A little history of the suffragette movement: in 8 pictures

Published on: 09 May 2018 Author: Sophie Offord

It's a hundred years since (some) women in Britain got the vote. There's never been a better time to share these drawings about the fight for equal rights. 

This year – 2018 – is the hundredth anniversary of 40% of women getting the vote in Britain.

Although this historic moment was not for everyone, it is still worth celebrating – especially since the victory was mostly won by bold and persevering women from all walks of life. 

This is why Suffragette: The Battle for Equality (Pan Macmillan) is a brilliant book to share as a family. It's beautifully illustrated and carefully researched by David Roberts, and a great trigger for some chats on the topic.

Have a look at these images from the book and see for yourself. 

8 pictures that tell a moment in history

'Millicent Garrett Fawcett became an outstanding person in the campaign to win votes for women, and although she didn’t much like public speaking (in fact it made her feel sick), she gave many speeches, not only about votes for women, but also on education and the rights of working women. Millicent knew that if women gained the vote, it would be a stepping-stone towards changing many of the terrible ways they were being treated in the home and the workplace.'

'When the newspapers revealed the appalling conditions in which the match girls worked, the factory bosses tried to force the women to sign a statement saying the reports were nonsense and that in fact they were all having a lovely time at work. Some refused to sign, and when the leader of that group was sacked, 1,400 women and girls walked out on strike. The strike lasted three weeks, but by the time the women returned to work, their demands for better working conditions were granted.'

'The weather on Saturday 9 February 1907 was dreadful: pouring rain, freezing cold and foggy. The streets of London were heavy with wet, splattering mud. But this did not deter the women who came from all over the country and from every class and profession to march in support for women's suffrage: factory workers, textile workers and nurses marched alongside artists, writers and doctors. Posh ladies from rich and famous families and working-class women all came together that day.'

'On 30 June 1908, two suffragettes, Mary Leigh and Edith New, went to Downing Street armed with stones. When they arrived at Number 10, they flung the stones at the windows, smashing and shattering the glass. Of course, they were both arrested, and were sent to Holloway Prison for two months. On their release from jail, Mary and Edith were treated as heroines by their fellow suffragettes, who met them at the prison gates and took them to a celebratory breakfast held in their honour.'

'Sophia Duleep Singh was a suffragette, a political rebel and . . . a princess. Sophia would regularly sell the newspaper The Suffragette outside her home: Hampton Court Palace. It was brilliant publicity for the campaign. She also joined the Women’s Tax Resistance League, who refused to pay any tax until women were given the right to vote: ‘No vote, no tax."'

'Postboxes made eye-catching targets. In the early 1900s, writing letters was the only way to communicate, which made the Royal Mail a precious and vital part of everyday life. The suffragettes knew exactly what they were doing by destroying the mail. These postbox attacks were designed to wake up the public and the government, and force them to take seriously the question of women’s suffrage.'

'On 1 March 1912 at precisely 5.30 in the afternoon, elegantly dressed ladies whipped out miniature toffee hammers from their muffs and handbags and proceeded to calmly smash shop windows in London. Up and down Oxford Street, Regent Street and the Strand came the piercing sound of metal hitting glass, followed by the angry shouts of shoppers and shopkeepers.'

'When a large enough crowd had gathered to see what all the fuss was about, Ethel and Gertrude let loose hundreds of ‘Votes for Women’ leaflets that fluttered down to the streets below.'

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