The publicity surrounding the film Suffragette starring Carey Mulligan and also featuring Meryl Streep, has certainly led to lots of interest in Suffragette walks. Have a listen to this podcast of an interview I gave to Share Radio recently, whilst I walked round Westminster with them.
We have three tours that feature Suffragettes. Our Suffragette walk through Westminster, starts in Trafalgar Square where many a Suffragette protest meeting took place, and then we follow the route they took to Parliament passing the spots where they chained themselves to railings, chalked propaganda on the pavements, threw stones through government office windows and got beaten up and abused by the police. We also take a detour to see the beautiful Suffragette Scroll en-route to finishing at Mrs Pankhurst’s statue.
Our East End Suffragettes Walk is a tour of the Bow of Sylvia Pankhurst. Here she was firstly a Suffragette and then a great World War 1 social worker. We see where she successfully introduced working class women and men to the suffrage cause, setting up her own East London Federation of Suffragettes, giving great speeches and getting up to numerous exploits in avoiding being arrested by the police in this hot bed of radical women.
Our Talented Women in the National Portrait Gallery concentrates on women who have been subjects because of the fame they achieved from their talents rather than simply being born to high office. We see Mary Wollstonecraft, who was in many ways the original Suffragist, writing the Vindication of the Rights of Women. We also see both Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter and commander-in-chief Christabel. And although there’s no painting of Sylvia Pankhurst on show at the moment (though there is one in the gallery’s archive), there are a couple of fine portraits by her. Had she not become involved in politics could well have been the greatest artist of her time – she certainly had the talent.