Rise Up Women!: The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes
Almost one hundred years ago, British women led a hard-fought campaign to gain the right to vote--and this is their story.
Britain's women's suffrage campaign began in the nineteenth century, but the twentieth century ushered in a more militant campaign. On June 30, 1908, two schoolteachers broke windows at 10 Downing Street to protest being turned away from Parliament, and when Parliament dissolved without passing the Conciliation Bill, the Women's Social and Political Union (W.S.P.U.) led the Black Friday riot on November 18, 1910. Two years later, Ellen Pitfield set fire to a waste basket at the General Post Office and was sentenced to six months for arson. By 1913, suffragettes were winning public sympathy by citing harrowing stories of imprisoned women on hunger strikes being drugged with bromide and force fed.
During the First World War women had done many of the jobs previously done by men, and their vital work was rewarded politically by the Representation of the People Act, giving the vote to all women twenty-one years or older. It was passed in the House of Lords on June 19, 1917, and became law on February 6, 1918. Perhaps the ultimate victory was a law passed on November 21, 1918, that allowed women to stand as Members of Parliament in the next general election.