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BOOK REVIEW: March, Women, March by Lucinda Hawksley

Monday, September 07, 2015

March, Women, March – Lucinda Hawksley 

March, Women, March explores the women's movement in Britain, from the Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 to women attaining the vote in 1928. 

Published to commemorate the centenary of the death of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who was dragged under King George V's horse during the Derby and thus sustained fatal injuries, this fascinating book uses anecdotes and accounts by both famous and hitherto lesser known suffragettes and suffragists to explore how the voice of women came to be heard throughout the land in the pursuit of equal votes for females. Using diary extracts and letters, the main protagonists of the women's movement are brought back to life as Lucinda Dickens Hawksley explores how they were portrayed in literature and art as well as the media reports of the day. 

What I Thought:

I have always been interested in the suffragette movement, and have long wanted to write about it. Lucinda Hawksley’s  beautifully written account looks at the history of women’s fight to vote from the Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 all the way through to the change in British law in 1928. 

Drawing on first-hand accounts such as letters and diaries, as well as newspaper reports of the time, the book is written in simple, lucid prose that is a joy to read. It was published on the centenary of the death of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who was dragged under King George V's horse during the Derby horse race and killed. 

What I most loved about the book is the way it foregrounded the stories of the real-life women who suffered so much to bring about such a fundamentally important change in the laws of the United Kingdom, which flowed on to affect countries elsewhere. Famously, Australia and New Zealand were among the first countries in the world to bring about the vote for a limited number of women. It was a little too little, far too late, as far as I can see, and I think many people today are not aware of just what a bitter battle it was.

After finishing it, I wanted to press this book into the hands of every young woman I met …and every young man. A really important book.


SPOTLIGHT: Rose Scott, Australian suffragette

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This Saturday I am appearing at the Rose Scott Women's Writers Festival which promises to be a lively and inspiring day. Other guests are Ita Buttrose, Lisa Forrest, Elizabeth Lhuede, Helen O'Neill and Helen Trinca (here's the program).

I'll be talking with Jenny Strachan about feminist themes in THE WILD GIRL at 11am, but will be there for most of the day so I do hope you'll all come along and listen and learn.
When:          Saturday 20th July, 2013 
Where:        The Women's Club – 4th Floor, 179 Elizabeth St, Sydney
Time:           8am – 6pm

I'm ashamed to say I had never heard about Rose Scott  so I thought I'd take this opportunity to celebrate her life.

Born in 1847, Rose Scott was an Australian women's rights activist who worked tirelessly for women's suffrage and universal suffrage at the turn-of-the twentieth century.

Don't forget that - in 1902 - Australia was the first country in the world to give women both the right to vote in federal elections and also the right to be elected to parliament on a national basis. Rose Scott and the other suffragettes in Australia were instrumental in this international breakthrough for women's rights. (New Zealand granted women the right to vote in 1893, but did not allow women to be elected to office).

In 1889, Rose Scott helped to found the Women's Literary Society, which later grew into the Womanhood Suffrage League in 1891. 

Her interest in votes for women led her to research working conditions for women in the community, and she found that some young girls were working from 8am to 9pm most days. She invited the girls to come and describe their lives to leading politicians of the day, which led to changes in the law. 

Other reforms she advocated were the appointment of matrons at police stations and of women inspectors in factories and shops, and improvements in the conditions of women prisoners. 

Rose Scott was the First President of the Women's Political Education League, a position she held for 8 years. The League campaigned for the raising of the age of consent to 16, achieved in 1910 with the Crimes (Girls' Protection) Act. 

Other post-suffrage feminist reform campaigns she participated in included the Family Maintenance and Guardianship of Infants (1916), Women's Legal Status (1918) and First Offenders (Women) 1918 Acts. 

Newspaper cartoons of the time mocked the idea of women holding office

One day I hope to write a book about the suffragettes - its such a fascinating period of history and those women fought for rights that we take so much for granted these days.

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