Suffrage is arguably the most important single event in women’s history; despite popular conception it was not a fight for freedom, it was the campaign for equal citizenship waged by men and women across the class divide and the political spectrum. The refusal of the law to allow women to take part directly in political life relegated them to often disparate lobbyists and pressure groups, leaving the decision to grant the vote at the mercy of sympathetic individuals and the political priorities of the parliamentary parties. This lecture will consider the parliamentary politics, the campaigns and divisive issues of class, marriage and militancy that fractured the suffrage movement and ultimately, we will ask the question – is this best described as first wave feminism?
Dr Jacqui Turner is a Lecturer in Modern History and Director of Outreach at the University of Reading. Her present research examines the contribution of female pioneers in politics and early female MPs. Jacqui currently works with Parliament on the Vote100 Project, BBC Radio 4 and the Smithsonian. In 2019 she will manage the Astor100 project celebrating the centenary of women sitting in the House of Commons.