We’re on YouTube!

Sound the exciting news klaxon! F Yeah History is officially on YouTube.

That’s right and we’re very excited! We’ll be posting videos on our channel every Monday.

Expect usual the mix of history oddities, forgotten heroes and occasional batshittery that you’ve grown to love. In addition to that we’ll also be answering some of the questions we’ve been asked over the years, like, Was Henry VIII actually a dick?’ and ‘oh dear christ I’ve just found out my history hero was racist what do i do?’ 

We’ll be kicking things off with a look a what exactly the difference is between a suffragette and a suffragist. This is a topic I was ridiculously eager to get into, as there is so much to chat about (and I even managed to find a way to weasel in that one time a suffragette followed Winston Churchill around and rang a bell every time he spoke). 

Click here to check out the video. 

It just takes one click for my eternal gratitude

So, why YouTube? 

Well, it isn’t to earn squillions I can tell you that much! In general we talk about a lot of queer history here (oh, and swear our little faces off), So I’m not expecting our YouTube will ever be a money maker (*cough* the algorithm isn’t a fan of some of these subjects) 

BUT I do think it will be a great way to chat with you about history that I love and find interesting.

For me, nothing makes me happier than just sitting down and talking about my one true love, history. It’s why I started F Yeah History in the first place.

There are so many topics that an article just doesn’t do justice, or that frankly need a cup of tea and a sit down. It’s those kind of stories that F Yeah History’s YouTube will cover.

Oh, and don’t worry! There will still lots of new articles on here, just now you have an extra way to get your history fix.

So if that sounds up you’re alley you can check out our first video here. 

thumbnail suffragettes v suffragistsPlease do let us know if there is anything you’d like covered in the future. This is your channel as much as it is ours.

Lots of love

Natasha, F Yeah History lead writer. 

Ellen Terry and Edith Craig: Sex, Suffrage and Shakespeare

The incredible story of a mother and daughter who broke all the rules of their era. From trailblazing suffragettes to scandalous love lives

Here at F Yeah History we love women who boss at everything.

Be it literature, politics, art, employment, activism – the two women you’re going to read about next had it ALL.

Ellen Terry, star of the stage, and her thespian daughter Edith Craig, were two of the jazziest, energetic, and engaging characters of the early 20th century. From defying social norms to sticking it to theatre censorship laws, Ellen and Edith shook up the world they lived in, and everybody they met along the way.

Hooked? Good. Let’s start with the mother…

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you’ll know he wrote some cracking leading ladies. Portia, Katherine, Viola, Sylvia, and who could forget Beatrice, queen of wit and sass?

They’ve been portrayed on stage and screen over the past five hundred years, but never with quite as much wow factor as when Britain’s best loved stage actress, Ellen Terry performed them.

D-R-A-M-A: Ellen as a stonkingly scary Lady Macbeth, painted by John Singer Sargent

And if you want a quick summary of how much Britain loved Ellen Terry, then here it is in a little poem written for her:

‘Britain’s pride,

The genius of the stage personified,

Queen-like, pathetic, tragic, contemporary, merry,

O rare, O sweet, O Wondrous Ellen Terry.’

Ellen Terry lived a dramatic life on and off the stage. Born to a family of performers, she became a child actress and grew up on the stage, before joining the Theatre Royal at Bristol and became famous for her depiction of Shakespearean heroines.

BUT it all went a bit wobbly when Ellen turned sixteen, and married George Fredric Watts, a renowned artist, for whom she had once modelled for. Watts was 46 at the time – 30 years her senior! – and the marriage was doomed (again…she was 16!), lasting less than a year.

Ellen returned to the stage, often alongside Henry Irving (who apparently inspired the looks for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, don’t you know). Henry and Ellen’s  relationship was intense, and passionate; they partnered in productions for decades.

Ellen was also close to George Bernard Shaw, exchanging letters with him for most of her life. There was even a play written about their letters! Shaw referred to their relationship as a courtship by letters, and wrote to her, in one:

‘Do you read these jogged scrawls, I wonder. I think of your poor eyes, and resolve to tear what I have written up: then I look out at the ghostly country and the beautiful night, and I cannot bring myself to read a miserable book…Yes, as you guess, Ellen, I am having a bad attack of you just at present. I am restless; and a man’s restlessness always means a woman; and my restlessness means Ellen.’

I’d say I felt sorry for his wife, but their relationship was pretty weird already…

But enough about the men. Ellen loved a romance, yes, but her career remained extraordinary.

She was unable to resist stage life, though this was sometimes for financial reasons.

Even after giving birth to her two children with Edward Godwin (who she had eloped with but didn’t actually marry) she returned to acting and slayed across theatres in the UK, USA, and Australia.

The Terry/Craig/Godwin fam: Terry and her children, Edward and Edith

Ellen was adored by legions of fans, and became the muse to many directors and playwrights. Her performance of Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice was world renowned, and in her later years, she successfully toured the US, delivering lectures on the Bard himself.

Ellen’s children travelled with her as she toured the world, and as she grew older, her daughter Edith managed her career.

Born Edith Godwin, she was keen to distance herself from her illegitimacy…and thus, Edith Craig was born! 

Meet Edith

Ellen’s star may have eclipsed all others, but her daughter lived an colourful, unique, and inspiring life equal if not greater than her mother.

The ultimate stage parent!

Starting on the stage at a young age, Edith acted, like her mother, with Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, and in the plays of her mum’s pen pal, George Bernard Shaw.

But she wasn’t going to be an actress, oh no! Edith took a very different theatrical direction. Inspired by the radical movers and shakers that surrounded her, Edith set up a new theatre company, the Pioneer Players.

In a move to end censorship in performing arts, Edith and the Pioneer Players, well, did what it said on the tin. They put on plays that had been previously banned – plays about social reform, humanists; and, unsurprisingly, feminism.

Because what cause was flourishing at the time of the Pioneer Players? Women’s suffrage, of course!

Now, Edith was already pretty indoctrinated into the women’s suffrage movement, having attended a forward-thinking school with a pro-suffrage teaching staff, as she said:

‘When I was at school I lived in a house of Suffrage workers, and at regular periods the task of organising Suffrage petitions kept everybody busy. Perhaps I didn’t think very deeply about it, and my first ideas of Suffrage duties were concerned with the interminable addressing of envelopes; but I certainly grew up quite firmly certain that no self-respecting woman could be other than a Suffragist.”

Edith was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, but soon left in protest at the Pankhursts’ autocratic rule and joined the Women’s Freedom League with other suffrage bigwigs, including Teresa Billington-Greig and Charlotte Despard.

As theatre became even more prolific in the suffrage world, with plays by Ciecly Hamilton and Elizabeth Robins depicting pro-suffrage and feminist narratives, in 1908 Edith became instrumental, along with her fellow actresses, artists and playwrights, in forming the Actresses’ Franchise League.

Apart from bearing one of the most gorgeous suffrage banners of all time (don’t @ me), the AFL didn’t use tradition campaigning tactics, but used performance as propaganda. The organization grew and got stronger, thanks to Edith’s strong, organizational mad skills.

Edith dedicated her life to challenging, questioning, and fighting social norms. With the drama and passion that her mother applied on-stage, Edith applied it to fighting injustice and inequality.

She openly lived in a ménage-a-trois with playwright Christabel Marshall (known as Christopher St John) and aritst Clare Atwood, to which her brother said was a result of her ‘hatred of men’ (really original, Edward, round of applause to you).

Edith was a wee bit of a battle-axe; she was hard-faced and uncharismatic, unlike her mother, who once said she was too afraid to kiss her own daughter, she hated affection so much.

Despite this revulsion for PDA and hugs, Edith was absolutely dedicated to her mother. 

She lived next door to Smallhythe, Ellen’s country house – although out of hatred for Ellen’s third husband, she built a hedge between their houses so she never had to see him, quite literally.  

When Ellen died, she transformed the house into a museum so that her mother’s memory would be preserved forever, and the story of her stardom would shine on. Though she was estranged from her brother (who was the father of Isadora Duncan’s daughter…), she continued to share the story their family’s life, dominated by their  mother, by going into partnership with an organization dedicated to saving stories of then nation…the National Trust. She died in 1947. Right up to her death, she flaunted social conventions, and lived life the way she wanted to.

Just like her mother.

What was prison like for Suffragettes?

What was life actually like for suffragettes in prison? An in depth look from how it actually felt to be force fed, what was the Cat and Mouse Act and the constant abuse and surveillance the women endured.

A little more than 100 years ago, thousands upon thousands of women across the UK were tirelessly fighting; not only for women’s right to vote, but for women to have basic human rights. 

Of this, a small chunk formed up the WSPU (Womens Social and Political Union) the militant arm of the Votes for Women fight, these women undertook illegal activities as part of their campaigning; smashing windows, vandalising property, even committing arson and organising targeted bombings.

This lead to many members of the WSPU (or as they were commonly known, Suffragettes) going to prison and in doing so, taking on a gauntlet of abuse designed to break them.

Here are 5 of the monumental barriers that were faced by suffragettes entering prison – and I guarantee by the time you finish reading them you will NEVER see the Votes for Women campaign in the same way:

Suffragette Dora Thewlis, during her 1907 arrest
16 yr old Suffragette, Dora Thewlis, during her 1907 arrest

1 . Life Long Illness

Whilst in prison, many incarcerated suffragettes chose to go on hunger strike, a move that was whole heartedly supported by the WSPU as a whole. Once released, suffragettes who had taken up hunger strike were celebrated; awarded with a medal which they’d wear with pride; a symbol of their sacrifice and a sign of respect amongst sisters.

But the personal impact of these women’s hunger strikes was more than a medal; many were left with long term health issues.

Believe me when I say, hunger striking does some serious damage to your body. Put bluntly, when you go on hunger strike you stop giving your body food and if you aren’t giving your body food, then it starts eating itself.

Muscle and fat are the first to go and after 1-2 weeks you can expect to have a lot of trouble doing something simple like standing, not to mention the high likelihood of uncontrollable (and very painful) vomiting. Should the hunger strike keep going, you can expect vision loss, hearing problems and you’ll struggle swallowing. Organs also start to be at risk of shutting down and by day 40, death is a very real threat.

Just to underline how horrific the effects of hunger striking are, here is a picture of Suffragette, Olive Wharry, after just over a month of hunger striking: 

Olive Wharry, Suffragette, after 32 days on hunger strike
Olive Wharry, 32 days into hunger strike

So it’s unsurprising that after leaving prison, it took weeks of bed rest and care for suffragettes to recover.

That meant that many women who had jobs and children to look after, simply couldn’t go on hunger strike. After all, there was no way that on their return from prison, they’d be able to work and care for kids in such a weakened state.

So we know that going on hunger strike just once will fuck up your body. But it wasn’t just once for these women.

Many suffragettes went on hunger strike several times over multiple stays in prison. That led to life long and often serious health problems.

And this all gets a whole lot worse when we factor in:

2 . Force feeding

force feeding image
A suffragette being force fed, from a 1911 copy of, The Suffragette

Hunger striking was a deadly method of campaigning and the government couldn’t be seen to be letting suffragettes die. So they opted to ensure striking prisoners had enough nutrients by force feeding then.

I’m going to put a quick warning here, because – guys, force feeding was more than brutal.

Prison guards would force suffragettes into a bed or chair, where a tube would be inserted through the nose and down the throat, through which a nutritional paste would be sent.

This could happen every day for weeks.

Here’s how Sylvia Pankhurst described her experience of force feeding:

“I struggled as hard as I could, but they were six and each one of them much bigger and stronger than I…They soon had me on the bed and firmly held down by the shoulders, the arms, the knees and the ankles. I felt a man’s hands trying to force my mouth open, his fingers trying to press my lips apart — getting inside. I felt I should go mad; like a poor wild thing caught in a steel trap.”

Force feeding was essentially torture for the women that went through it. Many were left with physical injuries after the fact, including bruised jaws, broken teeth, bleeding gums and stomach pain from so much vomiting.

Not only that, but force feeding could be deadly. Suffragette Lilian Lenton almost died after the force feeding tube missed her throat and went straight into her airways.

Then in April 1913 The Cat and Mouse Act was put through

4 T
Doesn’t the poster make it look like a winner! – 1914 anti Cat and Mouse Act poster

The Cat and Mouse Act offered a cruel new spin on the abuse Suffragettes were receiving.

Once substantially weakened from hunger strike, suffragettes were sent home. Only to be arrested and bought back to prison when they started to recover.

Which meant that they could go through the whole ordeal again, and again…and again.

And it wasn’t just this merry go round of abuse that the suffragettes had to face.

3 . Abuse by prison staff

Working class suffragettes often faced an even more gruelling prison experience. The best example of this is that of Lady Lytton. Upon hearing rumours of the rough time working class suffragettes had, she first went to prison as herself, an upper class Lady, and then took on the identity of seamstress, Jane Warton, for her second spell in prison.

Jane Warton’s time in prison was incomparable to Lady Lytton’s.

Jane was force-fed until she vomited over herself and then continued to be force-fed despite the sick that was now on her body, hair and even the prison walls.

Jane was slapped by a doctor. She almost died during another bout of force-feeding; a doctor listening to her heart, which was just about beating for 2 minutes… and then advising his assistants to continue with the feeding.

Lady Lytton disgused as Jane Warton, 1910.jpg
Lady Lytton disguised as Jane Warton

There were also accounts of working class suffragettes being force-fed via their vagina or anus. An act that would have provided absolutely no nutritional benefit. The pointless pain, degradation and violation of this assault, known to those who carried it out.

4 . Surveillance Reigns 

Prison was used as a ground to monitor suffragettes movements and capture their images. After all, until arriving at prison, many of the women managed to keep up their campaigning with their identities unknown.

However by placing long lens cameras outside of prison grounds, police were able to secretly capture pictures of suffragettes whilst out on exercise, with many of these images used to create wanted posters and to warn local areas of known suffragettes.

Surveillance photograph of suffragette prisoners; 1913
Surveillance photo taken in the Holloway prison exercise yard

In some cases, guards would strong arm suffragettes into the correct position, so the cameras would be able to capture a clear face for the picture.

Notably, Evelyn Manesta, was pulled into a headlock to keep her in place for her picture. Interestingly,  the arm pushing down onto Evelyn’s throat and restraining her, was handily edited out for her wanted poster, instead replaced with a scarf.

Evelyn Mansta, headlock wanted picture
That’s some top notch turn of the century photo dickery

5 . Your life is gone 

Becoming a suffragette was not a decision to be made lightly; it could change your entire life and not for the better! It was a cause worth fighting for, but the price to fight was BIG.

Families would disown daughters who joined the WSPU; inheritances were cut, engagements were called off, marriages broke down.

Often the abuse received by suffragettes who went to prison, was matched by the reception they got after being released.

Many working class suffragettes lost their jobs, leaving them penniless. This meant that many women would attempt to go to prison under false identities, in a desperate bid to both be able to fight and be able to eat when they got out on the other side.

Then of course there were the mothers, forced to leave their children behind to go to prison. Heart-breaking enough, but these women not only missed their children when they were in jail, they risked losing them all together! Branded as unfit mothers, due to their activism.

For a strong example of this look no further than Suffragette, Helen Archdale, who narrowly escaped losing her two sons, after foiling her Mother in Laws attempt to kidnap the boys, in a big to rid them of their ‘pernicious mama’

anti suffrage propaganda
Just some of the delightful anti-suffrage posctards aimed at these women

It’s important that we remember just how much the women of the WSPU gave up, in their bid to fight for women’s equality. That they not only were brave enough to take on the fight, but did so knowing they were walking into countless dangers, opening themselves up to trauma and were at risk of losing everything.

This was interesting, where can I find out more?

Well there are way to many books to choose from! BUT if you are just starting to read up on the suffragettes, I’d suggest:

Rise Up Women, the remarkable lives of the suffragettes, by Dr Diane Atkinson, this book gives a great overview of the movement, along with individual suffragettes.

The Suffragette Movement – An Intimate Account Of Persons And Ideals, by Sylvia Pankhurst, an incredible personal account of what it was actually like being part of the WSPU. Unparalleled insight, this is a must read!

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, by Mary M Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot.Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, by Mary M Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot. The suffragette movement told as a first person graphic novel. Do I need to say more?

The Ultimate Guide To Suffrage Swag

Do you know the best thing about being a history nerd? That gone are the days when the only way you could show your history love was Belle-ing your way about town, nose in a book.

Now there is a whole plethora of incredible historic swag, from t-shirts – to mugs – to candles, AND make up palettes; you can immerse yourself in history from morning to night, ITS THE FRIGGIN BEST. 

Today, we’re gonna focus on the most glorious of suffrage swag. And, to make it even more awesome, this is all stuff that either supports small/independent businesses, or museums; ya welcome.

FYI: I do work in history, so I do work with some of these shops, but I’m not getting paid for this, so anything below is my personal opinion/recommendation. 

  1. Votes for Women Mug, £10

Start your day the right way, with a feminist historic mug in which to hold that very vital first cup of coffee. SONY DSC

Now I can vouch for this, as I’m onto my third one of these bad boys (hey three over the course of four years isn’t bad, considering how clumsy I am!)

My favourite thing (bar the suffrage slogan) is that its made from bone china, which as I am sure all you tea buffs already know is the BEST thing in which to drink tea; seriously it makes the tea taste so much more awesome; game changer.

Where can I buy? National Portrait Gallery, £10 

 2. Suffragette Cross Stitch, £5.52


If you go into any suffrage archive you’ll see embroidery is literally everywhere. It’s in banners and handkerchiefs made by suffragettes in prison, it’s in toys and goods used to raise funds, its legit… EVERYWHERE

So what better way to pay homage to this crafty form of protest than with some cross-stitch? Suffragette Cross Stitch

This cross-stitch provides a PDF download with an easy to follow pattern (the shop also sells cross stitch patterns for Game of Thrones, Star Wars and my favourtie podcast, My Favourite Murder)

So if you’re  not on the cross stitch train (and why not, its super relaxing and surprisingly easy) get on it!
Where can I buy? Etsy, Okay Kirst, £5.52

3. Pankhurst Artwork, £5

Still on the Esty wagon, we have this stunning minimalist (yet bold) Emmeline Pankhurst art. Pankhurst artwork

I love this as a gorgeous way to get some history AND fancy looking art onto your walls, plus the shop also does prints of Rosa Parks, Malala and Louis Theroux (because why the fuck not)

Where can I buy? Etsy, Top Floor Store, £5

4. Suffragette Decoration, £12

I love this adorable suffragette decoration; designed for a christmas tree, but would equally be at home on a door, cupboard, or anything else with a handy handle for hanging. OR you can go rogue like UK MP Harriet Harman, and wear it as a brooch (seriously…this happened)    xmas_decoration_-_suffragette_1_hi_res_new.jpg

Where can I buy? Museum of London, £12

5. Even more suffrage decorations!, £4.99 

Now if your all like, ‘boo, these last few suggestion haven’t been crafty enough for me, I’m basically Pinterest Queen, I NEED MORE CRAFT’ then calm the F down, I got you. Suffrage paper decoration

These paper decorations are yours for the crafting (or you know, for a child that you like). Plus all the proceeds go to Amnesty International, so you can donate AND do colouring!

Where can I buy? Amnesty International, £4.99 

6. Votes For Women Necklace, £30 

It’s another thing that I own! This Tatty Devine necklace is a little more steep in price than the others, but I really do love it (for real, I wear this to death) Votes for women necklace.jpg

You can’t really see in this pic, but along with the ‘Votes For Women’ placard, the post holding the sign has the date of the suffrage centenary (1918-2018) which is a really lovely touch!

Where can I buy? Museum of London, £30 (also comes as a brooch)

7. Votes for Women Enamel Pin, £8 

Back at it again with that Etsy love! This enamel suffrage pin is just the ticket to add to any bag/coat/blazer/other form of clothing you fancy. Votes for Women pin

As an added bonus the shop that sells this beauty also sells a tons of other amazing feminist pins AND some really fantastic nerd stuff (hello X Files pins…)

Where can I buy? Etsy, Sweet and Lovely, £8


I’m sorry, but what suffrage swag list would this be if I didn’t include some Mary Poppins love? A terrible one… duh.

Sister Suffragette Tee, £22.30 sister suffragette t shirt

I mean…. what else can I say? I WANT IT, I WANT IT RIGHT NOW, TAKE MY MONEY!

Where can I buy? Etsy, Sweet and Lovely, £22.30

So, there it is, the ultimate guide to suffrage swag. Now go forth and make the world a more equal and aware place!

women kind arise.gif
Go on, listen to Winifred, ARISE!

Note: The Pankhurst Centre also has a cracking online shop, however at the time of writing this was closed for maintenance.


3 Forgotten Suffragettes you HAVE to know about!

In 1918 women were finally given a portion of the vote; with the Representation of the People Act allowing women over 30 who were married to a property owner, were graduates in a  University Constituency or were a member of a Local Government Register (or at least married to one!) to vote in elections.

Getting to this partial step towards equality had been one loooooong fight. Thousands upon thousands of women fought for decades for the simple right of having a say in their own lives.

So, lets remember the badass brave ladies that history all too often forgets!

Note: For this post we’ll be focusing on 3 unsung Suffragettes, but if you’d like to check out some Suffragist articles, then just click here or here!

1. The fire starter: Kitty Marion 

Kitty Marion Survaliance Image
Picture of Kitty Marion that was also used by Police for surveillance 

A former chorus girl, Kitty Marion was steadily climbing the ranks to become a headlining music hall act. But she quickly discovered that wasn’t going to happen unless she got on the casting couch.

Sounds familiar huh? 🤔

Kitty was appalled by just how disgustingly sexist the theatre industry was. But she wasn’t going to give in that easily.

Instead of walking away, she decided to fight; not just for her, but for every woman! She wanted women to be seen as equals, not as objects. In her mind that couldn’t happen until women had equal political power.

And so in 1908, Kitty joined the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union, commonly known as The Suffragettes) 

Now, to say Kitty was happy to use militant tactics for the cause, would be the understatement of the century.

Kitty Marion during one of her arrests
Kitty during one of her many arrests 

Kitty was arrested a ton, for a whole litany of crimes, including window smashing, pulling fire alarms and Kitty’s personal favourite, arson.

She burned down Hurst race courses grand stand, an MPs house and several properties across Manchester and Liverpool.

Kitty actually kept a scrapbook, where much like her theatrical press cuttings, she popped news articles about her arson attacks; including several pieces on attacks where the culprit was never found…hmmm, I wonder who could have done those?!? 

sherlock gif.gif
Yeah, I don’t think we need Sherlock to crack this particular case…

Unsurprisingly for someone carrying out all of the arson, Kitty spent a lot of time in prison.


She regularly undertook hunger strikes, which led to her being force fed a record 242 times.

But Kitty was unwavering. Even setting fire to her cell after one force feeding (girl had a theme!)

Kitty Marion in sash 2
I mean, look at the steely stare!

By 1915, the First World War was in full swing and the German born Kitty was seen as way to much of a threat to remain in the UK (to be fair, she was doing all of the arson..) so she was deported to America, where she could live a quiet life and stay out of trouble.

Obvs, Kitty immediately joined the US birth control movement.

She was part of the group that would go on to create Planned Parenthood and spent a lot of time on the streets raising awareness of birth control.

This led to Kitty receiving deaths threats and daily abuse. Her actions also meant she was arrested again and again and again!

Kitty Marion selling birth control papers
We all know by this point, that Kitty refused to give up

In 1921 Kitty and Margaret Sanger set up America’s first birth control clinic. The police never stopped trying to close it.

Kitty continued campaigning until her old age, eventually dying in 1944, surrounded by her friends and fellow fighters.


2. The teenage tear away: Dora Thewlis

Dora had been working in a Huddersfield mill since she was just over 10.

Now to be blunt, being a mill worker was the worst. The hours were long, the pay shit and the safety negligible; with children and adults both working in hazardous conditions.

But, Dora was one smart cookie. She’d bring pouring through newspapers and chatting politics since she was just 7! All this parliamentary prose has made Dora determined to see change, but she knew this couldn’t happen when half the population couldn’t even vote!

So in her early teens, Dora became a founding member of her local WSPU branch.

impressed clap.gif
Again, she is a teenager and founds a branch of a political organisation. Just. Wow

In February 1907, a 16 year old Dora hopped on a train with her fellow WSPU members and travelled from Manchester to London for a quick parliamentary protest road trip.


Dora’s ‘clog and shawl brigade’ were joined outside Parliament by WSPU groups from all over Britain.

They weren’t alone; an army of hundreds of policeman met the ladies head on and things quickly escalated.

Pretty quickly 75 suffragettes we’re arrested for trying to ‘rush’ the House of Commons; Dora was one of them.

Within hours of her arrest, Dora was the face of the suffrage movement. With this picture slap in the middle of the Daily Mirrors front page.

Dora Thewlis arrest
This picture also went on to become popular anti-suffrage postcards

The newspapers dubbed her:

‘The baby suffragette’

When she appeared in court, the judge (here to be known as Captain Asshat) was equally condescending and flippant. Proclaiming to the court that he was sure the reason Dora was actually in London was to ‘entice’ men. Captain asshat then went onto ask:

‘Where is your mother?’

Sadly if captain Asshat was thinking Dora’s Mum would be pissed at her daughter, he was wrong! Dora’s Mum actually wrote to him saying just how proud she was of her headstrong and intelligent daughter!

Sadly, no matter how amazing this was, it didn’t help. 16 year old Dora was sent to prison.

oh no gif.gif
Teenagers and horrifying prisons, not a great mix

Now, being in prison as a suffragette was hard, being in prison as a working class suffragette was HAAAAAAARD.

Dora was bullied by the guards and most probably experienced beatings in addition to the daily verbal harassment.

By the time she left, the teenagers spirit was crushed.

But that didn’t stop the Edwardian paparazzi hounding Dora as soon as she stepped off the train in Manchester!

They all wanted to know what the baby suffragette would do next.

Dora was not down with this!

She was done with the hierarchy treating her like a child whose views were a cutesy joke. Nearly 17, she shot back at journalists:

‘Don’t call me the ‘Baby Suffragette’, I am not a baby. In May next year I shall be 18. Surely for a girl, that is a good age?’ 

yes Dora!.gif
Yes Dora!!!


Dora continued campaigning; until in 1914 she decided to escape mill life; moving to Australia.

There she lived happily until a ripe old age, with her husband and children (who btw were all obvs educated in feminism and the need for equal rights for all!)


3. The wild woman: Leonora Cohen

Leonora Cohen grew up in a hard working family; just like Dora, she worked from an early age. eventually settling down with a nice man to pop out a few kids.

But this wasn’t the end of Leonora’s story! 

Leonora Cohen
Leonora Cohen

You see Leonora had watched her mother struggle as a single Mum, had herself faced horrific working conditions as woman and was generally treated as a second class citizen. She watched as those around her just took this and that sparked something inside:

‘My mother would say ‘Leonora, if only we women had a say in things’, but we hadn’t. A drunken lout of a man opposite had a vote simply because he was a male. I vowed I’d try to change things.’

emotional clap gif.gif
Can we please have more Leonoras in the world? 

In 1909 Leonora joined the WSPU, initially selling suffragette papers in the gutter (so she couldn’t get arrested for obstructing pavements)

But two years into her activism, Leonora decided to go all in. With her husband backing her all the way, she went big on militant actions!

Leonora attended more protests than ever before, she learned to give powerful speeches and ignore the masses of hate mail that followed them. She even went to Holloway Prison for stone throwing!

But it wasn’t enough. Leonora wanted to do something that would grab people’s attention.

And so she planned to break into the Crown Jewels

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Well, this seems like a perfectly normal reaction…right? 

In 1913, Leonora walked into the Tower of London, a crowbar hidden under her coat.

Nobody noticed the slight woman…until she whipped out the crowbar and smashed through the glass protecting the Crown Jewels.

She was immediately tackled to the ground amid a shower of broken glass. But the damage was done.

Leonora had succeeded. Her act was front page news; the note she’d wrapped around the crowbar providing the words on everyone’s lips:

‘My Protest to the Government for its refusal to Enfranchise Women, but continues to torture women prisoners – Deeds Not Words. Votes for Women. 100 Years of Constitutional Petition, Resolutions, Meetings & Processions have Failed’

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Seriously, Leonoras actions are even on a Blue Plaque, which in the UK is like some hall of fame shit!

Leonora continued her work after women were partly granted the vote in 1918.

She became the first female president of The Yorkshire Trade Councils, before becoming one of the UKs first women to take the bench, when she was made a magistrate in 1924.

Leonora stayed an active feminist right up until her death in 1978, at the grand old age of 105!

Leonora Cohen, front page of the radio times
A 100 year old Leonora rapping suffrage on the front cover of The Radio Times, 1974

This was interesting, where can I find out more? 

Kitty Marion: Rather excitingly, there are actually two books on Kitty coming out this year! The first is Fern Riddells, Death in 10 Minutes, which is out in April. The second is Kitty’s unpublished autobiography (I know!) no date set for that yet, but keep an eye out.

Dora Thewlis & Leonora Cohen: There arnt any amazing books dedicated in full to either one of these ladies, but you should definitely check out Rebel Girls by Jill Liddington which features both, along with several other incredibly fascinating women.





Why calling Millicent Fawcett a suffragette is not o-fucking-k

Yesterday was a landmark day for women’s history; the design for Millicent Fawcett’s Parliament Square statue was unveiled. It’s truly momentous, with the statue set to become both the first woman to stand in this memorial to political powerhouses and also the first statue in the square designed by a woman!

Twitter was immediately a buzz; finally women’s history getting the acknowledgment it deserves! Even mainstream media joined in on the excitement with both The Guardian and The Independent leading with headlines on the amazing new ‘suffragette statue’!

BUT…there’s just one problem:

Millicent Fawcett wasn’t a suffragette.

Well, this is awkward…

Millicent Fawcett was the leader of the NUWSS (which was the largest suffrage organistion in the country) and among many other amazing things, she spent decades tirelessly campaigning for women to have the vote.

So why is calling her a suffragette a big deal? Well, the difference between the suffrgattes and the suffragists is huge; let me break it down:

The Suffragists were (broadly) members of Millicent’s NUWSS, whilst suffragettes were members of the much smaller WSPU (run by Emmeline Pankhurst). Both groups wanted the same thing; the vote. But they went about getting it in very different ways.

Millicent was for peaceful protesting and working to get politicians on side…. While Emmeline was for extremism, using bombs, weapons and all out illegality.

I think we can all agree…


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Yeah…bombs and petitions, kinda not the same thing

Probably due to their  more, er… explosive methods, Suffragettes are the most well known organastion from the women’s suffrage movement. They’re the group you learn about in school and the face of the movement in TV and film; from the eponymous, Suffragette to Mary Poppins!

Seriously, if you went into the street right now and asked 10 people who were the suffragists, I would bet you good money that :

A ) 90% don’t know how they are

B) The other 10% would think you just said ‘suffragette’ wrong

Don’t get me wrong, the suffragettes should get their due; they had a huge impact in getting the vote…but they should not be the only thing we’re taught.

The WSPU was very much a fringe group, with a few thousand members. The NUWSS on the other hand, had tens of thousands members, made up of hundreds of nationwide groups. That’s a lot of women to have been forgotten by history. millicent fawcett giving a speech

Historian Bettany Hughes recently said that:

‘women have always been 50% of the population, but only occupy around 0.5% of recorded history.’

That’s slowly starting to change (hooray!) as historians do ever increasingly incredible work to uncover untold stories and get them out there.

But the fights not over! Don’t forget that in 2015, a promised museum to the women of the East End, turned out to be nothing more than a shrine to a sex worker killing ass hat.  Last year, English Heritage asked people to name just 3 women from history and they really bloody struggled (with one guy saying Ada Lovelace was Kim Kardashian…)

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I mean…..

So yes:

  • Calling Millicent Fawcett a suffragette matters.

  • Calling a woman who self identified as a suffragist, something entirely different, matters.

  • Overlooking the fight and struggle of tens of thousands of women, matters.

It’s not being pedantic, it’s ensuring that we treat women’s history with the same respect as we do every other facet of history.


Note: The Guardian and The Independent have now both changed their wording to Suffragist – hooray!

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