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Suffragettes – a forgotten book

As most of us will know its 100 years since women won the right to vote. This week is full of news and media contributions, including videos, blogs, on the subject. Unknown to most these days, the Museum of London published a book to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Suffragettes – and 2018 happens to be the 30th anniversary since that very book was published!

Today is the launch date of a new book called ‘Rise up Women’ by the very same author (Diane Atkinson) specially written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the movement. Her earlier book for the museum was simply entitled ‘Suffragettes.’ It was part of a series of books (the twelfth in that collection) curated by the Museum of London known as ‘The London Connection’:

A fascinating insight into the dramatic and sometimes violent campaign for Votes or Women waged by the militant members of the women’s suffrage movement, the SUFFRAGETTES.

The book begins by detailing the usual background to the movement such as Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘Vindication of the Rights of Women,’ and thus the road map towards the late 1890’s and early 1900s when women ultimately decided they had got fed up being a job lot for men. Suffragettes is a very interesting book and a good introduction to the subject.

Here are a couple of tweets related to the author’s new (2018) book in question:

The background to the 1988 book was very simple. The Museum of London held an enormous archive of material related to the Suffragettes. Perhaps the best anywhere in the world on what was once a controversial subject of votes for women.

In 1950 the then London Museum was extremely fortunate in being given then Suffragette Fellowship’s collection relating to the women’s suffrage movement. Comprised largely of printed material, pamphlets, newspapers and posters, it deals mainly with the activities of the militant campaigners – the Suffragettes. The collection, now housed in the Museum of London, has been used in the preparation of this publication.

Here are some scans from my copy of the book in respect of the Suffragette movement:

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The front cover of the book – description below

The ‘Votes For Women’ bus in Kingsway, London. ‘A novel way of advertising the new issue (of the newspaper) was adopted on Friday and Saturday last week, when  an omnibus covered in notices in the purple, white and green of the Union was drawn through the principal streets of the West End…’ Votes for Women October 1909

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Inside front cover – a collage of images – descriptions below

Maud Arncliffe Sennett, a senior member of the Actress Franchise League (formed in the autumn of 1908), holding the ‘Victoria Queen and Mother’ banner (made of dark pink velevt with leetering in gold cloth) on a National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society(NUWSS) procession in London, 13 June 1908. Much admired by the women’s suffrage movemement, Queen Victoria was no supporter of votes for women.

Banner ‘Boadicea’ (top right). Silk, velveteen and wool with painted inscription. Suffragettes, often wearing replica historical costume, carried this and other banners bearing the names of famous women from the past on processions.

Suffragette banner (centre bottom). Belonging to the Hammersmith branch of the WSPU.’Deeds Not Words’ was the suffragette slogan.

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Inside the book with the now classical image of Mrs Pankhurst manhandled by a police officer

Mrs Pankhurst being arrested outside Buckingham Palace while tryng to present a petition to King George V, 21 May 1914

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Inside rear cover – a collage of Suffragette posters

Women artists working at the Suffrage Atelier at Stanlake Villas, Shepherd’s Bush, London, produced a wide range of visual propaganda for the women’s suffrage movement, including postcard and banners, as well as these posters.

The Suffragettes produced an enormous array of posters, postcards, and leaflets, most very colourful and skillfully created. Many made light of the fact men had more rights (than women) and in fact were the more disreputable species. Politicians didn’t escape that particular criticism either!

1 Comment

  1. ‘As some of us will know’, it is 100 years since SOME women ‘won’ the right to vote …… but only if they or their husbands had enough property. Not something, in my opinion, to be celebrating, exactly. And still the differences between those with and without loadsa money remain rather obvious.

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