The centenary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement
2013 is the centenary of some of the most prominent events that happened in the name of the women’s suffrage movement. One of the most famous took place on 4 June 1913, when Emily Wilding Davison supposedly threw herself in front of King George V’s horse at The Derby in protest at the lack of women’s rights (read the anniversary blog post for an overview of the debate around her true motives and actions). We have some amazing documents held here at The National Archives on Emily Wilding Davison, which were recently filmed for the Channel 4 documentary Clare Balding’s Secrets of a Suffragette shown on Sunday 26 May 2013.
The story of Emily Wilding Davison, the first martyr in the name of women’s rights, will be preserved in history, but the suffragette movement was more than just the work of one woman. The many records held here at The National Archives are testament to the number of women that bravely fought for justice (a few of which are pictured right – catalogue ref: AR 1/528).
A game of cat and mouse
Another historic event in 1913 was the introduction of the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913, also known as the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, owing to the way the government seemed to play with prisoners as a cat may with a captured mouse. The Act allowed temporary release, on licence, for suffragettes on hunger strike, until they were well enough to be rearrested and complete their sentence.