14 from Amazon.

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Women Writers And Italy: Stalking Matilda Hays And ‘Adrienne Hope’

View up the Spanish Steps from the apartment

View up the Spanish Steps from the apartment

A brief visit to Rome last week – staying once again in the abidingly diverting Landmark Trust apartment at the side of the Spanish Steps – allowed me to retrace yet again the footsteps of some of the mid-19th-century women expatriates – British and American – who for a number of years made the city their home.

In the mid-1850s the intriguing Matilda Hays, journalist and novelist, was living in Rome – with her long-term partner, Charlotte Cushman, the American actress, who had now retired from the stage. For at least some of the time they lived, enjoying what Elizabeth Barrett Browning termed a ‘female marriage’, at 38 via Gregoriana, a road leading off to the right at the top of the Spanish Steps – as seen in the view above.

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As the women walked down from their home – perhaps to have tea at the Caffe Inglese in the Piazza di Spagna – they presumably sometimes thought of John Keats, who had died in a room on their left (as seen in the above photo), on the floor with the terrace, just 30 years or so earlier. We were staying in the floor above.

Matilda Hays describes something of the life of her friends and acquaintances in her novel, Adrienne Hope, the story of a life, published by Newby in 1866. What the novel may lack in plot it makes up for in its ‘factional’ interest to those, like me, who are keen to repopulate the forestieri  quarter of Rome with its mid-19th-century inhabitants. I must confess I know far more about their funny little ways than I do those of any Roman, ancient or modern.

So it interested me that Matilda Hays gives her leading characters, Lord Charles and Lady Charlotte Luttrell,  ‘a suite of rooms in a large house at the southern end of the Via Gregoriana, rooms on the fourth piano [floor], beneath the windows of which Rome lay extended like a panorama, the turbid Tiber separating the Janiculum from its sister hills, and gliding like a monster sea-snake through the valley from its entrance into the city close to the Porta del Popolo to its exit south below the Aventino. There lies the Queen City of the World, with its quaint, irregular, grey roofs, its 364 churches, its noble pagan temples and imperial palaces, noble in their ruin and decay, asking through the day in the undimmed lustre of an Italian sun, to be glorified by its setting rays of gold, and crimson, and purple, the depth and richness of whose hues none who have not seen can by any means imagine, and none how have seen can ever forget.’

There has, of course, been much building – and rebuilding – in the course of the past 150 years and even from the topmost floor of a house at the southern end of the via Gregoriana I doubt that such a view could now be obtained  – although that from the Piazza Trinita dei Monte, into which the street debouches,  is still one of the most magnificent in Rome. Via Gregoriana has probably been renumbered since Hays lived there; but, for the record, number 38 is now towards the northern end, facing across over the city. Alas, I could not test whether or not the Tiber could be seen from the fourth piano.

The novel contains much visiting of  artists’ studios in Rome.  The comment is made that  ‘Among all the different races of living sculptors Americans alone have shown a tendency to produce something new and original, and though none have been eminently successful – choosing for and the most part the wild Indian life of the North American continent for their subjects – yet this departure from the stereotyped classic form is welcome and refreshing..’  Alas, although it would have been neat, this observation probably comes too early to refer to the work of Edmonia Lewis, a young woman of African-American and Native-American parentage, who, from 1865, made her home in Rome, sculpting, among many other works, Hiawatha and his daughter (1868).

Hiawatha and His Daughter, courtesy of Cincinatti Art Museum

Hiawatha and Minnehaha, courtesy of Cincinatti Art Museum

Matilda Hays was commenting on the pagan sculpture that was very much the mode of the moment and was well acquainted with the English sculptor, John Gibson, who was leading the vanguard. In the novel, Sir Charles and Lady Charlotte visit Gibson’s studio in via Fontanella – close to the Piazza di Spagna.

‘The transition from the dirty unfragrant street to the cool large studio, filled with lovely statues and bassi rilievi, with a green vista of moss and fern and trickling water beyond, and a scent of the rich flowers of the south wafted on the breeze, was a pleasant surprise both to eyes and nose. The mellow sunlight poured down upon the verdant niche in the small garden – which constantly falling water of a fountain keeps cool and fresh through the burning heats of summer, – and streamed in at the open door, throwing a beautiful light upon the graceful limbs of ‘Hylas and the Water Nymphs’, ‘Psyche and the Zephyrs’, two of the fairest groups the cultivated meditative brain has created, and the cunning hand of the master has wrought.’

‘Hylas Surprised by the Naides’ is now in Tate Britain – click here for details – having been given to the nation in 1847. That sculpture had, therefore, left Gibson’s studio long before Matilda Hays knew him – she had presumably seen the work when it was publicly displayed or perhaps he did have a cast of it to be admired by studio visitors.

Hylas Surprised by the Naiades, courtesy of Tate Britain

Hylas Surprised by the Naiades, courtesy of Tate Britain

Once inside Gibson’s studio Lady Charlotte Luttrell is shown his most infamous work –  a statue of Venus, her skin tinted. Through her character Matilda Hays voices the popular controversy that surrounded the work – Lady Charlotte shows herself, politely, to be ambivalent about this use of colour on statuary.

ohn Gibson, Tinted Venus, c 1851-2, courtesy of Walker Gallery, Liverpool

John Gibson, Tinted Venus, c 1851-2, courtesy of Walker Gallery, Liverpool

Lady Charlotte is then taken to an upstairs studio to meet Gibson’s star pupil, the young American, Harriet Hosmer.

Harriet Hosmer c 1855

Harriet Hosmer c 1855

Bearing in mind that in the mid-1850s Matilda Hays had for a time left Charlotte Cushman for Harriet Hosmer, this is how she is described in Adrienne Hope:

’..there was something very winning in the fair, broad brow, with its clustering sunny brown curls, the inevitable velvet cap crowning them; the deep, earnest eyes, the compact nose, firm-set mouth, and square chin and jaw; the trim little figure, with its clothing of grey skirt and holland blouse, and as she addressed her visitors, the quaint short phrases, the peculiar sharp-cut of the words reminding them of her master (snap and bite, the wags called master and pupil) and the eyes and face danced and glowed with fun and fire. Lady Charles thought her as charming a sprite as the Puck she had modelled – and for which, before her visitors left, she received an order, accompanied by such kind expressions of admiration and good-will that the value of the order to the young artist must have been considerably enhanced.’

Gibson’s studio was at 4 via Fontanella – all trace of it, I am sure, long swept away. Via Fontanella is a continuation, across the via del Babuino, of via Margutta where Harriet Hosmer went on to have her own studios. The two addresses I know for her, at numbers 5 and 116 are, if the numbering is anything like it was in the mid-19th century, both at the via Fontanella end of the long via Margutta.

View into a via Margutta courtyard

View into a via Margutta courtyard

The view from via Margutta down via Fontanella

The view from via Margutta down via Fontanella

The other characters in Adrienne Hope include a Miss Reay, a literary woman, who has seen a good deal of the world and is not very much in love with it. She was ‘engaged in editing a philanthropic journal, with which a great deal of practical work is connected, the chief burden of which falls upon myself and two or three others..’ ‘I made a fair start in early life in a literary career.. but cruel circumstances intervened..the best years of my life were utterly and uselessly sacrificed..’

Matilda Hays

Matilda Hays

Poor put-upon Miss Reay is, of course, Matilda Hays herself. She had been a co-founder of The English Woman’s Journal – Britain’s first feminist monthly magazine – and had for a time been its editor before falling out (‘cruel circumstances’) with her fellow workers, Barbara Bodichon and Bessie Rayner Parkes. Miss Reay was a solitary, intrepid woman: ‘ I confess that to this day, habitually as I have walked and travelled alone, I have never experienced the smallest annoyance, and I should not hesitate to set out alone tomorrow, for travels as protracted and solitary as those of Madame Ida Pfeiffer..’ [Ida Pfeiffer being one of the first woman explorers.]

Also making an appearance  in Adrienne Hope is a Lady Morton, the widow of a peer, who probably bore a very close resemblance to the slightly mysterious Theodosia, Lady Monson,  a benefactor of The English Woman’s Journal, with whom Hays later lived.

Matilda Hays left Rome on 20 April 1857 – two days after a violent row with Charlotte Cushman – a final break that, after a few years’ gestation, resulted in Adrienne Hope. She died 40 years later at 15 Sefton Drive, Toxteth Park, Liverpool and (thanks to Phil Williams for the information) is buried in Toxteth Cemetery where, I believe, her headstone can still be seen.

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Suffrage Stories: The British Museum’s Hunger-Strike Medal And The 1911 Census Boycott

Rather belatedly you might think, I’ve just realised that the British Museum holds a hunger-strike medal.  It, together with a Holloway brooch (which rather oddly is the main image used to illustrate the item online), was awarded to ‘Joan Cather’. Her’s was not a name I recognised from previous suffrage research, so I immediately set about finding out something about her.

The first trace I came across for a woman of that name were a few entries on the London Electoral Register in the 1920s and ’30s. Thus, I discovered that a Joan Cather had been living in London, at 23 Upper Montagu Street, sharing the house with John Leonard Cather. Rather oddly, apart from her death in 1967, this Joan Cather hadn’t left any other trace.

So I turned to John Leonard Cather – looking first at his entry on the 1911 census. And, lo and behold, on his census form he had written ‘Conscientious scruples prevent me from rendering a return of the female occupants of this house for the purpose of assisting statistical tables which will be used as the basis for further vexatious legislation affecting women, & in which they have no voice. Should the Conciliation Committee bill be passed into law this session the additional details will be forthcoming.’

A note has been added ‘Two Females inserted in Summary Books by the Registrar being the probable number.’ One of these would doubtless have been his wife, Joan, and the other a female servant.

Clearly I had the right Cathers.

At this time they were living at ‘Red Cottage, Cavendish Road, Redhill’ and John Cather gave his occupation as ‘Motor Body Builder. Lieut Royal Navy (Retired)’. He had married Joan Waller (1882-1967) in 1908 and was clearly fully supportive of her involvement in the suffrage cause. Indeed, when the militant ‘Men’s Society for Women’s Rights’  was formed in 1912,’ Lieutenant Cather’, as he clearly liked to be known, was its honorary secretary. Ge was also by 1914 (and probably earlier) chairman of the Finance Committee of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage.

Joan Cather’s Hunger-strike Medal gives the date of the imprisonment that related to her hunger-strike as 4 March 1912 – which would indicate that she had taken part in that month’s WSPU window-smashing campaign. However, despite trawling through the relevant issues of Votes for Women, I haven’t yet managed to find a report of the damage she caused to merit this custodial sentence. Nor does her name appear on the Roll of Honour compiled by Suffragette Fellowship c 1960. It is possible that she was using an alias when she was sentenced. It would seem that the British Museum acquired the medal and brooch in 1975, seven years after the death of Joan Cather, but I’m not sure if it was given to the Museum by a family member or whether it was purchased. Perhaps I shall find out!

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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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Christmas List 2013 – To Give Or Receive

Woman and her Sphere

 

List for Christmas 2013

 

Elizabeth Crawford

5 Owen’s Row

London EC1V 4NP

 

Send orders to me by email: e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk

Payment may be made by cheque, Paypal or by direct bank transfer

FRYE Xmas card 1903 front 001Frye xmas card 1903 inside 001

Item 178

During those ground-hog days between Christmas and the New Year why not lose yourself in the pre-First World War suffrage world. 

 I can send a signed copy of my latest book to you or, as a gift from you, to anyone you choose.

Kate Frye cover

 

Campaigning for the Vote: The Suffrage Diary of Kate Parry Frye

Edited by Elizabeth Crawford

An extract

‘Saturday June 14th 1913. [Kate is lodging in Baker Street, London]

I had had a black coat and skirt sent there for Miss Davison’s funeral procession and the landlady had given me permission to change in her room. I tore into my black things then we tore off by tube to Piccadilly and had some lunch in Lyons. But the time was getting on – and the cortege was timed to start at 2 o’clock from Victoria. We saw it splendidly at the start until we were driven away from our position and then could not see for the crowds and then we walked right down Buckingham Palace Rd and joined in the procession at the end. It was really most wonderful – the really organised part – groups of women in black with white lilies – in white and in purple – and lots of clergymen and special sort of pall bearers each side of the coffin. She gave her life publicly to make known to the public the demand of Votes for Women – it was only fitting she should be honoured publicly by the comrades. It must have been most imposing. [Plus much more description of the procession as Kate follows it into King’s Cross station]

Campaigning for the Vote tells, in her own words, the efforts of a working suffragist to instil in the men and women of England the necessity of ‘votes for women’ in the years before the First World War. The detailed diary kept all her life by Kate Parry Frye  (1878-1959) has been edited to cover 1911-1915, years she spent as a paid organiser for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. The book constitutes that near impossibility – completely new primary material, published for the first time 100 years after the events it records.

With Kate for company we experience the reality of the ‘votes for women’ campaign as, day after day, in London and in the provinces, she knocks on doors, arranges meetings, trembles on platforms, speaks from carts in market squares, village greens, and seaside piers, enduring indifference, incivility and even the threat of firecrackers under her skirt.

Kate’s words bring to life the world of the itinerant organiser – a world of train journeys, of complicated luggage conveyance, of hotels – and hotel flirtations – , of boarding houses, of landladies, and of the ‘quaintness’ of fellow boarders. This was not a way of life to which she was born, for her years as an organiser were played out against the catastrophic loss of family money and enforced departure from a much-loved home. Before 1911 Kate had had the luxury of giving her time as a volunteer to the suffrage cause; now she depended on it for her keep.

No other diary gives such an extensive account of the working life of a suffragist, one who had an eye for the grand tableau – such as following Emily Wilding Davison’s cortege through the London streets – as well as the minutiae of producing an advertisement for a village meeting. Moreover Kate Frye gives us the fullest account to date of the workings of the previously shadowy New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. She writes at length of her fellow workers, never refraining from discussing their egos and foibles. After the outbreak of war in August 1914 Kate continued to work for some time at the society’s headquarters, helping to organize its war effort, her diary entries allowing us to experience her reality of life in war-time London.

Excerpts from Campaigning for the Vote featured in ‘The Women’s Rebellion’, episode 2 of Michael Portillo’s Radio 4 series, 1913: The Year Before –listen here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02mxyyz

ITV has selected Kate Frye – to be portrayed by a leading young actress – as one of the main characters in a 2014 documentary series to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

 And there are plans under discussion to make Kate’s story more widely known…..

Published by Francis Boutle Publishers – http://www.francisboutle.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=102&osCsid=f25354bc872ffc120b251b6b63915492

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

 Signed copies available from me: £14.99 plus £3 postage to UK addresses.

Signed copies also available of:

Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle

Enterprising Women

Enterprising Women tells the story of a group of women around the Garrett family, who in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth changed the position of women in Britain forever. Pioneering access to education at all levels for women both in academic and vocational subjects as well as training for the professions – medicine, architectural decoration, landscape design – they also involved themselves in politics and the campaign for women’s suffrage. As well as discussing in detail the work of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emily Davies, this book brings to the foreground the careers of some less well known members of the group, including Rhoda and Agnes Garrett, the first women interior decorators, and Fanny Wilkinson, the first professional woman landscape gardener

 ‘Crawford’s scholarship is admirable and Enterprising Women offers increasingly compelling reading’ Journal of William Morris Studies

Francis Boutle, 2002 338pp 75 illus paperback

http://www.francisboutle.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=17&products_id=7

Signed copies available from me: £14.99 plus £3 postage to UK addresses.

** 

Woman and her Sphere List for Christmas 2013

NON-FICTION: WOMEN

1.       BLAIR, Kirstie Form & Faith in Victorian Poetry & Religion  OUP 2012 [13415] By assessing the discourses of church architecture and liturgy the author demonstrates that Victorian poets both reflected on and affected ecclesiastical practices – and then focuses on particular poems to show how High Anglican debates over formal worship were dealt with by Dissenting, Broad Church, and Roman Catholic poets and other writers. Features major poets such as the Browning, Tennyson, Hopkins, Rossetti and Hardy – as well as many minor writers. Mint in d/w (pub price £62)                                                      £35

2.       BOUCHERETT, Jessie and BLACKBURN, Helen Conditions of Working Women and the Factory Acts  Elliot Stock 1896 [13341] An extremely scarce and interesting study. Boucherett and Blackburn were particularly concerned that women should not be barred from trades  by the dictat of Parliament – rather that their working conditions should be improved. The final chapter consists of ‘The Report to the Society for the Employment of Women on the work of women in the white lead trade, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, March, 1895. With illustrations. Good (back cover marked) – and very scarce (I have never – in nearly 30 years – previously had a copy in stock)                                                                      £55

3.       BROWN, Mike The Day Peace Broke Out: the VE experience, Sutton Publishing 2005 [8936] Describes VE-Day celebrations in Britain and across the world through the memories of those who were there.  Illustrated with photographs, adverts, posters and cartoons. Soft covers – large format – mint £10

4.       CLAPP, Elizabeth and JEFFREY, Julie Roy (eds) Women, Dissent and Anti-Slavery in Britain and America, 1790-1865  OUP 2011 [13422] Essays by David Turley, Timothy Whelan, Alison Twells, Clare Midgeley, Carol Lasser, Julie Roy Jeffrey, Stacey robertson and Judie Newman – with an Introduction by Elizabeth Clapp. Mint in d/w (pub price £60)                                                                           £25

5.       CLARK, Margaret Homecraft: a guide to the modern home and family Routledge, 3rd ed 1978 (r/p) [10288] The author was senior adviser for Home Economics for Derbyshire. The book was a textbook, suitable for school Home Economics courses. First published in 1966. Soft covers – very good £6

6.       DAVID, Deirdre (ed) The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel  CUP 2012 (2nd ed) [13411] This second edition includes essays by Kate Flint, Caroline Levine, Nancy Armstrong, Lyn Pykett and Clare Pettit – amongst others. Soft covers – mint                                                                       £15

7.       GOOD HOUSEKEEPING’S HOME ENCYCLOPAEDIA   Ebury Press 1968 (r/p) [10297] Packed with information and illustrations. How very retro. Large format – very good in rubbed d/w – heavy                                                                                                                                                    £10

8.       GREGORY, James Victorians Against the Gallows: capital punishment and the abolitionist movement in 19th-century Britain I.B. Tauris 2011 [13421] The first comprehensive study on the movement against Capital Punishment in Victorian Britain. Mint in d/w (pub price £65)                                      £35

9.       HILEY, Michael Victorian Working Women: portraits from life,  Gordon Fraser 1979 [13340] Photographs of working women most of them collected during the second half of the 19th century by A.J. Munby. Paper covers – very good                                                                                      £12

10.     LARSEN, Timothy A People of One Book: the Bible and the Victorians OUP 2011 [13407] Case studies of representative figures, from Elizabeth Fry to Florence Nightingale, from C.H. Spurgeon to Grace Aguilar to demonstrate the scripture-saturated culture of 19th-century England. Mint in d/w (pub price £76)                                                                                                                                   £25

11.     LEE, Julia Sun-Joo The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel  OUP 2010 [13436] Investigates the shaping influence of the American slave narrative on the Victorian novel in the years between the British Abolition Act and the American Emancipation Proclamation – and argues that Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thackeray and Dickens integrated into their works generic elements of the slave narrative. Mint in d/w (pub price £40)                                                                   £15

12.     LOANE, M. An Englishman’s Castle  Edward Arnold 1909 [9060] Martha Loane was a district nurse – this study of the homes of the poor is the result of her social investigation. Good                  £18

13.     LOFTIE, W.J. A Plea for Art in the House: with special reference to the economy of collecting works of art, and the importance of taste in education and morals Macmillan 1879 (r/p) [13338] First published in 1876 – around the same time as Rhoda and Agnes Garrett’s book in the same series ‘Art at Home’ – and evincing many of the same touchstone’s of taste in home decoration. Goodish – a little rubbed and bumped                                                                                                                                                    £18

14.     ORRINSMITH, Mrs The Drawing Room: its decoration and furniture Macmillan 1877 [9344] In the ‘Art at Home’ series. ‘The author has endeavoured to give more particular directions as to the furnishing and adornment of the Drawing-Room than was possible in the Miss Garretts’ volume treating of the whole subject of ‘House Decoration’ .’ Very good – missing free front end paper many illustrations – a scarce book                                                                                                                                                    £45

15.     PALMER, Beth Women’s Authorship and Editorship in Victorian Culture  OUP 2011 [13432] Draws on extensive periodical and archival material to bring new perspectives to the study of sensation fiction in the Victorian period. Mint in d/w (pub price £60)                                                                     £35

16.     RAPPOPORT, Jill Giving Women: alliance and exchange in Victorian culture OUP 2012 [13413] examines the literary expression and cultural consequences of English women’s giving from the 1820s to the First World War – in the work of Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Gaskell and Christina Rossetti – as well as in literary annuals and political pamphlets. Through giving, women redefined the primary allegiances of teh everyday lives, forged public coalitions, and advanced campaigns for abolition, slum reform, eugenics, and suffrage. Mint in d/w (pub price £45.99)                       £32

17.     RODENSKY, Lisa (ed) The Oxford Handbook of the Victorian Novel  OUP 2013 [13431] A cornucopia! Mint in d/w – heavy – 808pp. (pub price £95)                                                        £50

18.     SLATER, Michael The Great Dickens Scandal  Yale University Press 2012 [13420] How Dickens sought to cover up his relationship with Ellen Ternan. Mint in d/w (pub price £20)                   £8

19.     STONE, S. A. Home-Making: practical household hints C. Arthur Pearson 1915 [13570] One quails at the amount of routine work that was expected of the housewife and clearly, even when dirt was so much more of a threat and smoke pollution so much more damaging, it can’t really have been necessary to do all that the writers of such guides stipulated. I’m exhausted just reading it. Good reading copy   £8

20.     STOREY, Joan Home Service Book: the answers to your everyday problems in the home Hodder & Stoughton 1955 [10275] With numerous photographs of, for instance, heating equipment – v. evocative. Good                                                                                                                                            £6

21.     TINDALL, Gillian Three Houses, Many Lives: the story of a Cotswold vicarage, a Surrey boarding school and a London home Vintage 2013 [13417] Once again Gillian Tindall works her magic. I loved it (I bought my own copy!)                                                                                                             £5

22.     VANCE, Norman Bible & Novel: narrative authority and the death of God OUP 2013 [13412] ‘In our increasingly secular society novel-reading is now more popular than Bible-reading. Serious novels are often taken more seriously than scripture. The author looks at how this may have come about as an introduction to four best-selling late-Victorian novelists: George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Mary War, and Rider Haggard.’ Mint in d/w (pub price £55)                                                                                                       £28

23.     VINCE, Mrs Millicent Decoration and Care of the Home  W. Collins 1923 [12870] Mrs Vince had been a pupil of the pioneer ‘House Decorator’, Agnes Garrett. Very good in rubbed d/w                £18

         

 

BIOGRAPHY

24.     (ADDAMS) Louise Knight Jane Addams: Spirit in Action Norton 2011 [13405] Biography of the US campaigner for international peace and social justice. Mint in d/w                                           £10

25.     (BRONTE) Margaret Smith (ed) Selected Letters of Charlotte Bronte  OUP 2010 [13426] With a new introduction by Janet Gezari. Soft covers – mint                                                                         £3

 

26.     [GARDINER] Sarah Gardiner (ed) Leaves from a Young Girl’s Diary:  the journal of Margaret Gardiner 1840-41 Tuttle, Moorhouse & Taylor Co (NY) 1927 [13478] The journal kept by Margaret Gardiner who, with her father, a NY State Senator, her mother and her sister (who was to become the wife of a US President), sailed across the Atlantic to Europe. They landed at Liverpool and then proceeded to ‘do’ Europe. Delightful. Very good – scarce                                                        £45

 

27.     (LIDDELL) Simon Winchester The Alice Behind Wonderland  OUP 2011 [13406] ‘Using Charles Dodgson’s published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.’ Mint in d/w               £6

28.     (ROBINS) Octavia Wilberforce Backsettown & Elizabeth Robins  published for private circulation 1952 [13258] A little tribute – telling how Elizabeth Robins came to set up the retreat at Backsettown in Sussex. With lovely photograph of Elizabeth Robins tipped in as frontispiece. Fine in paper wraps – with a birthday inscription on free front endpaper – scarce                                                                                £38

29.     (SIMPSON) Morrice McCrae Simpson: the turbulent life of a medical pioneer Birlinn 2011 [13433] The discoverer of ‘the blessed chloroform’ and, as such, an important figure in ‘woman’s sphere’. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                                                £5

30.     (STOREY)  STOREY, Joyce Joyce’s War 1939-1945  Virago 1992 (r/p) [13482] Soft covers -very good                                                                                                                                                      £4

31.     (STUART) Hon. James A. Home (ed) Letters of Lady Louisa Stuart to Miss Louisa Clinton   David Douglas (Edinburgh) 1901 & 1903 [13335] Two volumes – complete set. The first volume covers the period 1817 to 1825 and the second volume (called ‘Second Series’) that from1826 to 1834. Society observed. Very good – two volumes together                                                                           £38

32.     (THACKERAY) John Aplin Memory and Legacy: A Thackeray Family Biography 1876-1919 Lutterworth Press 2011 [13409] Draws extensively on private collection of descendants of the 19th-century Thackerays and focuses principally on the later years of Anne Thackeray Ritchie, whose  amazingly intricate network of family and friendships offers fresh insights into the artistic milieu of the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras. Soft covers – very good                                                    £15

 

EPHEMERA

33.     The Home Friend (New Series)  SPCK 1854 [8313] 4 vols of miscellany of fact and fiction. Very good in embossed decorative original cloth – together                                                                       £45

34.     HOSMER, Harriet     [13465] 2pp handwritten letter, on black-edged note paper, written by the American sculptor, Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908), from her studio in Rome – at ’38 Gregoriana’. She is inviting ‘Mrs Newton’ to her studio and giving details of the times of her ‘open house’. Mrs Newton, with her husband, is in Rome on a visit. There is no date – but probably 1860s or 1870s? Fine       £20

35.     LONDON (ROYAL FREE HOSPITAL) SCHOOL OF MEDICINE FOR WOMEN (UNIVERSITY OF LONDON)     [13520] An appeal to build an extension – c 1915. Consists of  a brief history of the School and photographs -interior and exterior – of the building and its begetters. Fine                                                                                                                                                    £25

36.     THE HOME ARTS & INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION A Collection of the Association’s Reports    [13332] The Home Arts & Industries Association was founded in 1884 by Eglantyne Jebb and was instrumental in spearheading a revived interest in the craft movement. The Association had its office and studios in the Royal Albert Hall. The collection comprises the Reports for 1902, 1905, 1906 (1 two-sided leaflet and a 4-pp leaflet setting out barest details of the Association, which appears to have been undergoing a financial crisis. I am not sure whether there were reports for 1907 and 1908), 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918. Most in very good condition (that for 1902 may be disbound, front page is present, but loose). – ex-Board of Education Library. Together          £55

37.     BEDFORD COLLEGE  The Common Room    [13254] Real photographic card – I can see a print of G. F.Watts’ ‘Hope’ among the pictures – and is that a portrait of Emily Penrose over the fireplace? I’m not sure. Very good – printed in Berlin so probably dates from pre-1914 – unposted                     £10

38.     GEORGE LANSBURY, MP, LCC     [13279] real photographic postcard published by the Church Socialist League, London branch, pre – First World War. Fine – unposted                               £25

39.     KITTY GILLOW     [10700] poses in top hat and tails – with cigar. A latter-day music-hall actress, she has signed her photograph – which was taken in Jersey in 1964                                                 £5

40.     MISS ELLA SHIELDS   B. Feldman 1914 [10675] sings ‘Just One Kiss – Just Another One’ and is photographed in top hat and tails on the cover of the sheet music. The song was written by William Hargreaves and Dan Lipton. Very god                                                                                       £7

41.     MISS ELLA SHIELDS   Campbell, Connelly & Co 1925 [10678] sings ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home’, written by Irving King, and is photographed as an awkward young man on the cover of the sheet music. Good                                                                                                                                            £6

42.     MISS ELLA SHIELDS   Lawrence Wright 1925 [10681] sings ‘When the Bloom is On the Heather’ and is photographed in top hat and tails on the cover of the sheet music. Very good                       £6

43.     MISS ELLA SHIELDS   Francis, Day & Hunter 1927 [10682] sings ‘I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover’ and is photographed in close up on the cover wearing her top hat and white bow tie. Fair – some marks on cover                                                                                                                             £5

44.     MISS ELLA SHIELDS   Lawrence Wright 1929 [10688] sings ‘Home in Maine’ and is photographed in sailor attire on cover of sheet music. Good                                                                                 £6

45.     MISS HETTY KING   Francis, Day & Hunter 1908 [10684] sings ‘I’m Afraid to Come Home in the Dark’ and is photographed on the cover of the sheet music in extravagantly elegant top hat and tails. Very good                                                                                                                                             £7

46.     MISS NORA DELANEY   Lawrence Wright 1929 [10687] sings ‘Glad Rag Doll’ and is photographed in male evening dress on the cover of the sheet music. Good                                                     £5

47.     MISS VESTA TILLEY     [10695] photographic postcard of her in waistcoat and trilby, together with a cigarette card of woman in male evening dress. Good – card posted in 1907                          £6

48.     MISS ZENA DARE     [10693] photographic postcard of her in male attire. Very good – posted in 1906                                                                                                                                                      £5

49.     ‘MR WINIFRED WARD’     [10697] as she signs in ink (real signature) a photograph of herself in evening dress. She was an acclaimed male impersonater in the early 20th century. Fine           £7

50.     VESTA TILLEY   Francis, Day & Hunter 1905 [10670] sings ‘Who Said, “Girls”?’. Sheet music featuring photograph on cover of Vesta Tilley in smart male attire. The ditty begins: ‘One day on a Western claim/Miners vow’d their lives were tame, For in that lonel spot there seldom girls had been.’ Good                                                                                                                                                      £7

51.     VESTA TILLEY   Francis, Day & Hunter 1896 [10672] sings ‘He’s Going In For this Dancing Now’, sheet music, written by E.W. Rogers. Very good – except that the front cover is semi-detached £5

52.     VESTA TILLEY   Francis, Day & Hunter 1894 [10683] sings ‘By the Sad Sea Waves’ and is photographed in colour on the cover of the sheet music. Good – though spine strengthened    £7

 

FICTION

53.     BRONTES, The Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal: selected writings OUP 2010 [13427] Edited  with Introduction and Notes by Christine Alexander. Soft covers – mint                     £6

54.     GASKELL, Elizabeth Cranford  OUP 2011 [13428] With introduction by Dinah Birch. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                                                              £4

55.     NELSON, Cary (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry  OUP 2012 [13429] Mint in d/w – heavy – 716pp (pub price £95)                                                      £50

56.     VYNNE, Nora The Pieces of Silver  Andrew Melrose 1911 [13337] One of the dedicatees of this novel is Franklin Thomasson, whose family had a long association with the women’s suffrage movement. The heroine is a feminist journalist and political campaigner – as was the author, who co-authored, with Helen Blackburn, ‘Women Under the Factory Acts 1903’ (see item # ). While not being categorically ‘suffrage’, it is so very close to that genre that I have included it in this section. A scarce book              £48

 

WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE

 

57.     DOBBIE, B.M. Willmott Dobbie A Nest of Suffragettes in Somerset: Eagle House, Batheaston Batheaston Society 1979 [13585] The story of the Blathwayt family and their involvement in the women’s suffrage movement – copiously illustrated by the photographs taken by Col Blathwayt. Soft covers – quite scarce                                                                                                                                         £26

58.     KING, Elspeth The Scottish Women’s Suffrage Movement  People’s Palace, Glasgow 1978 [13272] Soft-covered booklet that was published to accompany the ‘Right to Vote’ exhibition organised by the People’s Palace Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1928 Representation of the People Act. Very good                                                                                                                          £12

59.     (PANKHURST) Emmeline Pankhurst My Own Story  Eveleigh Nash 1914 [13265] Mrs Pankhurst’s authobiography, written with the help of the American journalist, Rheda Childe Dorr. Good – scarce                                                                                                                                                    £55

60.     HINE, Muriel The Man With the Double Heart  John Lane 1914 [13336] A ‘suffrage’ novel. The heroine’s mother is a Militant Suffragette; she is not. Good                                                     £18

 

WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE: EPHEMERA

61.     A Brief Review of the Women’s Suffrage Movement since its Beginning in 1832  [NUWSS], printed by Vacher & Sons April 1911 [13505] 16-pp pamphlet.  Very good – would be fine but it has lost its staples. With the ownership inscription of a ‘Mrs Kerr’ on the cover.                                                    £35

62.     ADA HINES      [12587] (1872-1949) of ‘The Nook’, Ashton-on-Mersey, was an artist and a suffragette – the joint founder, in 1909, with her friend and fellow artist, Lucy Fildes, of the Manchester branch of the Women’s Freedom League. Here is an opportunity to acquire a small oil painting by her – unframed – on board – entitled ‘Sunset’. Signed but undated – rather atmospheric.                                     £75

63.     BODICHON, Mrs Reasons for the Enfranchisement of Women  London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, no date late 1860s? [9519] Printed by Head, Hole & Co, Farringdon Street and Ivy Lane, E.C. Scarce and important pamphlet -8pp – good                                                                            £250

64.     CORONATION PROCESSION 17 June 1911     [11274] A stereoscope photograph of ‘The Empire Car’ – part of the ‘Pageant of Empire’ part of the procession staged by the suffrage societies to mark the Coronation of George V. Very good                                                                                         £95

65.     ELMY, Elizabeth Wostenholme  Woman’s Franchise: the need of the hour  ILP 2nd ed, no date [1907] [12760] A campaigner for women’s suffrage since the mid-1860s, she had put aside a lifetime’s aversion to party politics and joined the Manchester ILP in 1904. This article was originally published in the ‘Westminster Review’. In her concise style she analyses the events of the previous 40 years and demands that Liberal MPs who profess to support women’s suffrage honour their pledges.                   £65

66.     HILL, MISS OCTAVIA Women and the Suffrage   1910 [13150] 2-sided leaflet, reproducing a letter from Octavia Hill to the Editor of the ‘Times’, dated 14 July 1910. In this she repudiates the necessity of votes for women – ‘Let the woman seek the quiet paths of helpful real work, be set on finding where she is wanted, on her duties, not on her rights…’ The 2-sided leaflet was printed by the National Press Agency Ltd and does not carry the imprimatur of the anti-suffrage society, although I imagine that group was probably behind its publication, the NPA being their usual printer. Good – very scarce          £68

67.     IN MEMORIAM  Rt Hon Lord and Lady (Emmeline) Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake    [13195] 4-pp leaflet describing the various commemorations of the lives of the Pethick-Lawrences. Issued by the Suffragette Fellowship under the names of Lady (Helen) Pethick-Lawrence and Grace Roe. Good £15

68.     LEIGH SMITH, Barbara A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women; together with a few observations thereon Holyoake & Co, 2nd edition revised with addition 1856 [9033] Barbara Leigh Smith (later Barbara Bodichon) was 27 years old when she wrote this pamphlet, first published in 1854 as part of her campaign to change the Married Women’s Property Acts. This pamphlet is extremely scarce (I have never had a copy for sale before), bound inside recent paper covers. Rather amusingly, the printed price of ‘Threepence’ has been scored through and ‘1 1/2 d’ added – a comment, presumably, then on the interest being shown in the campaign by a public not yet awakened to the cause. Very good                                                                                          £280

69.     LYDIA BECKER     [12607] Letter from Lydia Becker to ‘Mr Levi’ – written from 85 Carter St, Greenyes, Manchester on ‘Oct 16’ – I have worked out that the year is1868. ‘Mr Levi’ is probably Prof Leone Levi, to whom she had sent a pamphlet a few days earlier. I think, in response, he had written to her in admiration asking for some material from her for his autograph book. In this letter, in return, she writes ‘I have written out my three Norwich prospositions ,[these are drawn from her address at Norwich to the British Association Section F on 25 Aug 1868] which I hope may serve your purpose as a curiosity! for your autograph book, and a bone of contention for your friends.’ These ‘three Norwich propositions’ are set out on a separate sheet. But, in addition, in her  4-pp mss letter she sets out ‘my general wishes and conclusions as to the rights of women’.. All the material has been carefully attached to a sheet that once was page 77 in a collection of autograph material. Incidentally the material on the reverse, p 78, is in Italian, lending credence to my supposition that the correspondent was Leone Levi, who had left his native Italy for Liverpool in 1844. A very interesting letter – very good                                  £95

70.     MEN’S LEAGUE FOR OPPOSING WOMAN SUFFRAGE Gladstone on Woman Suffrage  MLOWS c. 1909 [13146] The Men’s League for Opposing Woman Suffrage was founded in early 1909 and in 1910 merged with the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League to form  the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. This pamphlet – reproducing the Grand Old Man’s words on the subject is pamphlet no 3 issued by the Men’s League, presumably quite soon after its founding in 1909. 4-pp – good, with some foxing, scarce                                                                                                           £78

71.     MEN’S LEAGUE FOR OPPOSING WOMAN SUFFRAGE Is Woman Suffrage A Logical Outcome of Democracy?  MLOWS c 1909 [13147] Pamphlet no 6 published by the short-lived Men’s League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. 4-pp – very good – scarce                                                             £60

72.     MISS MORGAN, OF BRECON The Duties of Citizenship  Women’s Local Government Society c 1912 [12946] Extracts reprinted from a paper read at the Annual Conference of the National Union of Women Workers, Manchester, October 27th 1896. By the time this leafet was issued Miss Morgan had been Mayor of Brecon, 1911-12. 4-pp – good – withdrawn from the Women’s Library                               £15

73.     NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR OPPOSING WOMAN SUFFRAGE Mr J.R. Tolmie’s Reply to Mr L. Housman’s Pamphlet  NLOWS no date (1913) [13145] The pamphlet of Laurence Housman’s to which this refers is ‘The Physical Force Fallacy’. Pamphlet no 37 issued by the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. 4-pp – very good                                                                                           £65

74.     NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR OPPOSING WOMAN SUFFRAGE Woman Suffrage and the Factory Acts  NLOWS no date [13155] A 4-pp leaflet, no 8 in the NLOWS series,  pointing out that the ‘Women’s Party’ (ie pro-suffrage campaigners) were opposed to the ‘humane acts’ limiting women’s work in factory etc because ‘most of them harbour such a jealous mistrust of men that they suppose even their evidently disinterested actions to be prompted by insidious and harmful motive.’ The leaflet concludes ‘To grant women the franchise would therefore be to raise a fresh obstacle in the way of progress and to defer reforms still necessary for the welfare of the working classes..’ Very good – very scarce         £75

75.     NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE CENTRAL COMMITTEE: First Report of the Executive Committee presented at the General Meeting of the Central Committee held on Wednesday 17 July 1872  National Society for Women’s Suffrage 1872 [12931] See my ‘Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide’ as to how and why the Central Committee came into being. This – the Committee’s first report, contains lists of names of members of the Committee, of subscribers, and of the Local Committtes around England and Scotland that affiliated to the Central. In original paper covers – rubbed – very scarce                                                                                                                   £95

76.     PANKHURST, Christabel A Challenge    [13508] ‘Miss Pankhurst’s unpublished Articcle in this week’s ‘Votes for Women’, 8 March 1912. This was the week that Christabel eluded the police and escaped to Paris – and ‘Votes for Women’ was censored. The article that was to have been included was, instead, issued by the WSPU as a leaflet. It ends by promising ‘Repression will make the fire of rebellion burn brighter. Harsher punishment will be a direct invitation to more drastic acts of militancy.’ I don’t remember ever seeing this leaflet before. one-sided – chipped at one edge and with a slight slit – but with no loss of text. Good – and very scarce                                                                                                      £75

77.     PANKHURST, Christabel International Militancy  WSPU 1915 [13502] ‘A speech delivered at Carnegie Hall, New York, January 13th, 1915’. 24-pp pamphlet, paper covers (with photograph of Christabel Pankhurst). Fine – just with a couple of rust marks from spine staples – in original paper wrappers. Scarce                                                                                                                      £100

78.     PETHICK-LAWRENCE, Emmeline and Frederick (eds) VOTES FOR WOMEN VOL III Oct 1909-Sept 1910     [12407] Hefty bound volume of the WSPU weekly newspaper, in original Sylvia Pankhurst-designed boards. Signs of wear at leather corners – spines rebacked – ex Reading University Library – with library label on back boards. Internally very clean and tight, except for page of the Index where paper has split, but with no loss of text..                                                                                           £900

79.     PHILLIPS, Mary The Militant Suffrage Campaign  privately printed 1957 [11357] ‘This pamphlet is designed to tell in a concise form the story of the ‘Votes for Women Canpaign’ and to explain the reasoned policy on which it was based.’ Mary Phillips had been a leading WSPU organizer. Soft covers – 15pp – scarce                                                                                                                                         £65

80.     POTT, Gladys Report of Lecture by Miss Pott on the Anti-Suffrage Movement    [13511] ‘Delivered at 67 Westbourne Terrace, W. on Tuesday December 12th 1911. Sir Bartle Frere presiding’. Gladys Pott was the Anti-Suffrage Movement strongest ammunition. In ‘Campaigning for the Vote’ Kate Frye gives a wonderful description of watching Miss Pott in action – ‘ a most harsh, repellent and unpleasing woman. She began by saying we should not get sentiment from her and we did not. ,,’ Certainly you get the flavour of her style from this Lecture – particularly in the treatment of questioners – all faithfully reported. The Lecture was published by the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. 16pp – very good – I am not sure whether it was issued with a paper wrapper but, if so, that isn’t present now. COPAC  records a copy held by LSE Library – and nowhere else. Scarce                                                              £95

81.     PUNCH CARTOON     [12767] 13 July 1910, full-page – the caption is ‘Excelsior!’ as Suffragist puts her shoulder to the boulder of ‘Women’s Suffrage’ and says, ‘It’s no good talking to me about Sisyphus; he was only a man’                                                                                                                     £10

82.     PUNCH CARTOON     [12768] 13 March 1912, full-page, suffragettes wield hammers in the background as Roman-type matron, bearing a paper labelled ‘Woman’s Suffrage’ comments ‘To think that, after all these years, I should be the first martyr’. the heading is ‘In the House of Her Friends’ £10

83.     PUNCH CARTOON     [12772] 10 January 1912 -full page – ‘United We Differ’. Lloyd George and Lewis Harcourt are back to back on a platform. Lloyd George addressing his side, where a Votes for Women’ banner is to be seen, cries ‘Votes for Women! Don’t you listen to my esteemed colleague!’. While addressing his, male, crowd cries ‘No Votes for Women! My esteemed colleague is talking nonsense!’. Asquith’s cabinet was split on this issue. Very good                                                                 £10

84.     PUNCH CARTOON     [12777] 21 January 1912 – full page – ‘The Suffrage Split’. Sir George Askwith (the charismatic industrial conciliator), as ‘Fairy Peacemaker’, has tamed the dragon of the Cotton Strike – and Asquith, wrestling to keep a seat on the Cabinet horse turns to him ‘Now that you’ve charmed yon dragon I shall need ye to stop the strike inside this fractious gee-gee.’                                     £10

85.     SUFFRAGETTE FELLOWSHIP Roll of Honour Suffragette Prisoners 1905-1914  Suffragette Fellowship no date [1966] [13107] 16-pp, double column, listing all the suffragette prisoners that the Suffragette Fellowship knew of. A couple of names have been added in ink. Internally fine – cover has shelf markings etc – withdrawn from the Women’s Library. Scarce                                        £150

86.     ‘THE VOTE’ POSTCARD ALBUM     [13274] An original green cloth-covered postcard album – sold by the Women’s Freedom League. It has a faded white and gold central panel containing its title ‘The Vote Album’  [ I think the design was by Eva Claire – showing the Suffragists at the door of the State, which is barred and bolted against them. Seeking entrance are the Women of the Nation; graduates in academic dress standing side by side with working women.] This particular album once belonged to Mrs Louisa Thomson Price, who was born Louisa Catherine Sowdon in 1864 and died in 1926. She was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. She was impressed by Charles Bradlaugh of the National Secular Society. In 1888 she married John Sansom, who was a member of the executive of the NSS. She worked as a journalist from c 1886 – as a political writer, then a very unusual area for women, and drew cartoons for a radical journal, ‘Political World’. She was a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband, in 1907 she married George Thomson Price. She had no children from either marriage.
Louisa Thomson Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League, became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote,  and was a director of Minerva Publishing, publisher of the paper. She contributed a series of cartoons – including these 6 that were then produced as postcards. The ‘Jack Horner’ cartoon was also issued as a poster for, I think, the January 1910 General Election. Louisa Thomson Price took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favour of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL. and £1000 to endow a Louisa Thomson Price bed at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital. When she died Mrs Thomson Price was living at 17 Belsize Park Gardens, Hampstead, and her will was witnessed by Edith Alexander, a professional nurse, who, I’m sure, ran a nursing home at that address. Also living at that address were Miss Edith Alexandra Hartley and Miss Martha Poles Hartley, the latter being the elder sister of the father of the novelist, L.P. Hartley. Interestingly, when they were young,  the son and daughter (Olga and Leonard – born ‘Lion’) of Mrs Beatrice Hartley, leading light in the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, to whom Kate Frye makes constant reference in her diary (see ‘Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary’) sent a birthday card to Edith Alexander at 17 Belsize Park Gardens, referring to her as ‘Aunty Edith’. They were no blood relations to Edith Alexander, their mother having married their father, Lion Herz, in 1880 and, after 3 children and a separation, at some time between 1893 and 1898 changed the family surname from ‘Herz’ to ‘Hartley’.. As far as I can tell there is no tie of blood between Mrs Beatrice Hartley and Miss Edith Alexandra Hartley  – I can only presume that, with Miss Edith Alexander, they were all close friends. The card from Olga and Leonard, together with many more addressed to Edith Alexander, are still held in the postcard album. I assume that after Mrs Thomson Price’s death ‘The Vote Postcard Album’ remained in 17 Belsize Park Gardens and was taken over by Miss Alexander as a place to put her own postcards – none of which have any suffrage relevance. But the Album itself is an extremely scarce example of Women’s Freedom League merchandise                                                    £750

87.     VOTES FOR WOMEN, 16 August 1912     [13190] Complete copy – although the pages are detached. The main news in this issue is of the sentencing in Dublin of Mary Leigh and Gladys Evans. Fair reading copy – scarce                                                                                                                              £60

88.     VOTES FOR WOMEN, 27 September 1912     [13176] At this date the paper, owned and edited by Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, was still the mouthpiece of the WSPU. However this issue contains both news of the Pethick-Lawrences’ imminent return from Canada and that of the WSPU’s move from Clement’s Inn to Lincoln’s Inn House. The two items – and that describing the large meeting to be held in the Albert Hall – were not unconnected, I think. This is one of the last issues of the paper before the Pethick-Lawrences were ousted from the WSPU. In fair condition – splits on spine – and some annotation, probably contemporary. Scarce                                                                               £95

89.     VOTES FOR WOMEN, 27 September 1912     [13496] Complete issue. Chipped and rubbed and with some – interesting – annotations                                                                                                 £60

90.     VOTES FOR WOMEN ADVERTISEMENT     [13262] for a WSPU meeting to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on 29 April 1909 – to be chaired by Mrs Pethick Lawrence, with Mrs Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst as speakers with a ‘Special Presentation to Women who have suffered Imprisonment for Woman Suffrage’. This ‘Special Presentation’ was that of the ‘Holloway’ brooches given, for the first time, to released prisoners. The advertisement appears in the programme for the Royal Adelphi Theatre in which John Galsworthy’s play ‘Strife’ was running. The play, produced by Granville Barker, had Lillah McCarthy in the cast and had had its first performance at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 9 March 1909. On the illustrated cover of this 4-pp programme is written in hand the date 1 April 1909. The proprietors of the Adelphi were A. & E. Gatti – and the coloured cover illustration shows happy customers doubtless enjoying an after-theatre supper at their restaurant.. In fair condition –                                    £25

91.     WOMEN’S NATIONAL ANTI-SUFFRAGE LEAGUE On Suffragettes: extracts from ‘What’s Wrong With The World’ by G.K. Chesterton WNASL c 1909 [13151] ‘They do not create revolution; what they do create is anarchy’. 2-sided leaflet – noo 30 in the WNASL’s series of leaflets – very good – very scarce                                                                                                                                 £78

92.     WOMEN’S NATIONAL ANTI-SUFFRAGE LEAGUE Woman’s Suffrage and Women’s Wages  WNASL c 1909 [13156] ‘The leaflet concludes Woman Suffrage therefore has nothing to do with wages, and the interests of woman workers can be promoted, and are constantly being promoted in quite other ways.’ One of the ways that the League thought would help solve the problem of the inequality of wages between the sexes would be ‘The more even distribution of the female population throughout the terrotory of the Empire, by means of emigration’. Two-sided leaflet – very good – very scarce              £65

93.     THE WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION A Reply to Mr Gladstone: Frog-marching in Liverpool Prison   [13396] One (no 65) of the large format leaflets produced by the WSPU during the Jan 1910 General Election. This one specifically addresses the Home Secretary on the treatment of Suffrage prisoners. Fine – has been folded and with tag where it has been fixed in Kate Frye’s diary                                                                                                                                                  £100

94.     ROBERTSON, Margaret Working Men and Women’s Suffrage  NUWSS Aug 1913 [12937] Margaret Robertson was a university graduate and NUWSS organiser. This pamphlet was written at a time when the NUWSS had set up its Election Fighting Fund to support Labour Party candidates – and was intended for distribution amongst trade unionists. Small format, 24pp in card covers                            £35

95.     ARREST OF CAPT. C.M. GONNE     [12914] Member of the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement, Parliament Square, November 18th, 1910.’ Capt Gonne was photographed by the ‘Daily Mirror’ being escorted by two policemen during the ‘Black Friday’ tumult. Capt Charles Melvill Gonne (1862-1926), Royal Artillery, was  the author of ‘Hints on Horses’ (John Murray, 1904), an active suffragist, who supported his wife, a tax resister, and was a cousin of Maud Gonne, the Irish nationalist heroine. Very good -unusual –  unposted                                                                                 £120

96.     CICELY HAMILTON     [12954] photograph by Lena Connell. Fine – unposted             £120

97.     COUNTESS RUSSELL     [13241] real photographic postcard – headed ‘Votes for Women’ of ‘Countess Russell Member of National Executive Committee Women’s Freedom League’. The card depicts Countess Russell photographed in a studio setting – and is signed in ink ‘Yours sincerely Mollie Russell’. She was the second wife of Frank Russell, 2nd Earl Russell, the elder brother of Bertrand. Mollie was described by George Santyana as ‘a fat, florid Irishwoman, with black curls, friendly manners and emotional opinions: a political agitator and reformer.’ The photograph in no way belies the physical description. She and Russell were divorced in 1915. Fine – unposted – scarce – I have never seen this card before      £120

98.     DESTRUCTION OF GRAND STAND BY SUFFRAGETTES AT HURST PARK SUNDAY JUNE 18 1913     [13542] Real photographic postcard by Young’s, Teddington. The scene left by Kitty Marion and Clara (Betty) Giveen after they had lit a beacon for Emily Davison – who had died, unbeknownst to them, a few hours earlier. (See full details https://womanandhersphere.com/2013/06/07/suffrage-stories-kitty-marion-emily-wilding-davison-and-hurst-park/). Fine – the message on the reverse is dated 5 July – the card was posted at Molesey Park – so the sender was clearly a local resident who, in fact, mentions that she (I’m sure it is a  ‘she’) had ‘just returned from Kingston’. Very scarce                                                                                      £180

99.     DR THEKLA HULTIN     [13168] The Finnish MP is photographed at her desk. She sent the card from Helsingfors (Helsinki) on 12 April 1917 to Mrs Louisa Thompson-Price of the Women’s Freedom League. From the message on the reverse it would appear that the two women shared a birthday ‘I wish you all the best (including the vote) in the following 50 years…’ Very good – posted – very unusual      £120

100.   EDITH CRAIG     [12955] photographed by Lena Connell, published at The Suffrage Shop, 31 Bedford Street (therefore the card dates from c 1910 – before its removal in 1911 south of the Strand). Fine – unposted                                                                                                                                  £120

101.   FORTISSIMO     [12875] – real photograph, – toddler holds the songsheet for ‘Bother the Men’, dating from the 1880s. Published by Rotary Photo, this is one in a series. Posted by Dick on 21 December 1908 to Master Harry Day of 9 Arthur St, Pembroke Dock, with the message ‘Harry boy  – learning Dada’s Xmas Song.’ Good                                                                                                                     £28

102.   GREAT VOTES FOR WOMEN DEMONSTRATION IN HYDE PARK     [13163] The WSPU rally on Sunday 21 June 1908. Crowds as far as the eye can see – with massed banners, including those of Cardiff and Newport, waving in the breeze. Fine – published by Sandle Bros – unposted       £85

103.   HATHERLEIGH CARNIVAL     [13558] Hatherleigh in Devon has staged a carnival each year in November since 1903. This postcard is a sepia photograph of three children – I rather think they are all boys – dressed as women – glamorously bedecked in flowers – standing beside a vehicle that I think is a bicycle – which is similarly decorated – with flowers and paper lanterns (?) – and bears a large notice ‘Votes for Women’.  Good – unposted                                                                                                  £55

104.   MISS GRACE ROE     [12958] The caption is ‘UNDAUNTED’!’ She is being marched out of the WSPU headquarters, Lincolns Inn House, by police, arrested in May 1914.  She was not released from prison until under the amnesty in August. The postcard photography was by courtesy of the ‘Daily Mirror’. An iconic image. Fine – unposted – scarce.                                                                                    £190

105.   MISS MARY GAWTHORPE     [13553] The caption is ‘Votes for Women’ and she is described as ‘Organiser, Women’s Social and Political Union,
4 Clement’s Inn, Strand, W.C. The card was posted in South Kensington on 31 Oct 1908 – the writer says ‘This is one of the speakers I heard on Thursday. She is splendid…’. The sender probably heard Mary Gawthorpe at the WSPU meeting held in the Albert Hall on Thursday 29 oct 1908. Good    £65

106.   MRS EMMELINE PANKHURST     [13240] real photographic postcard. She is wearing a shield-shaped WSPU badge – in the chevron design. Fine – unposted – a rather unusual image – the first I’ve had in stock since 2000.                                                                                                                    £75

107.   MRS HENRY FAWCETT, LL.D     [13239] ‘President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies’, is the caption below her photograph by Lizzie Caswall Smith. Probably dates from c 1910. Fine – unposted -although written on the back in pencil is ‘Return to Mrs Thomson-Price 42 Parkhill Road, Hampstead N.W.’ The card comes from the collection of Louisa Thomson-Price, one of the leading members of the Women’s Freedom League.                                                                              £60

108.   MRS LILIAN M. HICKS     [11634] – photographed by Lena Connell – an official Women’s Freedom League photographic postcard. Mrs Hicks had been an early member of the WSPU, but left to join the WFL in the 1907 split, returning in 1910 to the WSPU. Fine – unposted                                 £35

109.   MRS MARTEL     [13255] Real photographic postcard captioned ‘Mrs Martel National Women’s Social and Political Union, 4 Clement’s Inn, W.C.’ Cornish-born Nellie Martel had emigrated to Australia and on her return devoted herself to the WSPU. She had a reputation as a gaudy dresser and certainly here she is dripping in flounces and jewllery – with a rather charingly amused smile. Very good – unposted – scarce.                                                                                                                                        £90

110.   PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN OUTSIDE THE WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE COMMITTEE ROOM     [13549] in Hoe Street, Walthamstow. The photograph shows a group on the pavement outside the Committee Rooms with a board on which is written ‘New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage’. In front of them, on the road, is parked a large motor car, to the front of which is attached another large board inscribed in large letters ‘New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage’. Sitting in the car and waving a large flag is an elegant, grandly be-hatted woman. I have never before seen a photograph of the New Constitutional Society at work, as it were. Kate Frye, our main source of information on the NCS, was not yet quite involved in that society – in fact on the day this card was posted, 28 October 1910, she was attending a meeting of the Actresses’ Franchise League at their office – so I can give no inside information on the NCS campaign at this Walthamstow by-election. This by-election was of particular interest to suffrage campaigners because the Liberal candidate was a cabinet minister, Sir John Simon. Election day was on Tuesday 1 November and the sender of the card, who posted it from Leyton at 7 pm on Friday 28th Oct, was one of the NCS campaigners. She tells her correspondent that ‘We are frantically busy working at Walthamstow By Election. Meetings every day and evening.’ She does not, alas, sign her name – but the recipient was Mrs Radcliffe Crocker of Brant Ridge, Bourne End, Bucks. This is something of a coincidence because Kate Frye called on Mrs Crocker the following 1 May (1911) when she was canvassing for support for a new NCS suffrage society in Bourne End (her home town). Mrs Crocker, the widow of an eminent dermatologist, was, Kate tells us, ‘in, but no good’ – so doubtless hadn’t been particularly impressed by the postcard sender’s Walthamstow campaigning.  From the photograph I think that the NCS must have been sharing a committeee room with the Men’s Suffrage League – it certainly is not the Committee Room taken by the WSPU. Above the door is a sign ‘Men’s League Walk In’ – the windows are lined with posters and, with the Men’s League, the Women’s Freedom League and the WSPU, the NCS took part the following day in a procession through Walthamstow that ended with a meeting in Walthamstow Palace Theatre. There is no photographer or publisher of the postcard named – the photo may have been taken by a NCS member – and the image is of the sepia type – rather than crisp black and white. However the image is quite clear – most interesting on a variety of counts – and extremely unusual – I won’t say unique because there were clearly more than one card issued – but I should imagine the chances of finding another were extremely remote.                                                          £200

111.   ‘RUINS OF ST KATHERINE’S CHURCH, BURNT DOWN MAY 6 1913     [11824] Real photographic card. There are several images published on postcards of the ruins of St Catherine’s (this is the correct spelling; the card’s publisher was a bit slapdash) Church at Hatcham in Surrey, for the burning of which the suffragettes were thought responsible – but I have never seen this one before.   £35

112.   ‘SUFFRAGETTE’ POSTCARD     [13243] real photographic card – though it must be staged. Set in what appears to be the country – with trees and flowers – it shows a woman in loose-fitting jacket and long skirt – with one of the shield-shaped chevron WSPU badges pinned to her lapel, being apprehended by a policeman in helmet and uniform and sporting an imposing display of medals. The point of the photograph is that the woman is holding out for him to see a copy of the ‘Suffragette’ newspaper. I have never seen this image before. It is issued as a postcard – but no photographer or publisher is cited. Most unusual – unposted – very good (with a slight crease at the bottom right-hand corner where it has been held in (Louisa Thomson-Price’s) postcard album                                                                               £120

 

113.   SUFFRAGETTE PROCESSION     [13545] Real photographic postcard – an unusual view of the 1911 ‘Coronation Procession’. The photograph, published as a postcard by J. J. Samuels, 371 Stramd, London W.C., shows the ‘Pageant of Great Women’ part of the procession walking the street that goes out of Trafalgar and merges into Pall Mall. The photograph has been taken from an upper window of one of the buildings on the south side of the street  and gives an excellent view not only of the procession but of London’s buildings decorated for the Coronation. The streets are packed with onlookers. Unposted – reverse a little grubby but the front is in very good condition. Unusual                                 £120

 

114.   THE WOMEN’S GUILD OF EMPIRE     [12877] ‘souvenir packet’ of 6 postcards, in their original printed paper envelope, published by the Women’s Guild of Empire. The cards are: 1) ‘Women’s Guild of Empire Committee’ – the 6 members of the Committee, who included Flora Drummond and Elsie Bowerman, sit around a table; 2) Mrs R.S Henderson, president; 3) Mrs Flora Drummond, Controller-in-Chief; 4) WGE banner ‘Peace Unity Concord’ surrounded by members; 5) Banner Making for the Great Demonstration April 17th 1926 – Mrs Drummond under an ‘Effeciancy and Entrprise’ banner; 6) ‘Women Pipers from the Lothians’ – with Mrs Drummond in control Scottishness was to the fore. An extremely rare set – I have never seen any of these cards before – and, in general, there are few images of the Guild of Empire and its work. The printed envelope carries details of the ‘Objects’ of the Guild and of its work. All cards in pristine condition – dating, I assume, to c 1926. As a set                                    £220

115.   VOTES FOR WOMEN     [13256] one of those real photographic ‘comic’ cards with young man dressed as a woman standing behind a table and a large ‘Votes for Women’ blackboard. He is holding a large knife (I think) in one hand and a bottle of beer – Benksins Watford – in the other. It is signed across the bottom right corner ‘Your old Pal Dan’                                                                                                  £35

116.   WOMEN’S FREEDOM LEAGUE Miss Sarah Benett    [12950] photographed by Lena Connell. In this studio photograph Sarah Benett is wearing her WFL Holloway brooch; she was for a time the WFL treasurer. She was also a member of the WSPU and of the Tax Resistance League. This photograph by Lena Connell was also used on a WFL-published postcard – but this one is not attributed to the WFL. The background to the image is little irridescent.                                                                           £100

117.   WOMEN’S FREEDOM LEAGUE Mrs Amy Sanderson    [12919] Women’s Freedom League, 1 Robert Street, Adelphi, London WC. She had been a member of the WSPU, and, as such had endured one term of imprisonment, before helping to found the WFL in 1907. She is, I think, wearing her  WFL Holloway brooch in the photograph. Card, published by WFL, fine – unusual – unposted    £150

118.   WOMEN’S FREEDOM LEAGUE Mrs Edith How-Martyn , ARCS, BSc    [12917] Hon Sec Women’s Freedom League 1 Robert Street, Adelphi, London WC. She is wearing herWFL Holloway brooch. Photographed by M.P. Co (London) – which I think is probably the Merchants Portrait Co in Kentish Town that did a fair amount of work for the WFL. The card is headed ‘Votes for Women’ and was published by the WFL. Fine – unposted                                                                                  £120

119.   WOMEN’S FREEDOM LEAGUE Mrs Marion Holmes    [12921] card headed ‘Votes for Women’ published by the Women’s Freedom League, 1 Robert St, Adelphi, London WC. Mrs Holmes was joint editor of the WFL paper ‘The Vote’. She is photoraphed wearing herWFL Holloway badge as well as one of the WFL enamel badges. Fine – unusual – unposted                                                           £120

 

WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE POSTCARDS: COMIC

120.   ‘HI! MISS! YER TROWSERS IS A-COMING DOWN’     [12507] shouts tyke to elegant young woman sporting ‘harem’ trousers. Pre-First World War, pub by Felix McGlennon. Not actually ‘suffrage’ but of the time. Very good – very glossy                                                                                   £25

121.   ‘NOT IN THOSE TROUSERS’     [12506] is the caption to a hand-painted postcard (the artist has initialed it ‘K.S.’). The subject of the remark is a lady in a purple and green outfit – a long tunic over ‘harem’ trousers – wearing a green and purple hat and carrying an umbrella. The author of the remark, a dapper gentleman, stands in the background. The colouring may indicate that a suffrage inference might be drawn – the style of dress certainly points to an early-20th-century date. Very good – unposted       £15

122.   THIS IS THE HOUSE THAN MAN BUILT     [13551] And this is the policeman all tattered and torn/Who wished women voters had never been born,/Who nevertheless /Tho it caused him distress/Ran them all in,/In spite of their dress:/The poor Suffragette/Who wanted to get/Into The House than man built. With House of Commons in the background, a policeman is battered by one suffragette as he attempts to aprehend another – virgagos both, of course. In the BB London Series. In very good condition – posted on 30 April 1909                                                                                                          £45

123.   THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT MAN BUILT     [13550] ‘And these are the members who’ve been sitting late/Coming out arm in arm, from a lengthy debate…’ Fashionably dressed couple, he in top hat and frock coat emerge, engaged in reasonable discussion, from the Houses of Parliament. An ink line at under the text carries the message ‘Will we ever live to see this.’ In BB London Series. Very good – posted in Clapton on 12 May 1909.                                                                                                                        £45

124.   THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT MAN BUILT     [13552] ‘And this is the home of the poor suffragette/And there’s room for a great many more of them in it yet…’ Burly suffragette being taken in hand by a policeman – with the towers of Holloway in the background. In BB London series. Very good- unposted                                                                                                                                    £45

125.   COMPANIONS IN DISGRACE     [13555] – the sweet girl graduate stands, robed, alongside a convict in his arrowed suit. The heading is ‘Polling Booth’ and the caption ‘Companions in Disgrace’ refers to  their shared characteristic. The verse below explains further: ‘Convicts and Women kindly note,/ Are not allowed to have the vote…’ etc. Drawn by ‘C.H.’ and published by the Artists’ Suffrage League. Very good – unposted                                                                                                                         £65

126.   YOUNG NEW ZEALAND     [13230] cycles on her modern bicycle with its two wheels equal in size. The front one is labelled ‘Male and Female’ and the back one ‘Equal Electoral Rights’.  She calls out to old John Bull who is struggling atop a penny farthing, ‘Oh Grandpapa! what a funny old machine. Why don’t you get one like mine?’ The artist is JHD [Joan Harvey Drew]. Published by the Artists’ Suffrage League. Very good- unposted – v scarce                                                                                                 £95

 

WOMEN AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR

127.   BARTON, Edith And CODY, Marguerite Eve in Khaki: the story of the Women’s Army at home and abroad Thomas Nelson, no date (1918) [12577] Part I – in England by Edith M. Barton. Part II – In France by Marguerite Cody. The First World War and the early years of the WAAC. Very good     £38

128.   CABLE, Boyd Doing Their Bit: war work at home Hodder and Stoughton, 2nd imp 1916 [8646] Includes a chapter on ‘The Women’. Good                                                                                £18

129.   CAHILL, Audrey Fawcett Between the Lines: letters and diaries from Elsie Inglis’s Russian Unit Pentland Press 1999 [11675] Soft covers – mint                                                                       £15

130.   DEARMER, Mabel Letters from a Field Hospital: with a memoir of the author by Stephen Gwynn Macmillan 1916 [12640] In April 1915 Mabel Dearmer, the wife of the Christian socialist Rev Percy Dearmer, went out to work with Mrs Stobart in Serbia. She died of enteric fever in July.  Very good internally – cream cloth cover a little grubby – scarce                                                                £75

131.   DENT, Olive A V.A.D. in France  Grant Richards Ltd  1917 [12636] Autobiographical account of nursing in France in the First World War. Very good, with atmospheric pictorial cloth cover £75

132.   FARMBOROUGH, Florence Russian Album 1908-1918  Michael Russell 1979 [12645] Photographs taken both before and during the First World War by Florence Farmborough, who first went to Russia in 1908 – and left in 1918. At the outbreak of war she served with the Russian Red Cross. An amazing collection. Large format, fine in d/w                                                                                         £28

133.   [HALL] Edith Hall Canary Girls & Stockpots  WEA Luton Branch 1977 [12884] Memories of life in the First World War – and of the ’20s and ’30s. During the War Edith Hall’s mother was landlady to munition workers – ‘the Canaries’ (so called because the chemicals turned their skin yellow) at the Hayes factories.
Soft covers – signed by the author                                                                                             £10

134.   MCLAREN, Eva Shaw (ed) A History of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals  Hodder & Stoughton 1919 [12638] A very full history of the work of the SWH in the First World War. With 57 illustrations, including a marvellous pull-out panoramic photograph of the Salonika hospital in 1918 – huts and tents as far as the eye can see.  408pp – very good -with new endpapers and a little foxing – scarce    £65

135.   MARLOW, Joyce (ed) The Virago Book of Women and the Great War  Virago 1998 [11926] Hardcover – fine in fine d/w                                                                                                      £12

136.   (ROSS) Ishobel Ross Little Grey Partridge  Aberdeen University Press 1988 [12153] ‘First World War diary of Ishobel Ross, who served with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Unit in Serbia.’ With an introduction by Jess Dixon.  Paper covers – fine                                                                       £10

137.   STONE, Gilbert (ed) Women War Workers: accounts contributed by representative workers of the work done by women in the more important branches of war employment George G. Harrap & Co 1917 [12631] With a foreword by Lady Jellicoe. Chapters on: munition work; the land; work as a postwoman; banking; as a bus conductor; driver of butcher’s delivery cart; nursing at the Front in France; work as a V.A.D.; working with ‘Concerts at the Front’; and welfare work. Includes a chapter on War Organisations for Women, full of facts and figures – with 12 photographs. Very good – a surprisingly scarce book       £60

138.   WALKER, Dora M. With the Lost Generation 1915-1919: From a V.A.D.s Diary A. Brown & Sons (Hull) 2nd imp 1971 [12879] ‘A “Girl’s Eye View” of work in some of the famous War Hospitals of 1914-1918.’ – written at the time by the author to her father. Dora Walker worked in hospitals in Britain, France and Belgium. With 20 photographs. Fine – scarce                                                                     £25

 

WOMEN AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR: EPHEMERA

139.   DENNYS, Joyce  Portrait of Nurse Winifred Whitworth    [11472] Winifred  Fanny Whitworth (b.1891) was a VAD nurse at the Royal Naval Auxiliary Hospital, Truro, when she was commended for ‘valuable service in connection with the war’ in the London Gazette 29 Nov 1918. She was the only daughter (with 6 brothers) of Mr & Mrs R. Whitworth of Truro. Joyce Dennys (1893-1991), illustrator and humourist, was herself a VAD, working in hospitals in Devon. She was commissioned c 1915 to draw the pictures for ‘Our Hospitals ABC’, pub by John Lane. She must have visited the Royal Naval Auxiliary Hospital at Truro c 1917, when she was working in the VAD adminsitration office. The pastel and gouache portrait of Nurse Whitworth is one of 31, unsigned drawings, that were contained in a sketch book. Research by an art dealer, specialising in art of the First World War, established that the sketch book was the work of Joyce Dennys. Plenty of scope, I feel, for further research on Nurse Whitworth and her fellow Cornish VADs. Very good – mounted                                                                                                    £95

140.   GRANT, LILIAS and MOIR, ETHEL ‘Uncensored Diary’ and ‘Uncensored Letters’    [12590] Lilias Grant wrote the ‘Uncensored Diary’ and her friend, Ethel Moir, the ‘Uncensored Letters’ while on service together – as orderlies – with Dr Elsie Inglis’ Serbian-Russian Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Rumania and Russia between August 1916 and April 1917. Also in that unit were Elsie Bowerman and Yvonne Fitzroy – and many other figures now well known to students of the SWH make frequent appearances.  Ethel Moir did further service with the SWH between Feb 1918 and Jan 1919 with the ‘Elsie Inglis Unit’ in Salonika, Verbiliani and Hordiack and recorded that experience in a second section of the ‘Uncensored Letters’. These foolscap typescripts (or, in the case of the Moir Letters, a xerox of the tss) have been bound and were each inscribed by Lilias Grant (by then Mrs Lilias Dyson) and given in 1972 to her friends Nina and Ian Cameron of North Petherton, Somerset. Laid in the Moir volume is a letter from her husband, Dacre Dyson, explaining that there are only 3 copies of the Moir tss (and, by inference, also of the Grant Diary). One set is this set, owned by the Camerons, one is in the possession of Ethel Moir’s sister and the Dysons’ own set is destined, in due course, to be given to Edinburgh Central Library. Lilias Dyson died in 1975 and her husband in 1980 and their set of tss is now in the ECL. Indeed it was after reading the tss there that the playwright Abigail Docherty wrote her SWH play ‘Sea, Land and Sky’,  staged at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow in 2010. Audrey Cahill published excerpts from the diary and letters in ‘Between the Lines’ (see item # ). Although she been unable to find anything further about Lilias Grant, the extra information provided in the laid-in letter and note that accompanies these volumes has made it possible to establish that, born in York in 1880, in 1922 she married Dacre Dyson, a Ceylon tea planter. They lived in Ceylon until at least 1938 and after the Second World War were living in Burley in Hampshire. Ethel Moir and Lilias Grant, who were both living in Inverness, had been friends before, together, joining the SWH The whereabouts of the third set of the tss is at the moment unknown.
The tss have been very well bound and are in fine condition (with one very small scuff on the spine of ‘Uncensored Letters’) – with presentation inscription from Lilias Grant and laid-in letter and note from her husband. Extremely scarce                                                                                                      £500

141.   SCOTTISH WOMEN’S FIRST AID CORPS     [12892] natural-coloured linen canvas satchel with the initials ‘S.W.F.A.C.’ [Scottish Women’s First Aid Corps] machine-embroidered in red on the front.The satchel hangs from a long red grosgrain ribbon strap which has a buckle for altering its length. The bag still contains an Esmarch’s Triangular Bandage – printed with images of how to apply, in a variety of ways, the bandage to wounded men, together with two packs labelled ‘Scottish Women’s First Aid Corps First Field Dressing’, supplied by J. Gordon Nicholson, Pharmaceutical Chemist, 15 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, and two small safety pins on a piece of card, presumably to be used for fixing the bandages. Luckily this SWFAC member was required to put the bandages to the test. The SWFAC had been formed in 1909 by Mary E. Macmillan and came into its own in the First World War, appealing to middle and upper-middle class women who wanted to ‘do their bit’. The SWFAC ran classes in First Aid and sick nursing and some of its recruits then went out to nurse in Italy and Serbia. Very good – an unusual survival    £120

142.   YOUR KING & COUNTRY WANT YOU  a woman’s recruiting song Chappell & Co 1914 [12802] Sheet music – words & music by Paul A. Rubens. The cover is illustrated by John Hassall. ‘The entire profits from the sale of this song will be devoted to Queen Mary’s “Work for Women” Fund’. ‘Oh! we don’t want to lose you but we think you ought to go. For your King and your Country both need you so; We shall want you and miss you but with all our might and main. We shall cheer you, thank you, kiss you when you come back again’. Makes the spine creep. 6-pp – very good                                     £38

 

WOMEN AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR: NOVEL AND POETRY

143.   MACAULAY, Rose Three Days  Constable & Co  1919 [12622] Poems. Already an established novelist, during the First World War Rose Macaulay worked as a VAD nurse and a land girl and in early 1917 joined the War Office. Good – a little chipped on spine – in wrapper cover.                            £25

144.   MARCHANT, Bessie A Girl Munition Worker: a story of a girl’s work during the Great War Blackie  [1916] [13002] Novel of the First World by ‘the girls’ Henry’. This would appear to be a first edition -with an ownership inscription for ‘Xmas 1916’ on free front end paper In original pictorial cloth cover – cloth rubbed and corners bumped – very scarce                                                                        £45

GENERAL STOCK

145.   BULKELEY, John And BYRON, John The Loss of the ‘Wager’: the narrative of John Bulkeley and John Byron Boydell Press 2004 [9784] Two survivors of the loss of the ‘Wager’ tell a tale of mutiny, hardship and tenacity after the loss of their ship on the Patagonian coast in 1740. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                                                                      £7

146.   CASSON, Stanley Some Modern Sculptors  OUP 1928 [7634] Good – library bookplate on front pastedown. Hardback/no d/w                                                                                                      £8

147.   CHARATAN, Kira And CECIL, Camilla Under Fire in the Dardanelles: the Great War Diaries and Photographs of Major Edward Cadogan Pen & Sword Military 2006 [9279] Fascinating diaries – packed with illustrations. Mint in mint dustwrapper                                                                             £15

148.   DE GAMEZ, Gutierre The Unconquered Knight; a chronicle of the deeds of Don Pero Nino, Count of Buelna Boydell Press 2004 [8627] A chronicle dating from the early part of the 15th century. This edition, with introduction by Joan Evans, first published in 1928. Soft covers – mint                            £8

149.   GLANFIELD, John Bravest of the Brave: the story of the Victoria Cross Sutton 2005 [9275] Mint in mint dustwrapper                                                                                                                       £10

150.   (GOYA) Julia Blackburn Old Man Goya  Jonathan Cape 2002 [10975] Follows Goya through the last 35 years of his life. Very good in d/w                                                                                         £8

151.   GREEN, Benny Britain at War  Colour Library 1994 [7811] The Second World War. V fully illustrated. Very good – large format – heavy                                                                                                £4

152.   HART-DAVIS, Adam What the Past did for Us: a brief history of ancient inventions BBC Books 2004 [8632] Mint in dustwrapper                                                                                                      £10

153.   HUGHES, Les Henry Munday: a young Australian Pioneer Next Century Books 2003 [9291] Henry Munday left Bow Brickhill in Buckinghamshire in 1844 to emigrate to Australia. In later life he wrote his reminiscences of life in his English village as it had been 70 years previously, his voyage to Australia and his life there. V. interesting, detailed and well illustrated. Large format – weight of book has caused split at inside front cover – otehrwise fine                                                                                           £9

154.   LONGMATE, Norman The Real Dad’s Army; the story of the Home Guard Arrow books 1974 [9971] Soft covers – good                                                                                                                       £5

155.   MAYERS, Kit North-East Passage to Muscovy: Stephen Borough and the first Tudor explorations Sutton 2005 [9274] The attempt to find the north-east passage to China. In 1553 Stephen Borough’s ship managed to reach Russia and set up favourable trading terms with Ivan the Terrible – leading to the creation of the first joint-stock overseas trading company, the Muscovy Company. Mint in mint dustwrapper                                                                                                                               £14

156.   PLOWDEN, Alison In a Free Republic: life in Cromwell’s England Sutton Publishing 2006 [9786] Mint in d/w                                                                                                                                         £10

157.   ROBINS, Gay Women in Ancient Egypt  British Museum Press 1993 [11867] Soft covers – fine   £6

158.   WASSERMAN, James An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar  Destiny Books (Vermont) 2006 [9777] Soft covers, large format, heavily illustrated – mint                                                      £10

159.   (WOODHOUSE) Ronald Woodhouse John Woodhouse: a remarkable Mormon pioneer Trafford Publishing 2006 [9772] Records the known information about the life of a Mormon pioneer in the late 19th century – starting in Yorkshire the trail reaches throughout the USA. Soft covers – mint £6

160.   (FROUDE) Ciaran Brady, James Anthony Froude: an intellectual biography of a Victorial prophet OUP 2013 [13437] Mint in d/w (pub price £45)                                                                      £30

161.   (DOYLE) Douglas Kerr Conan Doyle: writing, profession and practice OUP 2013 [13424] A study of the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle – and a cultural biography Mint in d/w (pub price £30) £20

162.   CREW, Bob The History of Maidenhead  Breedon Books 2007 [10658] Hardback – mint in mint d/w                                                                                                                                                      £8

163.   MACKIE, Alastair Some of the People All the Time  Book Guild Publishing 2006 [10659] Autobiography of a former H-bomber pilot who became vice-charman of CND                       £9

164.   STOKER, Bram Dracula  OUP (World’s Classics) 2011 [13440] Edited by Roger Luckhurst. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                                                £5

165.   TOLSTOY, Leo War & Peace  OUP 2010 [13444] ‘The definitive (Maude) translation newly revised and edited and with an introduction by Amy Mandelker. Hardover – very heavy -1350pp – mint in d/w                                                                                                                                                    £12

166.   TROLLOPE, Anthony Can You Forgive Her?  OUP (World’s Classics) 2011 [13445] Edited by Dinah Birch. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                              £5

167.   TROLLOPE, Anthony The Duke’s Children  OUP (World’s Classics) 2011 [13443] Edited with an introduction and notes by Katherine Mullin and Francis O’Gorman. Soft covers – mint            £5

168.   TROLLOPE, Anthony Phineas Finn  OUP (World’s Classics) 2011 [13439] Edited by Simon Dentith. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                                        £5

169.   TROLLOPE, Anthony Phineas Redux  OUP (World’s Classics) 2011 [13442] Edited by John Bowen. Soft covers – mint                                                                                                                        £5

170.   ANDREWS, Malcolm Dickensian Laughter: essays on Dickens & humour OUP 2013 [13418] Examines and reflects on Dickens’ techniques for making us laugh. Mint in d/w (pub price £20)       £15

171.   DARWIN, Charles Evolutionary Writings: including the autobiographies OUP (World’s Classics) 2010 [13441] edited with an introduction and notes by James A. Secord. Soft covers – mint           £5

172.   FLESHER, Caroline McCracken The Doctor Dissected: a cultural autopsy of the Burke & Hare murders OUP 2012 [13434] Canvasses a wide range of media – from contemporary newspaper accounts and private correspondenc to Japanese comic books and videogames to analyse the afterlife of the Burke and Hare murders and consider its singular place in Scottish history. Mint in d/w (pub price £41.99)                                                                                                                                                    £28

173.   JAMES, Simon  Maps of Utopia: H.G. Wells, modernity, and the end of culture OUP 2012 [13414] Begins with the late-Victorian debate about the effect of reading, especially reading fiction, tha tfollowed the 1870 Education Act and considers WEls’s best known scientific novels, important social novels, as well as less-known texts.Mint in d/w (pub price £53)                                                               £28

174.   OTTER, Samuel Philadelphia Stories: America’s literature of race and freedom OUP 2010 [13423] An account of Philadelphia’s literary history. Hardback – mint in d/w                                           £12

175.   RIGNEY, Ann The Afterlives of Walter Scott; memory on the move OUP 2012 [13416] ‘Breaks new ground in memory studies and the study of literary reception by examining the dynamics of cultural memory and the “social life” of literary texts across several generations and multiple media.’ Mint in d/w (pub price £58)                                                                                                                           £28

176.   TOMAN, John Kilvert’s World of Wonders; growing up in mid-Victorian England Lutterworth Press 2013 [13419] Presents the diarist Francis Kilvert as a typical mid-Victorian, excited by the scientific and tchnological forces ushering in the modern world. Describes the diarist’s upbringing and education to show the origins of his outlook. Soft covers – mint (pub price £25)                                          £18

177.   KURZEM, Mark The Mascot: the extraordinary story of a young Jewish boy and an SS extermination squad Ebury 2007 [10655] Mint in d/w                                                                                    £10

 

 

178. The Frye Family’s Christmas card for 1903. Kate and her sister, Agnes, are boating on their Bourne End lawn, flooded by the Thames. Their home, The Plat (which is still there in 2013), is seen in the background.

Good – the photograph is a little spotted                                                                                              £55

AND FOR MANY MORE BOOKS AND ITEMS OF EPHEMERA FOR SALE

DO LOOK AT MY LATEST FULL CATALOGUE: No 182

https://womanandhersphere.com/2013/11/22/books-and-ephemera-for-sale-catalogue-182/

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: A Liverpool Boycott – Or John Burns Meets His Waterloo

As I have explained in previous posts, the militant suffrage societies, the Women’s Freedom League and the Women’s Social and Political Union, laid plans to boycott the 1911 census. They urged individual supporters to either refuse to complete their census form or to evade the enumerator by absenting themselves from home on census night. In order to provide shelter for such evaders some women offered ‘open house’ for Census Night.

One such woman was a Liverpool woman, Mrs Florence Hall, who, as Votes for Women reported in its 31 March 1911 issue, ‘would be opening her house – Glenamour, The Park, Waterloo, to Census Resisters’.

Scene of the Waterloo 1911 census boycott (courtesy of Rightmove website)

Scene of the Waterloo 1911 census boycott (courtesy of Rightmove website)

And that is what she did. The head of the household, Joseph Albert Hall, was at home on Census Night  but took part in the boycott, giving no details of his family and leaving the form unsigned.

The census form for ‘Glenamour’ was completed by the Enumerator who noted those present that night as: Joseph Albert Hall, 50 and his wife Florence N Hall, 45, and a daughter, also Florence N. Hall, 14,  together with 2 anonymous men and 9 anonymous women.

Florence Hall had written across the Census Form:

No Vote No Census. House full of evading & resisting suffragettes & male supporters of whom I decline to make any return or give any particulars’

The house, which still carries the name ‘Glenamour’ (now 65 Park Road, Waterloo) was – and is – a large, semi-detached house . On the Form the Enumerator set the number of s rooms (for the purpose of the Census) at 10 (unsurpisingly, it is now divided into flats).

The boycott of the census was by no means the only active contribution that Joseph and Florence Hall made to the ‘Votes for Women’ campaign –  I think we can take it as read that they were members of the Tax Resistance League.

Tax Resistance League postcard

The Women’s Freedom League paper,  The Vote, reported in its 9 November 1912 issue, that:

‘The goods of Mr. J.A. Hall, of “Glenamour,” on October 31, Waterloo-park, Lancashire, were sold for the second time  the first time had been in 1911] against distraint consequent on his refusal to pay income-tax on house property belonging to his wife. The goods were bought in by a friend for the amount of the tax and expenses.

Mrs. Hall, who attended the sale in the unavoidable absence of her husband, explained — by the courtesy of the auctioneer — to the large company of sympathisers present that this action was taken as the most practical and emphatic protest possible against the stupid and unjust action of the Revenue authorities who, despite the fact of the Married Woman’s Property Act under which she herself is liable for her own debts, had forced the issue under the Income Tax Act of 1842. This Act, whilst making the husband liable for the payment of any tax on his wife’s own income, leaves him absolutely without any power to obtain from her any information with regard to her income if she declines to disclose it.

Mrs. Hall emphasised the absurdity and unfairness of such an enactment, and said it was a matter for considerable surprise that, quite apart from the merits of the woman’s question, men had not bestirred themselves to force the Government to remedy this utterly impossible state of things and make women, if they could, pay this or any other tax whilst withholding from them the Parliamentary vote.’

It hasn’t been easy to find out much more about the Halls. I think Florence’s maiden name was ‘Nightingale’ – it’s rather startling just how many female ‘Nightingale’ children around the time of her birth – 1868 – were still being named for the heroine of the Crimea. Joseph Hall was born in Liverpool, the son of a cooper, and seems to have worked in export sales. The couple had been over to the US for some time at the end of the 19th century, returning in 1898. By that time they had one daughter (who may have been the one given the name ‘Florence’ on the census form, but whose real name was ‘Marjorie’). In 1901 the Halls were living in Leytonstone, now with a new-born son, Harold, who may have been one of the anonymous males enumerated ten years later in ‘Glenamour’.

The Halls  returned to the US in October 1913, but must have returned to Britain because I next come across them in 1921, travelling over to Los Angeles with Harold, who is now an engineer. By 1927 the Halls have quit these shores for good and are permanent residents in the US, living in Glen Avenue, Port Chester, Westchester Co, New York – which Street View shows me looks rather agreeable.

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: The Leicester Suffragettes’ Mass Evasion

As I have explained in previous posts, the militant suffrage societies, the Women’s Freedom League and the Women’s Social and Political Union, laid plans to boycott the 1911 census. They urged individual supporters to either refuse to complete their census form or to evade the enumerator by absenting themselves from home on census night.

In order to provide shelter for would-be evaders some local branches of the societies organised  ‘events’ – either in houses taken specially for the occasion or in the branch office.

In  Votes for Women, 24 March 1911, under the heading: ‘Some Country Arrangements’, the Leicester WSPU branch revealed their plan. ‘An all-night party is being arranged. Apply for all arrangements to Miss Dorothy Pethick, 14 Bowling Green Street, Leicester.

Dorothy Pethick, then the WSPU organizer in Leicester, was the sister of Mrs Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, one of the WSPU leaders. Kate Frye was to encounter her two years later, while campaigning at the Reading by-election in  October 1913 and described her (see Campaigning for the Vote ) as ‘very like her sister, Mrs P Lawrence and is very nice. Most compassionate’ –  ‘She went off dressed up to the nines to sell Votes [for Women].

Leicester WSPU Shop (courtesy of alicesuffragette.co.uk)

Leicester WSPU Shop – scene of the all-night party on the night on 2 April 1911 (courtesy of alicesuffragette.co.uk)

Dorothy Pethick did, indeed, organise an all-night party and I’ve recently managed to uncover the census form that George Cooper,  the local Registrar, completed for: ’14 Bowling Green Street Leicester – Suffragettes Office.’

He described how:

‘Suffragettes – about 20 – varying in age from 17 to 50. Most of these were people of no occupation – a doctor’s wife and daughter were amongst them.’

He appears to have taken matters further than any other Registrar and had spent some time inspecting:

‘Women’s Suffrage Society Report and Balance Sheet dated Wed 15 March 1911’

to come to the conclusion that:

‘Number of members in Leicester and Leicestershire 264

Number residing in sub district of south Leicester 93

Number accounted for on schedules 72

estimated number not enumerated 21

of which 13 females spent the night at 14 Bowling Green Lane

There were 33 females in and out of this building during the night.’

That is the most thorough contemporary assessment by a Registrar of a local WSPU census boycott that I’ve yet seen. He appears to have taken the trouble to check the names of those listed in the WSPU Report against the names of those who had completed census forms.

The ‘doctor’s wife and daughter’ mentioned by the Registrar will be Mrs Alice Pemberton Peake, wife of William Pemberton Peake, ‘medical practitioner’, who lived at 21 Oxford Street, Leicester. On census night he was at home with his daughter, Lily (aged 19) and son, Charles (aged 14) and one servant. He described himself as ‘married’, but of his wife and second daughter, Helena (aged 17), there is no trace. On 21 March Mrs Pemberton Peake had taken the chair at a WSPU meeting in Leicester.

Alice Hawkins was another WSPU member absent from home on census night – she’d doubtless joined the party at 14 Bowling Green Lane. Another WSPU member, Evelyn Carryer, had written ‘No Vote No Census’ across her form and gave no other details – other than writing ‘unenfranchised’ in the Disability Column – but it isn’t clear from this whether she had actually absented herself as well as making this written protest. More research might, by a process of elimination, build up a picture of the others of the  13 census evaders who spent the night at 14 Bowling Green Street on the night of 2 April 1911. The picture will, however, always be hazy. One hundred  years later it is well nigh impossible to place an evader with total certainty in any particular place. Although the boycott had little effect on national statistics, it certainly was successful in hiding from history the determined evader.

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: The Bradford Boycotters

Mary Phillips

Mary Phillips

‘NO VOTE NO CENSUS Posterity will know how to judge the Government if it persists in bringing about the falsification of national statistics instead of acting on its own principles and making itself truly representational of the people.’ Mary Phillips

This is the statement that Mary Phillips, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) organizer, wrote across the census form issued for 68 Manningham Lane, Bradford – the WSPU’s office.

The Enumerator noted in his Census Summary Book that 68 Manningham Lane was ‘a Lock Up Shop no sleeping accommodation’. Nothwithstanding,  he recorded that Mary Phillips and 9 other females – suffragettes – had spent the night there – but that he was unable to obtain any information about them.

Mary Phillips had advertised in Votes for Women (31 March) the ‘At Home’ for Census Night – from 11pm on 2 April to noon on Monday 3 April – and I wonder if she was rather disappointed that she was supported by only 9 others. For what it is worth, there is no mention at all in the following week’s issue of the meeting planned for Wednesday 4 April in which members were to tell of ‘Where I spent Census Night’. Had Bradford, perhaps, not been that enthusiastic?

Manningham Lane, Bradford (image courtesy of Maggie Land Blanck)

Manningham Lane, Bradford (image courtesy
of Maggie Land Blanck)

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: The London Opera House, Kingsway

Ever since the decision was made for the Women’s Library to move to LSE (now open as the Women’s Library @ LSE) I have been writing posts that draw attention to the many locations associated with the women’s movement in the area around Aldwych and the Strand. My hope is that researchers in the Women’s Library, when taking a break from their labours, will welcome some information that will allow them to see the surrounding area with fresh eyes.

Today I would like to direct your attention to the site between Portugal Street and Sardinia Street that now houses the Peacock Theatre. Many readers will have been to that theatre, rather oddly sited in the basement of a modern office-type block – if only to take younger members of the family to the annual Christmas treat of ‘The Snowman’. Have you ever wondered why there is a theatre there – in what is now a rather untheatrical area? The answer is related to the wonderful building in the photograph below. 

London Opera House, Kingsway. (Image courtesy of arthurlloyd.co.uk)

London Opera House, Kingsway. (Image courtesy of arthurlloyd.co.uk)

The London Opera House, its rooftop adorned with figures representing Melody and Harmony, opened 102 years ago today – on 13 November 1911. It occupied an entire block of Kingsway, between Portugal Street and Sardinia Street, and was built for Oscar Hammerstein (Sr) , whose idea was that it should rival the Covent Garden Opera House. The building was opulent and enormous, capable of seating over 2600 people.

Its first season ran from its opening until March 1912, when there was then a hiatus. It was this lack of a follow-up season that, I think, accounts for the fact that on Friday 15 March it was available to be hired for a ‘Suffragists’ non-militant and non-party demonstration’ by the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. Kate Frye was its organizer and in Campaigning for the Vote  you can read of her efforts, which included mustering the banners of the various suffrage societies – she collected that of the WSPU from Mrs Garrud’s gym – in order to decorate the auditorium. Eva Moore and May Whitty of the Actresses’ Franchise League were amongst the suffragists on the platform, very fitting in such a theatrical venue.

It was not the first time in its short life that the Opera House had held a suffragette meeting. The previous week, the police, on the hunt for Christabel Pankhurst who had given them the slip from nearby Clement’s Inn, searched the Opera House, where she was reported to be hiding. However the New York Times reported that all they found was ‘Oscar Hammerstein sitting alone in state at a big table in the vestibule, with a printed notice behind him reading “Subscriptions department for the Grand Opera Summer Season”.’ The reporter described how ‘Outside the Opera House were posters announcing tomorrow’s meeting’  ‘So you are a sympathiser’, said the correspondent to Mr Hammerstein. ‘I don’t know anything about it,’ he replied, ‘except that I let the opera house to them before they started on their stunts, and can’t break the contract, or else they might break up the opera house’.

The London Opera House was so well-placed in the middle of suffrage society territory – and right beside the Tea Cup Inn, a favourite haunt – that it was to be the venue for various other suffrage meetings.

Hammerstein’s Summer Season was his last at the London Opera House and in July he gave up and returned to America. The theatre re-opened in December, staging variety shows and showing films, but not before it had once again, on 4 November, been hired by the suffrage societies who held a joint meeting protesting at the proposed reform bill.

Pankhurst The War 001It was at the London Opera House on 8 September 1914 that Christabel re-appeared when her exile came to an end, beginning her speech by saying ‘It is very good to be back in one’s own country again, amongst one’s own friends’ – and ending by promising ‘[The war] will sweep away, it must and shall sweep away, the superstition, the narrowness, the jealousy, the suicidal folly which have made of our country two opposing camps – the enfranchised men in one, and the voteless women in the other’.

From 1917 -1940 the building became a cinema – the Stoll Picture House – but from 1942 to 1957 reverted to live theatre – before being demolished in 1958. Planning permission for the replacement building required the incorporation of a theatre – hence The Peacock.

Virginia Woolf BuildingThe  office block has now, I see, been taken over by King’s College, which is marching up Kingsway into LSE territory. It is now known as the ‘Virginia Woolf Building’. Which allows my imagination another suffrage spin – to visualise Mary Datchet returning down Kingsway from her suffrage society office in Russell Square to her flat near the Strand. She glances at the poster outside the London Opera House advertising a suffrage meeting (perhaps her society, the PDS, would have been taking part but perhaps, as it probably supported adult, rather than women’s suffrage, not). Little did she suspect that her creator’s name would 100 years later adorn its – rather less – opulent – successor.

The copy of Christabel Pankurst’s 8 September 1914 speech, The War, referred to above will be for sale in my next catalogue.

For much more about the London Opera House and its successors click here.

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: The Gillingham Suffragettes’ Boycott

Jezreel's Tower in 1906. (Courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

Jezreel’s Tower in 1906. (Courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

It was in a hall associated with the crazy folly that was Jezreel’s Tower that a band of Gillingham suffragettes amused themselves on the night of 2 April 1911 as they sought to evade the census enumerator.

The protest was arranged by Laura Ainsworth (for whose biographical details see her entry in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide), who had a couple of months earlier taken up her post as WSPU organizer in North Kent, charged with starting a campaign to cover Maidstone, Chatham, Gravesend and Sittingbourne. For a photo of Laura Ainsworth click here

Not long after her arrival the WSPU revealed that it planned to call on its members to boycott the national census – the point being that for this census the government had constructed a new set of questions directly relating to women’s fertility, with the intention of using the resulting statistics as a basis for future legislation. Suffragettes argued that the government could hardly expect them to co-operate when, without a parliamentary vote, they would have no control over any new laws affecting their work and welfare.

Laura Ainsworth called on the women of North Kent to join in this boycott, on 24 March announcing in Votes for Women that in order to provide a place for women to shelter so as to be absent from their own homes on the night of 2 April – and thereby not be counted by the enumerator there –  ‘A public hall has been taken and a social evening is being arranged. The hall will be open at 11.30 pm. Refreshments are being provided.’

The ‘public hall’ that was rented was the Dancing Academy run by 31-year-old Mrs Alice Ada Worrall in Jezreel Hall, Canterbury Street, Gillingham. Mrs Worrall and her husband, William, an engine fitter and nominal principal of the Dancing Academy, were safely at home (71 Duncan Road, Gillingham) with their three children on census night. Presumably they were not active WSPU supporters, merely happy to take an evening’s rent for their premises.

Jezreel's Hall, Canterbury Street. (Image courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

Jezreel’s Buildings, Canterbury Street, before their demolition in 2008. (Image courtesy of Medway Lines.com)

I’m sure a local Gillingham historian will be able to correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume that there was a hall – Jezreel’s Hall – within this block associated with the Tower and that was where the Dancing Academy was sited. I’ve come as near as I can to getting the information correct because (thanks to my new zippy computer and the complicated dance between two websites – Ancestry.com and Findmypast.com) I have at last uncovered the census form that was completed by the enumerator that night.

The address on the form is ‘Dancing Academy, Jezreel’s Hall, Canterbury Street. Gillingham’. The ‘Head of House’ is ‘Mr Worrall’.

The form is unsigned, presumably completed by the Registrar, who notes ‘Party of Suffragettes assembled in Dancing Academy – 40 in number 1 male and 39 females’.

The suffragettes may have intended for their boycott to escape totally the notice of the census authorities – even though we can be sure the latter were studying the pages of Votes for Women and would have known that something was planned in the area. However, as the Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham News reported on 8 April, the exuberance of the party caused so much noise that the police came to investigate. They then alerted the enumerator who was able to record the numbers present. It was the knowledge that such a form did exist that has been so tantalizing. Even though the Gillingham boycotters were not very successful in eluding the enumerator they have certainly foxed for a good long time this 1911 census detective.

You can read here a piece that BBC Kent put up on its website on the 100th anniversary of the census boycott back in 2011 and here a post written by a Chatham Grammar School for Girls pupil after a visit to the Medway Archives.  To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: More Birmingham Boycotters

John Burns, the suffragettes and the census boycott

Suffragette evaders of the 1911 census can be very difficult to uncover – that, of course, was their intention. It is well nigh impossible to identify individual evaders who, with their companions, took part in one of the organised mass evasions. However it is particularly tantalising when the organisers of a mass evasion publicised its whereabouts in the suffrage press and yet proof of the protest in the form of a group census form cannot be found. We can be sure that the authorities were studying Votes for Women and knew exactly where such gathering would take place.

Dorothy Evans (right) after she had left Birmingham to organize for the WSPU in Ulster

Dorothy Evans (right) after she had left Birmingham to organize for the WSPU in Ulster

One such is the mass evasion that took place in Birmingham. The WSPU organizers there, Dorothy Evans (for her biographical details see my Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide) and Gladys Hazel (1880-1959, who had been a teacher at King Edward’s School, Handsworth, and was later to be a suffrage organizer in Bristol) entered fully into the spirit of the census boycott. By 17 March (as quoted in Votes for Women of that date) they were planning all-night entertainment -‘ a meeting, speeches, dancing and probably a play. There will be chalking parties at 6, baths at 7 and a second breakfast at 8. Evaders of the Census who attend these parties have been asked to apply for forms in order to return them with ‘No Vote No Census’ written across them.’

The following week Votes for Women divulged further information – Resisters were to assemble at the office at 11pm for the entertainments, the baths were to be had at Kent Street and the 8am breakfast at Lyons in New Street.

With all this information available, how was it that I couldn’t find a census form for the office – 97 John Bright Street – where the all-night meeting was to take place? Well, whether it’s due to my speedy new computer – or the experience that has accrued from four years of searching the census websites – I have just discovered the relevant document.

There it is: The cover reads:Name of Head of Family etc: Suffragists. Address: WSPU Committee Rooms, 97 John Bright St.

The form shows that of the 130 Suffragists who spent the night there 120 were female and 10 were male. The Superintendent Registrar wrote on the form ‘This schedule is filled in as per instructions received from General Office April 8th 1911’

Moreover I have also uncovered the individual census forms for Dorothy Evans and Gladys Hazel, left for them at their lodgings, 34 Harold Rd Edgbaston. They filled them out identically, quoting the rubric – ‘Votes for Women’ ‘No Vote No Census’ and the enumerator wrote on each – ‘Housekeeper informs me that Miss Evans (Miss Hazel) did not sleep at no 34 Harold Road on Sunday’.

At the terrace house – still there and still available to let – though the agents now aim for students as tenants rather than suffragettes – the women shared three rooms between them – while the landlord, Thomas Wilkes, his wife (presumably the housekeeper mentioned by the enumerator) and nephew had the run of the remaining six.

If only a fraction of the 130 Birmingham evaders filled in their census forms, as did Dorothy Evans and Gladys Evans, they should be somewhere on the census websites – if only we could track them down. However, without a name or an address, this is difficult – although not impossible. Perhaps those who took part in Fight for the Right – the short film about the Birmingham suffragettes – will be inspired to uncover these hidden suffragettes.

See also: Suffrage Stories: An Entire Birmingham College Boycotts the Census

Suffrage Stories: ‘From Frederick Street to Winson Green: the Birmingham Women’s Suffrage Campaign 

To listen to a talk I gave on the suffragette boycott at a National Archives conference on the 1911 census click here

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Following In Kate’s Footsteps: Norfolk

It was in this  house, 65 Commercial Road, East Dereham, that on Thursday 16 March 1911 Kate Frye embarked on her career as an organizer for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage

65 Commercial Road, East Dereham

65 Commercial Road, East Dereham

In 1911 this was the home of Mrs Alice West, a widow, who lived here with her young daughter, Hilda, and was able to accommodate at least two paying guests. Over the next couple of years Kate was to be a frequent lodger, describing the rooms on that first night as ‘So nice – comfortable and so clean and a fire in my room to unpack by.’

I was paying a flying visit to Norfolk (to view ‘Houghton Revisited’, the once-in-a-lifetime rehang of Walpole’s pictures at Houghton Hall) and took the opportunity to follow Kate Frye around Dereham, Fakenham and Burnham Market.  These were all places in which, between 1911 and 1913, she worked hard to spread the suffrage message.

During the several months that she spent, on and off, in Dereham, there were occasions when it was not possible for her to stay with Mrs West and she then took up residence around the corner from Commercial Road – at 63 Norwich Street, the home of another widow, Mrs Martha Cox. Kate gives the impression that this house was in a poorer condition and caused Mrs Cox, who was most well-meaning and attentive, a great deal of hard work to keep clean and in good order.

For instance, from Kate’s diary: ‘9 May 1912 I am really comfortable here, Mrs Cox is ever so good, too good and I hate to think of her work all day long in this rotten old house.’ I, therefore, wasn’t much surprised, as we walked down Norwich Street, to find that Mrs Cox’s house has been demolished.

Formerly the Dereham branch of the London and Provincial Bank

Formerly the Dereham branch of the London and Provincial Bank

On the day that Kate commented on Mrs Cox’s ‘rotten old house’, this is where she had spent the afternoon – in the apartment above this bank – then the London and Provincial. Here lived the most reliable suffrage sympathisers that Kate encountered in Dereham – the family of the bank manager, Charles Cory.  And, on that afternoon – 9 May 1912 – it was in their drawing room that Kate succeeded in setting up the Dereham branch of the New Constitutional Society. The Corys’ daughter, Violet, was honorary secretary. When compiling The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide I had wondered why this small Norfolk market town was one of the few places to boast a branch of the NCS.. Kate’s diary provides the answer.  It was to Dereham that she was sent and so it was here that she went to work. Why, out of the whole of England, Dereham was selected by the NCS still remains a mystery.

A year earlier, less than a week after arriving in Dereham, Kate organised her first public ‘Votes for Women’ meeting. It was held in Dereham’s 18th-century Assembly Rooms. On 22 March 1911 Kate wrote in her diary: ‘I was over at the hall at 7. We opened the doors at 7.20 and in very little time the place was full. I had to stand at the door and kept the youths and maidens out till the police officer arrived and then went up to sell Literature.

Entrance to the Assembly Rooms, Dereham

Entrance to the Assembly Rooms, Dereham

Here is the door outside which Kate stood that evening in March 1911.

Having formalised the presence of the NCS in Dereham by setting up its branch, Kate lost no time in arranging another public meeting. The evening of Wednesday 12 June 1912 turned out to be one of the most personally exciting she ever enjoyed – she certainly kept evidence of it and occasionally referred to it in diary entries many years later.

Assembly Rooms, Dereham - front view

Assembly Rooms, Dereham – front view

It was only by visiting the Assembly Rooms that I made proper sense of Kate’s description. Of that evening she remarks that ‘Miss Cory sold tickets downstairs and I was the doorkeeper and spoke to everyone coming in.’ I now realise that the main hall is upstairs – behind the windows in the first floor in this photograph. (A slimming club was using the hall when I visited and, in the circumstances, I didn’t like to take a photograph of the interior!). That evening Kate was probably stationed upstairs – welcoming the audience and waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the main speaker, the Rev Hugh Chapman. She had already met him at the station and taken him to the King’s Head in Norwich Street, where he was to stay, and had been swept off her feet (as she had in the past) by the apparent fervour of his greeting.

Chapman eventually arrived – brought along from the King’s Head by a fellow clergyman.. The two were friends –  the Rev Harold Davidson, rector of nearby Stiffkey, was to become notorious in later years when, after having been defrocked, he met his death at Skegness when a lion turned on him while he was performing as ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’. It would appear that Kate could spot a wrong ‘un, describing Davidson, after this one brief meeting, as ‘a frivolous clergyman with a frivolous wife and a beyond-all whopping frivolous young lady – destined for the stage – the whole party seemed quite mad.’ Clearly an apt summation. Anyway that was just the beginning of what was to be for Kate a memorable evening in Dereham.

A month previously – in May 1912 – Kate had lived for a few weeks in Fakenham, campaigning for the NCS at a by-election. She stayed in digs at 1 Carlton Villas, Queen’s Road – an address that I wasn’t able to identify with certainty when I visited. The 1911 census is not very helpful – the Queen’s Road enumerator having failed to give addresses on the cover of the forms in his area.

Queen's Road, Fakenham

Queen’s Road, Fakenham

But if I don’t know exactly where in Queen’s Road she stayed, I do know that she must have passed this jeweller’s shop – still here a hundred years later – as she walked to and from the centre of Fakenham each day.

W. Parker and Son, Norwich Street, Fakenham

W. Parker and Son, Norwich Street, Fakenham

The shop’s owner told me that the clock, too, has been there all that time -the only difference being that it now runs on a battery.

Dereham Church

Fakenham Church

On Sunday 19 May 1912, while lodging at Carlton Villas,  Kate wrote in her diary ‘Had a great scramble to get to Church by 11 o’clock but I did it. I always think Suffragettes look such heathens if no one goes. I was the only representative. ‘

A few days earlier Kate had made a recce visit to Burnham Market – finding it ‘Such a quaint pretty spot’. She did all the things that a good organiser should do – identifying a room available for hire, the name of the local policeman, the name of likely supporters etc. These included Mr Hammill, the local doctor, who lived in this lovely house, and whom she described as ‘political’.

Burnham House, Burnham Market

Burnham House, Burnham Market

Burnham House is just over the way from the Hoste Arms, where we stayed the night – most comfortably.

Hoste Arms, 2013

Hoste Arms, 2013

And It was in the Hoste Arms- on 23 May 1912 that Kate enjoyed a brief flirtation with a couple of Irish politicians – anti-Home Rulers. You can read more of this in a previous post – Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Wrestles With North Norfolk, 1912 and much more about Kate Frye in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford. For a full description of the book click here Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive. ISBN 978 1903427 75 0 £14.99. Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk  or from all good bookshops.  

Armed with Campaigning for the Vote you, too, can follow in Kate’s footsteps – not only in Norfolk, but also in London, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

'Campaigning for the Vote' - Front and back cover of wrappers
‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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A Poster Speaks: The Mystery of the Disappearing Doctor

This is the framed poster that for many years has hung above my desk. 

DSC01226

I first saw it – or, more probably, but not certainly, another copy of it – hanging on the stairs up to the attic of a marvellous second-hand bookshop run by a venerable and idiosyncratic bookseller, Peter Eaton, in a rambling Victorian house, Lilies, at Weedon in Buckinghamshire. [Here is an interview with Peter Eaton.] The house was packed with ephemera, such as this poster. None of it was for sale but it all added greatly to the atmosphere. Anyway, whenever I visited and made my way up the stairs to the silent attics I used to see this poster and wonder about the story behind it. But Peter Eaton died, Lilies closed and, while regretting the passing of this magical establishment, I particularly regretted no longer having contact with the ‘Missing Doctor’.

However, as luck would have it, not very long afterwards a dealer, knowing, of course, that I specialised in women’s history, offered me this copy of the poster. I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t the one from Lilies – it seemed too much of a coincidence – but, from what I was told, it had arrived along another route. 

Back in the 1990s, before the internet, I did  research for myself into the sad history behind the poster and have just come across the note book in which I made notes. Now, all these years later, I see that Sophia Frances Hickman has several Google entries – and even, alas, constitutes a thread on a Jack the Ripper website.  

But here is an unvarnished version of the story.

On Saturday 15 August 1903 Sophia Frances Hickman, a 29-year-old doctor, walked out of the gates of the Royal Free Hospital in Gray’s Inn Road, London, and disappeared.

Royal Free Hospital (now the Eastman Dental Hospital) Gray's Inn Road

Royal Free Hospital (now the Eastman Dental Hospital) Gray’s Inn Road

Her distraught father, with whom she lived at the family home, 57 Courtfield Gardens, South Kensington, wrote to The Times (pub 20 August) appealing for help. He told how his daughter had taken up her temporary  post on Friday 14 August, covering the fortnight’s absence of Dr Janet Campbell, who had been a fellow student with her a few years earlier at the London School of Medicine for Women.  Mr Hickman could offer no explanation for her disappearance other than ‘I believe the sight of so many great sufferers at the Royal Free Hospital and the anticipation of having to attend to so many dreadful cases that present themselves of a Saturday evening upset her nerves and caused her to seek rest elsewhere.’ He then suggests that ‘she may have lost her memory’, or, because ‘she is devoted to the poor and enters their dwellings freely, she may have been detained in some house against her will’.

He included in his letter a full description of his daughter- ‘who was usually called “Fanny”. The description  is repeated on the poster that was issued, offering a reward for information on her whereabouts. This reward came jointly from Mr Hickman and from the board of the Royal Free. Fanny Hickman is described as being of ‘5-ft 9-ins in height, of a powerful build’. Later comments from friends note that she was physically strong and apparently well-adjusted. During the previous winter she had worked for six months at the Battersea branch of the Clapham Maternity Hospital.

Speculation grew as to what had befallen Fanny Hickman. Newspaper articles dwelt on a suggestion that there had been friction between the staff at the Royal Free and that accounted for Miss Hickman’s disappearance.  This was firmly denied by the Royal Free.

On 8 October, with Miss Hickman still missing, her father published another letter in The Times in which he suggested that ‘It is quite possible that my daughter, overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a resident surgeon, which serious work she commenced on August 15 for the first time in her life, and feeling all alone and without the usual support of the very capable visiting surgeon and his locum tenens being also away for a holiday on Saturday, August 15 last, coupled with her horror of the work she was told she would have to do on the evening of that date at the gate of the hospital in attending to the awful cases resulting from quarrels between drunkards on pay day – may well have upset her balance of mind, caused loss of memory, and made her wander.’

Mr Hickman added that his daughter had lived at Roehampton for four years and added ominously that there ‘are two or more convents or nunneries at Roehampton’ – the veiled suggestion being that his daughter might have been incarcerated in one of these institutions against her will. Anti-Roman Catholic sentiment was not uncommon at the beginning of the 20th century and Mr Hickman was reported in The Times, 28 August 1903, as asserting that Roman Catholic priests, if they only exerted themselves, would be able to find his daughter because ‘Italian assassins and thieves are very fond of their Roman Catholic priests and confess everything to them.’ Journalists descended on Clerkenwell’s ‘Little Italy’ quarter, hunting for clues.

Needless to say the opportunity was not lost to impugn the ability of women doctors to cope with hospital work. In a letter to The Times, 15 October 1903, ‘A Hospital Physician’ wrote: ‘,,the tragical disappearance ..may serve to bring to the governors of hospitals and the public the important question of the fitness of women for such duties as she and others are now sometimes called upon to perform…Can it be regarded as seemly and becoming for a young woman to be brought in contact with the scenes which are of frequent occurrence in the casualty rooms of such hospitals, in large towns, where drunken men are brought in, more or less injured, and to be exposed to the conduct and brutality of such patients?’

There was a swift riposte from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (The Times, 17 October 1903) – ‘The suggestion made by ‘A Hospital Physician’ is about as wise as it would have been when Captain Speke disappeared if some old lady had urged that there should be ‘no more African exploration’. taking up up another of his points , she added ‘A Hospital Physician should rely less upon his imagination, and should look instead at facts patent to all the world. He professes to “know well that the majority of hospital patients of both sexes have a natural aversion” to being treated by medical women. The crowded out-patient rooms of the New Hospital for Women do not support his view. Many more poor women come each day than can be taken in. This does not indicate any “natural aversion”.’ A similar letter was sent to The Times by a (male) Royal Free Hospital surgeon.

On 19 October the mystery of Fanny Hickman’s whereabouts was solved by the discovery by a 10-year-old boy of her body deep in the undergrowth of the Sidmouth Plantation (now known as Sidmouth Wood) in Richmond Park.  Her father had mentioned in his appeals that his daughter was very fond of walking in Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common.

Sidmouth Wood, Richmond Park.   © Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Sidmouth Wood, Richmond Park. © Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The newspapers’ descriptions of Fanny Hickman’s badly decomposed body were more grisly than I think would now be acceptable.  It was clearly difficult to establish a cause of death and there was a lengthy inquest.  This was paralleled by news items to the effect that Miss Hickman was known to have a weak heart and, having climbed over a high iron fence, must have succumbed to a heart attack. Even Dr May Thorne, one of the New Hospital for Women’s surgeons, reported that she had examined Miss Hickman a couple of years previously and noted that she had an enlarged heart. All this was in an attempt to suggest – as her father would very much have liked – that Miss Hickman had died of natural causes.

However, an autopsy eventually revealed that Fanny Hickman had died of morphia poisoning.  It was revealed that a syringe containing traces of morphine sulphate had been found near her body. It was established that she had bought about 15 grains of morphine sulphate on 12 August. Sulphate of morphia was not used at the Royal Free and evidence was given that she would never have been required to give such an injection to a patient. For what it is worth, one of the Hickmans’ maids reported that she had found a syringe in the house, along ‘with several little glass tubes’. Dr Annie McCall, the founder of the Clapham Maternity Hospital, stated that these tubes contained sulphate of morphia.

The jury was given the option of returning an open verdict or one of suicide. They concluded that Fanny Hickman  death was suicide by poisoning with morphine, which she took while in a state of temporary insanity.  The reason for her action was really not established. She left no explanation and the only comment directly attributed to her that appeared in print throughout the entire episode was made not long before she took up her Royal Free Hospital temporary post and, paraphrased by the coroner, was to the effect that she wished ‘that she were a man, so that she could go and get drunk’  This  was made to appear as though it referred to her feelings about her new post and was taken as a joke at the time. But perhaps it referred to her feelings about life in general. Who knows?

The way in which Fanny Hickman’s disappearance was reported in the press reveals something of contemporary concerns  – the dangers of the white slave trade, of Roman Catholics, and of foreigners. On 3 September 1903 The Times editorial lambasted other papers’ ‘ display of some of the worst and meanest features of contemporary journalism. The distress of Miss Hickman’s family has been made the opportunity for a disgusting scramble for half-pennies  and pennies on the part of the least reputable newspapers of the metropolis…When absolutely no information has been obtained, placards and contents bills were so constructed as to lead passers-by to expect it; and no doubt a rich harvest has been reaped by stooping to these disgraceful practices.’ Doesn’t that all sound familiar?

Certainly the press coverage had its impact and Miss Hickman’s sad story was not forgotten, Sidmouth Wood becoming for a time a rather distressingly popular place in which to commit suicide. Virginia Woolf, by then a Richmond inhabitant, was well aware of Fanny’s fate.  In her May 1918 diary she described how

I wandered through Richmond Park in the moonlight with Desmond. We jumped a palisade into Miss Hickman’s funeral grove, & found the dark green mounds pointed with red rosettes. The rhododendron is a lovely flower for the moonlight’

Infinitely preferable to the journalists’ harrowing descriptions,  the thought of Fanny’s ‘funeral grove’ bathed in moonlight is  the one that I think of as I look up at the ‘Missing Lady Doctor’ poster.

For a more detailed analysis of the case it is  well worth reading Susan Collinson’s excellent article, The Case of the Disappearing Doctorpublished in The Psychiatric Bulletin, 1990.

 

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Kate Frye’s Diary: A Visit To Ditchling And Tea With Eric Gill, 1910

In January 1910 Kate Frye is paying a short visit to Ditchling in Sussex, staying with her dear cousin, Abbie, and her husband, Basil Hargrave, at their home, Chichester House, 11 High Street, Ditchling. Eric Gill, engraver, calligrapher, printmaker, typeface designer and sculptor had settled in Ditchling in 1907, attracting a community of craftsmen – and women – to the village.

Abbie was a prolific novelist, who wrote under the name of  ‘L. Parry Truscott’.

Ditchling, East Sussex, 1912 by G.D. Elms. Ditchling Museum, courtesy of Public Catalogue Foundation and BBC Yuur Paintings

Ditchling, East Sussex, 1912 by G.D. Elms. Ditchling Museum, courtesy of Public Catalogue Foundation and BBC Your Paintings

Here we can see the parish church, St Margaret of Antioch, where Kate endured a ‘long dull sermon’. Abbie and Basil are both buried in the churchyard.

Eric Gill’s house, Sopers, was at 28 High Street. Much later, in 1930, Abbie’s son, Truscott Hargrave (b 1911) was to become secretary to the Saint Dominic’s Press, founded by Gill (who had by then left Ditchling).

Mr Wheelwright, whom Kate found ‘one of the most bitter and arrogant conservatives’, was William Wheelwright, an Australian-born worker in silver and copper. His wife, Helen Maud, was a Gloucestershire-born artist.

Dr Edwin Habberton Lulham, a medical doctor practising in Ditchling and Brighton, was also a poet and lecturer. He appears to have been living away from Ditchling at the time of Kate’s visit, his cottage available for rent. In 1911, when the census was taken, he was living in Margate . See here for more about him

From Kate’s Diary

Saturday 22 January 1910

Abbie busied herself after breakfast and I sat over the fire and read the papers and then wrote a couple of letters before helping Abbie arrange the dining room and drawing room for the afternoon. Then just before 12 o’clock we went out for an hour’s walk towards the Downs. We took the sheepdog, Bay, with us – he is at present the latest addition to the family party at Chichester House. Lunch at 1 o’clock – then we did a few more jobs – and Alice the maid began laying the tea and we put out the cakes and at 3 o’clock we went up and changed our dresses as the party commenced punctually at 4 o’clock.

We were 23 in all. only 3 men. Basil, the Vicar and the man, Mr Gill, who read the paper to start the debate. It was quite a clever paper – but he did not make it interesting really and it was not a popular subject – ‘The arts and crafts in the home’ – very few made any remarks at all and they were very far wide of the mark for the most part – some of them were very amusing. A Mr Davidson was really killing and the Vicar so pious. Basil’s speech was really the best as it did raise some points but no one took them up. It was over and everyone had gone soon after 6 o’clock.

Eric Gill

Eric Gill

Abbie hastened on the dinner – we changed our things again for walking apparel, had dinner about 7 o’clock – and then went off to a political meeting in the schools – but as a great concession by the Vicar (a rabid Conservative) to the Liberal Candidate, Mr Basil Williams. The place was very full of those who thought otherwise and they were so noisy they were a great trouble to the speaker. There were very few of his supporters there and I should think I was the only Liberal woman in the place. It is a most Tory village.

I much enjoyed the meeting but I must say I did not admire the spirit of some of the ‘hecklers’. One man who I found out was a friend of Abbie’s afterwards – a Mr Wheelwright was a fearful nuisance. There was a very good free-trade speaker first but he rather lost his temper with the folk and absolutely showed his teeth at them. Mr Basil Williams came on later from another meeting. A nice looking man and he spoke quite well. But he does not stand a chance – it is wonderful to get men to contest such seats, I think. A great crowd was waiting to hiss and boo him as he left in his motor car. What an ungrateful lot – to boo one of the party who gave them political emancipation.

Sunday January 23rd 1910

To the Parish Church where they have a pew by right with Chichester House. A bawling choir and a long dull sermon – but a beautiful old building. then for an hour’s walk. The roads very slippery until the rain started which it did just as we neared home. We went over Dr Lulham’s cottage which he has very nicely furnished but rather crowded. I should like to take it one day for a few weeks and stay in Ditchling.

Tidied ourselves and Mr and Mrs Wheelwright came to tea. I found him one of the most bitter and arrogant conservatives and Tariff Reformers I have ever come across and we talked politics all the time nearly and they stayed till quite 7 o’clock. I don’t think I could do with him myself – or with her for that matter. I do hate prejudice to that extent – but they are great friends here.’

See here for details of the published edition of Kate’s diary – Campaigning for the Vote.

The Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts has just re-opened after a major refit. See here for new opening hours and here for some of the Museum’s past projects.

Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts

Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts

For the Eric Gill Society see here.

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WALKS: Mrs Ayres Purdie, Kingsway And (Alas) Covent Garden Tube Station

Ever since the decision was made for the Women’s Library to move to LSE (now open as the Women’s Library @ LSE) I have been writing posts that draw attention to the many locations associated with the women’s movement in the area around Aldwych and the Strand. My hope is that researchers in the Women’s Library, when taking a break from their labours, will welcome some information that will allow them to see the surrounding area with fresh eyes. Today I would like to direct your attention to Craven House – on the north-east side of Kingsway.

I had long thought that I must find out more about the rather intriguing life – and death – of the woman whom I knew to have been in business there, but the building has spent a long time under scaffolding and it was only when it recently re-emerged that I turned my attention to it.  To my pleasure – and rather to my relief – I then discovered that the research has already been undertaken. For Stephen Walker, of the Cardiff Business School, has published an excellent short study of the life of Mrs Ethel Ayres Purdie in Critical Perspectives in Accounting, vol 22, issue 1, 2011. I would most heartily commend this article to all those interested in practical suffragism. (I see that a copy of the journal is available for consultation in the LSE Library.)

Craven House, Kingsway

Craven House, Kingsway

It was in Craven House that around 1908 Mrs Ethel Ayres Purdie put up a brass plate to  indicate that her accountancy practice was open for business. A few months later, in May 1909,  she was elected a member of the London Association of Accountants and thus became the first woman in Britain to be admitted to an accountancy organisation. (The LAA is now subsumed in the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, based close to the Women’s Library at 29 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.)

Rather as Elizabeth Garrett was able to qualify as a doctor only by finding and exploiting a fault-line in the medical educational system, so Mrs Ayres Purdie was only able to obtain membership of a professional organisation because the LAA was recently formed and not yet entrenched in tradition. It had been called into being in 1904 to address the needs of accountants debarred for one reason or another – such as the inability to serve a long period of articles – from the senior organisations. Mrs Ayres Purdie had, of course, on account of her sex, already been rejected by the senior, more prestigious, accountancy associations. In fact even the LAA rejected her on her first application, but  a few months later more enlightened elements persuaded the Association to accept her. Yet another barrier that convention had erected against working women had been breached and another, potentially lucrative, profession was now open to them.

Who was Mrs Ethel Ayres Purdie? 

She had been born Ethel Ayres in Islington in 1874. The 1881 census shows her, the elder daughter of Henry William Ayres, an ‘engineer toolmaker’, living at 14 Owen’s Row on the borders of Islington and Clerkenwell – coincidentally only a few doors away from where I live and where I am writing this piece. No 14 is long-since demolished and the space it occupied is now the site of City and Islington College. As was the case with all the houses in Owen’s Row, no 14 was in multi-occupation  – although the Ayres shared with only one other family (my own house, admittedly rather taller, was home  in 1881 to 16 people). By 1893 the Ayres had moved down the road to the more leafy surroundings of 15 Northampton Square, the central area of which had been recently re-designed (1885) by Fanny Wilkinson for the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association. (For much more about Fanny see Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle and here.)

Nos 8-18 Northampton Square (now demolished), photographed in 1953. Courtesy of British History Online, Survey of London vol 46

Nos 8-18 Northampton Square (now demolished), photographed in 1953. Courtesy of British History Online, Survey of London vol 46

After leaving school Ethel Ayres was employed in the Telegraph Department of the Post Office, just the kind of occupation to appeal to a lively, ambitious girl. of the skilled artisan class.

In 1897 she married Frank Sidney Purdie, who lived in Coptic Street, in the shadow of St George’s Bloomsbury, where the couple were married. Frank Purdie was the son of a silversmith and worked as a commercial traveller. He was probably then employed by his father but later became a traveller in educational supplies. The couple moved  out to Willesden – and when the 1901 census was taken were living at  Sellons Avenue with their first son, 3-month-old Harold Ayres Purdie. A second son, Desmond Tremeer Purdie (Tremeer was Ethel’s mother’s maiden name) was born in the autumn of 1902. A year later the family had moved to 11 St Alban’s Road, Harlesden.

Over the next four years, while caring for two young children and running her household, Ethel Ayres Purdie attended accountancy classes run by the Society of Arts, passing her final exam in 1906. By then she and Frank had left Harlesden and were living with her parents at 13 Stock Orchard Crescent, Lower Holloway. (This is evidenced in the London Local Electoral Register. On the night of the 1911 census Frank is at home with her parents – and there is no trace of Ethel, who was clearly evading the enumerator, presumably taking her young sons with her.) It may be that they moved specifically so that the children might have the care of their grandmother while their mother was studying.

Mrs Ayres Purdie certainly used 13 Stock Orchard Crescent as her first practice address before, very soon, becoming sufficiently confident of her professional future to rent an office (no 52) in Craven House. Kingsway had been formally opened in 1905 but building was slow to progress and the street was still lined with hoardings disguising unsold lots. Craven House was one of the first of the new – imposing – Kingsway buildings and by choosing to set up her office here Mrs Ayres Purdie was positioning herself at the heart of London’s most modern development. The choice of Kingsway may have also, of course,  been influenced by its proximity to many of the women’s organisations in which Mrs Ayres Purdie was now interested.

Having personally advanced the woman’s cause in her chosen line of work, she was clearly a woman sympathetic to the newly-energised suffrage movement. In fact she was able to both provide financial advice and to earn fees by supporting a range of women’s organisations. For instance she was financial adviser to the Women’s Social and Political Union and, later, to the East London Federation of Suffragettes, auditor to the Women’s Freedom League, to Minerva Publishing (the proprietor of the WFL paper, The Vote), and, from the First World War to 1920. of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance. In addition she was a founder member and leading light of the Women’s Tax Resistance League, which held many of its early meetings in her Craven House office.

'The information given above is compiled for the Women's Tax Resistance League by Mrs Ethel Ayres Purdie, A.L.L.A., Income Tax Expert'

‘The information given above is compiled for the Women’s Tax Resistance League by Mrs Ethel Ayres Purdie, A.L.L.A., Income Tax Expert’

She wrote the text for several WTRL leaflets – including  No Vote No Tax. For it was in the realm of tax law and advice that Mrs Ayres Purdie excelled – fighting against the unfair treatment of married women in the British income tax system. All her battles are clearly set out in Stephen Walker’s comprehensive article and illustrate how imperative it was (and is) to augment political campaigning with concrete action. Thus Mrs Ayres Purdie brought cases to court to test the boundaries of tax law, as well as representing individual women who refused to pay tax while they were denied the parliamentary vote. She was the author of a play, Red-tape Comedy, published in The Vote in November 1912, which was based on the case she had conducted for Dr Alice Burns, a married woman doctor.

Women's Tax Resistance League badge

Women’s Tax Resistance League badge

Mrs Ayres Purdie advertised her services in suffrage-related papers such as The Common Cause ,The Vote, and The Englishwoman –  the only woman entitled under the Revenue Act 1903 to appear on behalf of clients before the Special Commissioners of Income Tax. She named this part of her practice ‘The Women Taxpayer’s Agency’ to make her area of expertise quite  explicit.Her practice was so successful that she was able to employ three or four clerks and In 1914  took on a female pupil who served five years’ of articles under her.

Women Tax Payers' Agency

After the WSPU window-smashing campaign of March 1912, which affected businesses in the area, Mrs Purdie’s landlord objected to the notice advertising the Agency that she displayed in a window  of Craven House but, rather than removing it, she merely moved her office across Kingsway to new premises in the most happily named, Hampden House (John Hampden being the ‘patron saint’ of tax resisters).

In 1914 she was personally involved in the case of Edwy Clayton, the scientist accused of producing explosives for the WSPU. Not that Mrs Ayres Purdie was a bomb maker – but she was accused of trying to help Clayton save some of his possessions and thereby deprive the Treasury of its dues – see The Times, 2 April 1914, for the delightfully intricate details of this trial. Amazingly enough she was acquitted. With the WSPU ensconced in Lincoln’s Inn House – very close by, on the same side of Kingsway – Mrs Ayres Purdie was conducting her business at the heart of militancy – both physically and metaphorically.

With the outbreak of war Mrs Purdie found new organisations to advise – for instance she was auditor to the Women’s Auxiliary force. In the post-war world she became auditor to the Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries, whom we have already encountered on a previous Walk, and In 1919 appeared in front of the Royal Commission on Income Tax to argue that the income tax system was not fair in its treatment of married women. She apparently told the Commissioners that, as the letters about her business that the tax authorities sent to Hampden House were addressed to her husband, they remained unopened as he did not visit the premises. She was reported as saying that ‘I have never yet made a return of my income, and no tax has ever been paid on it’. I must say I do find this rather extraordinary – surely the tax authorities were not so lax as to ignore this potential windfall? I wonder what was the repercussion of divulging this information to the Royal Commission?

In 1919 Ethel Ayres Purdie moved her office  further south down Kingsway, on the same side of the road, to no 84.  She and Frank had moved during the War from Stock Orchard Crescent to nearby Hillmarton Road (no 34).  Her father died in October 1922.

Gillespie Road Tube Station as it was in Mrs Ayres Purdie's day (now rebuilt and renamed Arsenal)

Gillespie Road Tube Station as it was in Mrs Ayres Purdie’s day (now rebuilt and renamed Arsenal)

On 21 February 1923 Mrs Ayres Purdie gave a lecture – ‘If I were Chancellor of the Exchequer’ – at the International Women’s Franchise Club in Grafton Street, Mayfair. But clearly all was not well. Barely three weeks later, around 16 March, there was an incident at Gillespie Road tube station (now Arsenal) when she had to be restrained from falling in front of a train. Gillespie Road is a station on the Piccadilly line -the line that she would have used to travel to her office – but not the nearest to her home. Holloway Road station, also on the Piccadilly line,  is very much closer to Hillmarton Road. This ‘incident’ was obviously not an aberration for ten days later, on 26 March, at Covent Garden station, the ‘work’ end of her Piccadilly line journey, Mrs Ayres Purdie, as her death certificate states, ‘jumped in front of a train’ and shortly afterwards died of her injuries at Charing Cross Hospital. An inquest was held on 29 March and a verdict of ‘Suicide while of unsound mind’ was recorded.

The inquest reports have been destroyed and the only information that can now be gleaned comes from newspapers.  The Evening Standard reported, 29 March 1923, that Frank Purdie had revealed that ‘his wife had been suffering from nervousness and insomnia, and feared that she was losing her mental power, and would be unable to carry on business’. The Daily merely commented that tube stations were an incitement to suicide.

Who can know what was in Ethel Ayres Purdie’s mind? There is no mention of a suicide note. Was ‘business’ to her so central to life that the possibility of ‘failing mental power’ would be a total disaster. Possibly.  She was only 48 years old, her mother was still living (d 1931) and her sons were in their very early 20s.

The Vote, 13 April 1923, devoted its front page to an obituary of Mrs Ayres Purdie – including the only photograph of her that I have seen – telling nothing of the cause of her death – only that it was ‘sudden’ and ‘to be deplored’ (but I think that what was meant that her death itself was deplored not its execution). In the general manner of such tributes the piece is relentlessly upbeat – describing her as having a ‘winsome, cheery personality’ (though one would have hoped that some of her fellow members of the WFL might have noticed that she had been less ‘cheery’ of late) and noting that she was a devoted mother and the “‘best of chums’ to her husband”.

Naturally one should not be purient but I could not help noticing that  barely two years later Ethel’s ‘chum’  remarried – choosing as his second wife a young woman (Muriel) who, aged 25, was only two years older than the elder of his sons.  However around this time the names of Frank and Muriel Purdie, together with that of Ethel’s son, Harold, are all listed together on the London local electoral register as occupiers of 84 Kingsway, Mrs Ayres Purdie’s former office, suggesting, perhaps, that the second marriage had not caused any family dissension. Life can be so much more surprising and shocking than a novel or a narrative history (suffrage or otherwise) that has all the players concentrating on the one goal little regarding the specifically personal factors that may, in reality, be overwhelming their thoughts.

Covent Garden tube

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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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WALKS: What Would Bring Campaigning Women to Buckingham Street, Strand?

Ever since the decision was made for the Women’s Library to move to LSE (now open as the Women’s Library @ LSE) I have been writing posts that draw attention to the many locations associated with the women’s movement in the area around Aldwych and the Strand. My hope is that researchers in the Women’s Library, when taking a break from their labours, will welcome some information that will allow them to see the surrounding area with fresh eyes. Or even, as in the case of Buckingham Street, draw them to an area they may never have thought of visiting.

Buckingham Street, Strand, by John Edmund Niemann, 1854. From the Museum of London Collection, courtesy of the Public Catalogue foundation

Buckingham Street, Strand, by John Edmund Niemann, 1854. From the Museum of London Collection, courtesy of the Public Catalogue foundation

Buckingham Street runs south from the Strand, parallel with Villiers Street, close to Charing Cross Station. In this picture Niemann positions us with our backs to the Strand, viewing the length of the street down towards the 17th-century Watergate which, before the building of the Embankment, marked the northern bank of the Thames. In the distance, looming over the Watergate, we can see the towers of Brunel’s Hungerford Suspension bridge, demolished in 1863. This view had, therefore, changed by the beginning of the 20th century, but from it we can glean an idea of the busy-ness of the narrow street,. There is probably less traffic now – at the moment, as London perpetually renews itself, this consists mainly of builders’ trucks – but the street  still ends at the Watergate, by the side of which steps lead down into the Embankment Gardens.

The Survey of London, published in 1937, gives a thorough building history of the street and today’s  London guides – such as this one– mention that Pepys lived at number 12 and Dickens at number 15 (his house now bombed and replaced), but campaigning women, too, have a claim to the street’s history.

18 Buckingham Street, Strand, first home of the WFL, 1907-08

18 Buckingham Street, Strand, first home of the WFL, 1907-08

It was here – at no 18 (at the quieter, river-end of Buckingham Street) that in the autumn of 1907, after the dramatic break with Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, the newly formed Women’s Freedom League opened its office. This was always probably only intended as a temporary solution – the WFL moved  to larger premises in nearby Robert Street the following year. I have always wondered whether billiards was not the reason for alighting on no 18 –  which at this time also housed the office of the Billiards Association. Teresa Billington-Greig, one of those leading the break with the WSPU, had that year married Frederick Greig, a manufacturer of billiard tables – so, perhaps,  when it was clear that they would have to depart Clement’s Inn in a hurry,  it was through him that the rebels heard of an office for rent. I’ve not, however, been able to find any proof for this – doubtlessly wild – supposition. Perhaps, rather, the Strand Liberal and Radical Association, also tenants of number 18, effected the introduction to Buckingham Street.

The WFL lost no time in advertising their existence – issuing several photographic cards during the few months they were operating from number 18.

WSL card published from 18 Buckingham Street

WSL card published from 18 Buckingham Street

13 Buckingham Street, Strand, office of the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement

13 Buckingham Street, Strand, office of the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement

On the other side of the street the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement was based at number 13. The MPU had been founded at a meeting held at the Eustace Miles Restaurant (just the other side of the Strand) in 1910. One of the founders – and the hon. organising secretary of the MPU – was Victor Duval. The premises were also, I think, the offices of his family firm, Duval & Co.  Victor’s mother, Emily Duval, had been one of those who transferred allegiance from the WSPU to the WFL and would doubtless have been a regular visitor to number 18.

19 Buckingham Street, Strand

19 Buckingham Street, Strand

Back on the eastern side of the street, number 19, now under scaffolding as it is remodelled as ‘luxury apartments’, is a considerably larger building than its neighbour, no 18. Among its many tenants was the Emerson Club which in 1908 was described as a ‘Ladies’ Club’ but from 1911 welcomed both men and women members. This was still rather unusual. The Emerson remained at this address until 1925 and numbered among its members the WFL activists Elizabeth Knight, Amy Hicks and Alison Neilans, as well as Mrs Pankhurst’s brother, Walter, and Margaret Bondfield, the future Labour cabinet minister. Sarah Bennet, the WFL’s treasurer, was one of the Emerson’s early shareholders.

By 1908 number 19 also housed the office of the architect Basil Champneys, while Thackeray Turner and Eustace Balfour (the latter the husband of the suffragist Lady Frances Balfour) had their architectural practice next door at number 20. All three architects brought to fruition – mainly in Queen-Anne style red brick – the dreams of campaigning women. Champneys was the long-time architect of Newnham College and In the 1890s Turner and Balfour designed the York Street Ladies’ Residential Chambers – one of Agnes Garrett’s projects  (for which see much more in Crawford, Enterprising Women). Thackeray Turner was also secretary to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, at this time also based at number 20.  The architects were working out of the type of late-17th/early-18th-century houses so much admired by Agnes and Rhoda Garrett in House Decoration.

Opposite, at number 12, were the offices of the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses, the premises of the Midwives’ Institute and Trained Nurses’ Club and the Association of Clerks and Secretaries.

So, a 100 years ago, many different types of women would have had many reasons to make their way down Buckingham Street, stopping off at any one of these addresses. Some might, of course, have carried on down the steps at the end of the street and into the Victoria Embankment Gardens – where two major heroes of the suffrage movement are commemorated.

Mill Tribute

The WFL, based on the south side of the Strand, was very well placed to honour, as they did every year, their particular hero, John Stuart Mill, whose statue is one of several in the Embankment Gardens. (Incidentally you will note from the caption to this card that the WFL had moved into the new Robert Street office by May 1908.) Well into the 1920s women laid tribute before the statue – one 1927 photograph in the Women’s Library collection shows Millicent Fawcett present on such an occasion.

Henry Fawcett's memorial, erected 1886

Henry Fawcett’s memorial, erected 1886

And it is Millicent’s husband, Henry Fawcett, who is the other hero memorialised in the Embankment Gardens. The sculptor of the bronze bust was a woman – Mary Grant,  the fountain’s designer was Basil Champneys and the whole was funded, as the inscription testifies, by Henry Fawcett’s  ‘grateful countrywomen’.

For more information about the people and societies mentioned see Crawford: The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.

And do consult the Women’s Library @ LSE online catalogue for details of primary source material.

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: The Suffrage Shop in Hythe High Street

Hythe Suffrage Shop

In mid-1912 this shop at 83 High Street, Hythe- now occupied by ‘Ideas’  – opened as the local Suffrage Shop and Club, run by Miss Georgina Cheffins and Miss Eva Lewis, who, although members of the WSPU, were Kate Frye’s most active supporters in the area as she went about her business of organizing meetings for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. I visited it myself in the summer of 2011 and found that the shop is quite large and, as Kate Frye describes, has a room at the back in which the Suffrage Club held its meetings.

Georgina Cheffins (1863-1932) was the daughter of a Portland cement manufacturer. and In the 1901 census, when she was living with Eva Lewis in the St James’s Mission, Temple Street, Sedgley, Cheshire, they are both described as ‘lay sisters’. Eva (Evangeline) Lewis (1863-1928) had been born in Ontario, Canada, the daughter of John Lewis, Lord Bishop of Ontario. She lived with Georgina Cheffins, who was very much the wealthier of the two, from some time before 1901 until her death.

Both women successfully evaded the 1911 census and in 1912 Miss Cheffins was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment after taking part in a WSPU window-smashing raid in London – breaking windows in Gorringes’ store. In court she declared she was a suffragist by conviction, having worked amongst the poor for 20 years.

When Kate first met them the two women lived at ‘Dunedin’, Seabrook Road, the long road connecting Hythe and Folkestone, but in early 1912 they moved to ‘Cravenhurst’, Napier Gardens, Hythe. When I visited Hythe in 2011 I did not know which house in Napier Gardens had been ‘Cravenhurst’ – and it is only today that I have found a piece of information that links the name of the house to a number – 24 – which is ,I think, opposite the house below – one of several in the street that I photographed at random. Anyway, I think no 24 was at the more secluded end of the cul-de-sac that is Napier Gardens .

Napier Gardens, Hythe

Napier Gardens, Hythe

In the summer of 1912 Votes for Women, the WSPU newspaper, reported that the Hythe Suffrage Shop had been visited by many WSPU members on holiday in the area – and that many volunteers had been out selling copies of the paper.

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary is full of details of the delights – and tribulations – of spreading the ‘Votes for Women’ message in Hythe.  Although Miss Cheffins and Miss Lewis could on occasion be prickly, Kate kept in touch with them well into the 1920s.

See here for much more about Campaigning for the Vote

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Suffrage Stories: Marjorie Hamilton: An Unknown Suffrage Artist

Procession-Pic-for-Clive2 I have long admired this image, created to advertise the 1911 ‘Women’s Coronation Procession’. This particular item was carefully laid by Kate Frye between the pages of her diary. She was proud to be marching that day in the Actresses’ Franchise League contingent.

However I have only just discovered the name of the artist of this appealing flyer was and have immediately set about trying to find out what I can about her.

The name was delivered to me by Ken Florey who, in his superb Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: an illustrated Historical Study, mentions the image, naming the artist as ‘Marjorie Hamilton’. The US suffrage society, the Women’s Political Union, had clearly recognised an appealing design when they saw it and used it to advertise a meeting held by Mrs Pankhurst in New York’s Carnegie Hall (see Votes for Women, 5 January 1912). Marjorie Hamilton’s name doesn’t appears in Lisa Tickner’s Spectacle of Women – and I must admit that I had not come across it in my own researches into women suffrage artists.

However, now that I have looked into the matter, I see that on 9 June 1911, in the issue that immediately preceded the Procession, the cartoon that appears the front page of  Votes for Women was drawn by Marjorie Hamilton. Moreover, I actually hold a copy of the front page of this issue in my bookseller’s stock – I just hadn’t looked sufficiently closely at the image to notice the signature.

Front page of 9 June 1911 issue of 'Votes for Women'

Front page of 9 June 1911 issue of ‘Votes for Women’

To have been given this position on the front page of Votes for Women was, indeed, something of an accolade – the paper’s usual artist, ‘A Patriot’ [Alfred Pease], had made way for her. Marjorie Hamilton’s ‘cartoon’ is, in fact, an advertisement for the Procession, with the lead character in her drawing dressed in the same way as the suffragette on the flyer. The latter, however, makes a very much bolder impression – the image greatly strengthened by the use of colour.  While the Votes for Women front-page picture is signed with her full name –  that is, ‘Marjorie Hamilton’ – the flyer carries only initials –  but these do appear to read ‘MH’. When describing the artist responsible for the image on the cover of the lavish Programme produced for the occasion of the Procession, Votes for Women  is rather coy – referring to her only as ‘an artist member of the WSPU’.  So who was Marjorie Hamilton?

My research indicates that she was born in Derbyshire in 1882. Her father, Arthur Hamilton, was a banker – a partner in S.Smith & Co’s Bank, Derby. Her mother, Georgina (nee Stokes) had been born in South Africa.  Marjorie had a slightly younger sister, Vera, and in 1891 the family lived, presumably in considerable comfort, with three servants and a live-in (young) governess, at The Mount, Duffield Road, Derby. Ten years later, in 1901, the family was living above the bank premises at 7 Market Head, Market Place, Derby, along with six domestic servants and a bank clerk. However, less than a year later Arthur Hamilton, now described as of ‘The Grange’, Ewell, Surrey, died, leaving £10,800. It was in 1902 that Smith’s Bank lost its individual identity when it merged with the Union Bank of London.

Georgina Hamilton, with her daughters, may have moved to Canada c 1906. Certainly Marjorie noted on a subsequent Canadian immigration form that she had lived in Canada from 1906-1908. Her sister, Vera, married in Vancouver in 1908 and in 1911, when the Canadian census was taken, was living there with her mother, her husband and two young children. Even though she was a member of the WSPU, Marjorie Hamilton, luckily for us, did not boycott the 1911 UK census and can be found, describing herself as an ‘art student’, as a boarder at 4 Mills Buildings, Knightsbridge, an 18th-century court on the north side of Knightsbridge High Road, close to the Barracks. At this time Mills Buildings was a rather raffish address, although her fellow boarders all appear very respectable.

The census was taken on 2 April 1911 and it must have been very soon after, while Marjorie Hamilton was living here, that she was given the rather important ‘Coronation Procession’ commission. Marion Wallace-Dunlop and Edith Downing were in charge of the artistic design of the Procession, which was being executed at 12 Smith Street, Chelsea. Perhaps  it was they who spotted her talent for graphic design. Incidentally on the night of the 1911 census those resident at this address were Miss Dean, a 27-year-old artist’s model, together with a young secretary and a shop assistant whose surroundings, with 8 rooms, between the three of them, were rather more spacious than those of their neighbours. I wonder if they let out one or two of those 8 rooms to the WSPU? It is clear from the reports in Votes for Women that there was a great deal of activity going on at 12 Smith Street in May and June 1911.

Alas, however, that is about all I can discover of Marjorie Hamilton’s career as an artist – except that in 1913 she was advertising that she would be happy to take order for water-colour sketches of country homes.

I next catch sight of her in February 1917 at Liverpool, embarking on the SS Carmania for New York. Her address is given as ‘Cranleigh, Surrey’ and her occupation is ‘artist’. So, in the six years that had elapsed she had presumably had – or at least had attempted to pursue – art as a career.

I did wonder why, in the midst of a war that made Atlantic travel so dangerous, she was making this journey. And then I realised that her final destination was not New York but Victoria, British Columbia and that she must have been going out to be with her mother – who died a month or so after her arrival.

Another seven years go by until in 1924 I found her again, once more about to enter Canada. However this time it is not as an artist but as the prospective matron of the Waifs and Strays Society Receiving Home at 661 Huron Street, Toronto.  This was Elizabeth Rye House – a home to where girls were sent from England to be trained for domestic service. On the immigration form Marjorie Hamilton gave her present occupation as ‘matron’, which may, or may not, indicate that she had found that art did not pay and that she had to find an other means of earning her living.

And there the trail for the moment ends. I know that the Toronto home closed in 1931 – but don’t know if Marjorie Hamilton was still there then. Did she return to England – or remain in Canada. I know that her sister died in Sussex in 1943 – but can find no further trace of Marjorie.

And all this is what comes of wondering who was the artist responsible for a delightful purple, white and green flyer produced something over 100 years ago.

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WALKS: The Women’s Library @ LSE Now Open

Women's Library@LSEToday, 1 August 2013, is a red-letter day for women’s history researchers – for once again they have access to the magnificent Women’s Library archive and museum collections – now open at The Women’s Library @LSE. With research having, perforce, been put on hold for the last few months there was doubtless an impatient queue outside the doors  this morning.

As a long-time user of the Women’s Library – with fond memories of the Fawcett Library and its Tardis-like basement – I was delighted to find an interview with David Doughan – the Fawcett’s dedicated custodian – on the LSE Blog. It is so important that women historians remember their own historiography.

I must say that, when hearing that LSE, (as, of course, do so many other institutions) likes to reward those who give very large donations by attaching their name to a room or building – I regretted even more that Millicent Fawcett’s name has been detached from the Library inaugurated in her memory. The Women’s Library@LSE has a very bright future, but we mustn’t forget the past on which it is built.

When – or if –  those patient researchers now able to access the Women’s Library@LSE are able to tear themselves away from their papers, I have, over the last few months, created a series of posts on buildings in the area around LSE that relate to the Woman’s Cause. You will find links to them all under the Walks tab at the top of this blog.  I thought the information contained in these posts might bring the area to life while legs are stretched and fresh (?) air breathed  during strolls around the Aldwych area.

 

Courtesy of the International Institute for Social History

Police outside WSPU offices in Clement’s Inn, 1912. Image courtesy of the International Institute for Social History

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Suffrage Stories: ‘Laura Grey’: Suffragettes, Sex-Poison And Suicide

Lavendar Guthrie's Hunger Strike Medal and Votes for Women brooch, photo courtesy of Christie's

Lavendar Guthrie’s Hunger Strike Medal and Votes for Women brooch, photo courtesy of Christie’s.

On the morning of Monday 8 June 1914 – a year to the day after the death of Emily Wilding Davison – a young woman was found lying unconscious on the floor of her flat at 111 Jermyn Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. She was discovered by her charwoman, Mrs Spicer,who called the police. They in turn called a doctor, who spent some time attempting resuscitation. But the young woman could not be revived. She had taken an overdose of veronal, a barbiturate to which she had apparently become addicted. Around her were scattered seven empty veronal bottles and by the side of one of them were 23 loose tablets. She had left a suicide note, dated 5 June, addressed to her mother and signed with the initials ‘J.L.G.’, although the young woman was known to her landlord, charwoman and a circle of relatively recently acquired friends as ‘Laura Grey’.

The story revealed by the inquest was one that might be thought too contrived if one read it in a novel, or watched it unfold on stage or film. In it we find all the tropes that concerned British society at that most febrile of times in the summer of 1914.

Laura Grey’s death. caused a brief but spectacular newspaper sensation. In this case the ‘ruin’ of a well-brought-up young woman was associated not only with the familiar evils of drugs, the stage and night clubs but also with the exotic addition of the very topical phenomenon of window-smashing, imprisonment and hunger striking – all that denoted involvement in the militant suffragette movement. On the day that her death was first reported the newspapers were full of reports of police raids on suffragette hide-outs and of suffragette bombing, arson and a hatchet attack on a painting by Romney in the Birmingham Art Gallery.

‘Laura Grey”s real name was Joan Lavender Baillie Guthrie. She had been born in 1889 to a well-off young couple – her father doesn’t appear to have had employment as such, but was involved with the Volunteers, the territorial army of its day. He was Cambridge-educated but had been born in South Africa. During the Boer War he returned there as an officer in the Imperial Yeomanry, dying of enteric fever on 16 May 1900. His wife must have been alerted to his condition because she set sail for Cape Town on 5 May. I don’t know if she arrived before he died, but she returned to Southampton on 14 June having, presumably, seen him to this grave.

In December 1900 Mrs Baillie Guthrie with her two daughters (Lavender and Lilias, as they were known) set off for the Continent. I don’t know how long they spent abroad, but there is no trace of any of them in the 1901 UK census. Lavender apparently received a good education – she was reported to be a proficient student of Latin and Greek – but where and how this was acquired I don’t know.

Mrs Baillie Guthrie first appears on the London local electoral register in 1909 which may indicate that the family had only recently returned from living abroad. It was, anyway, about this time that Lavender Guthrie first joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. As her mother remarked at the inquest, ‘She was not quite a normal girl. She studied very hard, and had ideas of Socialism and of giving her life and her all to her more unfortunate sisters.’ A picture was being painted at the inquest of an unbalanced mind – that Lavender, when about 16 years old, had damaged her face with a chemical. Indeed, the doctor who tended to her when she was dying remarked on a scarring to her face. However, as set out in the inquest report, this episode is directly linked by her mother to Lavender’s desire to do good in the world.

Her mother also said that Lavender was an obedient daughter and, although a member of the WSPU from the age of 18, did not take part in any militant activity until 1911 when she was 21 and had reached the age of majority.

One other aspect of Lavender Guthrie’s character that was considered by her mother as not quite normal was that ‘she thought we were too luxurious in our life. All her life she had been a very good and spiritual-minded girl, and had not cared for any of the ordinary pleasures of life or enjoyments of life. All her ideal was to work, and work very hard.’ She said that Lavender had tried hard to find work to support herself but ‘she found that the wages of unskilled women labour would not support life.’ It was only when she was successful in getting employment on the stage that she was able to earn sufficient to enable her to leave home, apparently, at the end of 1912.

However, for some months in the early part of 1912 Lavender had had no need to seek work as she was  a prisoner in Holloway Gaol  She had taken part in the March 1912 WSPU-organised window-smashing campaign. and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for wilful damage. The window she had broken was that of Garrards, the famous jewellers, perhaps targeted it as a protest against the luxurious lifestyle that she abhorred.

In Holloway she went on hunger strike, was forcibly fed and was released after serving about four months. During this time Holloway was packed with suffragette prisoners – among them Emily Wilding Davison – and Lavender Guthrie would have known and been known to these most committed members of the WSPU.

While in Holloway Lavender Guthrie wrote the following poem that was subsequently published in Holloway Jingles, an anthology collected and published by the Glasgow branch of the WSPU. The dedicatee, ‘D.R.’ is thought to be Dorothea Rock. The poem has been singled out by literary critics as having more merit than most of the other ‘Jingles’. (Another poem in the anthology is by Emily Wilding Davison.)

To D.R.

Beyond the bars I see her move,

A mystery of blue and green,

As though across the prison yard

The spirit of the spring had been.

And as she lifts her hands to press

The happy sunshine of her hair,

From the grey ground the pigeons rise,

And rustle upwards in the air,

As though her two hands held a key

To set the imprisoned spirits free.

Listen here to an atmospheric setting by Eva Kendrick of this poem sung by the Northern Arizona University Women’s Choir. (I love it.)

To this suffragette’s autograph album Lavender Guthrie contributed a few lines from Robert Louis Stevenson – ‘The conditions of conquest are easy; we have only to hope a while, endure a while, believe always and never turn back’. Below her given name she added in brackets her stage and suffragette name – Laura Grey. It was the name she used when arrested. Like some other women – particularly of the middle class – she did not want her real name to appear in the papers in order not to embarrass her family. It is likely, therefore, that it was first as a suffragette soubriquet that Lavender adopted the name ‘Laura Grey’, which then gave her a ready-made stage name.

It seems that Lavender Guthrie suffered  from the after effects of forcible feeding and there is the suggestion that it was after her release that she discovered that veronal could ease the ‘neuralgia’ from which she now suffered. Her mother said that Lavender was ‘very ill’ after her release from prison.

Lyceum Theatre

Lyceum Theatre

Lavender’s first stage engagement was in the Lyceum Theatre’s Christmas 1912 pantomime – The Forty Thieves – doubtless an excellent vehicle for displaying the thinly-veiled flesh of the ‘pantomime girls’. At the time the Lyceum was renowned for staging the best pantomimes in London.

Now able to leave the comfort of her Kensington home,  ‘Laura Grey’ lived at first in rooms in Handel Mansions, Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury then had a rather louche reputation. However it was not long before she moved to the flat in Jermyn Street, close to the bright lights of Piccadilly. A couple of years earlier (when the 1911 census was taken) the tenant of the flat was a 24-year-old American ‘dancer (artistic) not in work’, who declared that she was married with one child. However neither husband or child was living with her and I feel that here, too, is a story of quiet desperation waiting to be uncovered.

There is no indication in the inquest report of the other shows in which Laura Grey was engaged (although there must have been at least one or two because the Lyceum was described as the first).  The coroner did not disguise the curl of his lip when he referred to her as a ‘pantomime girl’. As such she represented all that was meretricious and sleazy in the eyes of right-thinking people. Pantomime Girl, a novel by Annie Louise Daniells published in 1913 ,did not allow the central figure a happy ending – even if she was not actually forced, unlike poor Laura Grey, to suffer the ultimate wages of sin.

For not only did Laura Grey die, but she died pregnant. How much further could a young middle-class woman fall? The coroner had no trouble at all in revealing the cause  – her involvement with the suffragettes. He read in full the letter that accompanied the award of her hunger-strike medal, sent to Lavender Guthrie by Mrs Mabel Tuke of the WSPU,  and commented ‘Could anything be more calculated to upset the mind of a young girl than receiving this document and this travesty of a medal. The effect was quite clear. She leaves her home, her sister, her mother, for a garret in order to earn her own living and probably devote herself to this cause. She is next on the stage as a pantomime girl. Next we find her in the company of men frequenting night clubs and taking money from them. There is no more about the suffragist movement. The girl seems to have been absolutely degraded, and from then her whole history is one of drink, drugs, immorality, and death from her own hand.’

The jury duly returned a verdict of suicide during temporary insanity. However, this is just what Lavender Guthrie had anticipated. In the note she left for her mother she wrote ‘Of course the kindly Coroner will call it temporary insanity, but as a matter of fact I think this is about the sanest thing I have yet done. I am simply very, very tired of things in general.’ In fact her mother had been so worried about her that she had called in two women doctors – Dr Helen Boyle, who specialised in mental disorders, and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, who had actually been imprisoned in Holloway at the same time as Lavender – hoping that they would be able to certify her as insane. Their visit to Jermyn Street, accompanied by two nurses  -so certain were they, from what they had been told by Mrs Guthrie, that they would need to remove Lavender – had taken place on 26 May. The doctors, however, had not found Lavender suffering from any delusions that warranted restraint.

It is difficult to know exactly what Laura Grey’s  Jermyn Street life had been like. She left over £1000 in her will, although this money might not have been easily accessible. According to her mother, although she had initially refused to accept an allowance, by the time of her death she had agreed to receive an annual allowance of £100. Was she receiving money from men, as the Coroner suggested – or assumed? Who knows? Her mother noted at the inquest that she ‘lived in a very self-sacrificing manner, denying herself everything.’ However, it would appear that she must have spent at least some of her money on drink and drugs. When asked by the Coroner if she knew that her daughter ‘had taken to drink’, Mrs Guthrie gave the immortal reply, ‘I had heard of absinthe: I do not know whether that is drink’. Laura Grey’s regular consumption of veronal was evident from the bottles found in the flat. In the touching letter she left for her mother she wrote, ‘I have been taking veronal for the last six months practically every night. I only lied to you about it because I knew you would worry if I told you the truth’.

In this letter Laura Grey also writes, ‘During this last year I have met some very dear souls, both men and women. If you ever come across them and they speak to you of me give them a welcome for my sake, even though I may have met them in bad and immoral ways’. In July Mrs Guthrie wrote a short letter in the Daily Mail, in which she thanked those who had got in touch to sympathise at her loss – and there is a hint that among these may have been some of the ‘dear souls’ to whom Lavender refers. In which case it appears a rather generous letter.

The night clubs frequented by Laura Grey were named as the Astor Club (already defunct by 1914), the Mimosa, the Leicester and the Albert Rooms. They were all doubtless of a transient nature and have vanished leaving no discernible trace.  newspaper reported that ‘she generally wore evening dress at these resorts, but lately she appeared in costumes of the futurist fashion

Betty May (courtesy of Kirsty McKenzie Design Facebook Page)

Betty May (courtesy of Kirsty McKenzie Design Facebook Page)

Betty May, exotic dancer, good-time girl and another frequenter of Soho haunts, in her racy memoir – Tiger-Woman – published in 1929, places Laura Grey in the bohemian Cafe Royal, alongside many better known figures, such as the futurist painter C.R.W. Nevinson. ‘I knew her well’, Betty May writes, ‘and the night before she was found dead she came over to me in the Café and gave me a book she had promised to lend me. We had a long chat and she seemed quite cheerful. She was tall and slim, with a very fine forehead. At one time she had been a militant suffragette.’ Whether or not this charming scene actually did take place I don’t know. Betty May’s memoir doesn’t strike me as totally reliable, but the fact that she chooses to mention Laura Grey at all 15 years after her death is interesting. If Laura Grey was in the Cafe Royal the night before she died, that fact was not mentioned at the inquest. Indeed there was a suggestion in the press that she may have taken the veronal on the Friday night and lain undiscovered all weekend until Mrs Spicer arrived on Monday morning.

Cafe Royal, by Willian Orpen, 1912

Cafe Royal, by Willian Orpen, 1912

Betty May also mentions, as another of the bohemian haunters of the Cafe Royal, both William Orpen, the painter of the above picture, and the poet, Anna Wickham who’ always dressed very severely, and had a deep voice that used to frighten me a great deal’.

Anna Wickham

Anna Wickham

Whether or not Anna Wickham actually knew Laura Grey she was sufficiently moved by her fate to write a poem, Laura Grey, that was published in the Daily Herald (a left-wing newspaper) on 16 June 1914.

And Anna Wickham was not the only member of the literati to be inspired to poetry by Laura Grey’s death. On 14 June 1914 Gilbert Cannan, poet and essayist, wrote to Lady Ottoline Morrell,  ‘these last days I have been haunted and most passionately moved the story of the girl, Laura Grey. Her unassailable spirit thrust deliberately through the worst of life has shone splendidly for me and I wrote this poem which I send to you now..’His biographer, Diana Farr, commented ‘ Here was a girl that Gilbert would have loved to cherish and the poem he sent to Ottoline called simply Laura Grey was his response to a story which moved him deeply.’

But there were many others who were moved in a different direction. The novelist, E. W. Hornung, the author of Raffles, a brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle, and a Kensington friend of the Guthrie family, wrote a letter to The Times, published on 13 June as an Appreciation of ‘Laura Grey’. Referring to her throughout as Lavender Guthrie, he described her as ‘a beautiful and gentle creature: one both gracious and unaffected, indeed as great-hearted and noble-minded and sweet-tempered a girl as ever looked like a Greek goddess and carried herself like a queen.’

This paragon, this icon of young British womanhood, did however have one fault – ‘Erratic and wilful she no doubt had always been.’ It was this fault, ‘observable outside her family circle’, that had caused her to associate with the militant suffragettes, whose ‘methods and practices both inside and outside prison’ oozed ‘slow and subtle sex-poison.’ It was this that had robbed Lavender Guthrie of her ‘bloom’ – ‘the thirst for sensation had become a passion and the craze for revolt had become a disease’. For this he laid the blame firmly on the leaders of the WSPU.

All the newspapers were awash with letters about the case. A few were sympathetic to Laura Grey’s fate but most, like a correspondent to the Daily Express, saw her as the ‘Victim of the Furies’. And you will have no difficulty in guessing who these were.

For their part, the WSPU put its own particular spin on the sad story, declaring that Laura Grey had long left their ranks and it was because she was no longer a suffragette that she had fallen in with the wrong sort of people. Why were the names of the men which whom she had associated – particularly the father of the child she was expecting – not publicised? It was the Government and the attitudes of society that were responsible for Laura Grey’s death. In fact her ‘ruin’  ideally illustrated Christabel Pankhurst’s slogan of the last couple of years – ‘Votes for Women and Chastity for Men’.

It was certainly not a good moment for the WSPU to be associated with drug-taking, for at this very time – amongst all the other newspaper reports of suffragette mayhem – was the story – sensationalised in the popular press – that a solicitor’s clerk had been discovered attempting to smuggle a drug to Grace Roe, one of the WSPU leaders, now on hunger strike in Holloway. The drug was actually an emetic – enabling her to be sick after forcible feeding – not a barbiturate – but the man and, indeed, woman in the street, could now even more easily associate ‘drugs’ with ‘suffragettes’.

If only Laura Grey/Lavender Guthrie had been able to hold out for a couple more months might the war have made a difference to her situation? With the great change that British society was about to undergo, the birth of baby to yet another unmarried young woman might have felt of little less consequence in general, although doubtless still fraught in the particular. In her farewell letter to her mother she sent ‘My love to Lilias, and I hope she will be very happy and marry some decent man whose children you could be proud of’. This strikes me as the saddest sentence in a long, sad letter. Lilias never married. If Mrs Baillie Guthrie had wanted only grandchildren of which she could be proud, she was to be disappointed.

Nearly 100 years after the sad event, Lavender Guthrie’s suicide still has the power to shock. Although I had known of the case in a general way it was only a week ago, when going through cuttings accumulated by my diarist, Kate Parry Frye for all about Kate Frye’s diary click here), that I came across a copy of Hornung’s letter to The Times. Kate had clipped it and neatly folded it and I doubt anybody else had looked at it until I opened it out last week. I have checked and, although she was in London at the time, Kate makes no mention of the case of Laura Grey in her diary – but it had obviously not gone unremarked.

In another neat leap through the century, Lavender Guthrie’s hunger-strike medal that I illustrate at the head of this post is now held in the collection of Ken Florey, who illustrates it beautifully in his  Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study. So, the very hunger-strike medal that in 1914 was in the Jermyn Street room as poor Lavender Guthrie took her overdose of veronal, was taken away by the police and then held up to such contempt and ridicule by the Coroner, is, a century later, the prized and treasured possession of a dedicated collector of suffragette memorabilia.

 

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The Garretts And Their Circle: Annie Swynnerton’s ‘Crossing The Stream’

'Crossing the Stream' by Annie Swynnerton. Manchester City Art Gallery Coleciton. Photo courtesy of MCAG and BBC Your Paintings with the Public Catalogue Foundation

‘Crossing the Stream’ by Annie Swynnerton. Manchester City Art Gallery Coleciton. Photo courtesy of MCAG and BBC Your Paintings with the Public Catalogue Foundation

Another of Annie Swynnerton’s paintings left to Manchester City Art Gallery by Louisa Garrett.

The way in which the Garrett circle did their best to ensure that Annie Swynnerton’s work was included in major public collections is discussed in my book –  Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle-  available online from Francis Boutle Publishers or from all good bookshops (in stock, for instance, at Foyles, Charing Cross Road).

 

 

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The Garretts And Their Circle: Annie Swynnerton’s ‘The Town of Siena’

'The Town of Siena' by Annie Swynnerton, Manchester City Art Gallery Collection, photo courtesy of MCAG, BBC Your Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation

‘The Town of Siena’ by Annie Swynnerton, Manchester City Art Gallery Collection, photo courtesy of MCAG, BBC Your Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation

This is another of Annie Swynnerton’s paintings left to Manchester City Art Gallery by Louisa Garrett.

The way in which the Garrett circle did their best to ensure that Annie Swynnerton’s work was included in major public collections is discussed in my book –  Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle-  available online from Francis Boutle Publishers or from all good bookshops (in stock, for instance, at Foyles, Charing Cross Road).

 

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The Garretts And Their Circle: Annie Swynnerton’s ‘Illusions’

'Illusions' by Annie Swynnerton, Collection Manchester City Galleries, courtesy of BBC Your Paingints & the Public Catalogue Foundation

‘Illusions’ by Annie Swynnerton, Collection Manchester City Galleries, courtesy of BBC Your Paintings  & the Public Catalogue Foundation

This painting was left to the City Art Gallery, Manchester, by Louisa Garrett (nee Wilkinson, sister-in-law to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Fawcett and Agnes Garrett.

‘Illusions’ would once have hung in Louisa’s home at Snape in Suffolk. Her house was named ‘Greenheys’ after the area of Manchester in which she and her sister, Fanny, grew up.

The way in which the Garrett circle did their best to ensure that Annie Swynnerton’s work was included in major public collections is discussed in my book –  Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle-  available online from Francis Boutle Publishers or from all good bookshops (in stock, for instance, at Foyles, Charing Cross Road).

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: In Bed – Photographed With Radio Headphones At The Ready – 1920s

Kate in bed

 

Working my way through Kate Frye’s extensive collection of photographs I have just come across this one. It is so unusual to see a photo of a woman lying in bed that I thought I must share it with you all. You’ll note the radio headphones hooked on the brass bedstead which probably dates the photo to the second half of the 1920s. The photo would have been taken by Kate’s husband, John Collins, who was a keen photographer. Kate, for her part, was a keen and early radio listener, delighting as she did in all forms of music and drama.

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The Garretts and Their Circle: Annie Swynnerton’s ‘The Dreamer’

The Dreamer by Annie Swynnerton, 1887. (c) Manchester City Gallery - image courtesy of BBC Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation

The Dreamer by Annie Swynnerton, 1887. (c) Manchester City Gallery – image courtesy of BBC Paintings and the Public Catalogue Foundation

In yesterday’s post I drew attention to Annie Swynnerton’s portrait of Millicent Fawcett. It was hardly chance that brought that artist and that sitter together; both were central figures in what I term ‘the Garrett circle’.

Today’s painting by Annie Swynnerton, The Dreamer,  was originally owned by Millicent Fawcett’s sister-in-law, Louisa Garrett (nee Wilkinson) who for a while lived next-door-but-one to Millicent Fawcett and Agnes Garrett in Gower Street (the latter at no 2 and the Wilkinsons at no 6). The Dreamer was owned jointly by Louisa and her sister, Fanny, and may for a time have graced the walls of 6 Gower Street. Louisa only moved out of no 6 on her marriage to Millicent and Agnes’ youngest brother, George Garrett.

Fanny Wilkinson and Louisa Garrett did all in their power to ensure that, after their deaths, Annie Swynnerton was represented in public collections. In her will Louisa specifically left her share in this painting to Fanny and expressed ‘the desire that she will bequeath the said picture to the City Art Gallery, Manchester.’

Discover much more about the way in which the Garrett circle did their best to ensure Annie Swynnerton’s continuing reputation in my  Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle-  available online from Francis Boutle Publishers or from all good bookshops (in stock, for instance, at Foyles, Charing Cross Road).

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Suffrage Stories: Make Millicent Fawcett Visible

Millicent Fawcett wearing a pendant given to her by the NUWSS in recognition of her service

 

Because of copyright issues, I don’t feel able to show you the  portrait of Mrs Pankhurst that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. But I wonder how many of you know without looking  here which one I mean?

As I thought, a great many. That is doubtless because the portrait is on permanent display.

Mrs Pankhurst’s presence is also kept before us in the shape of her statue in Victoria Tower Gardens, right next to the House of Commons.Both of these images are not where they are by chance. Immediately after her death  former suffragettes determined to memorialise their leader in this time-honoured tradition – a portrait painted for the national collection and a statue erected in a prominent and relevant position.

Therefore, it’s unsurprising that Mrs Pankhurst is remembered.

But what of Mrs Millicent Fawcett, whose method of campaigning for the vote for women differed from that of Mrs Pankhurst, but who was in many ways the more effective politician. Indeed, it was she who finally delivered ‘votes for women’.

Mrs Fawcett has no statue. Indeed, droll and dry woman that she was,  I’m sure she would turn in her grave if such an idea were to be mooted.

The National Portrait Gallery’s only painted portrait of Mrs Fawcett is this one by Ford Maddox Brown that depicts her as the tender young wife of Henry Fawcett, the blind politician. There is no hint in this picture of her future career. Incidentally this painting hangs, not in London, but in Bodelwydden Castle.

Tate Britain does hold this portrait of Millicent Fawcett, painted at the end of her life by her friend Annie Swynnerton. Mrs Fawcett is shown wearing academic dress, her honorary degree robes from St Andrews.

This painting is permanently in storage. It was shown at the Royal Academy in 1930 and, after being bought for the nation as a Chantrey Bequest purchase, has never been seen in public since.  When I was writing Enterprising Women  I arranged to see the painting in the Tate’s store. There was no difficulty – beyond making an appointment – in gaining access – but how very different from saying ‘hallo’ to Mrs Pankhurst every day, if one so chose, in the National Portrait Gallery.

Why can’t this portrait be brought out of storage and, if it doesn’t fit into the Tate Britain hanging policy, be transferred to the National Portrait Gallery where it would admirably complement Mrs Pankhurst?

Mrs Fawcett was not, of course, without staunch memorialising supporters. But, rather than a statue, they put their efforts into a building – Women’s Service House in Marsham Street, Westminster – and named the large hall inside for Mrs Fawcett. Financial exigency has long since separated the building from the women’s movement  (although we are thankful that it has been given a new lease of life by Westminster School). For many years Millicent Fawcett’s name was synonymous with the wonderful library that originated in Women’s Service House but was at the beginning of the 21st century given the much less resonant name of The Women’s Library.

However Mrs Fawcett’s lifelong work for the women’s cause is still commemorated in the vigorous efforts of The Fawcett Society. I am sure, sensible woman that she was, she would much rather that that was the case than that her portrait should hang in the National Portrait Gallery. And, yet, knowing how responsive the public is to the visual image, I do wish she might be allowed to share Mrs Pankhurst’s limelight.

Because it would be too ironic to devote a post to bemoaning the lack of visual representation of Mrs Fawcett, here she is, wearing an National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies badge.

Millicent Fawcett c 1912

Millicent Fawcett c 1912

Read much more about Millicent Fawcett – and all the Garretts – in Enterprising Women: the Garretts and their circle

and when in London visit the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery.

UPDATE: And if there were to be a statue of a woman in Parliament Square (see here) to commemorate the women’s suffrage campaign, why should it not be of Millicent Fawcett?

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Live in Wood Green, 25 July 2013

Wood Green 25 July

 

 

 

Do come along and experience a taste of suffrage  life 

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary is published by Francis Boutle Publishers

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

For a full description of the book click here

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, London Review Bookshop (shop and online),  Foyles (shop and online) – and from all good bookshops – including the Big Green Bookshop!

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Suffrage Stories: Women’s Tax Resistance League Sale, Hampstead, May 1914

Mrs Thomson Price's goods being sold

The photograph above was taken on Monday 18 May 1914 at the sale in Hampstead of goods belonging to Mrs Louisa Thomson Price and others – all of whom had refused to pay their tax. ‘No Taxation Without Representation’ was the motto of the Tax Resistance League.

The Vote  (the paper of the Women’s Freedom League with which Mrs Thomson Price was closely associated) reported (22 May 1914) ‘At Hampstead on May 18 a large group of tax resisters had their goods sold at Fitzjohns Estate Auction Rooms. They were Mrs Thomson Price, Mrs and Miss Hicks, Mrs How Martyn , Mrs Milligan, Mrs Hartley, the Misses Collier, and the Misses Dawes Thompson. A procession with a band marched from Finchley Road station to the auction rooms at Swiss Cottage and after the sale an excellent meeting was held at the corner of the Avenue Road. From a gaily decorated wagonette speeches were made by Mrs Thomson Price, Mrs Nevinson and Mrs Kineton Parkes, explaining the reason of the protest.

Below is the note made by Louisa Thomson Price on the reverse of the photographic postcard.

Reverse of photo

Mrs Louisa Thomson Price was born Louisa Catherine Sowdon in 1864 and died in 1926. She was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. She was impressed by Charles Bradlaugh of the National Secular Society. In 1888 she married John Samson, who was a member of the executive of the NSS. She worked as a journalist from c 1886 – as a political writer, then a very unusual area for women, and drew cartoons for a radical journal, ‘Political World’. She was a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband, in 1907 she married George Thomson Price. She had no children from either marriage.

Louisa Thomson Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League, became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote, and was a director of Minerva Publishing, publisher of the paper. She contributed a series of cartoons to The Vote, which were then produced as postcards. The ‘Jack Horner’ cartoon was also issued as a poster for, I think, the January 1910 General Election. Louisa Thomson Price took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favour of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL. and £1000 to endow a Louisa Thomson Price bed at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

I have a very rare suffrage artefact – a Women’s Freedom League postcard album once owned by Mrs Thomson Price -for sale in my catalogue 185.

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Suffrage Stories: New Post On No 10 Website & Other Suffrage Guest Blogging

In the past – very suffragette -month the following guest posts commissioned from me have appeared:

For the No 10 website: We Wanted to Wake Him Up: Lloyd George and Suffragette Militancey

For the OUP Blog: Why is Emily Wilding Davison remembered as the first suffragette martyr?

For the British Library Untold Lives Blog: Emily Wilding Davison: Perpetuating the Memory

I also took part in Clare Balding’s Secrets of a Suffragette (Channel 4 TV), can be heard talking about Kate Parry Frye and Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral procession on Parliamentary Radio, and took part in the ‘Women’s Rebellion’ programme in Michael Portillo’s Radio 4 series 1913: The Year Before. To listen to the last two  see under ‘Links’ – to the right.

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Suffrage Stories: Mrs Frood, Topsham’s Suffragette/ist

Some time ago, when researching a talk,  ‘No Vote No Census’, that I gave in October 2011 conference on the 1911 census organised by the National Archives, I came across the boycotting census form of Mrs Frood of Topsham. Since then I have passed on this discovery to a researcher associated with Topsham Museum who has been able to link Mrs Frood directly to the 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage, the 100th anniversary of which is being celebrated in Topsham today, 4 July 2013.

The 3 March 1911 edition of Votes for Women contains a letter from Mrs M.C. I. Frood of Station Road, Topsham,  in which she described how, early in the morning of the polling day for the last election (which must have been Dec 1910/Jan 1911),  she went out with a pot of ‘good, white oil paint’ [I like the fact that it was ‘good] and ‘printed on the inner edge of the pavement along which voters would pass on the way to the polling station ‘Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny’ and ‘Britons never, never, never shall be slaves. I also printed it along the brick wall of my field, which they also had to pass coming and going to and from the train. ..On the large doors of my field, near the same spot, I printed ‘No Votes No Taxes’. I find my field gate a useful place to stick cartoons and cuttings from Votes for Women.’

A month later Mrs Frood was one of those suffragettes who boycotted the 1911 census. Together with one of her daughters, her servant, Beatrice Hutchings and six unknown females, to whom she had clearly given boycotting shelter, she refused to fill in any details on her census form, writing across it ‘If I am intelligent enough to fill up this paper, I am intelligent enough to put a cross on a voting paper. No Vote No Census.’

The census enumerator, Mr.H. J. Baker, reported this act of civil disobedience to the Census Office and received a reply from its Secretary, Archer Bellingham, instructing him to fill out the form with the best information he could muster. Mr Baker then annotated the letter, quoting Mrs Frood as saying to him that she had had  a ‘house full’ of boycotters on census night – and ‘that I am therefore adding to Numbers 6’.  With this number revealed as an arbitrary choice of the enumerator, we can only speculate as to how many Topsham women spent the night at Little Broadway House in Station Road.

Although in 1911 it would appear that Mrs Frood, as a correspondent to Votes for Women, was a supporter of the WSPU, by 1913 she is listed in The Suffrage Annual and Women’s Who’s Who as secretary of the Topsham branch of the NUWSS. Perhaps she was one of those who were dismayed by the WSPU’s increasingly militant tactics. It was one thing to paint slogans (with ‘good’ paint’) on pavements and walls, but quite another to break windows and commit arson. So it was as a leading local NUWSS member that Mrs Frood took part in the Suffrage Pilgrimage in early July 1913.

Who was Mrs Frood?

Mrs Mary Catherine Isabella Frood (nee Campbell, c. 1856-1931) had been born of Scottish parentage in Canada and was living in New Zealand when, in 1878, she married James Nicholson Frood (d. 1913), an Irish-born doctor. She had five children, the first four, all daughters, born in New Zealand and the last, a son, born at sea c 1888 – presumably as the family was returning to England. One of her daughters, Hester, was successful as an artist. Although Mrs Frood actually died in London, her address was still in Topsham – 26 The Strand (Old Court House).

26 The Strand, Topsham. Photo courtesy of Derek Harper (geograph.co.uk)

26 The Strand, Topsham. Photo courtesy of Derek Harper (geograph.co.uk)

Where was Dr Frood in 1911?

Dr Frood was living with his family (whose name was misrendered as ‘Froud’) when the 1901 census was taken.  But where was he in 1911? The name on the cover of the census form had been written as ‘Dr Frood’, but this had been amended to ‘Mrs Frood’ and it is she who is shown as ‘Head of Household’. I can find no trace of James Frood elsewhere in the 1911 census, although he did not die until 1913, his death registered in the local area. Interestingly under the terms of his will probate was granted to the Public Trustee rather than to his wife or any other member of the family.

Where was Little Broadway House?

Thanks to Street View I can see Station Road and the pavement along which Mrs Frood painted her slogans. Thanks to Paul Tucker (see Comment below) who tells me that Little Broadway House is still there – the house with the overhanging upper window that I can see in Street View – although now divided into two.  Presumably the ground to its side was Mrs Frood’s field. So let’s take a moment to visualise  its gates – decorated with Votes for Women cartoon – a reminder to those walking past on their way to the station that one Topsham woman was prepared to do her bit to win  ‘votes for women’.

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Suffrage Stories: Suffrage Sympathisers In Late-19th-Century Alton, Hampshire

While researching ‘women’s suffrage’ in the Hampshire Record Office, Anthony Brunning came across an interesting record of the 19th-century campaign. He has kindly given me permission to publish – below – the names of the Alton women who in 1894 signed the Special Appeal, organised in the hope of  convincing the government of the day that women were serious in their call for enfranchisement. The names were, mistakenly, excluded from the final total of 257,796. If anyone has any further information on any of the ladies listed, do let me know.

As the documents bearing the names included in the grand total were, apparently, returned to the various societies with which they were associated, Mrs Wickham’s collecting book is a rare survivor of one of the campaigns that belies the popularly-held view that the 19th-century women’s suffrage campaign lacked enterprise.

You can find details of the Special Appeal Committee in the entry of that name in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide. 

Alton Suffragists in 1894

by Anthony Brunning

Among the documents in the Wickham Family papers held by the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester is a Booklet for collecting signatures for an appeal to the House of Commons for an extension of Parliamentary Franchise to women. The booklet was produced by a Special Appeal Committee, formed for the purpose of collecting signatures, under the Chairmanship of Mrs Fawcett.[1] The signed books were to be returned to the Secretary at the Appeal Office (Albany Buildings, 47, Victoria Street, Westminster) by15 January 1894. A page at the end of the booklet states that “the booklet was to be returned to Mrs. Wickham, Binsted Wyke or Miss Julia Cameron, 47 Victoria St., Westminster.”

At the beginning of the booklet is the appeal:

AN APPEAL FROM WOMEN

Of all Parties and all Classes

To the Members of the House of commons

Gentlemen

Many of the women who sign this appeal differ in opinion on other political questions, but all are of one mind that the continued denial of the franchise to women while it is at the same time being gradually extended amongst men is at once unjust and inexpedient.

In our homes it fosters the impression that women’s opinion of questions of public interest is of no value to the nation, while the fact of women having no vote lessens the representative character of the House of Commons.

In the factory and workshop it places power to restrict women’s work in the hands of men who are working alongside of women whom they too often treat as rivals rather than as fellow-workers.

In Parliament it prevents men from realizing how one-sided are many of the laws affecting women.

We therefore earnestly beg you to support any well-considered measure for the extension of the Parliamentary franchise to women.

Each page had two tear off slips in which ladies could signify their consent to the Appeal.  Each slip had line for signing their Christian and surname, stating their title (Mrs., Miss, or other), give an address and record the name of the Parliamentary constituency in which they lived. Above the tear-off slips were three directives: “N.B. ― All Women over 18 may sign. Each must sign for herself. No one may sign twice.” Each slip began with the statement “I have read the Appeal from Women and desire that my name be added.” The booklet contained twenty-five pages of slips with serrations between them.

Thirty of the ladies who signed came from Alton, two from Binsted 4 miles east by north from Alton and one from East Worldham, 2 miles south-east of Alton. All lived with the Eastern Division of Hants (Petersfield).

Name Title Address
Sophia Emma Wickham Mrs Binsted Wyke, Alton
Eleonore Clements Mrs Binsted Wyke, Alton
Maria Hall Mrs The Manor House, Alton
Ethel M. Hall Miss The Manor House, Alton
Edith Turner Mrs Wey House, Alton, Hants
Emma Isabel Redding Mrs High St., Alton
Mabel E. Trimmond Miss The Parmont, Alton
M. L. Bedding Miss High St., Alton, Hants
Eliza Little Mrs High Street, Alton, Hants
Louisa Trimbrell Mrs High Street, Alton, Hants
M. Conduit Mrs Regent House, Alton, Hants
E. M. Green Miss Regent House, Alton, Hants
Elizabeth J, Castle Mrs High St., Alton
L. Eleanor Faith Miss High St., Alton
Gertrude E. Burrell Mrs Brooklands, Alton
Theodosia Hanson Miss Alton, Hants
Mildred E. Trimmer Miss The Pavement, Alton, Hants
Helen Mary Hall Mrs Brook House, Alton, Hants
Ellen Osborn Miss RosebankSchool, Alton, Hants
Emily Piggott Mrs West End, Alton, Hants
Louisa Dyer Mrs Ivy House, Alton, Hants
Alice M. Dyer Miss Ivy House, Alton, Hants
Bessie Farthing Mrs Westfield, Alton
Florence C. Farthing Miss Westfield, Alton
Bertha Leslie Mrs Alton, Hants
Annie Laura Dyer Mrs Hill House, Alton
Mary Hanna Petar Miss Weybourne, Alton, Hants
Selina Petar Miss Weybourne, Alton, Hants
H. Katie Wilkman Mrs Alton, Hants
Frances J. Chalcraft Mrs Anstey Lodge, Alton, Hants
Millicent Chalcraft Miss Anstey, Alton, Hants
Katharine S. Fell Mrs Worldham Rectory, Alton, Hants
Annie Moule Mrs High Street, Alton

On the inside back cover the collector of signatures was ask to sign, giving name and address in testimony of the authenticity of the contents.

Mrs Sophia Emma Wickham, 60,[2] was the wife of William Wickham, esq, chairman of the County Magistrates for Alton Petty Sessional Division, who according to the 1891 Census was ‘living on his own means and a magistrate’.[3] Katharine Fell, 49, was the wife of Reverend George Hunter Fell, 72, vicar of East and West Worldham.[4]

The booklet is interesting in that it gives an indication that there was a women working for extension of the franchise to women in Alton and district in 1893 and that by mischance it was not sent to Central Office. It may be possible to identify the ladies using the 1891 Census and Kelly’s Directory for Hampshire.

Source:

Hampshire Record Office HRO 38M49/D9/29. Printed booklet, ‘Women’s Suffrage: An appeal from women’ belonging to Sophia Wickham, 1894.


[1]    The Committee was composed of: President: Mrs. Fawcett. Treasurer: Mrs. Frank Morrison. Members: The Lady Frances Balfour, Miss Balfour, Miss Helen Blackburn, Mrs. Leonard Courtney, The Lady Knightley, Mrs. Eva McLaren, Mrs. Massingberd, Miss Mordan, Mrs. Wynford Philipps, Mrs. Broadley Reid, The Lady Henry Somerset, Mrs. T. Taylor (Chipchase), Miss Vernon. Secretary: Miss Julia Cameron.

[2]    Age given after the names is the age in 1893 calculated from the age given in the census consulted.

[3]    Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1895, 28. TNA: PRO RG12/952/24/2. Binsted, Hants.

[4]    Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1895, 574. TNA PRO RG11/1247/74/14. East Worldham, Hants.

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Suffrage Stories: Bloomsbury Links (Part 2)

In 1907 it was Philippa Strachey, sister of Lytton, who, as secretary of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage, organised the first large-scale London street procession of women prepared to risk ignominy by making  of themselves a public spectacle. Thus, in heavy rain, on 9 February 1907 Lady Strachey, Philippa’s mother, walked at the head of ‘The Mud March’, a soubriquet earned from the state of the streets  (see here for Kate Frye’s experiences that day).

Flyer advertising the NUWSS 'Mud March'

Flyer advertising the NUWSS ‘Mud March’

On 5 February John Maynard Keynes had written to Philippa Strachey, ‘I hear that you may want hired roughs next Saturday. If I can be of any use I am at your service after 1 o’clock’. He kept to his word and acted as chief steward at Exeter Hall in the Strand where, at the end of their march, the suffragists rallied for speeches from, among others, Lady Strachey. Keynes had long been exposed to the workings of the women’s suffrage campaign; his mother was a practical exponent of ‘women’s rights’ and his father, a close friend of Henry Fawcett, had in 1888 been auditor of the Cambridge Women’s Suffrage Association. This influence had permeated sufficiently for Keynes, in 1912, to demur at the inscription of ‘Votes for Women: IDT’ on a bas-relief by Eric Gill depicting a copulating couple, in which the woman was on top. ‘IDT’ was Gill’s way of making light of the issue as the letters stood for ‘I Don’t Think’. Keynes wanted to buy this work but only did so after Gill agreed to remove the inscription.

Lady Strachey

Lady Strachey

Lady Strachey had been an early supporter of the women’s suffrage campaign, having in 1867 signed one of the first petitions in favour of women’s suffrage, probably that presented by John Stuart Mill on behalf of the Edinburgh Society. From 1901 she had been a regular subscriber to the Central Society for Women’s Suffrage, as was her husband. A week after the Mud March Lady Strachey was present at Caxton Hall on the occasion of a WSPU ‘Women’s Parliament’, a meeting that ended in chaos and arrests. Elizabeth Robins, actress and suffragette, afterwards wrote to Lady Strachey, ‘I looked for you during the later evening and was very relieved that you were not to be seen, for the fact was that the police grew very violent as the hours went on…’

Lady Strachey also deployed her pen in aid of the Cause, writing, between 1907 and 1909, a number of pamphlets for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, including Reduced to the Absurd, a series of humorous syllogisms (such word-play being a Strachey speciality) and, around 1910 supplying the words for several rollicking songs, which  were published by the LSWS as Women’s Suffrage Songs. In 1909 Lady Strachey became a member of the editorial committee of a newly-founded feminist journal, The Englishwoman, which was in effect an NUWSS attempt to provide a forum for serious feminist discussion. Grant HandicappedOne of Lady Strachey’s co-founders of The Englishwoman was Mary Lowndes, a stained glass artist and chairman of the Artists’ Suffrage League, a society devoted to publishing suffrage propaganda. The ASL each year ran a competition for the design of a poster; Duncan Grant, nephew to Lady Strachey, was the competition’s joint winner, sharing a prize of £4, in the autumn of 1909. He had previously submitted a design, unsuccessfully, for the 1907 competition but was encouraged to try again. It may have been that a weakness in conveying the suffrage message had been responsible for his failure in 1907 because in 1909 Barbara Forbes, Lowndes’ companion and the secretary of the ASL, took the trouble to give him the subject for his design. In its final rendition the poster was described in the NUWSS weekly paper, The Common Cause, 4 November 1909, as depicting ‘a stalwart Grace Darling type struggling in the trough of a heavy sea with only a pair of sculls, while a nonchalant young man in flannels glides gaily by, with a wind inflating his saile – the vote -[treating] with good temper a subject which often causes bitterness’. The Houses of Parliament loom on the horizon as the goal of both vessels. By an interesting coincidence the winner of the ASL’s competition in 1908, with a poster ‘What’s Sauce for the Gander is Sauce for the Goose’ had been Mary Sargent Florence, whose daughter, Alix, was in 1920 to marry James Strachey, Lady Strachey’s youngest son.

The Tax Resistance League logo - as seen on this banner - was designed by Mary Sargant Forence

The Tax Resistance League logo – as seen on this banner – was designed by Mary Sargant Forence

Mary Sargent Florence was a leading light of the Tax Resistance League, designing their badge and banner, and  in 1912 and 1914, putting principle into practice,  refused to pay her taxes, and had goods distrained and sold.

The next ‘ Suffrage Stories: Bloomsbury Links’  post will discuss the life and work of Ray Strachey – a Strachey-by-marriage.

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Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison or Harold Hewitt?

Emily Davison at the Derby 4 June 1913 or Harold Hewitt at Ascot 20 June 1913

Emily Davison at the Derby 4 June 1913 or Harold Hewitt at Ascot 20 June 1913

For many years, since I acquired this photograph, I had thought it showed Emily Davison lying on the Derby racetrack on 4 June 1913, tended by policemen.

However, it has just been suggested to me that it in fact shows Harold Hewitt who, at Ascot just over two weeks later ran in front of the racing horses, with a ‘suffragist’ flag in one hand and a fully-loaded revolver in the other,  in what was deemed a ‘copycat’ action. For details of the event and Hewitt’s action see Lesley Gray’s blog.

Although I have no firm evidence one way or the other, I am minded to believe that the photograph is of Hewitt. There is little to go on but the narrow belt and slanting side pocket do indicate trousers rather than a skirt. Hewitt was, apparently, wearing a loose Norfolk-type jacket which may well be the one in the picture. The filmed images of Emily Davison with which we are now so well acquainted do indicate a rather fuller skirt – with petticoats.

In addition to the information given in Lesley’s blog, I can tell you that Harold Charles Hewitt, who had a Cambridge degree, came from a family with a large estate at Hope End in Herefordshire had lived for lengthy periods of time in Canada and Switzerland and in 1913  was, apparently, planning to go and farm in Africa.

The night before Ascot he had stayed at a hotel in Hart Street, Bloomsbury (perhaps the Kingsley Hotel, right next to St George’s where Emily Davison’s memorial service had been held on 14 June). He had, according to the report in The Times, been present at Emily Davison’s ‘funeral’ -although whether in the church or taking part in the procession is not made clear. The newspaper reports concentrate on his interest in anti-vivisection and apparent hatred of horse races rather than on any particular suffrage sympathies. Tenants at Hope End who knew Hewitt reported that ‘he had always been eccentric on religious matters’.

Harold Hewitt died in 1961 aged c 86, a comparatively wealthy man, the head injury he sustained at Ascot in 1911 having done little to shorten his long life.

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Women Writers And Italy: Dorothy Nevile Lees

Plaque at Via Foscola, 32, in Florence

Plaque at Via Foscola, 32, in Florence

Dorothy Nevile Lees was born in Wolverhampton in 1880, the youngest of the seven children of William and Rose Lees.  The Lees were a long-established Wolverhampton family and in the 1891 census Dorothy’s father was described as  a ‘justice of the peace, Mediterranean merchant and manufacturer of tinned japanned wares’. Ten years later the family were living in Old Ivy House, Lower Street, Tettenhall. For further information about Old Ivy House see here.

In 1903 Dorothy Lees travelled to Italy, arriving on 4 November in Florence, where she was to remain for the rest of her life. On 7 November her brother, Gerald, set sail for Montreal to work there as an agent for Mander Bros, the leading Wolverhampton manufacturer of paint and varnish. In the 1901 Gerald had been working as a clerk his father’s company. I sense that there may have been some kind of business failure, for in 1911 the eldest Lees son, Lawrence, was working as a’ needle manufacturer’, living with his parents, his father being described as ‘a retired export merchant’ (incidentally this is the only 1911 census form that I have seen on which the information has been typed rather than handwritten). When William Lees died in 1917 he left only £300 or so and this may be some kind of explanation as to why Dorothy left home; it was then very much cheaper to live in Italy and, if she hoped to earn money from writing, there was more picturesque ‘copy’ in Florence than in Tettenhall. In 1907 she published two books, Scenes and Shrines in Tuscany  and Tuscan Feasts and Friends. She dedicated the latter book to her brother, Gerald, ‘Oceans part not kindred hearts/While they remain akin’. Below is an excerpt from the first chapter, demonstrating the potency of the Tuscan dream that has captivated English women throughout the centuries.

Lees Tuscan

‘From the first moment when, in the afternoon sunshine of a day sweet and unforgettable, a bend in the road revealed it, the Villa took prisoner of my heart.

The Villa, strictly speaking, was not beautiful; its time-stained platstered walls, its lofty height, its heavily-barred windows were a little guant and forbidding; and yet, as I stepped down from the carriage, I felt instinctively that I had found the place of dreams and peace.

It was a house to enchant any lover of antiquity, with its furniture of dark oak and antique gilded leather, its ancient bronze and silver lamps, its tapestries, its painted ‘Cassoni’, in which the brides of a past day brought home their gear; its portraits of old-time Florentines in lucco  or parti-coloured hose, in wigs and ruffles and brocaded coats; of ladies in Medicean costume of grave-faced priors and dashing cavaliers, some of whom lived in, and, no doubt, still haunt, the queit rooms on which they down gaze down!

Yes, it was a story-book house. So I decided that night in my quanit little bedroom, with its high wagon-roof and red-paved floor, while the moon, low in the west above the dark huddle of the woods, shone in through the window, drawing the close-crossed bars, with which Italians guard all lower casements, in clear black outline upon the opposite wall. Watching the quiet silver light, which seemed like a benediction, making the little room a holy place, and listening to the dripping of the fountain and the hooting of the owls in the profound stillness of the September night, I could but fall asleep murmuring, ‘the lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground’, since the guiding star of fortune had stood still for me above a place so sweet.’

Dorothy Lees’ Tuscan idyll did not, however, find fulfillment as the consort of an Italian conte or marchese, her lot was not be mistress of a Tuscan estate, but to be a life-long handmaid to Edward Gordon Graig, actor and director.

Edward Gordon Craig

Edward Gordon Craig

For it was in early 1907 that, in Florence, Dorothy met  Craig,  the illegitimate son of the actress, Ellen Terry, and the architect, Edward Godwin, and from then on devoted herself to him for the rest of their lives.  She was the mother of one of his eight children; her son, David, was born in September 1917.  Craig was by no means a constant, or appreciative, companion; Isadora Duncan was another of his lovers.

the mask

Dorothy Lees collaborated with Craig on the publication of The Mask, the journal through which he aimed to disseminate his philosophy of the theatre and to demonstrate methods of putting his ideas into practice. Dorothy was the journal’s managing editor and provided financial support from money she earned as a journalist. After Craig left Italy, Dorothy Lees lived on in Florence, rescuing his archive from the attention of the Nazis and, after the war, building up a collection of Craig-related publications for the British Institute.

Dorothy Lees’ papers are held in Harvard University – click here for a full and excellent listing of the collection. Below are descriptions of a few of the letters sent by Craig to Dorothy Lees around the time their son was born.

  • (915) Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966. Letter to Dorothy Nevile Lees, 1917 Sept. 5. 1 letter.
    Publication business; words of encouragement for facing sad things in life; signed “ever yours.”

  • (916) Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966. Letter to Dorothy Nevile Lees, 1917 Sept. 13. 1 letter.
    On arrangements for DNL in hospital; should not register under EGC’s name; [baby] should have plain name.

  • (917) Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966. Letter to Dorothy Nevile Lees, 1917 Sept. 17. 1 letter.
    Concerning baptism; EGC does not want name in it (on it?) at all.

  • (918) Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966. Letter to Dorothy Nevile Lees, 1917 Sept. 20. 1 letter.
    New prospectus for the Marionnette.

  • (919) Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966. Letter to Dorothy Nevile Lees, 1917 Sept. 24. 1 letter.
    Glad for DNL’s sake news is good; his dissatisfaction with Mr. Furst.

  • (920) Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966. Letter to Dorothy Nevile Lees, 1917 Sept. 26. 1 letter.
    On Mr. Furst as a worker; his “young apache;” on proper relationship between men and women; “women could make the world a much more pleasant place and life a far more pleasant time for all people if they would do what they [are] told to or asked to do.”

I think this small sample give a flavour of their relationship. Doubtless, for Dorothy life in Florence, which she describes in the opening page of Tuscan Feasts as a ‘dream city’,  provided the balm to what must have been a constantly wounding – but self-chosen – way of life. Her son, David Lees, who died in 2004, was renowned as a photographer; several photographs of his father are held by the National Portrait Gallery. Alas, although surely David Lees must have photographed his mother, I cannot locate any photograph of Dorothy. Such is the fate of handmaidens through history.

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Collecting Suffrage: 14 June 1913 Emily Wilding Davison’s Funeral Programme: Updated

Official Programme for Emily WIlding Davison’s Funeral Procession

I published this post last October, before the extent of interest in the 100th anniversary celebrations of the event commemorated in this 4-pp pamphlet had become clear. I am relieved to report that no suspicious flurry of spurious Emily Davison-related items has appeared on the market. Although the main text of this post is as it first appeared I have updated it with two extra scans of the inside and back cover of the programme. They were made merely for my own research purposes some time before I had a visually-sophisticated blog audience to amuse – so – apologies for their appearance – but I think you will find the details of interest.

For the last 100 years the strange death of Emily Wilding Davison has transfixed the public. It is likely to be the one thing that the ‘man – or woman – in the street’ knows about the suffragette movement. Bizarrely the last seconds of her conscious life are still with us –growing in impact as the internet allows everyone to view footage of film that was in the past relatively difficult to access.  In this piece by Andrew Marr the BBC has worked its wonders on the Pathé News original, allowing us to see details that the passing years had blurred. I have always wondered if it was by chance that she chose to position herself alongside a section of the Derby racecourse that was in full view of the film camera. The camera was mounted on a stand and would have been clearly visible. However the camera was, presumably, positioned there in order to capture pictures of the horses entering the final straight and Emily Davison may have chosen to be there for the very same reason. You will now have had the opportunity of viewing the enhanced footage of the film broadcast by Channel 4 in Clare Balding’s Secrets of a Suffragette.

All material related to Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral is scarce – and very collectable – however one of the scarcest is the 4-page ‘Official Programme, Timetable and Route of the Funeral Procession, Saturday June 14th 1913.

I must say that I do find it rather odd that this item should be so very scarce for, as you can see from film and photographs,  the streets of London were packed on the day. The hordes must have failed to arm themselves with the Programme or, if they did, to have then discarded it.

Inside pages of the programme for Emily Davison's funeral procession

Inside pages of the programme for Emily Davison’s funeral procession

In Campaigning for the Vote, Kate Frye, who followed the procession through Piccadilly to Bloomsbury and then on to Kings Cross, in her long diary entry comments on the vastness of the crowd. But even she, who was an inveterate hoarder of suffrage memorabilia, does not seem to have acquired  a copy of the Funeral Procession Programme. The result is that, in nearly 30 years of dealing in suffrage artefacts,  I have only seen one copy of this item for sale. In fact, if a spate of them were now to hit the market, I shall be very suspicious!

Back cover of the Emily Davison funeral procession

Back cover of the Emily Davison funeral procession

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WALKS/Suffrage Stories: The International Suffrage Shop

Another in my series documenting the places  that would once have been so familiar to both suffragettes and suffragists in the area surrounding the new home of the Women’s Library @ LSE. The main sites once occupied by the International Suffrage Shop have long since been swept away but, as a devotée of  books and bookselling,  I would like to ensure that this brave venture is commemorated.

In 1910 the International Suffrage Shop was  opened by the actress, Sime Seruya in a room on the third floor of 31 Bedford Street, Covent Garden,  lent to her by Edith Craig. In March 1911 the shop moved to spacious new premises – 15 Adam Street – on the south side of the Strand, not far from where Virago ran a bookshop, with which I was associated, in Southampton Street in the late 1980s. (Incidentally, the Virago Bookshop, along with the late-lamented Silver Moon and Sister Write’s in Islington – the latter’s premises now, ironically, a Cook Shop – represented a brief flowering of interest in women-oriented reading material of which the Persephone Bookshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street is now, I think,  the only surviving bricks and mortar representative – at least in London.)

The International Suffrage Shop was described as ‘The Only Feminist Bookshop’ and had on  sale all kinds of feminist as well as general literature, modern plays on social questions, art and children’s books, pictorial posters, badges and newspapers, photographs and postcards.

The shop also acted as a publisher for Cicely Hamilton’s Pageant of Great Women and Margaret Nevinson’s In the Workhouse and its logo is to be found on the (rare) photographs, published separately, of the leading characters – such as Ellen Terry – who took part in the original pageant.

The ISS had a large room – complete with ‘a picture lamp and sheet’ that could be let out for meetings and, positioned so centrally, was a useful place for assignations. For instance, Kate Parry Frye arranged to meet some friends there on the afternoon of 21 November 1911, before going, first, to have tea at the cafe in the Cecil Hotel and then on to a window-smashing demonstration in Parliament Square.

Kate Frye's copy of the flyer for the ISS Benefit Performance of 'The Coronation'

Kate Frye’s copy of the flyer for the ISS Benefit Performance of ‘The Coronation’

Alas it was as difficult then as it is now to make a living through book selling and the International Suffrage Shop was always in financial difficulties. Kate Frye played a leading, if silent, part in Christopher St John’s  banned play, The Coronation, published by the ISS and staged by Edith Craig in January 1912 as a Benefit Performance in aid of the shop. A long description of the occasion can be found in Campaigning for the Vote.

As the WSPU campaign became more physically militant the International Suffrage  Shop, which boasted two very large plate-glass windows, became a prime target for retaliation. Helena Swanwick described how when, one evening, she was attending a meeting at the shop medical students broke in and threw books about. The police, apparently, would do nothing to help. On at least one occasion one of the shop’s windows was broken.

When the Strand was widened in mid-1913 the shop had to move and certainly by the time it was forced to close in April 1918, threatened with bankruptcy, its address was 5 Duke Street, Adelphi (then off Villiers Street). In 1913 it would appear that the original founders had relinquished their connection and that it had been taken over by Miss Adeline West Trim, who had been in charge of the Book-Selling Department from the beginning and had managed to keep the shop open throughout the First World War and who, alas, died soon after, in 1920 aged barely 50.

For other posts in this series see:

Where and What Was the Aldwych Skating Rink ?

Where And What Was Clement’s Inn ?

The St Clement’s Press

Where And What Was the ‘Votes For Women Fellowhip?’

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

£14.99

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk, from all good bookshops – especially Foyle’s, London Review Bookshop, Persephone Bookshop, British Library Bookshop, Daunt Books, The National Archives Bookshop and Newham Bookshop. Also online – especially recommend very favourable price offered by Foyle’s Online (and they pay all taxes!)

 

Campaigning for the Vote cover‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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Suffrage Stories: Parliamentary Radio Interviews Recorded At The Emily Wilding Davison Event In The House Of Commons, Tuesday 4 June 2013

Alison McGovern MP5 June 2013

100 years since Emily Wilding Davison, the Suffragette died Parliament pays tribute to her

Westminster has paid tribute to the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison 100 years after she was knocked down by the King’s Horse at Epsom races.

Kate Frye Cover“Parliament and Votes for Women” The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art and Parliament Week, paid tribute to Emily with a special tour of the places in Westminster Emily and others targeted with her Suffrage militant activities.

Boni Sones, our Executive Producer, spoke to the Labour MP Alison McGovern, Elizabeth Crawford, the suffragette historian, and Irene Cockroft, of the Bourne Hall Museum in Ewell, Surrey. All had their own Emily stories, including an eye witness account of Emily’s funeral procession from Kate Frye.

Listen to the interview…

Download this interview (.mp3 format, file size: 14.5MB) Iright click and then click on ‘open link in new tab’ button/

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Suffrage Stories: Kitty Marion, Emily Wilding Davison And Hurst Park

Emily Wilding Davison died in Epsom Hospital during the afternoon of Sunday 8 June. However, by the previous evening a plan was already afoot to commemorate, if not yet her death, at least her action at the Derby.

Kitty Marion

Kitty Marion

In a previous post I explained that Kitty Marion, one-time music-hall artiste – by 1913 a full-time militant suffragette, wrote in her unpublished autobiography that Emily Davison, on the eve of the Derby had given her a purse containing a sovereign, ‘for munitions’. She went on to say that ‘the following Sunday, when unaware of her death, Betty Giveen and I made good use of the ‘munitions’ Emily had paid for.’ It transpired that  ‘some one living in the vicinity of Hurst Park race course [had] suggested to Clara [aka ‘Betty’] Giveen and me that the Grand Stand there would make a most appropriate beacon, not only as the usual protest but, in honour of our Comrade’s daring deed for which she paid with her life.’

Whether or not Kitty Marion’s story of Emily’s purse and the sovereign is true (I am horribly suspicious of post-event stories that place an autobiographer in the centre of a dramatic scene – cf Mary Richardson) there is no doubt that, on the evening of 8 June, Kitty Marion and Betty Giveen set out for the Hurst Park stadium at Molesey (near Hampton Court), apparently equipped with their ‘munitions’  – a gallon of oil and fire lighters -together with a piece of candle to ignite the oil-soaked material they was to be used as a wick. In the event the ‘fuse’ ignited far too quickly – an hour was supposed to elapse before the blaze started – and the women had to depart in haste. The stadium was gutted.

The women had difficulty, hampered by their skirts, but with the aid of a piece of old carpet they had brought along, in clambering over the fence that  surrounded the grounds and it interests me that in her autobiography (admittedly written many years later)  Kitty Marion specifically comments ‘We both regretted that there was no movie camera to immortalise the comedy of it.’  If the power of the ‘movie cameras’ was in their mind on 8 June, it makes Emily Davison’s positioning of herself at Epsom on 4 June all the more convincing. Movies were by 1913 firmly embedded in the contemporary mindset.

The mistake made over the setting of the fuse rather bears out my contention that  fires, once started, are not easy to control. Suffragette arsonists – as any other fireraiser, male or female – could never be certain that they would not cause injury to themselves or others. They were lucky.

Leaving the stadium ablaze, Kitty and Betty then walked from Molesey to Kew – to the home of Dr and Mrs Casey (and of their militantly WSPU daughter, Eileen) at 25 West Park Road, Kew. [The house is a typical Edwardian semi; I have often walked past it on my way from Kew Gardens station to the National Archives.]  Kitty writes that Mrs Casey,  after meeting her and Betty had invited them to stay at her house. Mrs Casey confirmed this meeting in her trial evidence, reporting that she had met Kitty, for the first time, at the WSPU Summer Fair on the evening of 7 June. Presumably in handing to them a latch key to the house so that they could enter during the night without waking the household, Mrs Casey was aware that they were likely to have committed some law-breaking act and had not, as the defence claimed, been attending a party.

During the course of the 7 June meeting Mrs Casey had told Kitty which room in her house would be free for them and in her evidence said that on the morning of Monday 9 June  ‘she saw Miss Marion with Miss Giveen asleep in a top room’. The report continues, ‘witness opened the door and said “It’s time to get up for breakfast.”‘

Apparently, however, the house was being watched by police and Kitty and Betty were soon arrested there. They had, in fact, encountered a policeman in the early hours of the morning close to Kew station as they were trying to work out the exact location of West Park Road. The newspaper evidence appears to indicate that the police were watching the Caseys’ house, which, if true, would seem to indicate that far more research needs to be done on the deployment of police surveillance against WSPU sympathisers.

On Tuesday 10 June Kitty and Betty were charged at Richmond court and released on bail of £2000 each on sureties partly offered by two wealthy WSPU supporters, Mrs Williams and Mrs Potts.

Although Betty Giveen, who was from Birmingham, had from 4 June been lodging at 7 Great Ormond Street in Holborn and Kitty had digs at 86 Kennington Road, Lambeth, in  court they both named 118 King Henry’s Road, Hampstead, the home of the WSPU Hampstead secretaries, the Misses Collier, as an address that would find them. That evening Kitty Marion returned once again to the Empress Rooms and the WSPU  Summer Fair, where a wreath dedicated to the memory of Emily Davison now rested against the statue of St Joan.

The trial of Kitty Marion and Betty Giveen was held at Guilford on 3 July. Both the newspaper reports and Kitty Marion’s autobiography  record, as Kitty put it, ‘great astonishment at the Freemasonary among suffragettes, for one to trust a mere acquaintance who had never previously been to her house, with a latch key and to bring another, an utter stranger. Neither court nor counsels could grasp the idea’. ‘She was a Suffragette’, said Mrs Casey, ‘that was quite good enough for us. We trust anyone who is a Suffragette.’

Kitty Marion was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude and immediately went on a hunger-and-thirst strike. For much more about Kitty Marion (and Eileen Casey) read their entries in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide.  There is an interesting blog post about Eileen Casey and her mother, Mrs Isabella Casey, on the National Archives website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: June 2013

In case readers of Woman and Her Sphere haven’t had enough Emily Wilding Davison here is a piece I was commissioned to write for the OUP blog. Or, to be exact, this is the piece I chose to write, having been commissioned to write something about Emily Davison.

OUP Blog Why is Emily Davison the first suffragette martyr?

Do readers have any views? Do you think I’m too cynical?

And here is a link to one programme in what sounds like an interesting series to be broadcast in the 1.45 slot (15-min programmes) for 2 weeks starting on Monday 10 June. The second programme, Tuesday 11 June, is devoted, I think, to the suffrage movement. I was interviewed at length, but have no idea how the material has been edited!

 

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Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison and Kate Frye – Derby Day 1913

The memorial brooch to Emily Davison that Mary Leigh kept all her life

The memorial brooch to Emily Davison that Mary Leigh kept all her life, I can’t explain the scribbles!

In yesterday’s post I explained that on the evening of 3 June 1913 Emily Davison went to Kensington, to the WSPU Summer Fair. I think it likely that the idea of doing ‘something’ next day at the Derby only crystallised during the course of that evening or night.

For, the next morning, Emily travelled into town from 133 Clapham Road, where we believe she was staying with her friend, Mrs Alice Green, in order to visit WSPU headquarters in Kingsway and acquire two WSPU flags. The journey she would have followed involved travelling on the City and South London Railway (now the Northern line) to Bank, changing there to the Central line and exiting at British Museum, a station long since incorporated into Holborn station. From there it was a short walk to WSPU headquarters at Lincoln’s Inn House.

A WSPU flag

A WSPU flag

If she had planned in advance to travel to Epsom that day, Emily would surely have picked up the flags earlier. It would have been much easier to travel from Clapham to Victoria, without making a detour into Holborn. As it was it would appear that she rolled up the flags, which are made from quite heavy woollen material, pinned them inside the back of her coat (according to the police report) and set off for Victoria.

Victoria Station

Victoria Station

As I have explained in an earlier post, at Victoria it is more than likely that the only ticket Emily could buy, whether she wanted it or not, was a special Derby Day  excursion return – at the not inconsiderable price of 8 shillings.  The one she travelled took her to Epsom Downs station, close to the Grandstand, but quite a distance from Tattenham Corner. She may have arrived around the middle of the day, possibly in time for the first race.

The Derby began at 3.01pm. As the horses approached Tattenham Corner a mere 4 seconds elapsed between Emily Davison ducking under the rails and being knocked flying by Anmer. The horse got to his feet and the crowd rushed forward to surround Emily Davison and Herbert Jones, the jockey.

The main witness, a policeman, Frank Bunn, who was standing near to the point where Emily went under the rail,  made clear at the inquest that there was no identification of  Emily until after she was admitted to Epsom Cottage Hospital. The identification may have come from the marking on a handkerchief in her pocket. Here is the complete inventory of Emily’s possessions, as noted by Frank Bunn.

  • ‘On her jacket being removed I found 2 Suffragette flags, 1½ yards long by ¾ yards wide, each consisting of green, white and purple stripes, folded up and pinned to the back of her jacket, on the inside.
  • On person, 1 purse containing 3/8¾d.,
  • 1 return half railway ticket from Epsom Race Course to Victoria No 0315,
  • 8 ½d stamps,
  • 1 helper’s pass for Suffragette Summer Festival, Empress Rooms, High Street, Kensington for 4th June 1913,
  • 1 race card,
  • some envelopes and writing paper,
  • 1 handkerchief Emily Davison Mrs. E.W.D 8 88.
  • 2 postal order counterfoils No. 790/435593 for 2/6, ‘crossed’ written in ink thereon, one 20H/924704 for 7/6 E.Gore 1/4/13 written in ink thereon,
  • one insurance ticket dated May 10th 1913 on G.E. railway to and from New Oxford Street,
  • 1 key,
  • 1 small memo book’

Some of these items survive in the collection of the Women’s Library @ LSE

As she lay on the racecourse, Emily Davison was tended by Mrs Catherine Warburg, a member of the wealthy banking family, a woman with, the inquest reported, some nursing experience. The Warburgs’ had an estate nearby in Surrey and,  quite incidentally, one of Mrs Warburg’s sons, Edmund, was to become an eminent botanist.

While Herbert Jones was carried into the racecourse ambulance, Emily had to rely  on the goodwill of a race goer and was taken to Epsom hospital in the car of Johann Faber, who lived at nearby Ewell and, among his other activities, was the Danish consul general in London.

The reverse of Mary Leigh's Emily WIlding Davison brooch, annotated, characteristically,  in Mary's handwriting

The reverse of Mary Leigh’s Emily WIlding Davison brooch, annotated, characteristically, in Mary’s handwriting

There is no contemporary evidence to suggest that Emily Davison was accompanied to Epsom by anybody else. Mary Richardson, another militant suffragette, claimed, both in her autobiography and in a BBC interview, to have been standing near Emily and to have seen her dash onto the race track. However, I do not believe this. She wrote the book- and recorded the interview – in 1953, forty years after that Derby Day. She was impoverished and to create some hype placed herself at the scene of every major suffragette drama. This is, I feel, a pity as the parts of the book which can be tied to historical fact do have power, but in 1953 (as, perhaps, now) the public only wanted drama from the suffragettes. If she had really been close at Epsom on 4 June 1913 she would surely have written about this – or it would have been reported – in The Suffragette, even if not called as a witness at the inquest. Moreover she rather gilds the lily by claiming to be at the Derby to sell copies of The Suffragette, a paper that, at this very time, the Home Office was not permitting to be sold. I cannot imagine that the masses of police manning the Derby would have allowed Mary Richardson to ply her wares. But such is the power of the media that careful reasoning is always trumped by the easy soundbite.

Kate Frye coverIf we do not know what Mary Richardson was really doing for the Cause on Derby Day, there is no doubt what Emily Davison was doing and, indeed, what Kate Frye, another stalwart campaigner, working at this time in Fakenham, Norfolk, as organizer for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, was up to.

Kate’s diary entry for 4 June 1913 tells us that she was unsuccessful in her search for a chairwoman for a meeting (the reason often given was that whichever local worthy she approached did not want in any way to be associated with the militant suffragettes, even though the NCS was, as its name suggests, a constitutional society) and spent some hours walking round the town, canvassing for members. A thankless task and, of course, hardly the stuff of drama.

She ends the day’s entry with ‘My good landlady talks more than I need but she seems to like me and as she has never had a lady lodger before I must make a good impression.’ So, in her own way, Kate was breaking boundaries on that day 100 years ago. I am sure we are all grateful that, as women, we are not barred as lodgers. Presumably in previous years that ‘kind landlady’ had turned women away, doubtless worrying that they would give her house a bad reputation. My point being that revolutions require a succession of infinitely small changes – as well as the grand gesture.

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Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison On The Eve Of The Derby 1913

On Tuesday  3 June 1913  Emily Davison was present at the Suffragette Summer Fair, held in the  Empress Rooms, on the north side of Kensington High Street, just  west of Kensington Palace.  

Advertising the 'All in a Summer Fair, June 1913

Advertising the ‘All in a Garden Fair’, June 1913

The WSPU’s fund-raising  ‘All In a Garden Fair’ saw the hired room transformed into  ‘a beautiful rose garden under an Italian sky’, lined with pergolas wreathed in pink rambling roses. In the centre of the hall was an illuminated fountain, which was  set in a grass lawn, surrounded by clipped box trees and garden seats. This verdant scene was surrounded by stalls  selling WSPU merchandise and all kinds of  goods donated by members. The Ladies’ Aeolian Orchestra and the Actresses’ Franchise League contributed live performances. A centrepiece of the Fair was a statue of Joan of Arc, who had come to prominence with her beatification in 1909 and by 1913 was very much a symbolic heroine to  suffragettes.

Emily Davison’s biographer, Gertrude Colmore, reported that Emily attended the Fair with her ‘Comrade’, Mary Leigh, and that ‘Saluting, she stood there, reading the words upon the pedestal,  “Fight on, and God will give victory”‘ These , reportedly Joan of Arc’s last words, were those that were to appear all too soon on banners draped on Emily Davison’s grave.

Kitty Marion

Kitty Marion

Another suffragette who places herself with Emily Davison at the Fair was Kitty Marion, music hall artiste and militant suffragette. In her unpublished autobiography she states that, with Emily Davison, she was among a group of friends who discussed the possibility of making a protest the next day at Epsom.  As she remembered it nothing was decided but. ‘Before we parted that night, Emily gave me a tiny green chamois purse containing a sovereign for “‘munitions I might need soon”‘.  We have only Kitty Marion’s word that Emily Davison made this cryptic comment to which, of course, she then gives her own interpretation; I shall publish a post in a few days time recounting What Kitty Did Next.  Did  Emily Davison, who we know was by no means well off and with no employment,  on the evening before the Derby really give away the large sum of a sovereign (£1 then, worth about £65 today). It doesn’t seem very likely, but, if she did, what could she have meant by it?

For, although Emily Davison is not known to have undertaken any militant acts since the end of 1912, Kitty Marion most certainly had.  While standing talking on 3 June at the ‘All in a Garden Fair’, it was with the knowledge that in the course of the previous few weeks she  she had been responsible for setting fire to at least three houses – the latest, from the evidence of her scrapbook, being a house in Folkestone on 17 May. One of these houses, severely damaged on 15 April, was ‘Levetleigh’, the Hastings home of an MP.  In addition she had set fire to a succession of stationary railway carriages  in places such as Teddington, around London’s outer suburbs.

So, as the women stood together ‘under the Italian sky’, at least one of them had, metaphorically and, probably, literally, traces of paraffin on her hands. It is difficult to believe that Emily Davison was not aware of the arsonists in her circle and that for all the the ‘beautiful rose garden’ that surrounded them and the girls in virginal white standing outside the Empress Rooms inviting passers-by to step in, the atmosphere within the group was not increasingly febrile. For reasons that I will put forward in tomorrow’s post, I think it was in the course of this evening – and not before – that Emily Davison made up her mind to take the train the next day to Epsom – and the Derby.

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: Emily Wilding Davison And That Return Ticket

Emily Wilding Davison

Emily Wilding Davison, wearing a WSPU’ Boadicea’,  brooch, her ‘Holloway’ brooch and her hunger-strike medal. The latter was buried with her.

Ever since 1988, when  the Women’s Library@LSE  (or, as it was then, the Fawcett Library) was given, by descendants of Rose Lamartine Yates, items that had belonged to Emily Wilding Davison, the fact that amongst these was her return ticket, issued on 4 June for travel between Victoria Station and Epsom Race Course, has been considered important in assessing whether or not she intended to act in such a way as to harm herself. Click here to view an image of the ticket,  an item in a digital exhibition launched to mark the 100th anniversary of Emily Davison’s death.

The argument was, in essence, that if Emily Davison had a return ticket she intended to return. However, no contemporary report, either at the inquest, in newspapers or in the memoirs of her friends, made such a deduction. The first occasion on which this theory was put forward, as far as I can discover, was  in a 1988 Guardian article celebrating the gift to the Fawcett Library.

Some while ago I decided that this lack of contemporary comment required further investigation and that in order to determine what message the ticket carried it was necessary to look more closely at the workings of pre-First World War rail routes between London and Epsom, in particular the arrangements that were in place on 4 June 1913.  Experience has taught me that a lack of awareness of just such quotidian details can often lead historians astray. Thus, before attempting to interpret Emily Davison’s motive on Derby Day, it is necessary to understand the detail that shaped her day.

I quickly realised that, as Derby Day has dwindled in importance – no longer the epitome of a wonderful day out for Londoners – so has an appreciation of the logistics that 100 years ago brought hundreds of  thousands of  Londoners, of all social classes, by carriage, car and, most importantly, by train to Epsom. For Derby Day in 1913 was still the Derby Day of William Powell Frith’s painting and of the wonderfully descriptive scenes depicted by George Moore in Esther Waters, almost a national holiday, racing augmented by funfairs and sideshows. For instance, on 4 June 1913  many London theatres cancelled their matinees, knowing that their audiences would be elsewhere.

First I researched the route that Emily Davison had taken. From newspaper advertisements placed by the train companies in the Manchester Guardian and the Times I saw that on Derby Day virtually all the usual train services were suspended and special trains ran to the three Epsom stations – Epsom Town, Epsom Downs and Tattenham Corner.

Plaque showing map of L B & S C Railway system at Victoria Station

Plaque showing map of L B & S C Railway system at Victoria Station

Each of these stations was linked to a different rail company. Emily Davison’s ticket was issued from Victoria Station. I discovered that the only company that ran trains from Victoria was the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, the rather circuitous route taken by the line ending at Epsom Downs station.

Each of the rail companies advertised the virtues of its Epsom station – so, while the Charing Cross/London Bridge line trumpeted Tattenham Corner as the only station on the race course (and, indeed, at this time trains only travelled to that station on race days), the L B & S C Railway claimed Epsom Downs as the station nearest the Grandstand – and described it as the ‘Racecourse Station’. The return ticket gives the route for return as ‘Epsom Race Course to Victoria’.

On Derby Day 1913 all the companies put on special excursion trains. The L B & S C ran ‘cheap trains’ from Victoria up until 9.38 am and after that – between 10.15 am and 1.38 pm – put on 17 ‘fast trains’. The cost of Emily Davison’s ticket – 8s 6d  ‘with no particular class of carriage guaranteed’ – does not seem cheap. In 1913 the WSPU paid its organizers £2 10s a week – and Emily did not even have the luxury of such employment; the 2013 equivalent of the ticket price is over £40.The advertisements do not give much detail about prices.  No ‘8/6 ticket’ is mentioned, but the ‘ Pullman Limited’ Non-Stop train that left Victoria at 12.15 cost 12/6 (return) and another Derby Day ‘Special Through Train’ from Willesden cost 6/6 so I would conclude that Emily Davison caught one of the ‘fast trains’ from Victoria to Epsom Downs.

Epsom Downs station on Derby Day, 1907 (image courtesy of Nick Catford's 'Disused Stations' website)

Epsom Downs station, packed with trains, on Derby Day, 1907 (image courtesy of Nick Catford’s ‘Disused Stations’ website)

The advertised arrangements for Derby Day stress, as I have mentioned, that certain ordinary services to Epsom were suspended and others were altered. A reading of the advertisement would strongly suggest that it was not possible, on Derby Day, to buy any ticket from Victoria to Epsom Downs other than one that included a return element. The L B & S C Railway concentrated on running only ‘excursion’ trains on Derby Day, intent on transporting the hordes looking forward to this highlight in the holiday calendar, and that these tickets were, of necessity, ‘return’.

My feeling is that the explanation for no contemporary comment being made of the fact that Emily Davison had bought a return ticket – quite an expensive ticket – was that her contemporaries would have recognised that Derby Day excursion tickets were by their very nature ‘return’. On that day railway companies operating between London and Epsom  had a captive market and made the most of it.

Moreover, even if  Emily Davison had not expected to be injured at Epsom, she could hardly have been certain of returning to London that day. If, when she bought her ticket, she was then intending to step onto the race course and cause disruption to the Derby she would surely have known that, at the very least, she would to be arrested. I would suggest that the fact that she had notepaper, envelopes and stamps in her pockets (she does not appear to have been carrying any kind of bag) might indicate that she had thought it would be likely that she would need to write a letter or two that day, possibly from a police cell.

I would suggest that it does not seem likely that, impoverished as she was, Emily Davison, with the expectation of, at the least, detention, would have spent so much on a return ticket if she had not been compelled to do so.

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Clare Balding’s Secrets Of A Suffragette: Channel 4 Sunday 26 May 8pm

Balding press release

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Campaigning For The Vote: Kate In Dover 100 Years Ago: A Sunday Visit From John, May 1913

Kate Frye coverKate Frye  is working in Dover, lodging  at 26 Randolph Gardens with the Miss Burkitts’, who are WSPU sympathisers and aunts of Hilda Burkitt, a well-known suffragette. A vignette of life in ‘digs’.

‘Poor Gertie’ was, as Kate explains in a previous entry, ‘Miss Odames – a being from Leicester who used to work in a Factory but is now quite well to do. She is very common and very plain.’ ‘Gertie’ was ‘Agnes Gertrude Odames, born in Leicester c 1878 who, in 1901, was a ‘corset maker’ but who, with her sister, was in 1911 able to describe herself as ‘of private means’. Gertie married in 1917 and when she died in 1951 left over £1000, having probably lived a more comfortable life than Kate. I have, as yet, been unable to identify ‘Bertie Bowler’.

Sunday 25 May 1913

A glorious day and quite hot. The others all of to Church. I as usual on Sunday took my time in getting up. While I was in the bathroom the young gentleman who we have been hoping and longing for came to say he would take the rooms. Miss Minn was in. I had to wait until he had departed to get upstairs. We are very excited.

I wore my thin coat and skirt out for the first time without a top coat. Walked along the front to the Town station and met John [her fiance, an actor] at 12.30. He had come down by the Miss Burkitts’ invitation to spend the day. We had not met for 5 months. It was very exciting. I think he was pleased and I enjoyed having him. He looks alright though a trifle thin – came to London last Sunday at the close of the Repertory season at Liverpool.

We walked along the front in the blazing sun and up and got in at 1.15. John behaved very nicely but of course he was a stranger in that homely atmosphere – however the Miss Burkitts seemed to get on with him.

John Collins' staged photo shoot in the Misses Burkitts' garden

John Collins’ staged photo shoot in the Misses Burkitts’ garden

We went in the garden afterwards and John took snapshots of the group and Janet [Capell] came in to be introduced. Then John and I took a tram as far as it went and strolled about the Admiralty Pier. It was a gorgeous afternoon. We had permission to be late for tea so we walked along the front and took a photograph of Mrs Wilson’s house and then back to tea.

Mrs Wilson's house at 5 East Cliff, Dover, photographed by John Collins while he and Kate were out for their walk

Mrs Wilson’s house at 5 East Cliff, Dover, photographed by John Collins while he and Kate were out for their walk

Then we sat in the garden and Bertie Bowler was there and sang his Ditties. I had told John to be nice to him – and BB said afterwards how nice he was. I don’t think John knew what to make of poor Gertie. Poor soul she looked hopeless in a stiffly starched white embroidery ready made gown. She says such amazing things.

Miss Minn took herself off to Church – a thing she never does in the evening but I think she is madly jealous. She was very nice when she said good-bye to John – said ‘I like you very much – I think you are almost good enough for our darling’ – but afterwards she never referred to him. Once or twice I dragged his name in but she wouldn’t say much. Poor Miss Minn. Miss Burkitt on the other hand chatted of him and said how much she liked him.

We had to walk as the trams were packed to the roof. I was not allowed on to the station – it was like a bank holiday – so i did not wait but came straight back on a Tram – just missing Miss Minn who had gone down after Church to come back with me. When I said she was naughty to go to Church – she said she thought the others would have had the sense to leave us alone together. I was very tired.

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

£14.99

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk, from all good bookshops – especially Foyle’s, London Review Bookshop, Persephone Bookshop, British Library Bookshop, Daunts Bookshop, The National Archives Bookshop and Newham Bookshop. Also online – especially recommend very favourable price offered by Foyle’s Online (and they pay all taxes!)

Campaigning for the Vote cover

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Suffrage Stories: Bloomsbury Links in Life And Literature

Night and DayIn Night and Day, set in 1910, Virginia Woolf writes explicitly of the  suffrage campaign. She places the office of her suffrage society, the ‘S.G.S.’, in the heart of Bloomsbury, in Russell Square. Mary Datchet works there (‘From ten to six every day’) in an office on the top-floor of a large house ‘which had once been lived in by a great city merchant and his family’. When Mary Datchet is found ‘lost, apparently, in admiration of the large hotel across the square’, she could in fact have been looking at not one but two  imposing hotels – the Russell and the Imperial.

A house with just such a view, number 23, on the north-western corner of the square, belonged to Sir Alexander Rendel, grandfather of Ellie Rendel, close friend of Ray Strachey. Although by 1910 the offices of the main women’s suffrage societies were in real life based either in Westminster, where Ray Strachey was busy working for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, or around the Strand, Russell Square had indeed, in the later years of the 19th century, been a centre of the  movement. The northern corner of the Hotel Russell (perhaps the very hotel on which Mary Datchet’s gaze rested) had replaced 8 Russell Square, where Dr Richard Pankhurst, his wife Emmeline, and their young family had lived from 1888 to 1893.

Women's Franchise LeagueIt was here, in the 1890s, that the Pankhursts’ art-furnished double drawing room had provided a useful gathering place  for conferences of the Women’s Franchise League, a society aimed at winning the vote for women. The most lavish of these conferences, held over three days in December 1891, was illustrated in the Graphic and reproduced 40 years later in Our Mothers (ed. Alan Bott & Irene Clepahane),  a book owned by Virginia Woolf and consulted by her when writing Three Guineas.

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy photographed c 1906

Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy photographed c 1906

The chief founder of the Women’s Franchise League was Mrs Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, one of the 19th-century’s most active workers for the women’s Cause. Virginia Woolf’s father, Leslie Stephen, was in touch with Mrs Elmy on at least one occasion, for it is she he thanks for the information he used when compiling the entry for the Dictionary of National Biography on her brother, Joseph Wolstenholme.

The latter was, until his death in 1891, an intimate of the Stephen household; the two men had met at Cambridge where, before an unfortunate marriage, Wolstenholme had been a fellow of Christ’s College. Noel Annan describes a dinner in Wolstnholme’s rooms at Christs’ at which Leslie Stephen took issue with the opinions held by his dining companions. He accused them of ‘drivelling radicalism’ and joked: ‘to give women votes – why, it might save the Church of England for a quarter of a century’.

There were many reasons for objecting to the vote for women but Joseph Wolstenholme was not to be swayed. In 1870 he and two other fro Cambridge subscribed to the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage, the most radical of the women’s suffrage societies, founded by his sister in 1865.

Joseph Wolstenholme

Joseph Wolstenholme

Whatever differences they might have had on such subjects, Leslie Stephen remained an affectionate friend, inviting Joseph Wolstenholme to share the Stephen holiday each summer in Cornwall and reminiscing about these visits in the Mausoleum Book in which he alludes to Wolstenholme’s ‘Bohemian tastes and heterodox opinions’. Quentin Bell has suggested that the character of Augustus Carmichael in To the Lighthouse  was based on that of Joseph Wolstenholme. Carmichael and Wolstenholme certainly shared a taste for opium. Carmichael does not, however, reveal his opinion on women’s suffrage.

Virginia Woolf with her parents at Talland House, Cornwall, in 1892. Alas, the 'Woolly One' would be holidaying with them no more

Virginia Woolf with her parents at Talland House, Cornwall, in 1892. Alas, the ‘Woolly One’ would be holidaying with them no more

Virginia Woolf included memories of ‘The Woolly One’ (as Wolstenholme was fondly known to the young Stephens) in A Sketch of the Past  and mentions in 22 Hyde Park Gate, that George Duckworth thought ‘old Mr Wolstenholme not one of the “nice people”‘.

So we can recognise that, as Mary Datchet’s eyes gazed across Russell Square from the S.G.S. office, threads of association   spooled forth linking her and her creator to two of the most influential activists for women’s suffrage. It would be a mistake, however, to identify the ‘S.G.S.’, the acronym never elucidated, with a women’s suffrage society.

In 1910 Virginia Stephen offered her services to the People’s Suffrage Federation (P.S.F.), a society formed in October 1909  to promote adult (not merely female) suffrage and to remove the property basis as the qualification for citizenship.

To her friend and teacher, Janet Case, Virginia wrote in a letter dated 1 January 1910: ‘I don’t know anything about the question. Perhaps you could send me a pamphlet, or give me the address of the office …You impressed me so much the other night with the wrongness of the present state of affairs that I feel that action is necessary.’

Mecklenburgh Square, bloomsbury

Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury

So it was that Virginia Stephen spent a short time working in an office in Mecklenburgh Square, addressing envelopes for the P.S.F., while absorbing details that were to be transported across Bloomsbury to the office of the S.G.S.  As the adult suffrage for which the P.S.F. was committed was also known as ‘universal suffrage’, perhaps we could unravel the initials of Mary Datchet’s society and reconstruct them as ‘The Society for General Suffrage’.

 

Hotel Russell

Hotel Russell

All things pass away and, as Mrs Pankhurst’s double drawing room made way for the terracotta splendour of the Hotel Russell, so the ‘Virginia Woolf Burger and Pasta Bar’ that at the beginning of the 21st century nestled in the hotel’s northern corner where once the members of the Women’s Franchise League held earnest debate, is, alas,  no more.  How suitable, then, that the hotel’s new dining room is named ‘Tempus’, with Night following  Day in the diurnal rhythm that sweeps us onward while Mary Datchet still stands, ‘lost in admiration’, gazing out across Russell Square.

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Campaigning For The Vote: Kate Frye and ‘Black Friday’, November 1910

Kate Frye coverKate Frye was present on so many important suffrage occasions – including ‘Black Friday’ – 18 November 1910.  On this day the suffrage societies learned that the Conciliation Bill, on which they had pinned their hopes, would be abandoned as, with the two houses of Parliament locked in confrontation over Lloyd George’s budget, Parliament was to be dissolved. The police were out in force and employed brutal tactics to break up the women’s demonstration.

Only a short excerpt of Kate’s ‘Black Friday’ diary entry appears in Campaigning for the Vote because it occurred in the period before Kate began work as a paid organizer for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. There was, alas, just too much material in her diary to make a book out of her whole suffrage experience. So, for those who would like more, here are full details of Kate’s experience that momentous day. 

Kate's invitation from the WSPU to attend the protest, Friday November 1910

Kate’s invitation from the WSPU to attend the protest, Friday 18 November 1910. Just imagine how many of these fragile flyers lay torn and trampled on the ground at the end of ‘Black Friday’. Kate carefully preserved hers, took it home and laid it in her diary

Friday November 18th 1910

Up in good time. Brushed Mickie [her dog] then took him for a walk – then started at 10.30 for the Caxton Hall. Train from Notting Hill Gate to St James’ Park. I got there about 12 – and the hall was already full and the crowd hanging about were soon after turned out of the vestibule – so I stood some time on the steps. Then from there we were turned into the street and I waited there, chatting with different women, till about 12.40 when the 1st deputation left the Caxton Hall for Parliament Square.

They were soon swallowed up in a seething mob and I simply flew with many other women by short cuts to Parliament Square where I landed more or less by chance in the thick of it. One could hardly see the plan of it all amid the hurly burly excitement, shouts, laughter applause & rushes of the enormous crowd which grew every minute. I was almost struck dumb and I felt sick for hours. It was a most horrible experience. I have rarely been in anything more unpleasant – it was ghastly and the loud laughter & hideous remarks of the men – so called gentlemen – even of the correctly attired top-hatted kind – was truly awful. It made all the men and women seem mad together. And the poor women – the look of dogged suffering & strain on their faces.

Spread - with newspaper cuttings laid in -  from Kate's Black Friday' diary entry

Spread – with newspaper cuttings laid in – from Kate’s Black Friday’ diary entry

I first reached the wall of the moat [round the Houses of Parliament] at the angle so I could see the door plainly and Mrs Pankhurst and the elderly lady [Elizabeth Garrett Anderson] – over 70 years of age – with her. Then I saw policemen breaking up the little standards held by a group of women. I saw deputations pass along and ugly rushes and ever the crowd grew.

I stood some time but I had to give up my place by the wall people pushed so and I was awfully afraid of getting crushed. So I got out to the road and there watched the deputations come along and saw the horrible hustling by the crowds of roughs and overheard the hideous laughter and remarks of the men looking on. Half of them made the remark that it was the funniest thing they had ever seen in their lives – all had their mouths open in an insane grin. One or two were so horrible that I just gazed upon them till they noticed me and moved away, not liking I suppose to be overheard. Several spoke to me – many indignant: ‘What good do you suppose this will do?’ ‘What else would you suggest?’ said I. Then he began the usual – that the militant methods had disgusted all nicely feeling people etc. I turned his attention to my two badges – constitutional societies, as I told him – and asked ‘What help have you ever given us?’ He walked away. Not one man did I hear speak on the women’s side. There may have been some, but not near me.

I saw Captain Gonne led off & heard afterwards of his doings. Many women there were of the WSPU – and a few London Society [ie members of the constitutional NUWSS society] – all standing about perfectly wretched & green – cheering them on to battle and off to Cannon Row when arrested. One poor lady in her wheel chair [probably Rosa Billinghurst]– propelled by hand – followed in the wake of a deputation – generally 6 to a dozen people – she rang her bell violently and the crowd gave way before her – it was a funny but dreadfully tragic sight.

As the crowd grew and the crowd kept being pressed back – I moved away and once, seeing some fighting women & policemen on the pavement coming my way, I stood back to the railing expecting them to go by. But, oh no – a burly policemen, taking me for one of a deputation, caught hold of me with an ‘Out you come’ and for some minutes I was tossed about like a cork on an angry sea, turning round and round – sometimes bumped on to a policeman – sometimes on a hospital nurse, who was fighting for all she was worth – pale to the lips but determined (and I afterwards saw her led off arrested ) – until I was with the others pushed out of the danger zone.

The others went back but I sat down by the railing for a few minutes. I can’t say the man actually hurt me and I was too excited to realise quite what was happening and I was so thickly dressed as not to feel the bumps much – but it wasn’t nice. I don’t know I could have spoken if I had wished to – but I didn’t wish and I didn’t speak. What I felt was – I am not going to get out of the trouble by saying I am not one of them for I am in heart and anyway he will probably think I am trying to trick him and it will do no good and if these women can stand so much I can stand this little. And of course it was nothing really – only a new experience.

Two ladies – one quite elderly came out of their first battle determined not to go back into it. They were a pitiable spectacle – their nerve had gone. One felt so sorry – they were beside themselves and were not aware they had in fact turned ‘coward’. A little lady – evidently there to plead with the faint hearted – spoke quietly to them, urging them to go when they felt rested. ‘But we couldn’t’, they said, ‘we have been half killed’. ‘Oh, but you must – you must go back again and again and again’ and so on. And I spoke to them – thinking an outsider’s word might turn their attention. Their eyes were brimming. They told me that they were supposed to go on till their strength was exhausted – they thought theirs was – but it wasn’t. But poor souls – their fight – of course they had never realised the awfulness of the business and what they would have to endure until they should fall fainting or injured. I wonder if they went back. Perhaps courage did come back to them but who could blame them – they were very saddening.

On the next page of the diary entry Kate laid in the WSPU's pamphlet prepared as a result of 'Black Friday'

On the next page of the diary entry Kate laid in the WSPU’s pamphlet prepared as a result of ‘Black Friday’

I couldn’t seem to leave even when I had crossed to the station side. I stood and watched the arrested being led off – & gave them a send off – but soon after 2 I gave it up and, leaving the horrid spectacle, went in to Westminster Bridge station. They were beginning to clear the Square of people. Hundreds of policemen were arriving and one could less than ever see the plan of it all. A lot of Yankee sailors had been mystified but delighted and a lot of people were frankly puzzled by it all – and it was a sad business explaining to them. I got back cold to the bone – fetched my lunch on a tray – and was glad of hot soup.

After a visit to friend for tea on way home] grabbed up some evening papers then home. Couldn’t keep my mind off the morning’s experience and we talked of little else. 105 have been arrested. It was about the most bitterly cold night I have ever been out in.’

As a result of what she had witnessed on ‘Black Friday’ Kate Frye joined the WSPU

receipt 001

Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary edited by Elizabeth Crawford

For a full description of the book click here

Wrap-around paper covers, 226 pp, over 70 illustrations, all drawn from Kate Frye’s personal archive.

ISBN 978 1903427 75 0

£14.99

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk, from all good bookshops – especially Foyle’s, London Review Bookshop, Persephone Bookshop, British Library Bookshop, The National Archives Bookshop and Newham Bookshop. Also online – especially recommend very favourable price offered by Foyle’s Online (and they pay all taxes!)

 Campaigning for the Vote cover

‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

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Collecting Suffrage: Suffragette Jewellery And ‘The Antiques Trade Gazette’

This week’s issue of the Antiques Trade Gazette contains a letter from me protesting against the mis-describing of random pieces of Victorian/Edwardian jewellery that have a combination of metals and/or stones approximating to the purple, white and green of the WSPU, as ‘suffragette’.

ATG

Here is the text of the letter:

‘As a long-established dealer in suffragette memorabilia I must try once again to take a stand against the mis-labelling as ‘suffragette’ of any pieces of jewellery that contain stones approximating to some shade of purple (or pink or red), white and green.

I see on page 32 of this week’s ATG that two auction houses so described 3 brooches/pendants. I have no idea if the intrinsic value of the items was commensurate with the sale price achieved, but of one thing I am certain – there was nothing in the lot descriptions that convinced me that these pieces had any association with the suffragette movement. I only hope that those bidding were not doing so with any thought that they were acquiring a piece of suffragette history. It should be obvious to anyone with any historical sense that it is necessary to have a much more detailed provenance – a documented history – other than some woolly description about ‘purple, white and green’.  

The ‘colours’ were the invention of one of the leaders of the WSPU, Mrs Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, as a way of creating a ‘brand’ for the WSPU and were first used in June 1908 at a grand rally held by the WSPU in Hyde Park.‘The Public Meeting Act’ of December 1908, mentioned in the ATG piece, was intended, although notably unsuccessful, to prevent suffragettes from heckling ministers – not to prevent suffragettes themselves from holding meetings. It was not until years later – in April 1913 – that there was any prohibition on the WSPU holding meetings in public parks. Moreover, Britain was never such a repressive country that suffragettes found it necessary to wear jewellery ‘in the colours’ as a secret token of allegiance. Quite the reverse; women wore their badges (also now very collectable) proudly –advertising the WSPU and many other suffrage societies.

Since each of these societies followed the WSPU lead and adopted an individual combination of colours of their own I am surprised that auction houses and dealers have not yet leaped onto that bandwagon. For instance, the colours of the main suffrage society – the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies – were red, white and green. Just think how many pieces of jewellery with stones in those colours could be described as ‘suffragette’ if we were seriously to follow the ‘purple, white and green’ rule.

I have studied the suffragette movement in depth – in all its manifestations – and can report that there is no evidence that ‘suffragette’ jewellery was made in anything like the quantity flooding the auction houses and, of course, Ebay. Moreover the only commercial company known to have made and retailed ‘suffragette jewellery’ as such was Mappin and Webb (Stanley Mappin was a convinced supporter of the WSPU – joining in the suffrage boycott of the 1911 census). I would be interested to learn of any documentation citing any other commercial company as maker of ‘suffragette jewellery’.  

 Other jewellery was made by individual artist craftswomen- such as the well-known enameller Ernestine Mills – to sell at fund-raising suffragette bazaars and may well have included references to suffragette colours and motifs. On occasion one can find pieces that demonstrate clearly their suffragette provenance. One such is a pendant made – in purple, white and green enamel – from a design by Sylvia Pankhurst. The pendant is long since sold but I use the  image of it as the identifier on my website – womanandhersphere.com – on which those who really want to know about ‘suffragette’ jewellery can find more information – as they can in the entry under ‘Jewellery and Badges’ in my The Women’s Suffrage Movement; a reference guide, published by Routledge. Ignorance should not be a reason for allowing auction houses and dealers to perpetuate the ‘suffragette jewellery’ myth. As I say, I specialize in suffragette memorabilia but could not possibly bring myself to sell something as ‘suffragette’ if I was not certain that it had an authentic provenance.’

I don’t suppose this will make a jot of difference – but I try. A suffrage collector told me recently that, after buying an item on Ebay and then doing a little research, he realised that the item was not of original suffragette provenance. When he protested to the Ebay seller, he was told,  ‘Prove it’. That was not a valuable item, so it was not worth the trouble of engaging in a prolonged battle with a seller who lacked both historical knowledge and a conscience.  However, I am sure there are cases, particularly of jewellery, where sales are made that would not have been without the spurious ‘suffragette’ description.

Caveat Emptor 

Buy only from a reputable dealer.

 

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Suffrage Stories/Campaigning for the Vote: Selfridge’s and Suffragettes

 

The Suffrage Annual and Women's Who's Who

The Suffrage Annual and Women’s Who’s Who

Selfridge’s opened its glamorous, purpose-built store in Oxford Street on 15 March 1909 and Kate Frye, an ever curious shopper, paid her first visit there on 29 March. (For Kate’s published suffrage activities see here.)

In the morning Kate attended a meeting of the Dance Committee of which she, along with the actress Eva Moore, was a member – they were organising a fund-raising dance for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. Then she met her fiance, John Collins, and, together, they went along to inspect Selfridge’s.

‘We had some lunch there and did the roof and tried to make ourselves giddy – it was lovely up there. Then we systematically did the shop beginning with the top. We had 2d of gramophone each and generally played about and it was 4.30 by the time we had finished. It is a wonderful building but there is nothing in the goods to especially attract. The place was packed and a good many people were buying.’

Kate was, of course, a keen suffrage sympathiser and, although she may not, on that first visit, have appreciated it, Selfridge’s was to be generally supportive of the suffrage cause.  For four years later, advertising itself as ‘Selfridge and Co: The Modern Woman’s Club-Store’ on the book’s purple cover, Selfridge’s put its stamp on what is now one of the most useful research tools available to suffrage historians.

The Suffrage Annual and Women’s Who’s Who, published in 1913,  contains irreplaceable details about women involved in the suffrage campaign – both militants and constitutionalists. It is likely that  Selfridge’s underwrote much of the expense of producing it for, as you see, besides its cover advertisement, the store took running advertisements along the foot of every page.

It is reported, but I have yet to verify, that on occasion Selfridge’s dressed their windows in the purple, white and green colours of the WSPU and even flew the WSPU purple, white and green flag from the store’s flagpole.

Gladys Evans

Gladys Evans (photo courtesy of Ward Skinner)

However, one clear link between Selfridge’s and the suffragettes is this woman, Gladys Evans, the daughter of  a man, now dead, who had owned the British weekly magazine Vanity Fair –a very influential ‘society’ paper  ( not to be confused with the Conde Naste magazine which in 1914 adopted the name). Gladys joined Selfridge’s in 1908 in preparation for the opening of the new store and worked there for over a year before leaving to take over a WSPU shop. In 1911 she emigrated to Canada, where a sister had settled, but returned in March 1912 after learning of the arrests of Mrs Pankhurst and Mr and Mrs Pethick Lawrence.

Firmly back on the WSPU warpath, in July 1912 Gladys went over to Dublin where Asquith was on a formal visit and, with other suffragettes, Mary Leigh and Jennie Baines, set fire to a theatre – empty at the time – but the one in which Asquith was due to speak that evening. Gladys Evans was given a long prison sentence, went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed for 58 days.

There was a good deal of lobbying to get her and her companions given the status of political prisoners – which would have allowed them better conditions. One of those who wrote on Gladys’ behalf was Selfridge’s staff manager, Mr Best. and 253 of the store’s employees signed a Memorial sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland pleading for a remission of Gladys Evans’ sentence – see Votes for Women, 6 September 1912. Apparently, even Mr Selfridge himself was sympathetic, though reluctant to put pen to paper in Gladys’ support because, as an American, he thought it might look as though he were trying to interfere in matters that didn’t concern him. Gladys and Mary Leigh were eventually returned to England, where they promptly gave the police the slip and went on the run.

For most of her later life Gladys Evans lived in the US, dying at the age of 90 in Los Angeles. Evans’ family history relates that Gladys gave all her suffragette papers to the New York Public Library. I have not, however, been able to find a listing for them. That might be a research project for an interested New Yorker.

Selfridge’s suffrage sympathies may have stood the store in good stead when the WSPU went on its window-smashing campaigns in November 1911 and March 1912.  Many department stores- even those which, like Swan and Edgar, were regular advertisers in Votes for Women – were targeted. But Selfridge’s  windows – 21 in all, of which 12 contained the largest sheets of plate glass in the world – escaped unscathed.

Sarah Bennet, photographed by Lena Connell

Sarah Bennet, photographed by Lena Connell

However in February 1913, in protest against the fact that the government had been withdrawn the proposed Franchise Bill, Sarah Benett, one-time treasurer of the Women’s Freedom League, was sentenced to six month’s imprisonment after breaking one of these windows.  Incidentally, Sarah Benett in 1916 sent a donation to Maud Arncliffe Sennett towards the expense of employing Gladys Evans as an organizer for the Northern Men’s Federation for Women’s Suffrage.

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Suffrage Stories: The 1911 Census: A Bristol Boycotter

There is no end to the interesting family histories one unearths while digging into the suffrage boycott of the 1911 census.

I recorded in the Women’s Suffrage Movement: a reference guide  that  in 1913 a certain ‘H.M. T Lehmann’ was the honorary  secretary (pro tem) of the Bristol branch of the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement and that his address was ‘Rock Mount, Shirehampton’. As a child I lived in Bristol very close to Shirehampton, so this address stayed with me and I thought that when I had an idle moment I would investigate this 3-initialled man about whom I knew nothing.

When I came to look at the census return for ‘Rock Mount’ I was very interested to discover that, although there was no mention on the form of ‘H.M.T’ Lehmann – the householder,  Caroline Edith Lehmann, was a census boycotter. She wrote firmly across the form:  ‘Being an unrepresented ratepayer I refuse to give any information respecting myself or my household for the benefit of an Un-Liberal government. C.E. Lehmann. ‘ But who were Caroline Edith and H.M. T. Lehmann? There names, as far as I know, appear nowhere else in suffrage history.

Well, it took some untangling – but here goes.

Caroline Edith Mayne was born in 1859 in Kidderminster, daughter of a former captain in the 10th Dragoons In 1883 she married John Harold Watson, a minor Kidderminster industrialist, with whom she  had 2 daughters, Hilda and Joyce. Ten years later, in 1893, Watson filed a petition for divorce against her, citing a Weston-super-Mare pharmacist, Henry Ruck. The petition goes into considerable detail, describing adultery committed in 1888 and 1893 – and presumably at times in between – at various addresses -in Weston Super-Mare,   particularly at 5 Royal Crescent where Caroline Watson was staying. The decree nisi was given in 1895. Ruck’s wife divorced him for desertion in 1895. While the Watson divorce case was being heard Caroline was only allowed access to her children once a week – at her mother’s Kidderminster house. It is clear that her husband was trying to prevent her having any access at all and after the divorce the two daughters remained in Kidderminster with their father. I wonder how often they saw their mother in later life?  Neither married.

In November 1897 in London – at 41 Burlington Road, Paddington – Caroline gave birth to a son – Heinz Maurice Talbot Lehmann. On his birth certificate his father is given as Ernst Lehmann, journalist, and his mother as Caroline Edith Lehmann, late Watson, formerly Mayne. The couple had been married in April 1896 in London – with Caroline’s name given as ‘Edith Lillie Watson’.

Four years later, when the 1901 census was taken, mother and son, who was now known as ‘Henry’ rather than ‘Heinz’, were living at Ramsbury Road, St Albans. Caroline Lehmann is described as married, but there is no trace on the census of Ernst Lehmann either here or elsewhere in England. The fact that his son’s name has been anglicized may indicate that by now Ernst was removed from the household. I think that, as Ernest Lewis, he died in Kensington in 1927.

At some point between 1901 and 1911 mother and son moved to Shirehampton, on the outskirts of Bristol, to a house in Station Road that went under the name, variously, of  ‘Rockmount’ or ‘Rock Mount’. In 1911 the census enumerator was informed that Henry Lehmann was a pupil at Clifton College. Caroline was to remain living in Shirehampton for the rest of her long life. Her later address was Talbot Cottage, 27 Grove Leaze.

Caroline Lehmann’s interesting marital history and the separation from her two daughters may well have coloured her views on ‘votes for women’. How could they not? Had she encouraged her son to take up the position as ‘hon sec pro tem’ of Bristol’s Men Political Union? He was barely 16 in 1913 but, from what I have learned of his subsequent career, would certainly have been ‘up’ for anything that might set him in opposition to the establishment.

Henry Lehmann joined the army in October 1914. His military record states that he was 19 but he was, of course, actually  only 17. I wonder if he consulted his mother before taking this step? I rather doubt it.  On 17 December 1915, at the grand old age of 18 and 1 month, Henry Lehmann, now a 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd Essex Regiment, gained his Aero Club Aviator’s certificate. He qualified while flying a Maurice Farman biplane. His address at this time was 192 Redland Road, Bristol. The Royal Aero Club album containing his 1915 photograph can be accessed by subscribers to Ancestry.com. While serving with the Royal Flying Corps, he was awarded the Military Cross.

In 1917 Henry married and with his wife, Joyce, had two daughters – Yvonne and [Bridget] Margaret. The couple divorced in 1925, with Joyce being given custody of children. Matters had obviously become rather desperate as Joyce forewent maintenance on condition that Henry had no communication with her.

In January 1928 Joyce Lehmann was living in Malvern with her younger daughter, working as  secretary to Malvern Ladies’  College, having left the elder daughter, Yvonne, in Shirehampton in the care of her mother-in-law, with whom she clearly had a rapport despite the divorce. Henry Lehmann arrived one day at the school and, posing as a ‘Major Brown’ asked to see Mrs Lehmann.  Despite this trick, Joyce Lehmann felt compelled to agree to her ex-husband’s request to take their daughter for a walk. She was clearly fearful that he would cause a scene and  jeopardise her position at the school.

Henry did not return young Margaret at the due time and Joyce Lehmann was forced to institute court proceedings.  After an Interpol search Margaret  was discovered two weeks later, enrolled in a boarding school at Lille, and returned to her mother.

Henry Lehmann had an exotic post-First World War flying career, on occasion wing-walking with a flying circus and working as an advisor the the Chinese Nationalist air force. The latter position resulted in questions being asked in the House of Commons.

Clearly a man of parts, in 1940, while based in Sydney, Australia, Henry designed and built a sailing yacht, the  Escapee,  which, classed as a ‘tall ship’, is still sailing in the 21st century.

Lehmann later emigrated to Canada, flying with the Canadian Royal Air Force and as a commercial pilot – and died in 1956, the same year as his mother.

Anyway, all this is what comes of wondering who was the ‘hon sec pro tem’ of the Bristol branch of the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement. Alas, I was unable to discover any images that I could use to enliven the story – but perhaps readers may consider it quite lively enough without.

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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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Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Frye in ‘History Workshop Online’

 

HWJ

Do click History Workshop Online 

to discover how, in a dark and dank north-London cellar, I first encountered Kate Parry Frye and how I slowly recognized the importance of her diaries are to those interested in the suffrage movement.

To buy Campaigning for the Vote, published by Francis Boutle Publishers, £14.99  click here

Kate Frye cover

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Campaigning For The Vote: Book Launch Invitation

An invitation to those interested in Kate Frye – and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

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Invitation

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Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Frye And The Problem Of The Diarist’s Multiple Roles

In the following article I discuss the ethics of ‘mining’ the diary that Kate Parry Frye kept for her entire lifetime  in order to re-present her in one role only– as a suffragist. The piece is based on a paper I gave at the 2011 Women’s History Network Conference. Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary is published by Francis Boutle Publishers at  £14.99

'Campaigning for the Vote' - Front and back cover of wrappers

‘Campaigning for the Vote’ – Front and back cover of wrappers

 Kate Parry Frye[1] was a diarist. She was also a girl, a young woman, a middle-aged woman, an old woman, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, a fiancée, a wife, an actress, a suffragist, a playwright, an annuitant, a letter writer, a Liberal, a valetudinarian, a playgoer, and a shopper. She was a rail traveller, a bus traveller, a tube traveller, a reader, a flaneur, a friend, and a political canvasser. She was a diner – in her parents’ homes, in digs, in hotels, in restaurants, in cafés and later, of necessity, a diner of her self-cooked meals. She was an enthusiast for clothes, a keeper of accounts, a reader of palms, a dancer, a holidaymaker, a visitor to the dentist, to the doctor, an observer of the weather, a worker of toy theatres, a needleworker, an animal lover – indeed dog worshipper – a close observer of the First World War and then of the Second.

Kate as a radio listener - 1920s/

Kate as a radio listener – 1920s?

She was radio listener, a television viewer, a neighbour and, finally, a carer, recording in detail the effect on her husband of the remorseless onset of dementia and the disintegration of his body and mind. Every one of these roles is played out in minute detail in the diaries Kate Frye kept for 71 years, from 1887, when she was 8 years old, until October 1958, barely three months before her death in February 1959.[2]

Moreover, each role has its variations, depending on time and place. Thus, for example, as a middle-class daughter, Kate Frye played the pampered child, the indulged adolescent and, later, the resentful adult.

Kate photographed c 1897

Kate photographed c 1897

She was for many years supported financially and lived comfortably.  In early womanhood she was afforded considerable freedom, her parents allowing her, indeed encouraging her, to train as an actress and to travel around Britain and Ireland with a repertory company. When that venture proved unprofitable she was able to return to life as a daughter-at-home, a role that appears to have combined the minimum of domestic chores with the maximum of freedom. Until December 1910 the family divided their time between two homes – a house, later a flat, in North Kensington and ‘The Plat’, a large detached, much-loved house on the river at Bourne End in Buckinghamshire.

Details of the auction of The Plat and its contents - the Fryes' possessions

Details of the auction of The Plat and its contents – the Fryes’ possessions

But Kate Frye was also the daughter of a man whose business failed, whose lack of financial acumen she judged harshly, forcing as it did her mother, her sister and herself to leave their homes and sell all their possessions. Before 1910 there had been periodic indications of financial instability, when, for instance, ‘The Plat’ was let out for the summer, but Kate’s father failed to take his wife and daughters into his confidence, making the ultimate catastrophe all the more shocking. To Kate’s shame the family subsequently relied on the charity of her mother’s wealthy wine-merchant relations, the Gilbeys.[3]  Her role in this performance might be studied, shedding as its does a clear light on the precarious reality of the long Edwardian summer. One year Kate could take for granted a life of boating and regattas, dressmakers, cooks and maids, the next she was living in dingy digs, attempting to raise money by hawking the family jewellery and old clothes around shops, while wondering if her relations had remembered to send the remittance and what she would do if they forgot..

Or perhaps one could look through Kate Frye’s eyes at the reality of working the towns of Edwardian England, Scotland and Ireland as an actress.

Kate Frye photographed in costume for her part in J. M. Barrie's 'Quality Street' - on tour in 1903

Kate Frye photographed in costume for her part in J. M. Barrie’s ‘Quality Street’ – on tour in 1903

For instance, between September and December 1903 she was a member of a Gatti and Frohman touring production of J.M. Barrie’s Quality Street and writes in considerable detail of company train travel, theatrical lodgings and the other members of the cast, among who was a young May Whitty.  Kate was paid £2 a week and includes in the diary some weekly accounts, which could be studied in conjunction with the management’s financial accounts of the tour.[4]  Or her diary could be used to give an insight into the issue of class and gender in the Edwardian theatre; Kate’s experience does not indicate that family and friends felt that her new role was in any way either imprudent or declassé.[5] Or her diary might be used to research the behind-the scenes world of post-1918 theatre, as Kate reports on her husband’s attempt to earn a precarious living as actor and stage manager.[6]  Kate’s involvement with theatre saw her performing on both sides of the stage – in her role as an actress and, in the auditorium, as a spectator – and her diary might also be used to study of the habits of playgoers over the decades, recording as it does her comments on the vast number of performances she attended. On occasion she thought nothing of seeing two plays in one day.

Kate kept a separate record of all the plays she saw - including Elizabeth Robins' 'Votes for Women!'

Kate kept a separate record of all the plays she saw – including Elizabeth Robins’ ‘Votes for Women!’

Or perhaps one could use her diary to study the nature of ill-health, real or perceived. Menstrual pain – ‘the rat pain’ – lurks behind some of Kate’s continuous complaints of ‘seediness’ and included in some of the diaries are small yearly calendars with the date of each menstrual period marked in pencil.

Kate's menstrual calendar

Kate’s menstrual calendar

But the feeling of ill-health suffered by Kate, by her elder sister, Agnes,[7]  and their mother was due to more than menstruation. For weeks at a time, year after year, one or the other, or all three, are confined to their beds. The doctor calls – and is paid – medications are prescribed and taken. For some of the time ‘seediness’ is endured and Kate, at least, gets on with things. It is noticeable that when she has an active life to lead, whether on tour as an actress or as a suffrage organiser, she makes many fewer complaints of ill-health. It is difficult to avoid the thought that some, at least, of the malaise was due to depression occasioned by lack of occupation. Kate did, after all, continue fit and healthy until she was 80. The diary could be read and edited to bring this aspect of her life to the fore, studying the links, in the first 50 years of the 20th century, between status, expectation and occupation – or lack of it  – and mental and physical wellbeing  Certainly Kate’s sister, who never worked and appears to have had few interests, seems to have given up on life, spending much of her later years in bed and drifting into death. However, although these aspects of Kate Frye’s life are intriguing, it is for her involvement with the Edwardian suffrage movement that she is now likely to be remembered. For Kate Frye’s diaries have been directed, by chance, towards an editor whose research interests centre on suffrage.

Kate was what one student of diary writing terms a ‘chronicler’, that is her diary was a ‘carrier of the private, the everyday, the intriguing, the sordid, the sublime, the boring – in short a chronicle of everything’ and in its extent is not a little daunting.[8]  But, reading the volumes covering the years prior to the First World War, one quickly realises that involvement in one of the major campaigns of the day provided Kate’s life – and her diary – with a focus. For the Frye family’s descent into near, if genteel, destitution coincided with the growth of the suffrage movement, which subsequently provided Kate with employment. Although she was untrained for any career other than acting, which she had found, in fact, did not pay, work of a political nature was not outside her sphere of knowledge, for one of her earlier roles had been that of the daughter of an MP. Kate’s father, Frederick Frye, had been the Liberal member for North Kensington from 1892 to 1895 and an interest in politics was taken for granted within the family. Over the years Kate had helped her mother with the regular ‘At Homes’ held for the Liberal ladies of North Kensington and had accompanied her father to many a political meeting.  

Flyer advertising the NUWSS 'Mud March'

Flyer advertising the NUWSS ‘Mud March’

The diary entries trace her growing involvement in the suffrage campaign, from participation in the first  NUWSS ‘Mud March’ in early 1907, through her performance as a palm reader at numerous fund-raising suffrage bazaars and dances, attendance at meetings of the Actresses’ Franchise League, marching in all the main spectacular processions,  stewarding at meetings, bearing witness to the ‘Black Friday’ police brutality in Parliament Square on 18 November 1910, to her employment, from early 1911 until mid-1915, as a paid organiser for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. The diary, as edited as Campaigning for the Vote, highlighting the detail Kate provides of daily life as a suffragist and illustrated with the wealth of suffrage ephemera with which she embellished the original, is an interesting addition to published source material.

Procession-Pic-for-Clive2

But what are the ethics of spotlighting this one role – or any role – from a lifetime performance?  Kate’s diary seems to lend itself quite naturally to a style of editing that sets her entries, replete with delightfully quotidian suffrage detail, within a linking narrative, explaining the greater campaign and providing information on people she meets in the course of her days. But, increasingly uneasy, the editor of Kate Frye’s diary felt it necessary to take soundings from commentators on diary writing in order to discover whether the perceived problem, that of highlighting only one of the diarist’s multiple roles – one of her many selves, is one that others have resolved.

Robert Fothergill’s Private Chronicles, published 35 years ago, is generally considered the earliest academic work to have made a serious study of diary-writing.[9] In his study Fothergill considered the diaries both of men and of women but since then much of the attention the genre has received has concentrated on diary writing by women. For in the 1980s and 1990s, with the growing interest in women’s history, academics such as Margo Culley, Cheryl Cline, Harriet Blodgett, Suzanne Bunkers and Cynthia Huff  saw women’s diaries as an exciting new source through which to re-examine and re-envisage women’s lives.[10] As Bunkers and Huff wrote, ‘Within the academy the diary has historically been considered primarily as a document to be mined for information about the writer’s life and times – now the diary is recognized as a far richer lode. Its status as a research tool for historians, a therapeutic instrument for psychologists, a repository of information about social structures and relationships for sociologists, and a form of literature and composition for rhetoricians and literary scholars makes the diary a logical choice for interdisciplinary study.’[11] These writers use metaphors such as ‘weaving’, ‘quilting’, ‘braiding’ and ‘invisible mending’ to describe the way in which a woman fashions her diary, a diary of dailiness rather than of great moments. But that ‘weaving’ or ‘quilting’ or ‘braiding’ lies at the heart of the problem. Is it legitimate to unravel this self-construction and fashion it into something else?

That question might be answered quite simply by a judgment made in 1923 by Sir Arthur Ponsonby and much quoted, even by the American women historians of the 1980s. For in English Diaries, Ponsonby was adamant: ‘No editor can be trusted not to spoil a diary.’[12] For his part, Robert Fothergill stated that the only respectable motive behind the amputation of a diary was the desire to make it readable – ‘commonly the abridgement or distillation of an unwieldy original, through the elimination of whatever was considered stodgy, pedestrian or repetitious’.[13]  But such an ‘amputation’ is not unproblematic, for what might be considered stodgy and pedestrian to one reader, or in one decade, might be lively and interesting to the next. To anyone interested in the daily life of a suffragist, even the repetitions in Kate Frye’s daily life are revealing.  Cheryl Cline elaborated Fothergill’s point, writing, ‘The most sensitive and careful editors, in cutting what they may feel unimportant, irrelevant, repetitious or even “too personal”, walk a very fine line. They may end up, for all their good intentions, ruining the work. Many editors have been neither sensitive nor careful. Editors have cut manuscripts they felt were too long, padded those they thought too short; re-arranged material to suit themselves; bowdlerized writings which revealed the less-than-perfect character of their authors. Too often, they have destroyed the originals once the edited version was published’.[14] So reservations about editing Kate Frye’s lifetime performance to refashion it as a ‘suffrage diary’ are, perhaps, not unjustified, although Kate Frye’s published diary will be neither ‘padded out’, or ‘bowdlerized’, nor will the original be ‘destroyed’. However, the charge of ‘re-arrang[ing] material’ is, perhaps, not inappropriate.  It is not that the published entries will have been re-arranged, rather they will have been accorded a prominence they did not have in the original.  

It is worth remarking that much of the academic literature on diary writing concentrates on the published diary.[15]  There appears to be little recent consideration of the ethics of, as Bunkers and Huff put it, ‘mining’ a manuscript diary for the light it throws on particular aspects of the past, other than the difficulty this creates for those critiquing diary writing per se. Indeed, these authors appear to suggest that it was only in the past that a diary would be treated in this way.  Fothergill touched on this point, condemning most severely ‘the ravages of editors, committed in, amongst other things, the name of thematic unity, writing that, from the point of view of his study of diaries, ‘A fatally damaging editorial approach is the subordination of a diary’s general interest to a specialist one, retaining only what is of use to the political or religious historian, for example.’[16]  However Cheryl Cline has taken a more tolerant attitude to this aspect of diary editing, commenting ‘The urge to make a “good story” out of a diary that seems rambling and disjointed…is the motive which guides many an editor’s blue-pencil. While many diaries..are written around a theme .. or an event .., most private writings are disjointed and far-ranging. In this case material may be extracted from them and shaped into a more cohesive narrative.’[17] She then cites, as a well-known example of editing for story, A Writer’s Diary, compiled from Virginia Woolf’s diary by Leonard Woolf.[18]  Kate Frye’s diary, edited to tell her suffrage story, might, therefore, be said to be keeping exalted company.[19]  However it is certainly true that since the middle of the 20th century, the move in diary editing has been towards the unabridged text, complete with full scholarly apparatus. But Kate Frye would never be given that kind of treatment. So is it better to give a wider audience a ‘ravaged’ text – or to leave it, unpublished, in its wholeness on the archive shelf? An argument for leaving it untouched might well be made by the academics who have stressed the importance of the diary as a complete self-construct, a form of autobiography or life writing.[20]  The author has considerable sympathy with this viewpoint, while recognising the specific interest to students of women’s suffrage in retelling the story of Kate’s suffrage years.

But perhaps, if theory cannot provide a clear answer, we should look for guidance to the diarist herself. What would Kate Frye have liked done with her text? Although she has been dead for 50 years that text is still alive with her personality and it is not inconceivable that someone who put so much of herself onto the page, developing her writing skill as she shaped her life, would have been happy to have known that she would one day reach out to a wider audience.

In this context it is worth considering for whom Kate Parry Frye had been performing. Most certainly in her diary she acted out her days for herself.  From her very early years the diaries had become an essential part of her life. On occasion she discusses whether to bring her diary writing to an end, but always decides to carry on. Until mid-1916, utilising the format that Cynthia Huff describes as ‘self-determined,’ Kate wrote her entries in a large ledger-type book, embellishing them with the addition of relevant ephemera.[21] When, on 16 November 1913, on reaching the end of yet another of these books, she wrote ‘And so I have come to the end of this volume with no book to go on with though I have written to Whiteleys.[22] It would be more sensible to leave off writing a diary – at any rate such an extensive one – but more lonely’. But she did acquire another volume from Whiteleys, although that was to be the last of this kind and she afterwards continued her record in purpose-made diaries, adhering, more or less, to the space allocated for each day and no longer inserting additional material..

So that is one explanation as to why Kate kept her diary; it was her daily companion.  In it she depicts herself as slightly aloof from her parents, sister and husband, her abilities unappreciated. As Fothergill has observed, ‘the function of the diary is to provide for the valuation of [self] which circumstances conspire to thwart.’[23] Financial circumstances certainly thwarted Kate’s ability to maintain the class position that for some years she had enjoyed, but in her diary she could continue to present herself as an aspiring member of the upper-middle middle class, although, after 1910, always conscious of the financial chasm that existed between this idea of herself and the reality. On March 17th 1913, when meeting her Kensington contemporaries, she notes: ‘They all seemed so smart and so well dressed and so of a different life – the life really that we have left behind. Oh what a difference money makes.’ Lack of money is a recurrent theme, although in her entry for 22 December 1913 she does try to overcome her regrets, writing, ‘I always feel given nice clothes … I could look nice and attractive. I hate being shabby. It is bad enough to grow old, but to grow dowdy with it, but what can one do without money and lots of it. I do seem to grumble. I seem to forget I am aiming for “goodness” in an advanced and suffrage meaning, and that really any other state is very petty.’ It was not that she struck extravagant poses in her diary, rather that there she felt that there her days were being re-enacted in front of an appreciative audience – herself.

Kate seldom dwells on the act of diary writing, but on Sunday 8 February 1914 was prompted to record:

‘I am reading ‘The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff’. It is too absolutely interesting for words – and yet all so natural….it isn’t far off me in the inmost soul. Only in performance she was a genius – she could do – I can only dream that I could and do – accomplish. It made me want to read my old Journals but how tame after Marie’s. I was always for putting time and place and leaving out the really interesting bits in consequence – though I sometimes think I catch atmosphere. That is the disadvantages of writing a diary instead  of a Journal – one only ought to write when one is inspired and at the moment the feeling or idea strikes one – but with a diary the date and correctness is the thing.’[24]

Perhaps it is fortunate for us the Kate did not write what she terms a ‘Journal’; it is the ‘putting time and place’ that makes Kate’s diary so interesting.[25] We can sit with her on the tube or bus, travelling around London; we can reconstruct the route taking her from Notting Hill Gate to the Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly for a meeting of the Actresses’ Franchise League – and then eavesdrop on the proceedings;  we can go with her to Covent Garden to see the Russian Ballet – ‘as for M Nijinsky, well, words fail me’;[26] we can travel with her around the country roads of Norfolk, searching out suffrage sympathisers; and accompany her as she organises the transport of her boxes, a complicated business, to and from stations and ‘digs’ in the small towns of east and southern England.

For Kate Frye’s diary keeping makes no distinction between the daily chores – brushing her dog, having lunch, changing her books at Smith’s  – and life-changing events. Even so, like all diarists, it is clear that she edited her day and, unsurprisingly, for her diaries had no locks, did not make explicit the details of everything that happened to her.  For instance, it was only the reading of an entry in a post-Second World War diary that gave a clue to what lay behind her long association with – and eventual marriage to – John Collins, a fellow actor in the 1903 touring production of Quality Street, a relationship that, as presented in Kate’s words, seems rather puzzling. That post-war entry referred to the one for 20 September 1904, the day that Kate finally agreed to marry John.  The entry itself is, naturally, of interest because she is writing of the day of her engagement but, when read in context, is constructed – or self-edited – so as not to include anything particularly revealing, merely that, after some, perhaps rather melodramatic, hesitation, Kate had finally acquiesced to John’s repeated offer of marriage. However, on re-reading the entry in the light of the later comment, a rather different story emerges. Kate’s words – ‘..I had to promise, it is the only right thing left to do …I couldn’t marry anyone else now, as he says. I have burnt my boats and no one must ever know that my real self is hesitating’ – appeared to be those of  a woman who had realised that she had to make a decision, that she could no longer keep the man hanging on.  But, alerted by the entry written nearly 50 years later, a re-reading reveals a rather different story. For, it transpires Kate had acted in such a way that ensured that, this time, she had to agree to marry John. It is hardly worth speculating on what actually had occurred, although in this entry Kate does write of passion and desire. In fact his lack of money, coupled with her lack of inclination, meant that it was a further 11 years before Kate and John married. Although she often debates with herself as to whether she can continue with the engagement, Kate feels unable to escape what she sees as her obligation. The story of that day in Croydon digs – with the landlady out shopping – is only one, albeit major, episode where the diarist, while ostensibly being frank, has not made all explicit.

The 'Wedding Day'  page - 9 January 1915 -of Kate Frye's diary

The ‘Wedding Day’ page – 9 January 1915 -of Kate Frye’s diary

There are doubtless very many other such occasions on which the doings of the self as portrayed in Kate’s diary do not reflect exactly the experience of the self that enacted them, the self of the diary having been refashioned by the diarist’s pen. For Kate Frye recognised her diary’s usefulness in providing her with the daily discipline of putting words on paper. Her diary is written in direct, colloquial prose. Her writing is fluent and she makes virtually no corrections.  As we have seen, she was interested in ‘catching atmosphere’ and, although she never intended her diary for publication, she did aspire to literary success. Over many years she mentions time spent on ‘writing’ and a quantity of her manuscripts and typescripts, together with the rejection letters from agents and publishers, survive. Unsurprisingly, for one so enamoured of the theatre, these works are all plays, but only a one, co-written with John Collins, was ever published.[27] 

Kate as writer

Kate as writer

Regretting as she did her lack of literary success, it is difficult to believe that she would be averse to seeing her words in print now.

Recognising the affection Kate felt for her diary and the time and care she had spent on shaping it, it is worth considering what she had thought might happen to it after her death. In fact her will reveals that the diaries were in effect her main bequest. She left the many volumes, together with the lead-lined bookcase in which they were kept, itself an indication of the concern she felt for their well-being, to the son of one of her cousins. That cousin, long dead, had been the only one of her relations to have had similar literary aspirations, albeit rather greater success. For, Abbie Frye was a prolific Edwardian novelist who wrote under the name ‘L. Parry Truscott’.[28] Kate had clearly wanted the diaries preserved and had not been worried at the thought of their being read by a member of the younger generation  – and, by inference, a later general public. But would she have objected to being presented to the general public only in her role as a suffragist – for that is in effect how she is now re-created?

So let us now view the problem from the other side and consider the contribution that Kate Frye’s diary may make to our understanding of the suffrage movement and of the lives lived by its members. How does Kate’s diary stand among other diaries dealing with the suffrage movement? What makes it worth the trouble of editing and publishing? The main difference between the diary of Kate Frye and most others recording suffrage involvement that survive in the public domain is that the latter were written primarily because that involvement represented a singular experience, a highpoint in the diarist’s life. Thus, for instance, the militant campaign is well represented by diaries kept by imprisoned suffragettes, recording the horrors of forcible feeding.[29]  For the constitutionalists, two diaries kept by Margery Lees have survived. Leader of the Oldham NUWSS society, she has recorded in one the work of the society and, in the other, gives an account of her participation in a great NUWSS event, the 1913 suffrage pilgrimage.[30]

Apart from that of Kate Frye, only a handful of other diaries with suffrage-related daily entries are known. Those of the delightfully Pooterish Blathwayts of Batheaston, father, mother and daughter, have proved an excellent source for researchers of WSPU personalities and of the militant campaign in Bath[31] and that of Dr Alice Ker provides short factual notes on the suffrage scene in Birkenhead and Liverpool.[32]   The diary of Eunice Murray, a prominent Scottish member of the Women’s Freedom League, is in some ways comparable to that of Kate Frye, although the former’s comments on the suffrage campaign are more measured, while her actual accounts are less detailed.[33] Like Kate, Eunice Murray spoke at suffrage meetings but was not required to organise them and was certainly less concerned with ‘catching the atmosphere’ when writing up her diary entries. The diaries of the actress and novelist Elizabeth Robins  (held in the Fales Library, New York) record her involvement with the English suffragette movement but, again, although she contributed as a speaker, she was not working at the suffrage ‘coal face’, as it were.  None of these diaries, suffragist or suffragette, has yet been published. Excerpts from the diaries of Ruth Slate and Eva Slawson make clear their interest in the Cause and, interwoven with material from their letters, have been published, but within the overall narrative of their lives and concerns suffrage plays only a relatively minor part.[34]

  Kate’s diary is valuable because it records her continuous involvement as a foot soldier in the suffrage campaign. She is writing without the benefit of hindsight, recording the inconsequential details of, say, finding a chairman for a suffrage meeting in Maldon or dealing with an imperious speaker in Dover, as well as the rather more momentous suffrage occasions, such as waiting on the platform at King’s Cross station as the train carrying Emily Wilding Davison’s coffin is about to leave for Morpeth. We can trace day by day, week by week, Kate’s growing participation in the movement, reflecting as it does both the increasing publicity given to and acceptance of the suffrage campaign and the decline in her family’s fortunes.

In 1913 Kate was campaigning for the New Constitutional Society in Whitechapel, distributing NCS leaflets translated into Yiddish

In 1913 Kate was campaigning for the New Constitutional Society in Whitechapel, distributing NCS leaflets translated into Yiddish

Although we cannot say that she became an increasingly militant (although never actively militant)[35] supporter because she regretted her lack of education, in the very first entry in which she refers to suffrage, on 3 December 1906, she writes: ‘I really do feel a great belief in the need of the Vote for Women – if only as a means of Education. I feel my prayer for Women in the words of George Meredith: “More brains, Oh Lord, more brains” ‘[36] – or, again, in 1914, ‘Neither do I understand why I was born if I wasn’t to be educated.’ Kate’s education had been that considered suitable for her gender and class. She did not attend school, but until she was 16 was visited by a ‘daily governess’, although visits were not invariably daily. After that she received somewhat erratic tuition from teachers of French and music. Nor can we say she became a suffragist because she lacked economic power. But she was certainly aware that those two factors – a lack of education and a lack of funds – made life as a woman without the shelter of family money, or the ability to earn her own, very difficult.

Like so many other women at that time, Kate Frye saw the acquisition of the vote as one step towards autonomy.  It is our luck that for a few years she attempted to solve her economic problem by propounding the political solution, that is, she earned a living, of sorts, by becoming a suffrage organiser. It is extra fortunate that she did so for a society, the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, about which very little has hitherto been known. In fact Kate Frye’s diary contains more information about the NCSWS and more of the society’s ephemera than exists anywhere else.

A page from the 'Organiser's Book' kept by Kate for perusal by the Committee of the NCS

A page from the ‘Organiser’s Book’ kept by Kate for perusal by the Committee of the NCS

Her elaboration of diary entries by the addition of leaflets advertising the suffrage meetings she attended, even on occasion leaflets she herself had arranged to have printed, and for the processions in which she took part, demonstrates how prominently the campaign figured in her life. Virtually no other ephemeral material is included during this period. 

We need only look to the diary for the answer to the question as to whether Kate Frye would object to being remembered as a suffragist. For on ‘Sunday 10 February 1918’ she wrote, ‘One of my afternoon letters was to Gladys Simmons[37] in commemoration of the passing of the Franchise Bill. Haven’t had a single letter from anyone concerning it – I said I wouldn’t but it seems very strange – that someone hasn’t thought of me in connection with the work.’ Now that her suffrage diary is  published, at last Kate Frye will ‘be thought of in connection with the work’ and be recognised as a suffragist.[38] However, the very act of publication highlights just this one of her many roles. Out of the multiplicity of Kate Frye’s self-constructions, it is the ‘self’ of her suffrage years that emerges. The reader will have to accept that ‘mining’ a diary in order to view an historical episode from a fresh angle may come at the expense of maintaining the integrity of the diarist’s conception of ‘self’.

Kate's diary entry for 21 May 1914 in which she records witnessing the WSPU demonstration in front of Buckingham Palace

Kate’s diary entry for 21 May 1914 in which she records witnessing the WSPU demonstration in front of Buckingham Palace


[1] Katharine Parry Frye (1878-1959), daughter of Frederick and Jane Kezia Frye. Frederick Frye was a director of a chain of licensed grocery shops, Leverett and Frye, a firm financed by the wine merchants W.& A.Gilbey, as a useful outlet for their wines. When Frederick Frye became an M.P., Gilbey’s took over the running of the business. The Irish branch still operates. Frederick’s father had been a ‘professor of music’ and for 64 years organist at Saffron Walden parish church. Jane Frye’s father was a Winchester grocer. In 1915 Kate married John R. Collins.

[2] In August 2010 correspondence on Guardian Online, which included contributions from members of the Women’s History Network, demonstrated that it is by no means unusual for contemporary women to keep daily diaries over decades of their lives..

[3] Kate’s Aunt Agnes (1834-1920, née Crosbie), her mother’s sister, was the widow of Alfred Gilbey (d. 1879). For details of the Gilbeys of Wooburn House, Wooburn, Buckinghamshire see B. B. Wheals (1983) Theirs were but human hearts: a local history of three Thameside parishes (Bourne End: H.S. Publishing).  From their relatively humble origins the brothers Walter and Alfred Gilbey grew wealthy as they developed England’s largest wine merchant business, W. & A. Gilbey.

[4] ‘Accounts and Legal’, Quality Street tour accounts (Theatre Museum), cited in Tracy C. Davis (2000) The Economics of the British Stage 1800-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p.217.

[5] For a discussion of the entrance of middle-class women into the acting profession see Tracy C. Davis (1991) Actresses as Working Women (London: Routledge) pp. 13-16.

[6] In the 1920s and 1930s Kate often joined her husband on tour. For instance, over many years she spent some time each year at Stratford-on-Avon, where her husband was stage manager for productions at the old Memorial Theatre.

[7] Agnes Frye (1874-1937)

[8] See T. Mallon (1995) A Book of One’s Own: people and their diaries (St Paul, Minn: Hungry Mind Press) p. 1.

[9] Robert A. Fothergill (1974) Private Chronicles: a study of English diaries (London: OUP).

[10] See Jane DuPree Begos (1977) Annotated Bibliography of Published Women’s Diaries (issued by the author); Margo Culley (Ed) (1985) A Day at a Time: the diary literature of American women from 1764 to the present day (Old Westbury NY: Feminist Press); Harriet Blodgett (1989) Centuries of Female Day: Englishwomen’s Private Diaries  (New Brunswick, London: Rutgers University Press); Cheryl Cline (1989) Women’s Diaries, Journals and Letters: an annotated bibliography (New York and London: Garland Publishing); Harriet Blodgett (Ed.) (1992) The Englishwoman’s Diary (London: Fourth Estate); Suzanne L. Bunkers and Cynthia A. Huff (1996) Inscribing the Daily: critical essays on women’s diaries (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press)  Suzanne L. Bunkers (2001) Diaries of Girls and  Women: a midwestern American sampler (London, University of Wisconsin Press).

[11] Suzanne L. Bunkers and Cynthia Huff ‘Issues in Studying Women’s Diaries:  a theoretical and critical introduction’, in Bunkers and Huff (Eds) Inscribing the Daily, p.1

[12] Sir Arthur Ponsonby (1923) English Diaries (London:Methuen & Co), p. 5.

[13] Fothergill, Private Chronicles, p. 5

[14] Cline, Women’s Diaries, p xxvii-xxviii.

[15] Exceptions include Bunkers, Diaries of Girls and Women. See also Cynthia Huff (1985) British Women’s Diaries: a descriptive bibliography of selected 19th-century women’s manuscript diaries (New York: AMS Press).

[16] Fothergill, Private Chronicles, p. 5.

[17] Cline,  Women’s Diaries, p. xxviii.

[18] L. Woolf (Ed) (1953) A Writer’s Diary. Being extracts from the diary of Virginia Woolf (London, Hogarth Press).

[19] Although, after Leonard Woolf’s ‘dismembering’, the diaries were reconstructed, in five volumes, edited by Anne Olivier Bell.

[20] For instance, Martin Hewitt (2006) Diary, Autobiography and the Practice of Life History in David Amigoni (Ed) Life Writing and Victorian Culture (Aldershot: Ashgate).

[21] Huff, British Women’s Diaries, p xiv.

[22] Whiteleys was a large department store, which, when Kate wrote this 1913 entry, was in Queensway. The store’s owner, William Whiteley, ‘the Universal Provider’, had been a close friend of the Frye family and his murder and subsequent trial are recorded in detail in Kate’s 1907 diary.

[23] Fothergill, Private Chronicles, p.82.

[24] .Marie Bashkirtseff, a young Frenchwoman, filled 85 notebooks with her journal, which was edited for publication after her death in 1884. An English edition, Mathilde Blind (Ed. and Trans) 1890, The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff (London: Cassell)  2 volumes. Philippe Lejeune has described the Journal as foreshadowing ‘a line of diaries where introspection, active contestation of the condition of women, and interest in writing stand out as defining features’, see Philippe Lejeune The “Journal de jeune fille” in Nineteenth Century France in Bunkers and Huff, Inscribing the Daily, p119.

[25] Some attention has been paid to this distinction by scholars of diary writing. Suzanne Bunkers, after initially believing that what distinguishes a journal from a diary is that the diary is ‘a form of recording events, and the journal is a form of introspection, reflection, and the expression of feeling’, comes to the conclusion that the distinction is untenable, see S. Bunkers, Diaries of Girls and Women, p 12.

[26] Diary entry for 9 July 1912.

[27]   Katharine Parry and John R. Collins (1921) Cease Fire!: a play in one act  (London: French’s Acting Editions).

[28] Gertrude Abbie Frye (always known as Abbie), later Mrs Basil Hargrave (1871-1936). The works of ‘L. Parry Truscott’ were mistakenly attributed to Katharine Edith Spicer-Jay in Halkett (1926) Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature, (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd), Vol 1. By 1926 ‘L. Parry Truscott’’s star had waned and Abbie, by now a widow, was vitually penniless.  A considerable amount of information about the interesting life of Abbie Frye can be gleaned from Kate Frye’s diary.

[29] See the manuscript prison diaries of Mary Anne Rawle, Elsie Duval and Katie Gliddon (Women’s Library); the manuscript prison diaries of Olive Walton and Florence Haig (Museum of London); and the manuscript prison diary of Olive Wharry (British Library); The manuscript prison diary of Anne Cobden Sanderson (London School of Economics) has been edited by Anthony Howe but is, as yet, unpublished.

[30] Both Margery Lees’s diaries are held by the Women’s Library.

[31] The Blathwayt diaries are held in the Gloucestershire Record Office. See June Hannam ‘Suffragettes are Splendid for Any Work’: the Blathwayt Diaries as a Source of Suffrage History in Clare Eustance, Joan Ryan and Laura Ugolini (Eds.) (2000) A Suffrage Reader: charting directions in British Suffrage History (London: Leicester University Press).

[32] Dr Alice Ker’s diaries are held in a private collection.

[33] The manuscript of Eunice Murray’s diary are held at the Women’s Library, together with a bound copy of the Diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray, transcribed by Frances Sylvia Martin.

[34] T. Thompson (Ed.) (1987) Dear Girl: the diaries and letters of two working women (1897-1917) (London: Women’s Press).

[35] Kate Frye joined the WSPU in November 1910, after witnessing the ‘Black Friday’ demonstration, but was soon appointed as a paid organiser for the newly-formed New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

[36] The quotation is taken from Modern Love by George Meredith, first published in 1862.

[37] As Gladys Wright, she had been a very old Kensington friend of Kate Frye and hon. Sec. of the NCSWS.

[38]  Campaigning for the Vote: The Suffrage Diary of Kate Parry Frye, is published by Francis Boutle

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Suffrage Stories: Mrs Alice Singer, Miss Edith New And The Suffragette Doll

Feature on Edith New in Swindon Heritage magazine

Feature on Edith New in Swindon Heritage magazine

The arrival of the first issue of the admirable Swindon Heritage  magazine has reminded me of a slight connection I had some years ago with an interesting object created by Edith New – the subject of one of its articles.

It was in 2006 that I was approached by a BBC TV producer planning a spin-off of the Antiques Roadshow -to be called the  Antiques Roadshow Greatest Finds. The idea was that they would take a few of the more intriguing items that had been brought to Roadshows in the previous year and research and discuss them in greater depth. The item that was brought to my attention was a Suffragette Doll. My research into its history and that of the woman who had owned it proved utterly fascinating. In addition I had a most enjoyable couple of days making the film that developed from the research.

I am only sorry that I do not have a photograph of the doll, which was dressed as a suffragette in prison uniform. Items such as this may occasionally appear on ebay or at auction but it is not that difficult to ‘forge’ a Suffragette Doll and what one needs is provenance, linking it to its original owner. This ‘Roadshow’ doll was just such a treasure – handed down through a family. What is more to my great pleasure I was able to discover more of the original owner, Mrs Alice Singer, than, when given the commission, I thought would be possible.  For, like Kate Frye (the subject of my latest book, Campaigning for the Vote).   Mrs Singer had kept a diary which, although a very much more sketchy affair than Kate’s, did reveal a good deal of her involvement with the Women’s Social and Political Union. The diary is now held in Israel by a branch of the family, but they were kind enough to let me have a look at it for the purpose of researching the programme.

Mrs Alice Singer (1873-1955) was born Alice Emma Isabel Isaac, the eldest of three daughters of Stephen Hart Isaac (1850-1877) and his wife Sime Seruya Isaac. Sime Seruya was of Portuguese extraction, although she was living in London when they married in 1872 at Bayswater Synagogue. At this time, and presumably later, when Alice was born, Stephen Isaac was working as the assistant manager of a coal mine at Colwick in Nottinghamshire. When he married he was living at Colwick Hall with his uncle, Saul Isaac, who was the lessee of the mine. Saul Isaac, was at this time MP for Nottingham (1874-80).

When Stephen Isaac died, aged 26, (at 31 Warrington Crescent, Paddington) on 2 January 1877, he was a widower. His death certificate shows that he had been ill for c. 9 months, probably with TB. His wife had died in Lisbon on 4 September 1876, a week after the birth of her third child. It is possible that they were in Lisbon for the sake of Stephen’s health. Lisbon was a place favoured by those suffering from TB. The fact that Sime had family there would have been an obvious attraction.

The three young girls, Alice, Daisy and Sime Seruya Isaac (who was now more than 6 months old) were left under the guardianship of their grandfather, Samuel Isaac, although Sime was brought up by her Portuguese grandparents. Alice, therefore, was orphaned by the time she was 4 years old.  She lived at Warrington Crescent until her marriage, I think. [NB across the road, at no 2 Warrington Crescent, there is a plaque to Alan Turing.  Interestingly –  and the ghosts pile up in London – that was also the address in 1866 of  Louisa Garrett Smith (eldest sister of Millicent Garrett Fawcet