Help Bring Suffragettes’ Voices to Life: Call for Readers on 26/05/2018 and 27/05/2018

Dear all,

As part of our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Event, we are recruiting volunteers to read selected letters written by Suffrage campaigners and some of their relatives. We need 6 readers per day. Ideally we are hoping to find two male voices and four female voices per day, but we’ll attribute roles on a first come first served basis. You are welcome to come on Saturday or Sunday only, although we’d love it if you could spend the whole weekend with us. We’ll send you the texts in advance of the event. It goes without saying that no previous experience is needed. All you’ll need is:

  • Be free from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday 26/05 and/or Sunday 27/05
  • That’s it!

Come join us!

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Christabel Pankhurst, 1909, from the Women’s Library ‘s Suffrage Collection (7JCC/O/2/108b, Licence)

Just email us at transatlantic.women@gmail.com specifying which day(s) you can attend and come along to the Glasgow’s People Palace Museum. Transcripts of the letters will be provided.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The TLW Team.

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“Out of the Shadows”: Forgotten Transatlantic Women Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday 29thMay, 1.30pm, The Kelvin Hall seminar room, free.

It’s a beautiful day in Glasgow, we hope that all our followers have had a chance to get out in the sunshine. Here at TLW HQ the weather has been getting us excited for conference season, and so today we bring you a short post about the TLW Roundtable discussion which we will be hosting at the Glasgow University College of Arts PG Conference on Tuesday the 29thMay.

Laura will be introducing our roundtable discussion by speaking about why she started the Transatlantic Literary Women series. She will also be looking at two forgotten literary women who were overshadowed by male partners or family members: Zelda Fitzgerald and Alice James, as well as Edith Wharton. Sarah will be focusing on Polish-born, Jewish-American writer, Anzia Yezierska and Nella Larsen. She will also exploring how BAME women scholars have recovered forgotten writing, and how essential it is for universities to include diverse curricula. Finally, Saskia will be covering Brazillian writer, Clarice Lispector and African American author, documentary-maker and social activist Toni Cade Bambara.

In addition to the TLW Roundtable, the conference will be hosting a range of excellent keynote speakers and workshops. On Tuesday 29th Dr. Michelle Keown, Senior Lecturer in English Literature (University of Edinburgh), will be kicking off the conference with her keynote address. Wednesday 30thwill see Glasgow University’s own Dr. Benjamin White start the day with his keynote talk ‘Animals in displacement,’ and workshops on Sign Language and Creative Writing. The conference also has a wide and diverse range of papers being presented by an array of panellists over the course of the two days.

We look forward to seeing you all at the roundtable on the 29th, and to the fascinating discussions that will ensue from exploring the achievements of these forgotten women writers.

You can register for the event here (registrations closes on the 17th May), and also head over to the Connections Conference website to see the full programme that the committee have lined up for us, it looks like a great couple of days!

Kari

 

 

 

 

Suffragette Spotlight: Annie Kenney

Ahead of our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Celebration at the People’s Palace Museum (26th and 27th May 1-4pm), the TLW team have been posting weekly blogs about inspiring women who fought for suffrage. Today’s blog focuses on Annie Kenney.

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“As I was one of the leading actors in the first play, so I was one of the leading actors in the last.”
— Annie Kenney, Memories of a Militant

Kenney was born in 1879 to a working-class family near Oldham, and Marie Roberts describes her as “the most readily identifiable representative of working-class women” in the Women’s Social and Political Union (xi). One of eleven children, Kenney went to work in a local cotton-mill when she was ten years-old. Starting out as a ‘half-timer,’ she would work in the morning before going to school in the afternoon. At thirteen years-old she switched to full-time employment in the mill, undertaking shifts as long as twelve hours. It was in this role as a weaver’s assistant that Kenney had one of her fingers torn off.

Kenney continued to work in the mill for 15 years, during which time she helped fellow workers to read, and take an interest in literature. She became involved in the trade union movement, and throughout her life was heavily influenced by Robert Blatchford, the English campaigner and journalist who launched an affordable weekly socialist newspaper called The Clarion.

In 1905, as a member of the Oldham Clarion Vocal Club, Kenney heard Christabel Pankhurst speak. This inspired her to join the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded by the Pankhurst family in 1903. In the same year that Kenney joined the WSPU she attended a Liberal rally in Manchester with Christabel, where they repeatedly interrupted Sir Edward Grey to question whether women would be given the right to vote. The two women were removed and later imprisoned for the alleged assault of the police officers who ejected them from the rally. Kenney was imprisoned for three days, the first of thirteen prison sentences throughout her life. In 1913 she was sentenced to a lengthy 18-months which was temporarily interrupted by her release under the Cat and Mouse Act.

Christabel Pankhurst fled to Paris in 1912 to avoid imprisonment, and Kenney was placed in charge of the WSPU in her absence, demonstrating the high degree of influence which she held in the organisation. When the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918 it granted women over the age of 30 the right to vote if they passed certain property and education requirements. After partial suffrage had been won, Kenney dropped out of political life. She married and gave birth to her son in 1923, and published her autobiography the following year.

Many feel that Kenney’s efforts in the fight for the vote have been “undeservedly neglected,” (Roberts, xv) and this often relates to a further belief held by some that working-class efforts for women’s suffrage have also been overlooked. Krista Cowman voices this in her 2018 article for the New Statesman, stating that “When women finally got the vote, the stories of many working class suffragettes were quickly forgotten. Few of them had the time or contacts needed to publish autobiographies and most could not afford to travel to London for the meetings of the Suffragette Fellowship, a militant old girls’ association that tried to preserve their campaign’s history. As we celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act that gave votes to at least some British women in February 1918, we should remind ourselves of the sacrifices made by many ordinary and anonymous women, who risked their livelihoods and reputations alongside their more affluent companions in the fight for equality and citizenship.”

In exploring the various women to cover for the Suffragette Spotlight series, Kenney seemed a particularly fitting figure as she is an inspirational woman both within and without the context of female suffrage. For a generation of young women today, many of whom have experienced a setback in the age that they can hope to reach traditional life-milestones such as starting a career, a family, or buying property, Kenney is an example of someone who refused to let her age, class, gender, or finances, restrict her aspirations and achievements in life. She became a member of the WSPU when she was in her mid–twenties; arguably her greatest life achievement of helping win women’s suffrage was reached when she was in her late thirties, and she was in her early forties before she married and started a family. Despite having to start work at only ten years-old, she succeeded in educating herself through self-study and correspondence courses – encouraging fellow working-class women to do the same – and reached leadership status in the predominantly middle-class led organisation of the WSPU. She experienced the physical consequences of the dangerous working-conditions in Britain in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, but also helped ensure that future generations would have the opportunity to change these conditions by voting for their chosen representatives in government. Kenney exists as both a historical hero who was willing to sacrifice a great deal for a cause she believed in, but also as a rousing reminder that if a woman from her humble background could achieve so much, over a century ago, women today need not let their own goals be limited by the societal expectations which are often imposed on them.

Keep an eye on our website for more blogs like this one, or follow us on Twitter @transatlanticladies using the hashtag #TLWsuffrage. And if you want to learn more about ground-breaking suffragettes, make your own rosettes, and learn about women and the vote, join us at the People’s Palace for an afternoon of crafts, talks, and a look at Glasgow’s suffrage collections!

Kari
References and further reading

Kenney, Annie. Memories of a Militant. London, Edward Arnold & Co., 1924.

Roberts, Marie, and Tamae Mizuta. Perspectives on the History of British Feminism. Routledge/Thoemmes, London, 1994.

Cowman, Krista. “Let’s not forget the working class suffragettes” in New Statesman, 6 February 2018.

Information on Kenney can also obtained from the Working Class Movement Library.

The British Newspaper Archive gives access to articles which mention Kenney.

The Annie Kenney Project is an ongoing campaign to have a statue of Kenney erected in Oldham town square.

Picture courtesy of LSE Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffragette Spotlight: Rosa May Billinghurst

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Photo courtesy of LSE Library

As we look forward to our upcoming Suffrage Centenary Celebration at Glasgow’s People’s Palace Museum (26th and 27th May 1-4pm), we’ve decided to blog about some of the inspiring women who fought for women’s suffrage. Today, we’d like to tell you about suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst.

Rosa May Billinghurst was born in London in 1875, contracted polio as a child, and was consequently a wheelchair user, dubbed by the press as ‘The Cripple Suffragette’. She worked with her sister to rehabilitate prostitutes and was inspired to become more involved in women’s rights. She said:

‘My heart ached and I thought surely if women were consulted in the management of the state happier and better conditions must exist for hard-working sweated lives such as these. It was gradually unfolded to me that the unequal laws which made women appear inferior to men were the main cause of these evils.’

She attended talks by Millicent Fawcett (whose statue was recently unveiled in London) and the Pankhursts, and became an active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), organising campaigns and meetings. Billinghurst was at the November 1910 demonstration known as Black Friday, where she says:

‘At first the police threw me out of the machine [her wheelchair] on to the ground in a very brutal manner. Secondly when on the machine again they tried to push me along with my arms twisted behind me in a very painful position. Thirdly they took me down a side road and left me in the middle of a hooligan crowd, first taking all the valves out of the wheels and pocketing them so that I could not move the machine.’

At a demonstration shortly afterwards she turned the tables on her aggressors, using her wheelchair as a ram to push through a police cordon, and was arrested. She became increasingly militant, and in 1912 she was arrested for window–smashing, and sentenced to a month in Holloway prison. In 1913 she destroyed the contents of a letterbox and was sentenced to eight month’s imprisonment, and immediately went on hunger strike. The authorities, against the advice of her doctor, attempted to force-feed her, damaging her teeth in the process. The Home Secretary ordered her release after ten days, fearing that she might die in custody otherwise. Billinghurst, undeterred, began campaigning against force-feeding, continued fighting for votes for women, and was involved in the 1914 battle outside Buckingham Palace, between suffragettes and 1,500 policemen.

With the onset of the war, and after negotiations with the WSPU, the government released all suffragettes from prison, and in 1918 women of property over the age of thirty were granted the vote. Ten years later, this vote was extended to all British women over twenty-one years old, regardless of property. As far as Billinghurst was concerned, the campaign was not over. She continued to work with women’s societies, such as the Suffrage Fellowship and the Women’s Freedom League throughout her life, and when she died in 1953 of heart failure, she donated her body to the London school of Medicine for Women.

Keep an eye on our website for more blogs like this one, or follow us on Twitter @transatlanticladies using the hashtag #TLWsuffrage. And if you want to learn more about ground-breaking suffragettes, make your own rosettes, and learn about women and the vote, join us at the People’s Palace for an afternoon of crafts, talks, and a look at Glasgow’s suffrage collections!

Saskia

For more on Billinghurst see:

http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-63834?rskey=nofOpm&result=1

http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/rosa-may-billinghurst-suffragette-campaigner-cripple/

https://www.catfordcentral.com/rosa-may-billinghurst-suffragette-and-womens-rights-activist/

https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/rosa-may-billinghurst-disabled-suffragette-abused-police-force-fed-prison/

 

TLW Film Night, Wednesday 18th April 2018, 5.15pm

Film Night
Wednesday 18th April 2018, 5.15pm
Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, Glasgow University

Those of you who have attended our events in the past will know that we hand out feedback forms asking what you would like to see included in the series’ future events. One of the frequent suggestions that we get is for a film screening, and what with the overdue recognition that is currently being given to women’s role in the film industry, we have been inspired to arrange some film-related events. Not only can we confirm that our very first film screening will take place on Wednesday 18th April, but we also have a fantastic film-related talk in the pipeline after summer! Keep your eyes peeled on the blog and Twitter for updates on the talk.

So, what are we going to be screening on our very first film night? Well, we think that you should have a say in this, so to narrow things down a little we have collated a list of four films to choose from, and created a Twitter Poll. You can read a little about each film below, as well as why they are relevant in celebrating the achievements of women in film. Whether it’s one of your favourite films that you want to re-watch in good company, or if it’s a film that you have been meaning to see for ages, this is your chance . . . get voting!

Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola has avoided living in the shadow of her acclaimed father, Francis Ford Coppola, by following her own creative path and paving the way for other female film-makers in the industry. She wrote, directed and produced this highly-acclaimed film which follows the friendship of an actor (Bill Murray) and a college graduate (Scarlett Johansson). Lost in Translation was nominated for numerous Academy Awards, with Coppola winning Best Original Screenplay, and Johansson taking the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

American Honey (2016)
Andrea Arnold is a British filmmaker who some of you may be familiar with through her film Red Road (2006), a Scottish film set in the Red Road high-rise flats in Glasgow. American Honey focuses on a very different world from this, following runaway youth, Star (Sasha Lane), on her journey around the Midwest of America. The film won both the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and Best British Film at the BAFTA awards.

Sound of My Voice (2011)
Brit Marling co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in this psychological indie thriller about documentary-makers who go undercover in a Los Angeles cult. Marling has been making her mark on film and television over the last few years with films like Another Earth (2011), The East (2013) and the Netflix series The OA. She has spoken out about what made her start writing roles for women rather conforming to the roles being ascribed in a male-dominated industry. You can read more about this in her response to the Weinstein scandal here.

Morvern Callar (2002)
You may have seen British film-maker Lynne Ramsay’s latest film, You Were Never Really Here (2017), in the cinema right now. Ramsay co-wrote and directed Morvern Callar, and this choice has a bit of a literary theme to it. It was adapted from a book of the same name, and also follows Morvern (Samantha Morton) as she masquerades as the author of an unpublished novel which her boyfriend has left behind before committing suicide. Morton won the BIF award for Best Actress, and the film won the Award of the Youth at Cannes.

All these films are from female filmmakers which have been given award recognition, we hope you like what we have chosen and look forward to seeing which film you pick. The poll closes in a week, so get your votes in while you can! The film night will take place at Gilchrist Postgraduate Club, plus it’s free and open to all (student and public). We will have some snacks and refreshments, and you can also purchase food and alcoholic drinks from the Gilchrist café.

Head over for 5.15pm to join us for a relaxed and welcoming night appreciating women’s achievements in the world of film-making!

Kari and the TLW team.

Forgotten Transatlantic Literary Women: Marguerite Yourcenar

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

By Margarida Sao Bento Cadima (University of Glasgow)
Remember to join our online book club on #ForgottenTLW on Wednesday 28th February, 7pm – 8pm, on Twitter.

Marguerite Yourcenar was a Belgian-born French writer who was the first woman to be elected to the Académie française in 1980. While she is not exactly a forgotten writer, she is very much overlooked as a transatlantic writer. She was born Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine Cleenewerck de Crayencour on 8th June 1903 in Brussels to a bourgeois family of French origin. During her childhood, Yourcenar travelled through Europe with her father. She visited London, France, Switzerland and Italy. Some places would have more of an impact on her than others, such as visiting the Villa Adriana in Tivoli, which was to be the setting of her most famous novel Memoirs of Hadrien.

In 1921 she published her first poem Le Jardin des chimères under the name Yourcenar, an anagram of her family name that she would adopt as her legal name in 1947, the year she became an American citizen. Her first novel entitled Alexis was published in 1929, and its style is heavily influenced by André Gide’s prose. Traveling had a great impact on Yourcenar, in 1938 she published a collection of short stories entitled Oriental Tales.

The year World War II broke out, Yourcenar moved to the United States with her partner Grace Frick. They met in 1937 when Frick was in Paris doing research work for her thesis, which she started at Yale University and completed at the University of Kansas. Frick and Yourcenar were partners in every sense of the word, with Frick being also a literary scholar and the translator of Yourcenar’s texts to English. For the next forty years they would make the northeast of the United States their home. Yourcenar took a place teaching comparative literature at Sarah Lawrence College and later they bought a house together (which they called “Petite Plaisance”) on Mount Desert Island which is in Northeast Harbor, Maine. If you are ever in the area you can visit it! There, Yourcenar passed away on 17th December 1987 and was buried beside her beloved Grace Frick, who died 8 years prior.

Despite having spent almost five decades living in the United States, Yourcenar never made it a subject of her fiction. In fact, from the shores of the New World, Yourcenar was writing about the Old World. In this light, it is interesting to think what kind of impact that transatlantic experience had on her literary production. Her best-known novel is entitled Memoirs of Hadrian and it was published in 1951 This novel was written entirely in her home in Maine. Yourcenar hesitated about who would be the protagonist of her novel: the choice came down to the Roman emperor Hadrian or the Persian mathematician and poet Omar Khayyam. The title makes it clear with who she went for in the end.

Memoirs of Hadrian is a historical novel recounting the life of Roman emperor Hadrian, in the form of a letter to his successor Marcus Aurelius. In this long letter, the emperor discusses his love for Antinous, life, death, and philosophy. These meditations were not only crossing time, but also crossing place. Writing from a country that was not her birthplace, Yourcenar was concerned with the question of homeland and where does one belong. Through Hadrian she writes that: “The true birthplace is that wherein for the first time one looks intelligently upon oneself; my first homelands have been books.” Ultimately, Yourcenar was a universal writer, more than a European writer, who deserves to be thought of through the perspective of her transatlantic existence.

Have any Forgotten Transatlantic Literary Women you want to tell us about? Remember to join our online book club on #ForgottenTLW on Wednesday 28th February 7pm – 8pm. Follow us on twitter @atlantlitwomen