The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928

By Elizabeth Crawford | Go to book overview

L

LAMB, AETA ADELAIDE (1886-1928) Born in Demerara, where her father was a botanist; she was named Aeta after a palm he had discovered there. Her father died when she was about five years old and the family returned to England. She educated herself, except for a period when, aged around 12, she spent 18 unhappy months at Notting Hill High School. She joined the WOMEN’S SOCIAL AND POLITICAL UNION in 1906 and as her biographer Vera Douie recorded, “was frightfully thin and looked much older than her 20 years”. Vera Douie noted that Aeta Lamb had “the very highest opinion of women and of their ultimate power and capabilities” and that “Being absolutely sexless herself - men for her did not exist - they really did not count. That they were there to do a certain amount of necessary work in the world she admitted but she mostly saw them as Oppressors of Women.” Aeta Lamb was remembered as being very eloquent and Mary LEIGH stated that she wrote some of Christabel PANKHURST’S speeches. Sylvia PANKHURST in The Suffragette Movement described her as “flitt[ing] about like a disembodied spirit; for her paleness and shyness seldom appreciated at her worth”.

Aeta Lamb took part in the October 1906 WSPU deputation to the House of Commons and was arrested, but released after her mother paid her fine. Her biographer wrote, “To have faced a Deputation with all its horrors of close personal contact with unspeakable crowds of some 10 000 mostly composed of men of a most undesirable type - must have been a tremendous effort for such a fastidious person as Aeta, who hated to be touched by anyone.” Despite her aversion to crowds, Aeta Lamb took part, in February and March 1907 and in October 1908, in two other deputations to the House of Commons. As a result of these she served terms of between one week and a one month in Holloway.

In 1907 Aeta Lamb campaigned for the WSPU, alongside Annie KENNEY, at the North-West Staffordshire by-election and by early 1908 was appointed a WSPU ORGANIZER, under Annie, in Bristol. Her biographer recalled that “she failed utterly to organise”. Mrs BLATHWAYT, however, records in her diary that for a WSPU meeting in Bristol, which it was expected that medical students would attempt to disrupt, Aeta Lamb “hired six professional boxers to keep order”. This would appear quite a coup for a gently-brought-up middle-class young woman. Aeta Lamb introduced Clara CODD to Annie Kenney and helped Mary Blathwayt to organize, on 1 April, the first WSPU meeting in Bath. At the end of that month she was in Scotland, helping Elsa GYE and Mary GAWTHORPE in the WSPU campaign at the Kincardineshire by-election. She then went on to work at the by-election campaign in Dundee but became ill. She was, however, working in Leeds in June, presumably at the Pudsey by-election. She then returned to London to work at the WSPU headquarters in London, where she remained until the outbreak of war. Although Mrs Blathwayt noted in her diary in November 1912 that “people like Miss Lamb do not at all like Mrs Pankhurst’s present policy”, Aeta Lamb stayed loyal to the WSPU, giving a small amount of money in 1913. Her final task was to compile a book of names of all the suffrage prisoners; this was removed from Lincoln’s Inn House during a police raid and disappeared.

During the First World War Aeta Lamb worked in War Depots and afterwards found it very difficult to find work. Although she learned shorthand and typing, “her low vitality and her inability to adapt herself to new places and uncongenial people proved great obstacles in her way”. Her end was sad. Having identified that cooks were always in demand, she borrowed money to take a cookery course, and was eventually told by the principal of the college that she was entirely unsuited to domestic work. Desperate, she then developed cancer, and died in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

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The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Introduction ix
  • A 1
  • B 24
  • C 90
  • D 156
  • E 182
  • F 212
  • G 235
  • H 256
  • I 299
  • J 303
  • K 313
  • L 331
  • M 363
  • N 434
  • O 472
  • P 485
  • Q 585
  • R 586
  • S 613
  • T 671
  • U 693
  • V 697
  • W 699
  • Y 763
  • Z 766
  • Appendix - The Radical Liberal Family Networks 767
  • Acknowledgements 769
  • Archival Sources 771
  • Select Bibliography 774
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