Suffragette

"A woman seeking the right to vote through organized protest."

Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst, prominent members of the WSPU

The Suffragette cause was taken up by the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a large organisation in Britain, that lobbied for women's suffrage led by militant suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

Emmeline Pankhurst was the most prominent of Britain's suffragettes.

Portrait badge of Emmeline Pankhurst (c. 1909) sold in large numbers by the WSPU to raise funds

Emily Wilding Davison (1872-1913) died after throwing herself in front of the King's horse at the Derby

Memorial edition of The Suffragette newspaper dedicated to Emily Davison

Today I would like to remember the women who fought for our rights as women to vote! The women who starved for us. The women who were beaten mercilessly for us! The women who were brave enough to stand up even in the face of fear! These women are why I have the life I have today!

Throughout the woman's suffrage movement, many tactics were employed in order to achieve the goals of the movement. Throughout Britain, the contents of letter boxes were set alight or corrosive acids or liquids poured over the letters and postcards inside, and shop and office windows were smashed with hammers. Telephone wires were cut, and graffiti slogans began appearing on the streets. Places that wealthy people, typically men, frequented were also burnt and destroyed while unattended so that there was no risk to life, including cricket pitches, golf courses and horse racing tracks.

In the early-20th century until the First World War, approximately one thousand suffragettes were imprisoned in Britain. Most early incarcerations were for public order offences and failure to pay outstanding fines. While incarcerated, suffragettes lobbied to be considered political prisoners; with such a designation, suffragettes would be placed in the First Division as opposed to the Second or Third Division of the prison system, and as political prisoners would be granted certain freedoms and liberties not allotted to other prison divisions, such as being allowed frequent visits and being allowed to write books or articles. Because of a lack of consistency between the different courts, suffragettes would not necessarily be placed in the First Division and could be placed in Second or Third Division, which enjoyed fewer liberties.

Poster by "A Patriot", showing a suffragette prisoner being force-fed, 1910.