No Vote No Census! Night
Evening Standard & St James Gazette :
Aldwych Skating Rink
I have had the unusual experience of being counted out in the company of hundreds of militant suffragists of the WSPU who have stayed in the Aldwych Skating Rink all night – They started to skate at , and the interminable circling has made me think and blink in circles. I am glad it is all over. It has been a long and cold vigil – nine and a half hours. The meeting went with a swing from the start. Dr Ethel Smyth led the audience in the chorus, ‘The March of the Women’, and members of the Actresses’ Franchise League, headed by Miss Decima Moore, in a gorgeous evening gown of gold and black, thrust home the Suffragist arguments by the recitals of Suffragist poems and other pieces – and a Spanish lady trilled a melodious Spanish song.
Joining the Militants
I joined the ranks and to the stirring music of the ‘Marseillaise’, mostly, marched along
As a member of the Actor’s Association and the Variety Artists’ Federation, I voted for the executive, then why should not women vote for members of Parliament? So I joined the militants –
One of first things I learned was to sell the paper Votes for Women on the street. That was the ‘acid’ test. All new recruits who were anxious to ‘do something’ were told the best thing they could do was take a bundle of papers and show the ‘faith that was in them’ by standing on the streets with it, even if they didn’t sell any, as long as they held up Votes for Women to the public and advertised the cause.
What a lesson in self-denial, self-abnegation, self-discipline! The first time I took my place on the ‘Island’ in
My friends all reacted differently to my interest in Votes for Women. Some always thought I was crazy, now they were sure. Some had always credited me with more sense, while others were converted, since it must be right if I, with all my common sense, believed in it – Mr Henri Gros, who had booked me several times, told me I need not ask him for any more work. He died soon after. A girl with whom I had played the leading part in a dramatic sketch told me how in the course of conversation with her agent, he asked who had played the other part and when she mentioned my name, he said, ‘Oh, that bloody Suffragette, she’d better not come here for anything.’
Unpublished Memoirs: 1914
And one fine morning, Tuesday April 16th, the governor, Dr Paton, instead of the stern official, made his entrance into my cell like a jolly human being, happy as a sand-boy with the joyous, sparkling greeting, ‘Well, Ginger!’ He had brought my release in a ‘Cat and Mouse’ licence for 6 days. It would have taken longer than that to repair the damage His Majesty’s Christian Government had done to me. Fourteen weeks and two days, forcibly fed 232 times, for the last 5 weeks and 5 days three times a day. I lost 36 pounds in weight –
Friends who came to see me at Nurse Pine’s Nursing Home to which I was taken, were shocked at my changed appearance. An old woman of seventy, they said I looked. My age was forty-three.
A New Cinematograph Play
A very ……wring play, written by Miss Bensusan, and with Miss Decima Moore, Miss Auriol Lee and Mr Ben Webster as the principal actors, will be see at the Cinematograph Theatre in a new play. It sets forth the trials of a sweated woman worker (Miss Bensusan) for whom, thanks to her drunken husband (Mr Ashton) there is nothing left but the workhouse. ….however she is saved by the suffragette heroine (Miss Decima Moore) who comes as a fairy godmother to the aid of the unhappy woman, and brings about a reconciliation between the man and wife, and helps them to make a fresh start in life. The interest never flags for one moment. Two scenes that will especially appeal to every Suffragette represent a poster parade advertising the great Procession of June 17th (the leader being Miss Auriol Lee) and a mass meeting at election time addressed by a leading politician (Mr Ben Webster) who is interrupted by Suffragettes (Miss Decima Moore) and others, subsequently ejected amidst a tremendous uproar – a most realistic scene. Mr Barker (of Barker’s Motion Photography) has most kindly undertaken to produce the film and has devoted unfailing attention to the play. Every member of the Women’s Freedom League can help to make the play a success in the following ways.
Visit the Cinematograph Theatre in your district and ask if this play is to be seen there. If it is, get together a group of friends and sympathisers, and go in a body to see it. If not, ask the manager if he has heard anything about it, and give him the title of the play, ‘True Womanhood’ and the address where he can buy the film: Barker’s Motion Photography Limited,
from The Vote
To Secure a Conviction: the Case of Miss Seruya
…Miss Seruya was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment but merely ‘bound over’…. If Miss Seruya had been unable to employ counsel, and had not made it clear that she was determined, if necessary to make a cause celebre of the case, the verdict might have been otherwise.
As I left the Court I saw two men of the working class being rudely hustled into the dock. I feared whatever the cost, a conviction in their case would be secured.
Extract from report by M.Slieve McGowan in The Vote
There were baskets of paper and there was the blotting paper, the solid austere ornaments of the Prime Minister’s desk. Fervour for the cause took hold of me. I felt like a Joan of Arc of the ballot-box. Martyrdom or not, the occasion must be seized. I opened my box of grease-paints, took out the reddest stick I could find and wrote across the blotting-paper ‘Votes for Women’. I went out of the room exultant. When the rehearsal for which I had gone to
from Myself and My Friends by Lillah McCarthy
At a time when forcible feeding was being resorted to very much, two girls, who were suffragists, were presented at court. They were both of very good social position and very charming. One of them on being presented to the King said, ‘Your Majesty, won’t you stop forcible feeding?’ She was promptly hustled out of the presence and the press the following day were full of ‘the insult offered to the King’. It may have been, probably was, the wrong way to attempt to do it; but I did feel, and still feel, that the girl must have called up every ounce of courage she possessed to say what she did. At a meeting the next day I ventured to say what I have just written here, ending with ‘Whatever one may feel about the wisdom or propriety of her action, you must take off your hat to the girl for her courage.’ Then the storm burst. That evening I found headline in the papers; ‘Eva Moore takes off her hat to the woman who insulted the King’, and so on, it was astonishing. The result was rather dreadful; men I had never seen wrote to me, wrote the most abusive, indecent letters I have ever read or dreamed could be written… had I not already been a suffragist those letters would have made me one! However, it came to an end, and I survived, though I admit at the time it distressed me very much indeed.
from Exits and Entrances by Eva Moore
from To Tell My Story by Irene Vanbrugh
(Adeline Bourne, playing the Woman, introduced all the other characters),
Ellen Terry as Nance Oldfield:
By your leave,
Nance Oldfield does her talking for herself!
If you, Sir Prejudice had had your way,
There never would be actress on the boards.
Some lanky squeaky boy would play my parts:
And though I say it, there’d have been a loss!
The stage would be as dull as now tis’ merry
No Oldfield, Woffington or Ellen Terry!
from A Pageant of Great Women by Cicely Hamilton
by Pamela Colman Smith
The actress in joining this woman’s movement is absolutely impersonal. She has no grievance, her remuneration is the same as her brother artiste for the same work; on the stage there is no inferior sex: the woman is as necessary as the man; and therefore all honour to my artiste-comrades who are throwing themselves heart and should into this glorious ‘dawn of womanhood’ for she does it with no thought of self or idea that it will bring any benefit to her personally. No; she is doing it for the toilers, the less fortunate sister, who has – heaven knows – only too many grievances, grievances and burdens – which are bearing her to the ground, crushing the life and spirit and pluck out of her, so that she seems to have lost all desire even to save herself.
I cannot be thankful enough when I think of what this Suffrage Movement is doing for us women; the wonderful education it is affording us; the political, spiritual and moral education that is being carried on by the Suffrage meetings; the literature, the comradeship that has sprung up amongst us, the kindred souls drawing together, silently sounding each other, as it were, to see if the keynote rang true, weighing one another in the balance and not finding any wanting. And the “reverberations of our spiritual emergencies” always give back the same answer. Heart-whole for the Cause. And is the cause limited to the right to a political vote? We know how much more fundamental it is than that, for it has sprung out of our very foundations, our spiritual longings and necessity of being.
I look upon this movement as the salvation of the race; in saving and raising herself woman must eventually save the man for we are one; and the woman cannot leave him behind, she must take him with her.
from THE SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT
by Janette Steer, The Vote, Sat
It is constantly stated by the opponents of organisation and reform that actors are helpless before the supply and demand that the present struggles of irregular employment and inadequate salaries are due to such natural causes as over-competition and bad theatrical business, causes over which actors themselves have no control.
…The Actors’ Association and the Actors’ Union cry out alike for the qualified actor, but where and how this qualification is to be gained, or purchased, and what steps must be taken to reach the degree of qualification required, are left to schools, agents, managers, and middle-men generally to answer.
And yet it is precisely from the ranks of this amateur, novice or beginner that the perpetual flood of underselling actors is derived. Establishing a £2 minimum in the Actors’ Association agency or advocating its establishment in the Actors’
Our recruits of today become at once our competitors of today and tomorrow. The novice of the present is the actor of the future, and any improvement in the present state of affairs requires our co-operation and sympathy.
from ‘The Amateur Question’ by Rose Mathews, press article
Pamela Colman Smith
I owed a great deal to Yoshio Markino, for taking me to the house of Miss Pamela Colman Smith in the Boltons. She was an artist who had been discovered in
Sooner or later would come the turn of the Anansi stories. These were the Negro tales that Pixie had heard as a child in
from The Autobiography of Arthur Ransome,
by Pamela Colman Smith