Norah Dacre Fox (Norah Elam)

Norah Dacre Fox (Norah Elam)


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Norah Doherty, one of nine children of John and Charlotte Doherty, was born in Dublin in 1878. Her father was an Irish protestant and in 1891 the family decided to emigrate to England and they eventually decided to settle in Teddington.

In 1909 she married Charles Richard Dacre Fox. She was interested in the subject of women's suffrage and in 1912 she joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). According to Elizabeth Crawford she was particularly close to Grace Roe, who at that time held a senior place in the movement.

It has been argued by the authors of Mosley's Old Suffragette (2010) that her remarkable rhetorical skill allowed her to rise quickly through the WSPU ranks to become, by March 1913, its General Secretary. In this role she led the "campaign against forcible feeding, concentrating particularly on attempts to persuade Church of England bishops to denounce the practice." Jessie Stephen has argued: "Mrs Dacre Fox became prominent (in the leadership of the WSPU) toward the end... because she was a very good speaker - a fine speaker - and very effective too."

In May 1914 Norah Dacre Fox was arrested with Flora Drummond during a demonstration. The Times reported that the two women "openly and deliberately advocating acts of militancy and violence." While in Holloway Prison she went on hunger-and-thirst strike and was released on licence.

Nora Dacre Fox was involved in the production of The Suffragette, the WSPU newspaper. Emmeline Pankhurst later recalled: "The Government made several last, desperate efforts to crush the WSPU to remove all the leaders and to destroy our paper, The Suffragette. They issued summonses against Mrs. Drummond, Mrs. Dacre Fox, and Miss Grace Roe; they raided our headquarters at Lincoln's Inn House; twice they raided other headquarters temporarily in use; not to speak of raids made upon private dwellings where the new leaders, who had risen to take the places of those arrested, were at their work for the organisation."

On 30th July 1914 she was arrested at Buckingham Palace while attempting to present a letter from Mrs Pankhurst to King George V. According to Julie V. Gottlieb this resulted in her "thrice being imprisoned in Holloway for militant acts, and she had gone on hunger strike for which she received a medal with three bars from the leaders of the WSPU."

On 4th August, 1914, England declared war on Germany. The leadership of the WSPU immediately began negotiating with the British government. On the 10th August the government announced it was releasing all suffragettes from prison. In return, the WSPU agreed to end their militant activities and help the war effort.

Emmeline Pankhurst announced that all militants had to "fight for their country as they fought for the vote." Ethel Smyth pointed out in her autobiography, Female Pipings for Eden (1933): "Mrs Pankhurst declared that it was now a question of Votes for Women, but of having any country left to vote in. The Suffrage ship was put out of commission for the duration of the war, and the militants began to tackle the common task."

Annie Kenney reported that orders came from Christabel Pankhurst: "The Militants, when the prisoners are released, will fight for their country as they have fought for the Vote." Kenney later wrote: "Mrs. Pankhurst, who was in Paris with Christabel, returned and started a recruiting campaign among the men in the country. This autocratic move was not understood or appreciated by many of our members. They were quite prepared to receive instructions about the Vote, but they were not going to be told what they were to do in a world war."

After receiving a £2,000 grant from the government, Norah Dacre Fox helped the WSPU organise a demonstration in London. A former member of the WSPU, Jessie Stephen, who resigned over the issue of the First World War, argued that "Dacre Fox and the Pankhursts" were members of a "close cadre of middle and upper class conservative women leading the WSPU" after the outbreak of war.

Members carried banners with slogans such as "We Demand the Right to Serve", "For Men Must Fight and Women Must work" and "Let None Be Kaiser's Cat's Paws". At the meeting, attended by 30,000 people, Emmeline Pankhurst called on trade unions to let women work in those industries traditionally dominated by men.

During the autumn of 1915, Norah Dacre Fox, Emmeline Pankhurst, Flora Drummond, Annie Kenney and Grace Roe, went on a lecture tour of South Wales, the Midlands and Scotland in an attempt to encourage trade unions to support war work. According to the authors of Mosley's Old Suffragette (2010): "By October 1915 the rightward swing in the political view of the Pankhursts and the WSPU was becoming very evident... They focused on criticizing Germany and all Germans who were living and working in England, particularly in the higher echelons of the civil service. This particular campaign was to occupy Norah intensely."

On 14th August 1918, The Times reported that: "Mrs Dacre Fox said... we had to make a clean sweep of all persons of German blood, without distinction of sex, birthplace, or nationality. Never had the time been so ripe for action; never would it be so favourable again. If we allowed the opportunity to pass now, German influence, which at the present moment was hampering and hindering the War Cabinet in its prosecution of the war, would become more firmly entrenched than ever in this country.... Any person in this country, no matter who he was or what his position, who was suspected of protecting German influence, should be tried as a traitor, and, if necessary, shot. There must be no compromise and no discrimination."

In the 1918 General Election she stood as an independent candidate in the Richmond constituency. During the campaign she argued that people of German birth should be deported from the country. She later recalled that "my own distrust of party politics made me chary of turning in this direction, and I preferred to stand as an Independent, going down with all other women candidates on this occasion, save one." Norah Dacre Fox won only 3,615 votes in the election.

Dacre Fox campaigned against the Treaty of Versailles. In a letter to The Times on 10th April 1920 she argued: "France is our friend. Upon her security and her prestige depend the security and prestige of the British Empire. One had imagined that this lesson had been fully learnt as the experience of the European War, and a policy which tends to weaken France must be a policy which helps to strengthen her enemy and ours - Germany. The truth is that in this country there are a group of politicians and public men, surrounded by officials and advisers, who have always worked and are still working for a rapprochement with Germany and the hope of a future alliance with her."

After the war Norah Dacre Fox went to live with Dudley Elam at his home in Northchapel, near Chichester. Elam, was already married to another woman, and so she added "Elam" to her name by deep poll. On 29th May she gave birth to a son. According to Elizabeth Crawford: Having little interest in motherhood, arranged for a nanny to bring up her son. He was 9 years old before he realised that she was his mother."

Norah Elam now joined Flora Drummond and Elsie Bowerman to establish the Women's Guild of Empire, a right wing league opposed to communism. Drummond's biographer, Krista Cowman, pointed out: "When the war ended she was one of the few former suffragettes who attempted to continue the popular, jingoistic campaigning which the WSPU had followed from 1914 to 1918.... She founded the Women's Guild of Empire, an organization aimed at furthering a sense of patriotism in working-class women and defeating such socialist manifestations as strikes and lock-outs." She was also active in the Anti-Vivisection Society.

Norah was an active member of the Conservative Party until she defected to the British Union of Fascist (BUF) in 1934. Her husband became an unpaid receptionist at the BUF's National Headquarters whereas Norah became the BUF County Women's Officer for West Sussex. She was also a regular contributor to BUF publications for the next six years.

In April 1934 Norah Elam shared a platform with William Joyce, the Director of Research and Director of Propaganda, at Chichester. As the the authors of Mosley's Old Suffragette (2010) have pointed out: "With Joyce as Area Administrative Officer, Dudley as Sub-Branch Officer for Worthing and Norah as Sussex Women's Organizer, West Sussex became a hub of fascist activity."

On 17th August 1934, The Blackshirt reported: "Mrs Dudley Elam, Area Organiser for Sussex and Hampshire held a very successful meeting at Littlehampton, addressing a crowd of over 100 people. She spoke for about an hour and gave a clear and lucid exposition of Fascist policy notwithstanding a certain amount of heckling from the Communist element in the audience."

Norah attended a meeting with William Joyce and Oswald Mosley at the Pier Pavilion in Worthing, on 9th October 1934. Members of the British Union of Fascists became involved in violent clashes with protestors and Joyce and Mosley were arrested. At their trial Norah gave evidence that the trouble was caused by anti-fascist demonstrators. Another witness claimed that she heard people chanting: "One! Two! Three! Four! Five! We want Mosley, dead or alive!"

It was not long before Norah became very close to Oswald Mosley. The author of Femine Fascism: Women in Britain's Fascist Movement (2003) has pointed out: "Elam's status in the BUF and the sensitive tasks with which she was entrusted offer some substance to the BUF's claim to respect sexual equality. While, in principle, the movement was segregated by gender and women in positions of leadership were meant to have authority only over other women. Elam was quite evidently admitted to Mosley's inner circle."

Norah became so convinced by the merits of Adolf Hitler that she sent her 12 year old son to live in Nazi Germany. He joined the Hitler Youth and the authors of Mosley's Old Suffragette (2010) have commented: "He attended various demonstrations and was shown how to roll marbles under police horses' hooves to cause maximum damage, disruption and pain; he recalled Jew-baiting incidents with delight."

Norah became involved in a dispute with Flora Drummond who had criticised the violent methods of the British Union of Fascists. On 22nd February 1935 Norah argued in The Blackshirt that Drummond had once "defied all law and order; smashed not only windows, but all the meetings of Cabinet Ministers on which she could lay hands, and was for long the daily terror of the Public Prosecutor and the despair of Bow Street!" Norah described Drummond and other former suffragettes as "extinct volcanoes either wandering about in the backwoods of international pacifism and decadence, or prostrating themselves before the various political parties." Later she wrote: "From those days of heroic struggle seems now a far cry. But will anyone deny that in all the long history of human effort and sublime self-sacrifice which the world has seen a greater disillusionment can be found than the complete failure of the women's movement in the post-war years?"

In November 1936 Norah Elam was one of ten women the British Union of Fascists announced would be candidates in the next general election. Elam was selected to fight the Northampton constituency. Mosley used Norah's past as one of the leaders of the Women's Social and Political Union to counter the criticism that the BUF was anti-feminist. In one speech Norah Elam argued that her prospective candidacy for the House of Commons "killed for all time the suggestion that National Socialism proposed putting British women back in the home". On another occasion she claimed: "No woman who loves her country, her sex or her liberty, need fear the coming victory of Fascism. Rather she will find that what the suffragettes dreamt about twenty odd years ago is now becoming a possibility, and women will buckle on her armour for the last phase of the greatest struggle, for the liberation of the human race, which the world has yet seen."

The outbreak of the Second World War reduced support for the British Union of Fascists. However, Norah Elam remained committed to the cause and became a secret member of the Right Club. Formed by Archibald Ramsay in 1939, it was an attempt to unify all the different right-wing groups in Britain. Ramsay argued: "The main object of the Right Club was to oppose and expose the activities of Organized Jewry, in the light of the evidence which came into my possession in 1938. Our first objective was to clear the Conservative Party of Jewish influence, and the character of our membership and meetings were strictly in keeping with this objective."

Other members of the Right Club included William Joyce, Anna Wolkoff, Joan Miller, A. K. Chesterton, Francis Yeats-Brown, E. H. Cole, Lord Redesdale, 5th Duke of Wellington, Duke of Westminster, Aubrey Lees, John Stourton, Thomas Hunter, Samuel Chapman, Ernest Bennett, Charles Kerr, John MacKie, James Edmondson, Mavis Tate, Marquess of Graham, Margaret Bothamley and Lord Sempill.

On 18th December 1939, the police raided Norah Elam's flat where they found documents suggesting that she had been taking part in secret meetings of right-wing groups. A letter from Oswald Mosley stated that "Mrs Elam had his full confidence, and was entitled to do what she thought fit in the interests of the movement on her own responsibility." On 23rd January 1940, Norah was arrested and interrogated him in order to establish whether her handling of BUF funds had been illegal or improper.

A MI5 report suggested that it was suspicious that Norah Elam had been placed in charge of BUF funds. Mosley told Special Branch detectives: "As regards the money paid to Mrs Elam we have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to conceal. When war became imminent we had to be prepared for any eventually. There might have been an air raid, our headquarters might have been smashed by a mob, I myself was expecting to be assassinated. I may tell you quite frankly that I took certain precautions. It was necessary then for us to disperse the funds in case anything should happen to headquarters or the leaders. Mrs. Elam therefore took charge of part of our funds for a short period before and after the declaration of war. There was nothing illegal or improper about this."

On 22nd May 1940 the British government announced the imposition of Defence Regulation 18B. This legislation gave the Home Secretary the right to imprison without trial anybody he believed likely to "endanger the safety of the realm". The following day, Norah Elam, Mosley, and other leaders of the BUF were arrested. On the 30th May the BUF was dissolved and its publications were banned. On 6th June Action Magazine recorded: "Mrs Elam (Mrs Dacre Fox) a militant suffragette and ardent patriot was arrested with three other women, Mrs Whinfield, Mrs Brock-Griggs and Olive Hawks."

Elam was sent to Holloway Prison with Diana Mosley. A fellow prisoner, Louise Irving, recorded: "I met Mrs Elam when I was in F. Wing in Holloway. I was a little in awe of her - she was of course a much older woman, and highly intelligent and erudite. Lady Mosley sometimes invited me to her cell with a few others for a small friendly get-together. All sorts of topics - art, music, literature etc were discussed, and Mrs Elam was invariably there... I was never close enough to her to hear about her suffragette experiences, but she was certainly a staunch member of BUF."

In November 1943, Herbert Morrison controversially decided to order the release of British Union of Fascists members from prison. There were large-scale protests and even Diana's sister, Jessica Mitford, described the decision as "a slap in the face of anti-fascists in every country and a direct betrayal of those who have died for the cause of anti-fascism."

After the war Nora remained in contact with Mary Allen and Arnold Leese, who was an extreme anti-Semite, who broke away from Oswald Mosley because he believed he was "soft on Jews". Although she never saw her again, Nora kept a signed photograph of Diana Mosley in her bedroom.

Norah Dacre Fox Elam died at Middlesex Hospital on 2nd March 1961.

The street sales of 1913 have beaten all records. Now that the strenuous days are ended, one can quietly look back on great things accomplished in spite of every effort which was made to discourage those engaged in this work of self sacrifice.

Press, anxious to belittle and misrepresent the strength of the militant agitation, and to take away from the public sympathy and support, which is indisputable, has spent its time reporting only those incidents derogatory to the public, and none of those which go to show how the wind really blows.

The case of Mrs Dacre Dacre Fox was taken first. Immediately on entering the dock, she began to speak. "I am not going to take any notice of these proceedings," she said, "you know that the whole thing is a farce, and that before we women come into the dock, you have got the rope round our necks."

"I am here, a woman, standing among men who have no sense of justice, who belong to a sex which has exploited women from the beginning, exploited them economically, politically and sexually. You talk about incitement. I tell you the incitement comes from such men as you who are prepared to let these things go on. That is the incitement which has made women like us, women of exemplary character and life, come to the police-court, and tell you what we think"

"I want to know why women like us should be standing in this police-court today, when scoundrels are allowed to go through the country destroying the minds of little children. Why do you not prosecute these men? Why should you prosecute us women, whose only crime is that we stand for the downtrodden, sexually, economically, and politically? The whole thing is a travesty and a farce; it has become a public scandal. You are the laughing-stock of the world."

Mr Muskett apparently tried to say something at this juncture, for Mrs Dacre Fox broke off, "I don't want to hear anything you have to say. Be quiet.".

The Government made several last, desperate efforts to crush the WSPU to remove all the leaders and to destroy our paper, The Suffragette. Dacre Fox, and Miss Grace Roe; they raided our headquarters at Lincoln's Inn House; twice they raided other headquarters temporarily in use; not to speak of raids made upon private dwellings where the new leaders, who had risen to take the places of those arrested, were at their work for the organisation.

Mrs Dacre Fox said that for the first time since the war broke out there was an open fight between the British public and German influence at work in the country. We had to make a clean sweep of all persons of German blood, without distinction of sex, birthplace, or nationality. If we allowed the opportunity to pass now, German influence, which at the present moment was hampering and hindering the War Cabinet in its prosecution of the war, would become more firmly entrenched than ever in this country. The report of the committee set up by Mr Lloyd George was an exceedingly weak report, and its recommendations were useless. They wanted to see every person of German blood in this country under lock and key. They must make the politicians move. There must be no compromise and no discrimination.

If British people were shut up - not interned - in Germany during the war, where would their sympathies and hearts be? Why here, of course, and anybody who said the contrary was talking nonsense. If the Germans here were not loyal to their own country, how could they be loyal to ours? They did not want German loyalty. It was a sign of decadence to ask for it. They did not want the enemy to help us in any capacity whatever. To expect it was un-British, and contrary to the spirit and traditions which built up the Empire. The Home Office was impregnated with German influence, and the Foreign Office used men protected by the Home Office.

No language can be too severe, and no protest too strong, against what amounts to a virtual betrayal of our Ally France. The question does not allow of argument. France is our friend. The truth is that in this country there are a group of politicians and public men, surrounded by officials and advisers, who have always worked and are still working for a rapprochement with Germany and the hope of a future alliance with her.

Mrs Dudley Elam, Area Organiser for Sussex and Hampshire held a very successful meeting at Littlehampton, addressing a crowd of over 100 people. She spoke for about an hour and gave a clear and lucid exposition of Fascist policy notwithstanding a certain amount of heckling from the Communist element in the audience.

What woman is there amongst us who made that fight, who does not today feel disillusioned? Where are the great leaders of those days? Look through the names of the women who climbed to Parliament on the efforts of the suffragettes, and see that not one leading women of that day has ever sat in the House of Commons. Democracy had killed them politically, and today they are forgotten as though they had never been.

What happened was that by the time women were given the vote, the democratic system was crumbling and falling into decay.... Turning to various political parties, full of vigour and enthusiasm to play their part in the new world as liberated citizens, they found themselves bound and fettered by the party caucus and chained to the party system...

No woman who loves her country, her sex or her liberty, need fear the coming victory of Fascism. Rather she will find that what the suffragettes dreamt about twenty odd years ago is now becoming a possibility, and women will buckle on her armour for the last phase of the greatest struggle, for the liberation of the human race, which the world has yet seen.

From those days of heroic struggle seems now a far cry. But will anyone deny that in all the long history of human effort and sublime self-sacrifice which the world has seen a greater disillusionment can be found than the complete failure of the women's movement in the post-war years?

Norah and Dudley Elam also regularly attended secret meetings to help organize collaboration between other "patriotic societies". These included the Link, the Nordic League, and the Right Club. The Right Club was a secret society that had been formed by Archibald Ramsay in 1939 to try to get unity among the different right-wing groups in Britain including the BUF. Ramsay was virulently anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi, and the Right Club included among its members William Joyce who had split with Mosley in 1937. Many of the secret meetings, including meetings between Mosley and Ramsey, were held at the premises of the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society (LPAVS). The LPAVS had played a large part in Norah's adult life long before she had joined the BUF and the LPAVS continued to work for animal rights into the 1960s. However, M15 and Special Branch came to suspect that it was a conduit for secret Fascist activities because of the number of leading members of the LPAVS who were also active BUF members (including Mary Allen and Sylvia Armstrong). Contrary to MI5 theories, their concern for animal welfare was completely genuine, but Norah's unconventional accounting methods may have muddied the water and attracted suspicion.

Elam's status in the BUF and the sensitive tasks with which she was entrusted offer some substance to the BUF's claim to respect sexual equality. While, in principle, the movement was segregated by gender and women in positions of leadership were meant to have authority only over other women, Elam was quite evidently admitted to Mosley's inner circle. As Mosley explained to inquisitive detectives from the Special Branch in 1940, because of his fears that National Headquarters might be bombed and even that he might be assassinated by an angry mob, it was Mrs Elam who "took charge of part of our funds for a short period before and after the declaration of war. There was nothing illegal or improper about this." As further evidence of the high esteem with which she was held by Mosley, when Norah Elam's offices at the London and Provincial Anti-Viviscction Society were raided on 18 December 1939, the police found in her possession a list containing the names of eight members of the BU, "together with a letter from Oswald Mosley stating that Mrs Elam had his full confidence, and was entitled to do what she thought fit in the interest of the movement".... She was interned under Defence Regulation 18B (1A) on 23 May 1940 as part of the first group of BU officials to be arrested. Olive Hawks, Muriel Whinfield, and Anne Brock Griggs were also among the first women arrested.


Christabel Pankhurst

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, DBE (22 September 1880 – 13 February 1958), was a suffragette born in Manchester, England. A co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), she directed its militant actions from exile in France from 1912 to 1913. In 1914 she supported the war against Germany. After the war she moved to the United States, where she worked as an evangelist for the Second Adventist movement.

Christabel Pankhurst was the daughter of the lawyer Dr. Richard Pankhurst and women's suffrage movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst and sister to Sylvia Pankhurst and Adela Pankhurst. Her family had not been wealthy her father was a lawyer and her mother owned a small shop. Christabel assisted her mother, who worked as the Registrar of Births and Deaths in Manchester. Despite their financial struggles, her family had always been encouraged by their firm belief in their devotion to causes rather than comforts.

Nancy Ellen Rupprecht wrote, “She was almost a textbook illustration of the first child born to a middle-class family. In childhood as well as adulthood, she was beautiful, intelligent, graceful, confident, charming, and charismatic.” Christabel enjoyed a special relationship with both her mother and father, who had named her after "Christabel", the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (“The lovely lady Christabel / Whom her father loves so well”). Her mother's death in 1928 had a devastating impact on Christabel.

She learned to read at her home on her own before she went to school. She and her two sisters attended Manchester High School for Girls. She obtained a law degree from the University of Manchester. She received honors on her LLB exam, but was not allowed to practice law as a woman. Later she moved to Geneva in France to live with a family friend, but returned home to help her mother raise the rest of the children when her father died in 1898.

In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst interrupted a Liberal Party meeting by shouting demands for voting rights for women. She was arrested and, along with fellow suffragist Annie Kenney, went to prison rather than pay a fine as punishment for their outburst. Their case gained much media interest and the ranks of the WSPU swelled following their trial. Emmeline Pankhurst began to take more militant action for the women's suffrage cause after her daughter's arrest and was herself imprisoned on many occasions for her principles.

After obtaining her law degree in 1906, Christabel moved to the London headquarters of the WSPU, where she was appointed its organising secretary. Nicknamed "Queen of the Mob", she was jailed again in 1907 in Parliament Square and 1909 after the "Rush Trial" at Bow Street. Between 1913 and 1914 she lived in Paris, France, to escape imprisonment under the terms of the Prisoner's (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, better known as the "Cat and Mouse Act". The start of World War I compelled her to return to England in 1914, where she was again arrested. Pankhurst engaged in a hunger strike, ultimately serving only 30 days of a three-year sentence.

She was influential in the WSPU's "anti-male" phase after the failure of the Conciliation Bills. She wrote a book called The Great Scourge and How to End It on the subject of sexually transmitted diseases and how sexual equality (votes for women) would help the fight against these diseases.

She and her sister Sylvia did not get along. Her sister was against turning the WSPU towards solely upper- and middle-class women and using militant tactics, while Christabel thought it was essential. Christabel felt that suffrage was a cause that should not be tied to any causes trying to help working-class women with their other issues. She felt that it would only drag the suffrage movement down and that all of the other issues could be solved once women had the right to vote.

On 8 September 1914, Pankhurst re-appeared at the London Opera House, after her long exile, to utter a declaration not on women's enfranchisement but on "The German Peril", a campaign led by the former General Secretary of the WSPU, Norah Dacre Fox in conjunction with the British Empire Union and the National Party. Along with Norah Dacre Fox (later known as Norah Elam), Pankhurst toured the country making recruiting speeches. Her supporters handed the white feather to every young man they encountered wearing civilian dress and bobbed up at Hyde Park meetings with placards: "Intern Them All". The Suffragette appeared again on 16 April 1915 as a war paper and on 15 October changed its name to Britannia. There, week by week, Pankhurst demanded the military conscription of men and the industrial conscription of women into "national service", as it was termed. She called also for the internment of all people of enemy race, men and women, young and old, found on these shores, and for a more complete and ruthless enforcement of the blockade of enemy and neutral nations. She insisted that this must be "a war of attrition". She demanded the resignation of Sir Edward Grey, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir William Robertson and Sir Eyre Crowe, whom she considered too mild and dilatory in method. Britannia was many times raided by the police and experienced greater difficulty in appearing than had befallen The Suffragette. Indeed, although occasionally Norah Dacre Fox's father, John Doherty, who owned a printing firm, was drafted in to print campaign posters, Britannia was compelled at last to set up its own printing press. Emmeline Pankhurst proposed to set up Women's Social and Political Union Homes for illegitimate girl "war babies", but only five children were adopted. David Lloyd George, whom Pankhurst had regarded as the most bitter and dangerous enemy of women, was now the one politician in whom she and Emmeline Pankhurst placed confidence.

When the February 1917 Russian Revolution took place and Alexander Kerensky rose to power, Christabel Pankhurst journeyed to Russia to prevent its withdrawal from the war. Her circuit was like that of the French "anti-patriot" Gustave Hervé, whom she had admired in her youth. She received the commendation of many war enthusiasts.

After some British women were granted the right to vote at the end of World War I, Pankhurst stood in the 1918 general election as a Women's Party candidate, in alliance with the Lloyd George/Conservative Coalition in the Smethwick constituency. She was narrowly defeated, by only 775 votes to the Labour Party candidate John Davison.

Leaving England in 1921, she moved to the United States where she eventually became an evangelist with Plymouth Brethren links and became a prominent member of Second Adventist movement. Marshall, Morgan, and Scott published her works on subjects related to her prophetic outlook, which took its character from John Darby's perspectives. Pankhurst lectured and wrote books on the Second Coming. She was a frequent guest on TV shows and had a reputation for being an odd combination of 𠇏ormer suffragist revolutionary, evangelical Christian and almost stereotypically proper 'English Lady' who always was in demand as a lecturer”. While in California, she adopted her daughter Betty, finally having recovered from her mother’s death.

She returned to Britain in the 1930s. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1936. At the onset of World War II she again left for the United States, to live in Los Angeles, California. Before her death she received 250 pounds a year from Olivia Durand-Deacon, a widow who was murdered by her male companion. The widow was murdered and her killer dissolved her body in an acid bath. The reason for which she left the sum to Christabel was unknown.

Christabel died February 13, 1958, at the age of 77, sitting in a straight-backed chair. Her housekeeper found her body and there was no indication of her cause of death. She was buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Santa Monica, California.


Norah Dacre Fox (Norah Elam) - History

Norah Elam, also known as Norah Dacre Fox (née Norah Doherty, 1878–1961), was a militant suffragette, anti-vivisectionist, feminist and fascist in the United Kingdom. Born in Dublin to John and Charlotte Doherty, she moved to England with her family and by 1891 was living in London. Norah married Charles Richard Dacre Fox in 1909.

Norah was a prominent member of the Women's Social and Political Union and served as general secretary. From May to July 1914 she was imprisoned three times in Holloway Prison for "acts of terrorism" she received a WSPU Hunger Strike Medal with three bars. In 1918 she stood as an independent candidate in Richmond (Surrey) for election to the Parliament of the United Kingdom but was not elected. The same year she campaigned for the internment of enemy aliens in collaboration with the British Empire Union and the National Party. Norah Elam stated publicly in ''The Times'' that she was never a member of the Women's Freedom League (contrary to some reports). Elam claimed to be a founding member of the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society (LPAVS). Documentary evidence of this has not been found, but it is known that she was a member from about the time of its inception circa 1900. In the 1930s she had published under the auspices of the LPAVS two pamphlets: "The MRC: What it is and How it Works" and "The Vitamin Survey". The pamphlets were widely distributed throughout the UK, including public libraries. By the 1930s, she had separated from her husband, and was living with Edward Descou Dudley Vallance Elam whose surname she adopted. They lived in Sussex where they were active in the local Conservative Party, however they defected to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF) soon after its creation in 1932 and she became prominent in the women's section. During this time, she encountered Wilfred Risdon, Director of Propaganda 1933–4, who was later a colleague in the LPAVS. She was a frequent contributor to the fascist press and in 1937 was put forward as a candidate for the BUF for the Northampton constituency, but, because of the war, the election never took place. Mosley used her suffragette past to counter the criticism that National Socialism was anti-feminist saying that her prospective candidacy "killed for all time the suggestion that National Socialism proposed putting British women back in the home". In 1940 Norah and Dudley Elam were arrested as Defence Regulation 18B detainees and she was interned in Holloway Prison with several other female fascists including Diana Mosley.

Elam had one son, Evelyn (born 1922). Her granddaughter, Angela McPherson, described in a BBC documentary that she had no idea until 2002 of the role Elam played at the centre of the fascist movement. Angela knew that Elam had been a suffragette who claimed to have been close to the Pankhursts a sudden decision to search online for information about Norah Elam started to throw up information she had not been aware of. Angela felt that she had subconsciously blocked out disturbing memories of the stories her grandmother told her as a child, which were to affect her family. She described Elam as a "dreadful racist". They feel that she emotionally damaged her son, turning him into a "bullying misogynist" imitation of Norah's own father. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pk7zp/Mother_Was_A_Blackshirt/?from=r&id=35227e69-fcbf-45d7-8295-2c78e9703b74.0 A biography, ''Mosley's Old Suffragette'', has been written by Susan McPherson and Angela McPherson.

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Woman and her Sphere

21 November 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Parliament(Qualification of Women) Act, by which women were for the first time able to stand for election as members of Parliament.

It was only earlier in the year, on 6 February, that some women (over 30 and fulfilling a small property qualification) had at long last been granted the parliamentary vote and now, as the Great War had come to an end, women actually had the prospect of sitting in the House of Commons.

The short bill, passing rapidly through all stages of the parliamentary process with little opposition, granted the right to stand for election to all women over the age of 21, although any woman of that age would have been unable to vote. A curious situation.

With a general election called for 14 December, there was little time for women to organize election campaigns, but in the event 17 women took to the hustings. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll tell you something about each one of these pioneers, taking them alphabetically.

This is the sixth:

Mrs Dacre Fox, standing as an Independent in Richmond, Surrey. Although born in Ireland, she had lived for many years in south-west London so it was a constituency with which she was familiar.

Norah Dacre Fox (1878-1961) had risen to prominence in the Women’s Social and Political Union during 1913 and 1914 and between May and July 1914 was imprisoned three times, on hunger strike. During the First World War she joined Mrs Pankhurst’s campaigns to mobilise workers into munition factories and to prevent industrial unrest.

During these war-time campaigns she supported the Pankhursts’ virulently anti-German policy and carried this forward into her Election Address. The Derby Daily Telegraph (26 November 1918) noted that she confined ‘her programme to the barring of all Germans from responsible public positions inn England, and excluding the Huns for ever from our trade and business. Nothing from her election address appears to have been reproduced in The Common Cause or The Vote – or, rather surprisingly, in Britannia, the Pankhursts’ paper..

However, this message seems to have had some appeal to the Richmond electors as Mrs Dacre Fox took second place at the election, with 3615 votes. The Unionist candidate won, with 8364 votes, but she beat the Liberal and another Independent candidate.

She never stood again for Parliament although, having in the 1930s become a leading member of the women’s section of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, she was from 1937 the prospective BUF candidate for Northampton. However, war intervened, the general election did not take place, and Norah Dacre Fox (now Norah Elam) was interned in Holloway as a Nazi sympathiser.


First World War and the WSPU

When the First World War began in August 1914, Emmeline and Christabel considered that the threat posed by Germany was a danger to all humanity and that the British government needed the support of all citizens. They persuaded the WSPU to halt all militant suffrage activities until fighting on the European mainland ended. It was no time for dissent or agitation Christabel wrote later: “This was national militancy. As Suffragists we could not be pacifists at any price.” [92] A truce with the government was established, all WSPU prisoners were released, and Christabel returned to London. Emmeline and Christabel along with WSPU leaders Grace Roe and Norah Dacre Fox (later known as Norah Elam) set the WSPU into motion on behalf of the war effort. In her first speech after returning to Britain, Christabel warned of the “German Peril.” She urged the gathered women to follow the example of their French sisters, who–while the men fought– “are able to keep the country going, to get in the harvest, to carry on the industries.” Emmeline urged men to volunteer for the front lines and, along with Christabel, became a leading figure in the White feathermovement. Surviving Pathe newsreel shows Emmeline and Norah Dacre Fox speaking at a large meeting at Trafalgar Square in 1916 on the Rumanian Crisis, urging the government to support Britain’s allies in the Balkans.


Directed by Sarah Gavron screenplay by Abi Morgan

British filmmaker Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette is a fictionalized account of the women’s voting rights movement in Britain in the pre-World War I period.

The so-called “suffragettes” were led by Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), who founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903. The struggle at times became fierce, involving conflicts with police and minor acts of terrorism. The women were often jailed and tortured during their incarceration. The right to vote for women was eventually won in the UK in 1928.

Gavron’s movie begins in 1912. Its protagonist, Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), is a 24-year-old laundress, working and living in poverty-stricken and oppressed circumstances. Gavron uses the character to epitomize the growing social awareness of women and their involvement in the suffrage movement.

In Suffragette, Maud labors like a slave at work and goes home to minister to husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw), who also works at the industrial laundry, but for higher wages. She is a caring mother to her adored young son, Georgie. Marital relations are as good as can be expected for a couple living in abject poverty, even perhaps a little better, provided Maud does not deviate from what is expected of her.

At work, Maud is vigilant in regard to her employer, who, besides working people to their chemically scarred bones, sexually abuses young girls. Maud grew up in the laundry as the daughter of a laundress and sustained years of abuse herself.

An outspoken co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff) makes an impression on Maud. The latter discovers that Violet is a member of the local underground suffragette chapter run by the militant Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter). Edith owns a pharmacy with her supportive husband—the only genuinely encouraging male in the movie—which is used as a front for the meetings of the group.

As Maud begins to express an interest in the fight, she almost immediately finds herself, unexpectedly (and somewhat implausibly), giving testimony at a hearing presided over by Chancellor of the Exchequer and future prime minister David Lloyd George (Adrian Schiller) on women’s right to vote, an event that does not shift the government. As Maud’s involvement with the suffragettes grows, so does her alienation from Sonny, who eventually locks her out of the house and, because he has exclusive parental rights over Georgie, bars her from their son—the most painful of all her sacrifices. Furthermore, she is hounded by the dogged Irish-born policeman Steed (Brendan Gleeson), who unsuccessfully tries to browbeat her into becoming an informer.

The women are inspired by and unswervingly loyal to their leader Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep in a cameo performance), who urges them to stand up to the determined efforts of the government to break their wills. The suffragettes are beaten and imprisoned. In jail, Maud and others go on hunger strike and are brutally force-fed. Even Steed is appalled by their “barbaric” treatment. The movie ends, essentially in mid-air, when one of the suffragettes, Emily Davison (Natalie Press), becomes a martyr for the cause in 1913.

Director Gavron has demonstrated a sensitivity and talent for filmmaking in her previous efforts, This Little Life (2003) about a child born prematurely, and Brick Lane (2007) concerning the Bangladeshi community in London. Unfortunately, the broader the panorama and scope of the subject matter, the weaker and more obviously limited in outlook and approach her work becomes.

Not helping matters, in her latest movie, she has teamed up with screenwriter Abi Morgan, responsible for the deplorable The Iron Lady (2011), a generally sympathetic portrait of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The chief difficulties with Suffragette arise from what is essentially an act of intellectual sleight of hand on the part of the filmmakers. In the end, the film plays fast and loose with history in the interests of pushing a contemporary political agenda.

Both the scenes of Maud toiling in the laundry and her struggling to make a decent life for her small family are moving. Mulligan, who has often seemed rather bland in the past, gives a restrained and convincing performance here as an oppressed woman whose passionate feelings and opinions only slowly rise to the surface.

However, to a considerable extent, Gavron’s scenes of the abominable laundry and London’s East End belong in a different film.

The WSPU, although it may have had support in certain areas from working class women, was a movement whose leadership and social outlook was overwhelmingly middle class. After all, 40 percent, the poorest layers, of the male population could not vote at the time (including Maud’s husband) and the WSPU advocated women having the right to vote on the same terms as men, i.e., they accepted wealth and property limits on the women who would be able to vote. The Independent Labour Party, which advocated universal suffrage, attacked the WSPU on these grounds.

In all likelihood, a woman like Maud Watts would not have gravitated toward the feminist movement as her consciousness awakened, but toward the socialist movement. The pre-World War I period witnessed an immense growth in the socialist parties internationally and the number of female supporters in particular. The number of women in the Social Democratic Party in Germany, for example, jumped from about 4,000 in 1905 to over 141,000 by 1913. One of its most remarkable leaders, of course, was Rosa Luxemburg.

Maud’s story, so to speak, belongs to a different social and intellectual trajectory than the one the filmmakers imagine for her. They clearly did not want to make a film about an aspiring parliamentarian, lawyer or pharmacist because it would not have had the same emotional or dramatic punch.

A more honest film would have shown women like Maud more attracted to the emerging social struggles of the working class as a whole (the British Labour Party, which also supported universal suffrage, was founded in 1906). A class divide separates the interests of Emmeline Pankhurst and those of Maud and Violet. As Pankhurst says in the movie: “We don’t want to be law breakers, we want to be law makers.” (The phrase actually comes from Anne Cobden Sanderson, another campaigner for votes for women.)

To their discredit, Gavron and Morgan are relying on the generally low level of historical knowledge in removing the socialist movement from the historical equation. Suffragette ’s circumscribed timeline is significant. Had it stretched out a few more years, the film’s creators would have had to show the irreconcilable split that occurred within the Pankhurst family itself.

With the outbreak of World War I, Emmeline and one of her daughters, Christabel, threw their full support behind British imperialism in its conflict with the “German Peril.” Within days of the declaration of war in August 1914, the British government agreed to release all WSPU prisoners and paid the organization £2,000 to organize a patriotic rally under the slogan “Men must fight and women must work.” Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst campaigned tirelessly for millions of young men to be sent into the slaughterhouse of the war. Later, a fervent anti-communist, Emmeline Pankhurst joined the Conservative Party and was chosen as one of its parliamentary candidates.

The film makes much of the WSPU slogan, “Deeds, not words.” There is nothing inherently radical or progressive about such a motto. The character of a movement is determined by its program and social orientation. Many ultra-right organizations would subscribe—and have subscribed—to “Deeds, not words.” In fact, it is worth pointing to the political evolution of Norah Dacre Fox, a leading member, and from 1913 the general secretary, of the WSPU. Fox was one of the organizers of the 1914 pro-war rally and a ferocious anti-German chauvinist. According to The Times in 1918, Mrs. Dacre Fox supported making “a clean sweep of all persons of German blood, without distinction of sex, birthplace, or nationality. … Any person in this country, no matter who he was or what his position, who was suspected of protecting German influence, should be tried as a traitor, and, if necessary, shot. There must be no compromise and no discrimination.” Norah Dacre Fox (later Norah Elam) went on to become a prominent figure in Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.

For many of the upper-middle class women involved in the WSPU, as for many of their present-day counterparts, the “fight for women’s rights” boiled down to a fight for a bigger share of the professional, political and income pie. There is inevitably a sinister and reactionary logic to any movement based on ethnicity or gender. Many contemporary feminists support the imperialist war drive against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria today—and tomorrow, Russia—on the spurious grounds of “women’s rights.”

By contrast, Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) led East End women in the direction of socialism. She broke from the WSPU in 1914, eventually launching the Workers’ Socialist Federation. She founded the newspaper, the Women’s Dreadnought, which later changed its name to the Workers’ Dreadnought. From her own experiences with women like Maud Watts, Sylvia came to the conclusion that the problem was capitalism.

Sylvia Pankhurst supported the Russian Revolution of 1917 and went to the Soviet Union in 1920-21 where she met Lenin and heard Trotsky speak. (While in London, she received a letter from Lenin in August 1919, urging no delay in “the formation of a big workers’ Communist Party in Britain.”). Coming into conflict with her mother, she agreed with Marxists such as Rosa Luxemburg, who wrote in 1914: “Bourgeois women’s rights activists want to acquire political rights, in order to participate in political life. The proletarian woman can only follow the path of workers’ struggle, which in the opposite way achieves every inch of actual power, and only in this way acquires statutory rights.”

No one on the official “left” today, utterly consumed by identity politics and issues of sex and gender, cares to remember the scorn that socialists like Luxemburg, Eleanor Marx, Luise Kautsky, Clara Zetkin and others heaped on the affluent “women rightsers” of their time.

In that period, it was elementary to view the issue in class not gender terms. Eleanor Marx, for example, wrote: “We are not women arrayed in struggle against men but workers who are in struggle against the exploiters.” And: “The real women’s party, the socialist party … has a basic understanding of the economic causes of the present adverse position of workingwomen and … calls on the workingwomen to wage a common fight hand-in-hand with the men of their class against the common enemy, viz. the men and women of the capitalist class.”

And it was Eleanor Marx who noted that “We see no more in common between a Mrs. Fawcett [the leading light of the women’s rights movement in the late 19th century] and a laundress than we see between [the banker] Rothschild and one of his employees. In short, for us there is only the working-class movement.”

Or Clara Zetkin: “For the proletarian woman, it is capital’s need for exploitation, its unceasing search for the cheapest labour power, that has created the women’s question …

“Consequently, the liberation struggle of the proletarian woman cannot be—as it is for the bourgeois woman—a struggle against the men of her own class … The end-goal of her struggle is not free competition with men but bringing about the political rule of the proletariat. Hand in hand with the men of her own class, the proletarian woman fights against capitalist society.”

It should be added that even though Suffragette does have a working class woman as its heroine, it tends to demonstrate contempt for the working class as a whole. The innumerable close-ups of Mulligan’s face speak to the deliberately narrow and confined focus. Virtually all the men in the film are monstrous. In addition, all of Maud’s co-workers, with the exception of Violet, as well as her female neighbors shun and blackguard her for taking up a fight. So while Maud is one of the deserving poor, the rest are portrayed as hopelessly backward and beholden to King and Country.

And what of the fruits of feminism? A study by a UK think tank in 2013 concluded that “fifty years of feminism” has seen the gap between the wages of the average man and woman narrow, while the differences between working class and upper class women “remain far greater than the differences between men and women.”

Morgan-Gavron’s Suffragette attempts to avoid and misrepresent the fact that working class women were thrown into the vortex of political life as part of a class and it was the inescapable logic of the movement of the whole class that imbued them with their “class-conscious defiance.” (Luxemburg)


Christabel Pankhurst

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, DBE (22 September 1880 – 13 February 1958), was a suffragette born in Manchester, England. A co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), she directed its militant actions from exile in France from 1912 to 1913. In 1914 she supported the war against Germany. After the war she moved to the United States, where she worked as an evangelist for the Second Adventist movement.

Christabel Pankhurst was the daughter of the lawyer Dr. Richard Pankhurst and women's suffrage movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst and sister to Sylvia Pankhurst and Adela Pankhurst. Her family had not been wealthy her father was a lawyer and her mother owned a small shop. Christabel assisted her mother, who worked as the Registrar of Births and Deaths in Manchester. Despite their financial struggles, her family had always been encouraged by their firm belief in their devotion to causes rather than comforts.

Nancy Ellen Rupprecht wrote, “She was almost a textbook illustration of the first child born to a middle-class family. In childhood as well as adulthood, she was beautiful, intelligent, graceful, confident, charming, and charismatic.” Christabel enjoyed a special relationship with both her mother and father, who had named her after "Christabel", the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (“The lovely lady Christabel / Whom her father loves so well”). Her mother's death in 1928 had a devastating impact on Christabel.

She learned to read at her home on her own before she went to school. She and her two sisters attended Manchester High School for Girls. She obtained a law degree from the University of Manchester. She received honors on her LLB exam, but was not allowed to practice law as a woman. Later she moved to Geneva in France to live with a family friend, but returned home to help her mother raise the rest of the children when her father died in 1898.

In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst interrupted a Liberal Party meeting by shouting demands for voting rights for women. She was arrested and, along with fellow suffragist Annie Kenney, went to prison rather than pay a fine as punishment for their outburst. Their case gained much media interest and the ranks of the WSPU swelled following their trial. Emmeline Pankhurst began to take more militant action for the women's suffrage cause after her daughter's arrest and was herself imprisoned on many occasions for her principles.

After obtaining her law degree in 1906, Christabel moved to the London headquarters of the WSPU, where she was appointed its organising secretary. Nicknamed "Queen of the Mob", she was jailed again in 1907 in Parliament Square and 1909 after the "Rush Trial" at Bow Street. Between 1913 and 1914 she lived in Paris, France, to escape imprisonment under the terms of the Prisoner's (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, better known as the "Cat and Mouse Act". The start of World War I compelled her to return to England in 1914, where she was again arrested. Pankhurst engaged in a hunger strike, ultimately serving only 30 days of a three-year sentence.

She was influential in the WSPU's "anti-male" phase after the failure of the Conciliation Bills. She wrote a book called The Great Scourge and How to End It on the subject of sexually transmitted diseases and how sexual equality (votes for women) would help the fight against these diseases.

She and her sister Sylvia did not get along. Her sister was against turning the WSPU towards solely upper- and middle-class women and using militant tactics, while Christabel thought it was essential. Christabel felt that suffrage was a cause that should not be tied to any causes trying to help working-class women with their other issues. She felt that it would only drag the suffrage movement down and that all of the other issues could be solved once women had the right to vote.

On 8 September 1914, Pankhurst re-appeared at the London Opera House, after her long exile, to utter a declaration not on women's enfranchisement but on "The German Peril", a campaign led by the former General Secretary of the WSPU, Norah Dacre Fox in conjunction with the British Empire Union and the National Party. Along with Norah Dacre Fox (later known as Norah Elam), Pankhurst toured the country making recruiting speeches. Her supporters handed the white feather to every young man they encountered wearing civilian dress and bobbed up at Hyde Park meetings with placards: "Intern Them All". The Suffragette appeared again on 16 April 1915 as a war paper and on 15 October changed its name to Britannia. There, week by week, Pankhurst demanded the military conscription of men and the industrial conscription of women into "national service", as it was termed. She called also for the internment of all people of enemy race, men and women, young and old, found on these shores, and for a more complete and ruthless enforcement of the blockade of enemy and neutral nations. She insisted that this must be "a war of attrition". She demanded the resignation of Sir Edward Grey, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir William Robertson and Sir Eyre Crowe, whom she considered too mild and dilatory in method. Britannia was many times raided by the police and experienced greater difficulty in appearing than had befallen The Suffragette. Indeed, although occasionally Norah Dacre Fox's father, John Doherty, who owned a printing firm, was drafted in to print campaign posters, Britannia was compelled at last to set up its own printing press. Emmeline Pankhurst proposed to set up Women's Social and Political Union Homes for illegitimate girl "war babies", but only five children were adopted. David Lloyd George, whom Pankhurst had regarded as the most bitter and dangerous enemy of women, was now the one politician in whom she and Emmeline Pankhurst placed confidence.

When the February 1917 Russian Revolution took place and Alexander Kerensky rose to power, Christabel Pankhurst journeyed to Russia to prevent its withdrawal from the war. Her circuit was like that of the French "anti-patriot" Gustave Hervé, whom she had admired in her youth. She received the commendation of many war enthusiasts.

After some British women were granted the right to vote at the end of World War I, Pankhurst stood in the 1918 general election as a Women's Party candidate, in alliance with the Lloyd George/Conservative Coalition in the Smethwick constituency. She was narrowly defeated, by only 775 votes to the Labour Party candidate John Davison.

Leaving England in 1921, she moved to the United States where she eventually became an evangelist with Plymouth Brethren links and became a prominent member of Second Adventist movement. Marshall, Morgan, and Scott published her works on subjects related to her prophetic outlook, which took its character from John Darby's perspectives. Pankhurst lectured and wrote books on the Second Coming. She was a frequent guest on TV shows and had a reputation for being an odd combination of 𠇏ormer suffragist revolutionary, evangelical Christian and almost stereotypically proper 'English Lady' who always was in demand as a lecturer”. While in California, she adopted her daughter Betty, finally having recovered from her mother’s death.

She returned to Britain in the 1930s. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1936. At the onset of World War II she again left for the United States, to live in Los Angeles, California. Before her death she received 250 pounds a year from Olivia Durand-Deacon, a widow who was murdered by her male companion. The widow was murdered and her killer dissolved her body in an acid bath. The reason for which she left the sum to Christabel was unknown.

Christabel died February 13, 1958, at the age of 77, sitting in a straight-backed chair. Her housekeeper found her body and there was no indication of her cause of death. She was buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Santa Monica, California.


The Forgotten MP.

HIDDEN in an alcove near the disabled toilet on the first floor of Parliament's modern wing is a recently hung portrait of the first woman elected to Westminster, Constance Markievicz.

The significance of her landmark victory a century ago is surely worth a spot more prominent than a little visited corner of Portcullis House.

Nancy Astor, the first woman a year later to take her seat, has a grand plaque on the old palace's famous committee corridor plus a bust.

However, the Plymouth Tory was a conventional figure unlike Markievicz, an aristocrat turned fiery rebel.

The Irish socialist revolutionary, a member of Sinn Fein, was in a cell in London's Holloway prison when she made history by winning the Dublin St Patrick's seat at the December 1918 general election.

She was sentenced to death for her role in the 1916 Easter Uprising but saved because she was female.

When she was told she wouldn't be executed, she replied: "I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me."

However, even if free, she would not have sat on the benches as Sinn Fein is an abstentionist party.

Born in London to wealthy parents with a large country estate in Ireland, the MP-to-be took the surname of her Polish artist husband and was formally known as Countess Markievicz.

Settling in Dublin in 1903, she joined the struggle for independence.

"Constance Markievicz was a feminist, a socialist, an internationalist, a revolutionary, and a republican," says Mary Lou McDonald, the first woman in modern times to lead the party.

"The 1918 election was a truly national election for Ireland - known as the Sinn Fein election. A vast majority of Sinn Fein MPs were returned, abstained from Westminster and established a National Parliament, the first Dail."

She went on: "It is a matter of immense pride that the first ever woman MP was elected under the banner of Sinn Fein."

Theresa May airbrushed her from history at this week's Prime Minister's Questions by focusing on Astor. "I'm delighted the first woman to take her seat was a Conservative," she said.

Since Markievicz's historic moment a century ago, the 489 women to be elected would not fill a single chamber. And the record 208 women MPs elected at last year's election is still only 32% of the 650 total.

The UK ranks 38th in a global Parliamentary equality league, way behind countries such as Rwanda, Bolivia, Cuba and the Seychelles.

Party: Labour Seat: Rusholme, Manchester Emmeline was already a formidable force in the women's rights movement before the election, as a treasurer of the Women's Social and Political Union - the official title for the suffragettes. She founded the publication Votes for Women with her husband Frederick, who later became a baron, in 1907. They were both imprisoned in 1912 after demonstrations that involved breaking windows.

Party: Women's Party Seat: Smethwick The eldest daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel was a major driving force in the increasing militarism of the suffragette movement.

A staunch patriot and supporter of the war, she was the only woman candidate endorsed by PM David Lloyd George. She was defeated by just 775 votes and went to America, and joined the Plymouth Brethren.

Party: Labour Seat: Stourbridge She was the first female representative on the Union's National Executive and founded the National Federation of Women Workers. Experience as a journalist helped her get support for campaigns. Activist work made her well-known by the 1918 election but, under Edwardian tradition, she had to use her husband's name on the ballot paper. The unknown name Mrs W. C. Anderson deterred people.

Party: Liberal Seat: Mansfield Chesterfield-born Violet was a well-known anti-suffrage campaigner, once writing: "Men have looked after us in the past and will continue to do so." That did not stop her standing in 1918, after years of work in education reform, including as the president of the Chesterfield Settlement. She continued her passion for social reform after the poll, becoming Chesterfield's first female mayor in 1927.

Party: Independent Seat: Richmond Anti-German militant suffragette Norah was in Holloway Prison in 1914 before being released on licence. A pamphlet from 1918 said: "Anyone protecting German influence should be tried, or shot." After the failed election, she defected to the British Union of Fascists. She was one of 10 female BUF candidates in the 1937 general election that never happened and went to Holloway again for involvement with the BUF.

Party: Liberal Seat: Birmingham Ladywood The 1918 general election was the first of seven unsuccessful attempts at constituencies including Birmingham, Richmond and Watford by suffragist Margery to get into Parliament. Her only child, Michael Ashby, was a neurologist who gave evidence at the 1957 trial of suspected serial killer John Bodkin Adams.

Party: Sinn Fein Seat: Belfast Victoria The other Irish woman to stand in the election was less successful - losing out in a strong Unionist area.

Catholic and Irish Republican Winifred had been at James Connolly's side in the GPO building in Dublin throughout the Easter Rising in 1916, for which she was jailed.

She married Protestant and Battle of the Somme survivor George McBride in an unlikely but happy pairing.

Party: Labour Seat: Battersea North Before the election, Charlotte was heavily involved in the Women's Tax Resistance League and, in 1909, she met Gandhi, in London, through her work with the organisation. The daughter of Irish Captain John Tracy William French of the Royal Navy, Charlotte later became involved with Sinn Fein. She moved to Ireland in 1921, where she lived with Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne.

Party: Liberal Seat: Portsmouth South Suffragist Alison was the President of Tavistock Women's Liberal Association and an active member of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies fighting for Votes for Women. She gained the support of Liberal Leader H. H. Asquith in the election - but not Lloyd George's Coalition government. She lost out in the first of three unsuccessful elections.

Party: Conservative Seat: Kennington The daughter of a viscount, mother-of-five Alice lost out on the seat to Liberal candidate George Henry Purchase, endorsed by the coalition government, by a significant margin. She was the first female Conservative Party candidate in a Parliamentary election after her husband Col Francis Alfred Lucas, who was contesting the Kennington seat, died in the 1918 flu epidemic before polling day.

Party: Liberal Seat: Enfield Scotland-born Janet, known as Jenny, had a long record of public work as the head of the Enfield Maternity Centre.

Her husband John McEwan had been selected to stand in the seat, but died before the end of the war - so, like Alice (above), she took his place. She lost to her opponent Colonel Henry Ferryman Bowles - who had been endorsed by Lloyd George - coming third, with 12% of the vote.

MILLICENT HUGHES MACKENZIE

Party: Labour Seat: University of Wales Millicent was the first female parliamentary candidate in Wales - and the country's first female professor.

She was the co-founder of the Cardiff and District Women's Suffrage Society, in 1908, which, by 1914, was the largest outside London, and married fellow academic John Mackenzie. Like several other suffragists, feminist Millicent chose to combine her surname with his.

Party: Independent Seat: Hendon Suffragette Edith was arrested in the lobby of the House of Commons in 1906 trying to give a speech - one of the first ever acts of suffragette militancy.

She was one of the first WSPU members to go to jail when she was given two months. Her name and picture are on Millicent Fawcett's statue in Parliament Square.

Party: Independent Seat: Glasgow Bridgeton The daughter of a Glasgow lawyer, Eunice became the president of the Women's Freedom League in 1913.

In 1917, Eunice was arrested for obstruction after trying to address a meeting near Downing Street. She wrote a novel while working in a munitions factory during the war and became the first woman to stand in a parliamentary election in Scotland. She came third, with just 5% of the vote.

Party: Independent Seat: Chelsea ENGLISH teacher and suffragette Emily was an active member of the National Union of Women Teachers, and gained their backing to stand in the election. In 1911, Emily boycotted the census by spending the night in a cave in the Gower Peninsula. She lost to sitting Conservative MP Sir Samuel Hoare and went on to become a barrister, after studying in the evening while still teaching full-time.

Party: Independent Seat: Brentford Cambridge-educated Ray was the honorary parliamentary secretary of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. After the Great War, she stood as an Independent parliamentary candidate at Brentford and Chiswick general elections in 1918, 1922 and 1923 without success. In 1931, she became parliamentary secretary to Britain's first woman MP to take her seat, Nancy Astor.

"I do wish your lot had the deceny to shoot me SINN FEIN'S CONSTANCE MARKIEVICZ AFTER THE 1916 EASTER RISING


Norah Dacre Fox (Norah Elam) - History

SUFFRAGETTES, EMMELINE AND CHRISTABEL PANKHURST &ndash 50 Clarendon Road, Holland Park W11

Emmeline Pankhurst was an English political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement, which helped women win the right to vote . Although she was widely criticized for her militant tactics, her work is recognized as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain.

Born and raised in Manchester , England by politically active parents, Pankhurst was introduced at the age of 8 to the women's suffrage movement. Although her parents encouraged her to prepare herself for life as a wife and mother, she attended the École Normale de Neuilly in Paris. In 1878 she married Richard Pankhurst , a barrister known for supporting women's right to vote they had five children over the next ten years. He also supported her activities outside the home, and she quickly became involved with the Women's Franchise League , which advocated suffrage for women. When that organization broke apart, she attempted to join the left-leaning Independent Labour Party through her friendship with socialist Keir Hardie, but was initially refused membership by the local branch of the Party on account of her gender. She also worked as a Poor Law Guardian , where she was shocked by harsh conditions in Manchester workhouses .

After her husband died in 1898, Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union , an all-women suffrage advocacy organization dedicated to "deeds, not words". The group placed itself separately from &ndash and often in opposition to &ndash political parties. The group quickly became infamous when its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers . Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists were sentenced to repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions. As Pankhurst's oldest daughter Christabel took the helm of the WSPU, antagonism between the group and the government grew. Eventually arson became a common tactic among WSPU members, and more moderate organizations spoke out against the Pankhurst family. In 1913 several prominent individuals left the WSPU, among them Pankhurst's daughters Adela and Sylvia . The family rift was never healed.

With the advent of the First World War, Emmeline and Christabel called an immediate halt to militant suffrage activism in order to support the British government against the "German Peril". They urged women to aid industrial production, and encouraged young men to fight. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act granted votes to women past the age of 30. Pankhurst transformed the WSPU machinery into the Women's Party , which was dedicated to promoting women's equality in public life. In her later years she became concerned with what she perceived as the menace posed by Bolshevism , and &ndash unhappy with the political alternatives &ndash joined the Conservative Party . She died in 1928 and was commemorated two years later with a statue in Victoria Tower Gardens .

Christabel was the daughter of the lawyer Dr. Richard Pankhurst and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst , and a sister of Sylvia Pankhurst and Adela Pankhurst two sisters, Along with her mother Emmeline and others, Christabel co-founded the WSPU in 1903.

In 1905, Christabel Pankhurst interrupted a Liberal Party meeting by shouting demands for voting rights for women. She was arrested and along with fellow suffragette Annie Kenney went to prison rather than pay a fine as punishment for their outburst. Their case gained much media interest and the ranks of the WSPU swelled following their trial . Emmeline began to take more militant action for the suffragette cause after her daughter's arrest and was herself imprisoned on many occasions for her principles.

In 1906, Christabel Pankhurst obtained a law degree from the University of Manchester and moved to the London headquarters of the WSPU, where she was appointed its organizing secretary. Earning the nickname "Queen of the Mob", Christabel was jailed again in 1907 in Parliament Square and 1909 after the "Rush Trial" at Bow Street . Between 1912 and 1913 she lived in Paris , France to escape imprisonment under the terms of the Prisoner's (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act better known as the Cat and Mouse Act. The start of World War I compelled Christabel to return to England in 1913, where she was again arrested. Christabel engaged in a hunger strike , ultimately serving only 30 days of a three-year sentence.

On 8 September 1914, Christabel re-appeared at the London Opera House, after her long exile, to utter a declaration, not on women's enfranchisement, but on "The German Peril", a campaign led by the former General Secretary of the WSPU, Norah Dacre Fox in conjunction with the British Empire Union and the National Party. Along with Norah Dacre Fox (later known as Norah Elam ), Christabel toured the country, making recruiting speeches. "

After some British women were granted the right to vote at the end of World War I , Christabel stood in the 1918 general election as a Women's Party candidate, in alliance with the Lloyd George/Conservative Coalition in the Smethwick constituency . She was narrowly defeated, losing by only 775 votes to the Labour Party candidate John Davison .

Leaving her native England in 1921, she moved to the United States where she eventually became an evangelist with Plymouth Brethren links and became a prominent member of Second Adventist movement.. Christabel returned to Britain in the 1930s. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1936. At the start of the Second World War she again left for the USA where she lived until her death in Los Angeles , California in 1958 at the age of 77, and was buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Santa Monica , California .


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