This story interested me ... we really do not know what went on 100 years ago ... we think history is recorded accurately, yet, as here, it obviously was very different.
Some records on Emily’s protests were only released in 2003 – ninety years after the events ... they are scary.
I don’t pass judgement ... but I do like to remember that each aspect I see being reported then and now ... that there might be other points to be considered – so often we don’t see or hear of them, or think about things from a different angle.
On 4 June 1913, ardent suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison stepped out in front of King George V’s racehorse, Anmer, during the Epsom Derby. Thrown violently to the ground upon impact, she never regained consciousness and died four days later.
|The Suffragette, newspaper|
edited by Emily Pankhurst -
the Memorial issue
Sacrificing herself to the suffragette slogan “Deeds not Words” in protest against Parliament’s refusal to grant voting rights to women, Davison remains a feminist icon, viewed by many as a martyr for women’s rights.
Emily Wilding Davison (1872 – 1913) showed that she was a very determined lady from a young age ... her father died, she was taken out of school ... but she still achieved entrance to study biology, chemistry, English Language and Literature at St Hugh’s, Oxford.
She was a militant agitator within the Suffragette movement, who expressed her frustrations that it was ludicrous that in the early 1900s women still did not have the right to vote.
|Is this justice for women?|
(open up to read in full
is this justice for women?)
The Suffragettes had to keep agitating as the Government waxed and wane with opening the voting doors for women ... but as so often the Government pedalled backwards.
For some feminists this was a time to make sure their cause was heard ... and militancy escalated; Davison was arrested nine times, sent to prison, latterly going on hunger strikes and was force fed (in those days – via tube and funnel).
On one such occasion in 1909 she hurled herself ten metres down a flight of iron stairs in protest ... injuring her spine and fracturing her skull. Her intention, she wrote afterwards, was to stop the suffering of everyone else by carrying out this action.
That fateful Derby day was one of the early occasions when newsreel recorded the event – from three different camera angles ... but it took one hundred years before the films were analysed to see if they matched what had been reported.
|Davison falling to the ground -|
the horse and jockey were not
badly injured - though the jockey
was badly traumatised.
It was thought that Emily had purposely thrown herself in front of the King’s horse to kill herself ... yet that was not obvious in her demeanour, nor from her life – which was looking forward.
The analysis of the film footage suggests that Emily was in a slightly different place to that historically recorded, and that she likely had full sight of the horses – so knew which horse to target: that of the King’s ...
... and that she very possibly only wanted to attach a “votes for women” sash – which now hangs in the Houses of Parliament.
Every person in the UK has the right to petition the Crown, but Emily knew that would not be possible with her police record ... and possibly realised that this was one way she could bring the Women’s Suffragette Cause to the King and Queen’s notice.
No one was aware of her intentions, which were to end in such a sad unintentional way ... she was determined, if not wise in her actions ...
on back of cupboard
door where Emily
hid during the night
of the 1911 Censu
To think where would we be today ... if women, like Emily, had not campaigned vigorously for the vote ... they downed ‘tools’ at the start of the War – to put their efforts into working and keeping going the parts of life that their men-folk had been responsible for before the War started.
In 1919 women were granted some rights, but in 1928 the franchise equalled that for men.
I hadn't realised that in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony - Emily was honoured when, amid the depiction of monumental events in British history, there was a tribute to the Suffragettes' struggles, and the key moment in Davison's crusade to win voting rights.
I need to revisit the Opening Ceremony footage - to learn more, obviously!
EmilyDavison at her Wikipedia page: Links I looked at:
- Astonishing 1911 census find – Emily Davison in Parliament’s crypt;
- An exhibit on Emily Davison, London School of Economics
Timelineof Women’s Suffrage across the world – worth a look through ...
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