Emily Davison died in Epsom hospital from head injuries sustained at the 1913 Epsom Derby several days earlier. The tragic incident is in my novel Suffragette Autumn Women’s Spring. I change the event from a 2-woman affair (Emily and her friend Mary Richardson) to having Suffragettes three involved by adding my heroine Ruby, but otherwise the scene in the novel is just as it actually happened. Here is a taster from the novel.
Whilst talking to her during their Derby Day planning she had found Emily rather aloof but now, as her colleague was about to attempt an audacious coup leaned against the rails as if she did not have a care in the world, Ruby took a shine to her. She found that Emily had a good sense of humour and an endearingly self-effacing manner. And whilst clearly far more bookish than Ruby, she was no intellectual snob; quite the reverse. Emily held court about some of her favourite subjects such as musical comedy, cats and her family.
Just before the first race Emily mentioned having a ticket for a Suffragette rally that night, which assuming she would be arrested for what she was about to do, would mean her not being able to attend. She asked Ruby if she would like the ticket, but her offer was declined. Ruby already felt weary from the stresses of the day and would just be relived to see make her protest safely. Emily nodded her understanding and then mentioned that if Epsom’s magistrate gave her the chance of paying a fine she would for once pay it and stay out of prison. She had been force-fed a total of forty nine times and was in no hurry to reach a most terrible of milestones. Disrupting the Derby would be quite sufficient publicity for the cause and she had already promised her sister and niece, who lived in France and to whom she was very close, that she would visit them for a much needed holiday the following week.
The two women had managed to pick a winner and a second in the first two races, which had thrilled Ruby rather more than Emily. The new recruit to racing certainly studied the horses intently each time they had galloped by, but then seemed to lose interest in what happened in the race thereafter, as she became lost in thought. And after the second race Ruby became aware that her new friend had fallen silent. Emily was clearly preparing herself mentally for the mission ahead.
And that’s as much as you’re getting from the novel. Emily was about to change the plan, which had been to disrupt the race by walking on to the course a safe distance from the horses and waving her WSPU Votes for Women flags. She was about to change Suffragette history for ever.