Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women's Suffrage Movement

Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women's Suffrage Movement

Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women's Suffrage Movement

Suffrage Days: Stories from the Women's Suffrage Movement

Synopsis

Suffrage Days is an account of the British suffrage movement from its inception until its victory in 1918. It is based around the experiences of seven individuals whose participation in the British suffrage movement is little-known: Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy, Jessie Craigen, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Hannah Mitchell, Mary Gawthorpe, Laurence Housman and Alice Clark.Through their stories and perceptions Sandra Stanley Holton addresses issues such as:* a previously unacknowledged Radical-Liberal current in the nineteenth century movement* the transatlantic links between Radical suffragists* the national and international significance of the Women's Franchise League* some nineteenth century origins of suffrage militancy* the relationship between emergent new masculine identities and suffrage politics* the complex relationship between militant and constitutional suffragists.In a final chapter Holton examines the historiography of the suffrage movement.

Excerpt

In old photographs of suffrage demonstrations from the early years of this century there occasionally appears a tiny, white-haired figure, still wearing the ringlets of a yet earlier period. Her presence seems anomalous among the ‘militant suffragettes’ of the early twentieth century, and immediately raises questions about the stereotypical images that attach to that designation. Both suffragists and antisuffragists produced ‘a series of representational “types”’ reflecting notions about ‘womanliness’ and ‘unwomanliness’, but this figure seems to fit with none of these. Whatever the quaintness of her outward appearance, Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy had lived out radical new ways of being a woman. Her presence among the suffragettes of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) illustrates the tenacity of many of those who initiated the campaign for votes for women in the mid-1860s. It testifies also to the equally hard-fought struggle by women to create new identities for themselves. Yet, though her name will be found in the index of almost every major study of the nineteenth-century women’s movement, Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy has remained in the background, a ubiquitous but insubstantial figure.

In recent years, historians have become increasingly interested in the kaleidoscopic nature of the materials of history, ‘a multitude of fragments, forming patterns that shift with the movement of the viewer’. A shake of the kaleidoscope and different aspects of the historical pattern may move to the fore, altering our view of the relationship between the parts. Though the separate components of that pattern remain unchanged, the pattern itself may now look very different. This study explores what happens when the object of the historical gaze, in this case the suffrage movement, undergoes such a re-configuration. Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Josephine Butler, and

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