Anorak News | A Pictorial History Of The Suffragettes: When Brave Women Fought Hard And Dirty To Be Heard

A Pictorial History Of The Suffragettes: When Brave Women Fought Hard And Dirty To Be Heard

by | 8th, March 2011

IT’S International Women’s Day. Right now in Saudi Arabia, women are thinking that much harder about not voting. Women’s suffrage goes on.

In London, free and talented women like Paloma Faith, VV Brown, Annie Lennox and a 105-year-old former suffragette named Hetty Bower went to the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Tower Gardens.

Says Anorak reader Robert Carter:

It’s a shame that we need to have a single day a year to remind us that women are the equals of men. But, for the other 364* days, people do seem to forget. * It has been pointed out that next year is a leap year – so it’s 365 international men’s days, in fact.

Women’s suffrage is no lacy artefact. Women’s rights are hard won. It was brutal.

Stones were thrown through the windows of Buckingham Palace. They were kept for posterity by Queen Mary. A small explosive device was placed in Westminster Abbey. The villain left behind part of her feather boa.

Arson attacks against property held by political figures, railway stations and even churches, increased in number as the struggle for women’s rights became more militant in nature. The Tea Pavillion in Kew Gardens was torched.

Detectives watched Emmeline Pankhurst’s house in Manchester Square, London. She was the founder of the Womens Social and Political Union and a major force in the Suffragette movement. She was arrested as she tried to present a petition at Buckingham Palace. Police raided the London offices of her union. All the police were men.

Women in jail went on hunger strike. They were force fed. Suffragettes attempt to blow up Holloway Prison.

Labour leader Keir Hardie’s secretary, Margaret Travers Symons, managed to enter the floor of the House of Commons while debate was in progress.

Flora Drummond, suffragette and WSPU procession organiser, was ‘The General’. Flora qualified as a postmistress but was not allowed to work in the trade as she was below the regulation height of 5 feet 2 inches. She was imprisoned nine times and taught other suffragettes Morse code, to allow them to communicate with each other in jail.

You want heroes? Real ones?

Maude Kate Smith (1881-1977) was a militant suffragette and secretary for the WSPU Birmingham branch. Her first imprisonment in 1912 was for four months for smashing windows in Oxford Street, at Winson Green prison, Birmingham. Her second term was in Holloway in 1914 for slashing George Clausen’s Primavera painting at the Royal Academy. She was sentenced under the false name Mary Spencer and released with the government amnesty on the outbreak of the First World War. Maude received a medal of valour from WSPU for her hunger strikes.

And then there was Emily Wilding Davison. She was killed by throwing herself under King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby.

In Britain, the vote for all adults over 21 years of age was not achieved until 1928.

This is their story in photos – and they are wonderful and stirring. I tried to put them in order, to put the better photos at the front. But it was an impossible job. Every photo tells a story:

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Posted: 8th, March 2011 | In: Key Posts, Politicians Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink