Emily Wilding Davison
8/11 The statue of Emily Wilding Davison in Morpeth, a lovely village near the northeast coast of England, is located in a gorgeous park. We visited on a cold rainy day on our way to our next overnight in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, where we are now. It is still raining and in the 60s. (Click on a picture to enlarge it.)
“Northumberland’s Lawless Lassie/Emily Wilding Davison 1872-1913/Suffragette” read the headline on an informative illustrated sign. Davison joined WSPU in 1906 and “fought tirelessly for women’s rights in particular the right to vote.” Arrest
ed many times for a variety of offenses—breaking windows, setting fire to a post box, and assault, she was imprisoned and force fed no fewer than 49 times: “The torture was barbaric,” she reported. On June 4, 1913, she ran on to Epsom Race Course and attempted to attach suffrage colors to the bridle on the King’s
horse. Knocked unconscious, she died four days later. Large crowds lined the streets in London and Morpeth to see the carriage carrying her coffin. She once wrote:”Through my humble works in this noblest of all causes, I have come to the fullness of joy and an interest in living which I never experienced.” The statue by Ray Lonsdale, dedicated in 2018, is flanked by a profusion of white and a few dark purple butterfly bushes and purple flowers with the green foliage, the WSPU’s colors. She is shown deliberately dumping her food, knowing that would result in being forcibly fed. “Deeds not Words,” WSPU’s motto, is inscribed under Emily Wilding Davison’s name on her family’s obelisk in St. Mary of the Virgin Churchyard, Morpeth. Soon after her death her grave became a pilgrimage site, and continues to be so today.
8/12 Saturday & Sunday in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, in the northeast of England on the north bank of the River Tyne, another hotbed of suffragettes such as Kathleen Brown, whose mother and sister were involved in the great cause. In July 1909, Brown was arrested for throwing stones in London and sentenced to seven days in solitary confinement in Holloway Prison where she undertook a hunger strike and was one of the first women to be force fed. The imprisonment, hunger strikes, and force feeding of American suffragists began in 1917. It was so painful to write about that in my book, The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight. Kathleen Brown was released on July 19 and returned by train to Newcastle where she was greeted by suffragettes and a band. A procession of carriages filled with suffragettes and decorated in purple, white, and green went to the Turk’s Head Hotel for a celebratory tea. On March 8, 2017, a blue plaque was placed at the former site of Turk’s Head. Although it was raining and cold and we both have colds, Linda and I set off to find it, and, as you see, we did. It read: “Former Turk’s Head
Hotel/Suffragette Movement/Meeting place where suffragettes celebrated the release of Kathleen Brown from Holloway Prison July 19th 1909 and stopped for refreshments on the March from Edinburgh to London, October 21st
1912.” In October 1909, at what is known as the Battle of Newcastle, eleven women were arrested, including Brown and Lady Constance Lytton. Lady Lytton was released because she was deemed “unfit” to withstand forced feeding. Although she did have a “weak” heart, her release prompted her to reflect that her upper class status was a more significant factor than her heart, an insight that had lifelong consequences for her that I wrote about in my book The Vote. I am eager to visit a landmark to Lady Lytton on our last stop before returning to London.