Event, Politics, Women's History

Women as Renegades – Fighting for Peace during War

The challenge women made to the establishment in rejecting the call to support the war is an area rich in history. It confirms that exploration of the reasons for women to take a stand that put them at odds not only with government but with women who sided with the war effort is esential for undertanding women’s activism during wartime.

Biography, Politics, Women's History

Jessie Kenney and women seafarers

Jessie battled on but to no avail. ‘These gentlemen … had dark and impenetrable notions on the subject.’ Instead she ‘decided to go to sea as a stewardess in the hopes that later I may be allowed to practice as a wireless operator.’

(Victoria Drummond had similarly been advised to give up and become a stewardess, but refused.)

By autumn 1926, Jessie was working on the Otranto – as a stewardess. She sailed for ten years with Furness and Orient line, and kept her dream fed by reading science and philosophy books when she could, as the lists in her diaries show.

But ‘How often I looked up at the wireless cabin … afterwards. How I had longed for the peace and solitude of the wireless cabin where after my labours I could study in peace.’ She wasn’t even accepted in WW2.

Politics, Source, Women's History

Suffragettes and Tea Rooms

Even as late as 1911 a woman’s presence still caused consternation in some places of public refreshment. Kate Frye, staying in a hotel in a small Norfolk market town while organizing suffrage meetings, notes in her diary:

22 March 1911 ‘Had my lunch [in the hotel dining room] in company with four motorists. It is funny the way men come in here and, seeing me, shoot out again and I hear whispered conversations outside on the landing with the waitress. Then they come in very subdued and make conversation one to another and try not to look at me. Awfully funny – they might never have seen a woman before – but I suppose it does seem a strange place to find one.’

Biography, Event, Politics, Women's History

“You are supposed to be educated”

Hertha Ayerton’s experiences – the struggle against poverty and family responsibility, the limitations on her education, and the blocks to her career development – were shared by other WSPU women. Florence Macauley was forced to leave Somerville College, Oxford when her father died because she could not live on her scholarship. Emily Wilding Davison gave up her studies at Holloway College when her father died and the money ran out. Teresa Billington-Greig had to leave school at thirteen to work. She later trained as a teacher, taking her BA through extension studies.