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Suffrage Stories: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Emily Phipps

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the fifteenth:

Miss Emily Phipps, who stood as an Independent in Chelsea.

Emily Phipps’ Election Address (courtesy of University of Bristol Special Collections)

Emily Phipps (1865-1943), headmistress of Swansea Girls’ Secondary School, was the founder of the Swansea branch of the Women’s Freedom League, and president of the Swansea branch of the National Union of Teachers. She was an active member of the National Union of Women Teachers (which lobbied for women’s suffrage and equal pay) and was the Union’s president from 1915 to 1917.

She stood as an Independent candidate, backed by the National Federation of Women Teachers, in Chelsea at the 1918 general election. In her election address she stated:

Although standing as a non-party candidate, I heartily support the policy of utterly defeating German militarism, believing that our glorious victory must be confirmed by such peace as will forr generations prevent a resumption of war.

  1. In Trade, on account of the special circumstances arising out of the war, I support a measure of Protection for our national industries, and Preference for our Colonies, but no Food Taxes.
  2. Other necessary reforms are Equal Pay for Equal Work, irrespective of sex
  3. the establishment of a Ministry of Health, with an adequate proportion of women representatives
  4. the presence of women on all Local bodies and all Reconstruction Committees, on Trade Boards, Education and Health committees, and on Watch Committees of Local Councils
  5. the opening of all Trades and Professions to Women on equal terms with men
  6. the appointment of Women Judges and Magistrates

I also advocate better housing, the provision of a pure milk supply, and adequate wages for all workers, since it is better to prevent disease than to spend millions in trying to cure it.

Illegitimate children should be better protected and should be legitimised on the subsequent marriage of their parents

Divorce laws should be equalised as between men and women and there should be an equal moral standard for the sexes.

Greater attention should be paid to Education, every child should have the opportunity of revealing aptitude for languages, science etc. It is only by utilising all available talents that we can develop the resources of our country. We want more teachers, and they should be well qualified.

Emily Phipps’ only opponent at the election was the sitting Conservative MP, who had the Coalition’s ‘coupon’. Although defeated, she did well to retain her deposit, polling 2419 votes against Sir Samuel Hoare’s 9159..

Emily Phipps qualified as a barrister in 1925, resigned her headship and went to London to act as standing counsel for the National Union of Women Teachers.

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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: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Constance Markevicz

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the eleventh:

Constance Markevicz (courtesy of Glasnevin Trust)

Mme Constance Markevicz, standing as a Sinn Féin candidate in the St Patrick’s constituency in Dublin, the only woman – of the 17 that stood – to win her seat.

Constance Markevicz (née Gore-Booth) was a member of a landed Anglo-Irish family, with an estate at Lissadell House in Co Sligo. She studied art at the Académie Julien in Paris, where she shared a studio with Australian artist Dora Meeson (later Meeson Coates), who later, once she had settled in London,  became a founder member of the Artists’ Suffrage League. In Paris Constance met and married a Polish count, Casimir Markevicz, before returning to Ireland in 1903 and eventually joining the nationalist organisation, the Daughters of Erin.

Constance’s sister, Eva, moved to Manchester, where she worked with radical suffragists to campaign for the vote and improve the lot of working women, while Constance continued to campaign for Irish independence, took part in the Easter Rising in 1916 and, as a member of the Citizen Army, was condemned to death.  However, because she was a woman, the sentence was immediately commuted to one of life imprisonment and, under a general amnesty, she was released in 1917.

In 1918 she was once again in prison, this time in Holloway, sentenced for taking part in anti-conscription activity, and it was while there that she stood for parliament in December 1918. As the Sinn Féin candidate she took 7835 votes, beating the Irish Parliamentary party candidate (3752 votes), however, like all Sinn Féin elected MPs, then as now, she refused to take her seat in the British House of Commons.

She was still in prison when the first Dail met, but, once released, served as minister of Labour from 1919 to January 1922., becoming the first Irish woman to be a member of the cabinet.

Constance Markievicz took part in the Irish Civil War, opposing the Anglo-Irish treaty. She was re-elected to the Dail in 1923, but, like other Republican members, did not take her seat. In 1926 she joined the new party, Fianna Fáil, and was re-elected as a Fianna Fáil candidate in 1927, but died a few weeks later, before she could take her seat.

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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: The First Women General Election Candidates, 1918: Margery Corbett Ashby

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the second:

Margery Corbett Ashby, photographed in 1923

Mrs M.C. Ashby who was standing in Birmingham’s Ladywood constituency as a Liberal candidate, with support from the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

Margery Corbett Ashby (1882-1981) was the daughter of a Liberal MP, Charles Corbett, and both her parents were strong supporters of women’s suffrage. She had a university education, trained as a teacher in Cambridge and from 1907 to 1909 was secretary of the NUWSS and in 1910, the year she married, she was an organizer for the Liberal party. She resigned from the NUWSS executive committee in 1914, too committed a Liberal to support the Election Fighting Fund policy, by which the NUWSS was backing Labour party candidates at elections.

After the First World War she took Mrs Fawcett’s place at the Versailles Peace Conference (Mrs Fawcett did not wish to attend) and helped advise Germany on the founding of its women’s police force.

Margery Corbett Ashby’s candidature at the 1918 general election caused some difficulty for the Birmingham Society for Women’s Suffrage which was criticized for supporting her, rather than the Labour candidate, as the latter party had, unlike the Liberals, traditionally supported the suffrage movement. She was also supported by the Society for Discharged Soldiers – who obviously liked point 7 of her Election Address.

In her lengthy Election Address Margery Corbett Ashby made her (Liberal) views clear:

  1. A League of Nations. To make another War impossible, to abolish conscription, to lighten the burden of taxation for armaments, to substitute open treaties, ratified by Parliament for secret diplomacy, to pool raw materials and food for the hungry peoples of the world. I welcome the practical beginnings of the idea in the International Council which will be established at the Peace Table to ration the nations.
  2. Free Trade and No Food Taxes.
  3. Rights of Little Peoples: Home Rule is imperative to give Ireland the same free choice of government we have demanded for Poland, Alsace-Lorraine and Serbia.
  4. Health and Housing: I believe the urgency of housing admits of no delay, and that there must be immediate provision of a) Houses with at least 3 bedrooms, bath room, water laid on, within the average wage-earner’s means. b) A garden or allotment with each house, for those who want it. c) State assistance to encourage municipal enterprise; the adequate taxation of land values; and the right of compulsory purchase of land for all public requirements at the rate-book valuation.
  5. Equal Citizenship: Real equality between men and women before the law in a) all questions of marriage, morals and the home. b) Opportunities of general and technical training. c) Equal pay for work of equal value above a sound minimum for all. d) All trades, industries and professions.
  6. Labour and Leisure. a) A shorter working day and adequate minimum wage, enforced by law if necessary. b) Regularity of income through universal non-contributory unemployed insurance. c) More freedom and consultation in the workshop. d) Public recreations of a wholesome kind
  7. Soldiers, Sailors and Mothers: I believe in Justice without Charity to secure: a) Adequate pensions for widows with dependent children. b) A real right of maintenance for wives. c) Fullest possible help of all kinds to disabled or discharged soldiers and sailors. d) Fair treatment for women war workers. I welcome Mr Asquith’s desire to improve the Old Age Pensions secured by the Liberal Party, and should like to see the pension raised the age limit lowered.
  8. Civil and Industrial Liberty: I support the immediate restoration of a) All British liberties of citizenship; and b) All essential trade union rights for men and women to enjoy the full use of collective bargaining, surrendered or lost during the war.
  9. Trade and Transit: I favour a) The removal of irksome Government control from private industries. b) The encouragement of production by science, canals and railways. c) The continued municipal ownership of electrical supply. In general I should like to see more Municipal Administration and less Whitehall Bureaucracy.

At the December 1918 election Margery Corbett Ashby polled 1152 votes and lost her deposit. She then stood, again unsuccessfully, at every inter-war election except that of 1931. She succeeded Eleanor Rathbone as president of the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship and in the late 1920s was the co-founder of the Townswomen’s Guild. She also was president of the Women’s Freedom League. At various times she was also president of the British Commonwealth League, member of the executive committee of the Family Endowment Society and chairman of the Association of Moral and Social Hygiene. Margery Corbett Ashby was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1967.

 

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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: The Prison Diary of Annie Cobden-Sanderson

One of the many new books I have enjoyed in this suffrage centenary year is The Prison Diary of Annie Cobden-Sanderson, edited by Dr Marianne Tidcombe.

This postcard is for sale – item 153 in my Catalogue 198 https://wp.me/p2AEiO-1qO. Item 154 is another, unusual, photographic card of Annie Cobden Sanderson, published by the Women’s Freedom League.

Annie Cobden-Sanderson, daughter of the eminent Liberal politician, Richard Cobden, and wife of Arts and Crafts bookbinder and printer, T.J. Sanderson, was one of the first suffragettes to go to prison in London. The diary covers her imprisonment, 1-23 November 1906. The fact that Cobden’s daughter was serving time in Holloway made the headlines and sent a frisson through the Liberal establishment.

The following year she went on a US speaking tour and her prison credentials engendered handsome publicity for her friend Harriot  Stanton Blatch’s Equality League.

The book contains both a facsimile of the diary (the original is held at LSE) and a transcription, together with extensive notes by Dr Tidcombe on the characters and events mentioned and a biographical introduction giving a full description of Annie’s life.

Annie Cobden-Sanderson was arrested again in 1909 – on the occasion shown in the photograph above – but that time her fine was paid without her knowledge, depriving her of another short prison term.

 

E2.8. The Prison Diary, with a Facsimile: Cobden-Sanderson (Annie)

This beautifully produced and illustrated book, published by Libanus Press, is available from all bookshops and from  Amazon – https://tinyurl.com/y7asmw8g

 ISBN 978-0-948021-11-4.

 

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Something A Little Different: Reviving Elizabeth Fair

Last autumn, under the title, Something A Little Different: Furrowed Middlebrow Books , I wrote about a commission I had been given to write forewords to several novels by Rachel Ferguson and Winifred Peck, reprinted by Dean Street Press.

It was a pleasure to be invited back by the publishers to write a foreword introducing six novels by Elizabeth Fair, an author who, after achieving a degree of popularity in the 1950s, had become all but unknown. I very much enjoyed uncovering something of the author and reading her novels, well-written, charming, and redolent of a world that has most certainly past.

I love the detective work involved and was very fortunate that, having read the author’s will, I was able to make contact with someone who had known her well. On a cold, wet day in January I went to Cambridge (fortuitously combining this research visit with taking possession of some items I had just bought at a Cambridge auction house) and had a most interesting conversation about Elizabeth Fair. Moreover, I was shown the author’s diary dating from around the time her first novel was first published which gave a brief glimpse into her life and, incidentally, revealed something of the way that tyro authors were treated by publishers in those days – rather well was my conclusion. The diary revealed that Hutchinson, her  publisher, had booked her a session with Angus McBean, a most highly regarded portrait photographer and it is his photograph that appears on the dustwrappers of the original editions of her books. My hostess had inherited furniture and pictures from Elizabeth Fair and these went some way to furnish in my mind the homes that she had lived in.

The novels have been given very stylish covers – five of them are based on Eric Ravilious illustrations, but one, The Native Heath, uses the artwork that appeared on the dustwrapper of the original edition – early work of a very young Shirley Hughes.

You can find details of all Elizabeth Fair’s novels, with my Introduction, here.

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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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A Happy New Year: Introducing ‘Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists’

A Very Happy New Year To All My Readerspearse-beatrice

This image (courtesy of The Women’s Library@LSE) will appear, among 100 or so others, in my new book, Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists, to be published by Francis Boutle Publishers on 10 January 2018.

The artist of this lovely card was previously unknown, but I have managed to identify her, which pleases me immensely as I have loved this image for many years – ever since I once, and only once, found – and sold – it in the form of a calendar for 1913 issued by the Artists’ Suffrage League.

The typescript is all ready to go to the publisher when the world reawakens on Tuesday 3 January 2017. It’s not too early to let me know if you would be interested in buying a copy of the published work. I can start taking orders now!

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Something A Little Different: Furrowed Middlebrow Books

rachel-ferguson-evenfieldBack in the summer I was delighted to receive a commission from a small reprint publisher, the Dean Street Press, to write an introduction to three novels by Rachel Ferguson that they were planning to reissue. I guessed why they had asked me… I had written the entry on her in the New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. But I was especially pleased to have the opportunity to set out more about her life and to tease out links with the novels because she had spent her early years in Teddington, the suburb adjoining Twickenham, where I had spent my youth, and the road where she had lived was familiar to me. Two of the reissued novels, Evenfield and a

rachel-ferguson-a-harp-in-lowndes-squareHarp in Lowndes Square, in whole or in part conjure up life in late-Victorian Teddington as seen through her idiosyncratic eyes and, knowing from her autobiographies, that Rachel Ferguson was somewhat haunted by memories of her childhood, as I read the novels I could add another wraith, my teenaged self, to those wandering the path from the station or walking over the bridge to the more sophisticated Kingston shops. Needless to say this solipsistic reading is mine only.

The third of the reissued Ferguson novels is

rachel-ferguson-a-footman-for-the-peacock

A Footman for a Peacock, a fantastical tale set in the early years of the Second World War.

After I had delivered the Ferguson Introduction Dean Street then asked me to write one for another novel in this tranche of reissues, Winifred Peck’s Bewildering Cares.

winifred-peck-bewildering-caresI had read the author’s autobiographies some years ago and, as it happens, had very recently read a biography of her niece, Penelope Fitzgerald, which includes good background information on Winifred’s family – the Knoxes. Growing up, alongside her decidedly idiosyncratic brothers, in a clerical household, provided Winifred with plenty of material for her novels and, again, I was able to make links between her life and her fiction. Bewildering Cares covers a week in the life of a vicar’s wife in the early stages of the Second World War.

These novels are only three of nine that Dean Street Press have released this month (October 2016) under the ‘Furrowed Middlebrow’ imprint. Isn’t that a great name? It comes from the eponymous blog conducted by Scott, a Californian enthusiast for novels by British women writers (particularly those from the 20th-c inter-war years).  Do have a read of the blog – click here. His enthusiasm convinced Dean Street Press to reissue his chosen titles –  and more Furrowed Middlebrow reissues are planned.

I love the covers of all the new ‘Furrowed Middlebrow’ titles – and am delighted to be associated, even in this most distant way, with Eric Ravilious. They are all available in paperback – for details (and a view of all the other covers) – click here. They can be ordered direct from the publisher, or from Amazon, or the Book Depository, or from any bookshop. They are all also available as ebooks.

Update

For some unfathomable reason this series of reprints has been the target of a rather ridiculously vindictive Amazon reviewer who has spent a good deal of time in constantly rewriting the ill-conceived ‘thoughts’ that accompany her award of ‘one-star’ to all the ‘Furrowed Middlebrow’ books, which she clearly hasn’t even bothered to read. One blogger, ‘Stuck in a Book’, has called (click here to read his call to arms) for the sensible and interested to do what they can by asking readers of the books to give their own Amazon review (of course most readers would probably normally never think of doing any such thing) so that, if they like the books, they can improve the star rating. Such is Amazon nonsense.

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