Posts Tagged Cicely hamilton

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: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (The End)

Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates, C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the Artists’ Suffrage League, 1909.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time – for your amusement and edification.

Final instalment:

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Suffrage Stories: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (6)

Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates, C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the Artists’ Suffrage League, 1909.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time – for your amusement and edification.

Instalment 6:

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Suffrage Stories: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (5)

Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates, C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the Artists’ Suffrage League, 1909.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time – for your amusement and edification.

Instalment 5:

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Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (4)

Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates, C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the Artists’ Suffrage League, 1908.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time – for your amusement and edification.

Instalment 4:

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Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (3)

 

Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates, C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the Artists’ Suffrage League, 1908.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time – for your amusement and edification.

Instalment 3:

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Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton (2)

Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied by leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates and C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the Artists’ Suffrage League, 1908.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time – for your amusement and edification.

Instalment 2:

 

 

 

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Suffrage Stories: Beware! A Warning to Suffragists by Cicely Hamilton

 Cicely Hamilton wrote the words – the sketches were supplied by

      leading suffrage artists: Mary Lowndes, Dora Meeson Coates and

       C. Hedley Charlton – and the ‘Rhyme Book’ was published by the           

       Artists’ Suffrage League, 1908.

I will reproduce this delicious work in a series of posts – a few pages at a time       – for your amusement and edification.

 

Instalment 1:

 

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Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: Two Days in April 1908

Kate Frye was a devoted theatre goer. She had trained as an actress and had toured for two or three years from 1904 and joined the Actresses’ Franchise League as soon as it was founded. 

A scene from ‘Diana of Dobson’s’ – an article in ‘The Sketch’, 10 February 1908. Courtesy of the V & A

 ‘Diana of Dobson’s, a romantic comedy that also criticized the ‘live-in’ conditions that Edwardian drapery stores imposed on their staff, was written by Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952)  actress, author, and active suffragist. Lena Ashwell (1862-1957) was both the leading actress in the production and the manager of the Kingsway Theatre. ‘Diana of Dobson’s was the second play in Ashwell’s first season at the Kingsway. She was later a vice-president of the Actresses’ Franchise League and a tax resister. Dennis Eadie, in the ‘elderly character part’ was then only 33 years old.

The walk from Tottenham Court Road to the  Kingsway Theatre in Great Queen Street, to the west of Kingsway, would have taken the Fryes through the still relatively unsavoury St Giles and Seven Dials area.

Wednesday April 8th 1908

Mother, Agnes and I left just before 2 o’clock and went by bus to Tottenham Court Road and walked to the Kingsway Theatre just before 3 o’clock and we went in to the reserved seats to see ‘Diana of Dobsons’. It is nearly a month since I got the seats. We very much enjoyed our afternoon. The play is most interesting and amusing and sad too – underneath it all. Lena Ashwell, though her voice sounded tired, was very good – so was Hollard – and Dennis Eadie excellent in an elderly character part. It is quite a novel sort of play and I don’t wonder it is popular. It ought to make people think. The scene of the first act must be a revelation to lots of people.

The next day’s ‘Suffrage Discussion’ was organised under the aegis of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage – a constitutional society. Although it was to be several years before the founding of the Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage, there was obviously already an interest in the subject among the Jewish community.

Mrs Gertrude Spielman (1864-1949) born in Germany, was the wife of Meyer Spielman, who was later knighted. She was actively engaged in educational and other forms of social work, particularly with the Norwood Jewish Orphanage and was, in 1912, to be a founder of the Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage. 

Aylmer Maude (1858-1938) translator of Tolstoy, Fabian, was renowned as a persuasive lecturer. 

Mrs Campbell Lethbridge (1873 -1945), a woman of mystery, was born Sybil MacGregor Allen, in 1894 married William Lonergan, but by 1901 had become Sybil Campbell Lethbridge, a popular and prolific author. Find out more about her here.

Israel Zangwill, Jewish novelist, was always a great favourite of Kate’s.

Israel Zangwill, photographed in 1905

Thursday April 9th 1908

Agnes and I left in a cab at 8 o’clock to Mrs Spielman, 38 Gloucester Square. Got there with Alexandra and Gladys [Wright] and some of the other stewards and we all went up together. There was nothing for us to do at first except make the people sit tight – such a pack it was – hundreds – nearly all Jews except our own friends. It was a Suffrage Discussion – Mr Aylmer Maude in the chair – Mrs  Campbell Lethbridge spoke, Miss Spielman (oh! that was  painful) and Mr Zangwill. He, of course, was beautiful – but I am much afraid too frivolous to do any converting. He was so funny he made me laugh until the tears ran down my face. The discussion was most amusing – such weird people got up and said things. Afterwards we went up and talked to people. I got five members and did better than anyone – but it was hard work. I didn’t give myself any rest and kept straight on – while Agnes looked after our guests and saw they got something to eat. We came back in a hansom. Got in at 11.45 and then had supper. It was past one before John [her fiancé] departed and 2.30 before we got off to bed. I was 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

Copies available from Francis Boutle Publishers, or from Elizabeth Crawford – e.crawford@sphere20.freeserve.co.uk  (£14.99 +UK postage £3. Please ask for international postage cost), or from all good bookshops. In stock at London Review of Books Bookshop, Foyles, National Archives Bookshop.

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

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