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A Bit of This And That...

10 things you (probably) didn't know about the Suffragettes

Passionate about women’s rights, in 1903 the suffragettes of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) split from the suffragists of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) to follow the militant agenda “deeds not words”. In the years that followed, these women took radical steps to force a change in the laws in Britain for women...

The Things We Forgot To Remember - The Suffragettes

We’ve got an image of the Suffragette – a feisty well-dressed woman wearing a sash, perhaps having just chained herself to some railings. Suffragettes are the acceptable face of direct action, chained to railings and breaking windows.

From Margaret Thatcher to Tony Benn, everyone cites them as a thoroughly good thing. This might explain why we don’t know about the suffragette who was suspected of hatching a plot in 1909 to shoot the Prime Minster, Asquith, in the name of women’s suffrage. Nor do we know about the women who carried out widespread arson attacks when it seemed that the less menacing tactics would never work.

In the 1920s, some Suffragettes began to write the movements’ history, and they failed to acknowledge the bits that didn’t fit their view of what the movement should have been like. Out went alliances with the working class, and opposition to war. Out went violence.

For forty years this simplified image ruled unchallenged: only in the last few years have historians begun to uncover and expose the true complexity of the Suffragettes.

First broadcast: Monday 16 May 2005 on BBC Radio 4

The Life and Achievements of Sylvia Pankhurst: The Expert View Professor Mary Davis(London Metropolitan University)

Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) was a socialist feminist. She played an important part in the women’s suffrage movement, in socialist and revolutionary politics and was a pioneering force in developing an understanding of imperialism, racism and fascism.

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