A Point of Justice – Granted or Fought For? Women’s Suffrage Campaigns in Plymouth and the West Country
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The release of the film Suffragette in October 2015, surprisingly the first major feature film on the women’s suffrage movement, has raised public consciousness about the issue of women’s rights and the role of the suffragettes in demanding votes for women with their call to arms of ‘deeds, not words’. But decades before the Women’s Social and Political Union was created in 1903 campaigners across the country had begun the struggle for emancipation for women. We argue that the film therefore needs to be seen in a wider context including the high level of male support for the cause and the fact it was not just a London or large city-based phenomenon. To support our claim this paper reviews the campaigns for women’s suffrage in Plymouth and the South West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We conclude with reference to the ‘clever’ arrest by Plymouth’s Chief Constable, Joseph Davison Sowerby, of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst as she attempted to land at Plymouth having sailed from New York on the liner Majestic.
Rowbotham, J. and Stevenson,K. (2016) 'A Point of Justice – Granted or Fought For? Women’s Suffrage Campaigns in Plymouth and the West Country', Plymouth Law and Criminal Justice Review, 8, pp. 84-98. Available at: https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/9042
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