Votes for Women

The Suffragettes and their Lasting Legacy

6 February 2018

Today marks one hundred years of women being given the right to vote in Britain. After years of campaigning, 8.4 million women over the age of 30 were finally given the vote under the Representation of the People Act 1918 on 6th February 1918. Suffragettes did not only impact on the rights of women to vote, due to their actions an extra 5.6 million men received the vote as well. These men had been denied it previously as they were working-class men who didn’t own property and so prior to the new act being passed they were also not eligible to vote.

Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) who became known as “Suffragettes” in 1906 when a newspaper used it as a disparaging description of the group, however Emmeline liked the name and adopted it and the rest became history.

The Suffragettes motto was “deeds not words” which they demonstrated by embarking on campaigns of disruption to make their voice heard including smashing shop windows and setting fire to post boxes. As a consequence Suffragettes were arrested and jailed many times including Emmeline Pankhurst.

Their sacrifice did not stop there though as Emily Wilding Davison lost her life at Epsom Derby in 1913 by running out in front of King George V's horse. Her funeral attracted a procession of five thousand suffragettes and supporters while fifty thousand people lined the route through London.

To highlight the anniversary of women receiving the vote, here are some non-fiction titles that are in the library at Calibre that celebrate and tell the stories of some inspirational women:

Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr by Lyndsey Jenkins     (010967)

Lady Constance Lytton (1869-1923) was the most unlikely of suffragettes. One of the elite, she was the daughter of a Viceroy of India and a lady in waiting to the Queen. This is the fascinating story of the woman who abandoned a life of privilege to fight for women's rights.

Emmeline Pankhurst by Linda Hoy (004143)

The story of the founder of the Women's Suffrage Movement who campaigned for votes for women.

Lonely Courage by Rick Stroud (012377)

The Special Operations Executive (SOE), set up by Winston Churchill in 1941, saw its role in France as helping the Resistance by recruiting and training guerrilla fighters. 39 female agents were trained alongside the men. This tells their story and sheds light on what life was really like for these brave women who tumbled from the sky

Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar (012192)

In July 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings "MJ" Hegar was shot down while on a mission in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she fought the enemy and saved the lives of her crew. But soon she would face a new battle - to give women who serve on the front lines the credit they deserve.

Safe Passage by Ida Cook (011861)

No one would have predicted such glamorous and daring lives for Ida and Louise Cook, two decidedly ordinary women who lived quiet lives in the London suburbs. But throughout the 1930s, the remarkable sisters rescued dozens of Jews facing persecution and death.

The Headscarf Revolutionaries by Brian W Lavery  (011791)

In the harsh seas of 1968, three trawlers from Hull sank in just three weeks and 58 men died. One fishwife, Lilian Bilocca started a petition and took her battle to Parliament. The actions of her team of women changed the Shipping Laws and the lives of thousands of seamen were made much safer.

The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop  (011036)

The women of Bletchley Park have a unique story to tell. Through the voices of the women themselves, this is a portrait of life in Britain's most secret organisation, beyond the celebrated code-breakers. The Bletchley Girls is the story of the women behind Britain's ability to consistently outsmart the enemy.

My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis (617315)

Parvana is fifteen years old. Even though the Taliban has been driven out, her country is still at war, and many continue to view the education and freedom of girls and women with suspicion and fear. When local men threaten her school and family, she must draw on every ounce of bravery and resilience she possesses to survive.

Women Who Lived For Danger by Marcus Binney (006429)

The Special Operations Executive was set up by Churchill in 1940 and from the beginning women were trained and employed alongside men. This book tells the story of ten brave female SOE operatives.