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Votes for women! 5 books about the suffragettes

Votes for women! 5 books about the suffragettes

These five books touch on the extraordinary lives of the Pankhurst family, without whom there would be no votes for women!

My Own Story - Emmeline Pankhurst (1914)

My Own Story Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst’s autobiography is a passionate account of her formative years campaigning for women’s suffrage.

Pankhurst gave up much to lobby for equal voting rights, including her freedom and her health. From 1905 onwards Pankhurst and her fellow prisoners starved themselves in protest at their incarceration and the government’s refusal to recognise them as political prisoners.

Pankhurst’s Own Story is proud and defiant, and she discusses her force-feeding with a reasoned detachment. It is easy to forget that it still took 14 years from its publication for women to gain the vote.


The Apple - Michel Faber (2006)

The Apple Michel Faber

Michel Faber’s collection of short stories was written to give readers of his neo-Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White some peace of mind.

Not a sequel, as such, more fragments of the lives of TCPATW’s characters. Familiar characters like Sugar and Sophie put in an appearance, but you don’t need to have read his novel to enjoy these stories.

The final narrative follows a young lad caught up in a march and surrounded by women in big hats. The year is 1908.

I won't reveal which character becomes involved in the suffragette movement, but it is a perfect ending to Faber’s incredible books.


Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of the Empire - Kate Connolly (2013)

Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of the Empire

Sylvia is perhaps less well known than other Pankhurst family members, but she is every bit as formidable. Kate Connolly’s biography reveals an intensely intelligent and radical woman, who frequently challenged the head of the WSPU (her mother!).

Sylvia’s opinions differed from her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel on issues such as conflict and marriage. She was vocally against conscription in the First World War and campaigned for better support for soldier’s wives.

Despite setting up her own suffrage society and speaking out against her family’s patriotism, Sylvia became estranged from her mother later. Her refusal to marry the father of her children and love of her life proved too radical, even for Emmeline.


Sally Heathcote: Suffragette - Mary Talbot (2014)

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette

Mary Talbot’s graphic novel of the life of Sally Heathcote is a work of art. Sally is a fictional working-class woman, a servant in the household of the great suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. She is convinced to join the votes for women movement by her employer.

Inspired by her passion, she follows Pankhurst and moves to London. During a demonstration, Sally is arrested and begins to hunger strike in prison. Talbot’s narrative explores the dangerous Cat and Mouse Act that risked the lives of incarcerated reformers and shows the solidarity between women of all classes within the movement.


Suffrajitsu: Mrs Pankhurst’s Amazons - Tony Wolf (2015)

Suffrajitsu: Mrs Pankhurst’s Amazons

Tony Wolf’s graphic novel trilogy focuses on the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1914. This was when the situation for hunger-striking suffragettes became grave.

Edith Garrud, England’s first female martial arts instructor, teaches the women in the WSPU to resist arrest. They also learn to protect themselves from the crowds of anti-suffrage demonstrators, creating a formidable team of jujitsu bodyguards.

Suffrajitsu is based on historical reports. Garrud really was a media sensation and suffrage hero.


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