Suffragette The Battle for Equality

David Roberts at the Bath Festival

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On Sunday, I was delighted to have the chance to hear David Roberts talk about his wonderful book, ‘Suffragette: The Battle for Equality’. It was an amazing session!

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David’s interest in the period was first kindled when he did a project at school when he was 14. He was shocked to find out how few rights women had and in creating this book, discovered many less well known figures who were significant to the movement.

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Wonderfully knowledgeable about the period, David entertained us with stories about the men and women who bravely fought against inequality in all manner of inventive and original ways. Muriel Matters is one of his favourite figures; he told us the story of how she chained herself to the grill of the Ladies’ Gallery in the House of Commons!

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Another House of Commons story involved Emily Davison, the lady who was to die after being hit by the King’s horse at the Derby, who hid in the House to be listed at that address in the 1911 Census. The above picture shows her sneaking in through a door which David has been to see. He also told us that the mouse in the picture is him!

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It was a truly fascinating session and was over far too soon! Fortunately, the book is equally fascinating!

You can read our review here.

LONG LIST REVIEW: Suffragette The Battle for Equality

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2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of women's right to vote in the UK. The introduction of the Representation of the People Act in 1918 meant that women who were over the age of 30, property owners and graduates from British universities were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time. David Roberts has produced a beautifully illustrated history of the women's suffrage movement which is both enlightening and fascinating.

Starting with a clear explanation of what 'suffrage' is, the book looks at the development of the suffrage movement, bringing to life many of the key figures on each side of the debate and from all walks of life. The book contains names which are familiar- Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emily Davison- but also those that are less well known- Ellen Pitfield, Muriel Matters and Ethel Smyth. It introduces those of both sexes, from all walks of life, and the role they played in 'the battle for equality'.

Presenting the history of the movement in a way that is easy to understand, clearly explaining the difference between terms like 'suffragette' and 'suffragist', for example, the book does not shy away from the atrocities committed against women or the destructive acts committed by them. Referred to as 'torture' and a 'horror', force feeding, for example, is explained succinctly, yet the disturbing details of this process is not dwelt on, offering just the right balance of information for younger readers.

The illustrations are wonderful: some poignant, some humorous, all depicting the energy and commitment of these women to the cause they believed in so passionately. This is an inspiring, excellent introduction to such a significant time in our history, a tribute to all those involved, not just a few well known figures. Essential for every library.

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality   David Roberts

Two Hoots    ISBN: 978-1509839674