This caricature of suffragette jujitsu trainer Edith Garrud, and accompanying poem titled “The Bold Suffragette”, first appeared in the Wednesday, 13 July 1910 edition of The Sketch.
If you’ll forgive us some speculation, we’d lay even odds that Wonder Woman’s right-hand-gal Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) will be revealed as having an action-packed past as a radical suffragette.
The character of Etta Candy was first introduced in 1942. A creation of Wonder Woman auteur William Moulton Marston, she was originally the confection-loving de facto leader of a group of spirited young sorority women known as the Holliday Girls, who frequently assisted Wonder Woman in her battles with Nazi spies and other WW2-era evildoers:
The upcoming Wonder Woman movie, however, takes the bold creative step of shifting WW’s “origin story” back a few decades, to the First World War. In this continuity, Etta Candy is fighter pilot Steve Trevor’s secretary; Trevor’s crash landing on the hidden Mediterranean island of Themyscira is, of course, how the Amazon princess who is to become Wonder Woman is first introduced to “Man’s World”.
Both of Etta’s brief appearances in the theatrical trailers released so far play to her traditional strengths as a feisty comic relief sidekick. In the first trailer she answers Wonder Woman’s question – “What is a secretary?” – by saying “I go where he tells me to go and I do what he tells me to do”. WW, clearly a little perturbed by this, replies “Well, where I’m from, that’s called slavery,” which deeply impresses Etta.
The second trailer features another comic coda in which Wonder Woman is trying on an elaborate early 20th century ensemble complete with a flowered hat and a voluminous skirt. She’s baffled as to how a woman is supposed to fight while thus encumbered; Etta replies that they mostly fight with their principles, but that she herself is “not opposed to engaging in a bit of fisticuffs, should the occasion arise.”
In a WW1 context, and given the fact that this incarnation of Etta Candy is English, it’s very easy to speculate that she may have been a suffragette before joining the armed services. With the outbreak of war, Women’s Social and Political Union leader Emmeline Pankhurst performed an abrupt political about-face; rather than fighting the government for the right to vote, she told her many followers, they must support King and country for the duration of the crisis.
This was a controversial move and some radical suffragettes refused to comply, but others agreed that “Votes for Women” would become meaningless if England itself fell to German aggression. In the Suffrajitsu graphic novels, protagonist Persephone Wright, formerly the leader of Mrs. Pankhurst’s covert security team, also joins the war effort:
The movie version of Etta is a principled English feminist “not averse to fisticuffs”; here’s hoping that she’ll surprise (and delight) her audience by proving to be a suffragette action heroine in her own right.
Here’s an intriguing example of modern fashion directly inspired by the lore of the suffragette Amazons. According to the Beljacobs.com website:
For centuries, sweeping skirts and tight corsets dominated British womenswear. The war in 1914 changed this. As men left to fight, around 1.5 million women took up work, on buses, in factories, as ambulance drivers and window cleaners, and as their roles in society shifted, so – by necessity – did the clothes they wore. Fashion & Freedom, a new exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, explores this transformation through fashion and film.
Designer Karin Human was inspired by the ‘Suffrajitsu’, martial-arts trained Suffragettes who formed protective walls around Emmeline Pankhurst during marches. ‘Anywhere Emmeline went, the jiu jitsu’s would follow her,’ says Vydelingum. ‘If they were in a demonstration and needed to get her out quickly, they would surround her and march her out.’ Human’s dress of cotton, leather and nylon contains large pockets for tools and weapons – which the suffrajitsu would have needed.
Tony Wolf, the author of the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy, has created a free, online version of the Suffragetto board game. This recently re-discovered game, first published circa 1909, pits radical suffragettes against police constables in the mean streets of Edwardian London.
The game requires two players, who can be signed in on two different computers.
Here’s how to play:
- At least one player must create a free account at http://tabletopzen.com.
- Sign in and then click on the Suffragetto board in the Game Library.
- Study the rules (also listed below in this post) and then click on “Create Table” to generate a unique table for your game, with the pieces already properly arranged on the board. You may need to re-size the game board using Ctrl and – to fit your screen size.
- You can now send the other player the URL for your table and they will then be able to join the game simply by creating a nickname. Alternatively, if you are both signed in to tabletopzen.com, they can also join the game via the “Active Game Tables” screen in the Lobby.
- Use your cursor to move the pieces.
If you and the other player are using remote computers, it’s easy and fun to chat while you play using Skype or any similar service.
Enjoy playing Suffragetto!
Suffragetto Online Rules
Closely based on the original 1909 board game, Suffragetto represents the street battles fought between radical suffragettes and police constables in London during the years leading up to World War 1. The original game was created by the Women’s Social and Political Union and manufactured by Sargeant Bros., Ltd.
Fun fact: there was a real-life secret society of martial arts-trained female bodyguards who protected the leaders of the suffragette movement. Their escapades also inspired the 2015 graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons; see www.suffrajitsu.com for details!
An Original and Interesting Game of Skill for Two Players
Suffragetto is a contest of occupation between two opposing factions, The Suffragettes and The Police.
The goal of the Suffragettes is to break past Police lines and enter the House of Commons. At the same time, The Suffragettes must also prevent the Police from entering Albert Hall.
It is the Police Force’s duty to break up a meeting of the Suffragettes, currently being held in Albert Hall, all the while, preventing the Suffragettes from entering the House of Commons.
The game is won by whoever first succeeds in introducing six members into the building guarded by its opponents.
Direction and Mode of Play
The game is for two players, each of whom has 21 pieces, representing the Suffragettes and the Police.
A coin toss determines the first player.
The rank-and-file Suffragettes are colored green, and the purple pieces are distinguished as Leaders of the Suffragette Party.
The rank-and-file Police Constables is colored dark blue, and the white pieces are distinguished as Inspectors of Police.
The Suffragettes are placed on the squares marked ‘S’ near ‘Albert Hall.’ The leaders of the party are positioned as follows: one Leader is placed in the middle of the front row, and the other four Leaders are placed at the ends of the front and second rows.
The Police Force is placed upon the squares marked ‘P’ near the House of Commons. One Inspector is placed in the middle of the front row, and the remaining four Inspectors at the ends of the front and second rows.
Moving and Hopping
Each player alternatively moves or hops one of their own pieces. Moving can result in moving to one space into a single adjacent square, hopping over your own pieces to move farther along the board, or hopping over an opponent’s piece to “arrest” or “disable” your opponent’s piece.
A piece may move horizontally or diagonally one square per turn into any of the 8 adjoining squares, as long as that square is unoccupied.
Pieces may freely move over any part of the board except:
a. No piece can be moved (except when arrested or disabled) onto the spaces marked Prison, Prison Yard, Hospital, or Hospital Grounds.
b. A Suffragette cannot move onto the spaces marked Albert Hall.
c. A Policeman cannot move onto the spaces marked House of Commons.
On a player’s turn, they may hop a piece rather than move it a single square. Hopping means jumping over one of your own pieces into the unoccupied square on the other side of the hopped over piece (as in Checkers). A player may string together hops into multiple jumps, provided that each jump lands in a permitted zone (as listed above) and there is a space in between each piece hopped over. If the square behind a piece is occupied, the hop cannot be completed.
Any piece having gained entrance into their opponent’s House of Commons or Albert Hall may move about freely on the squares representing the building, but must not move or hop away from those squares. Moving within either the House of Commons or Albert Hall spends a player’s turn.
Arresting and Disabling
Properly hopping over your opponent’s pieces results in arresting or disabling your opponent’s piece(s). Police may arrest Suffragettes and Suffragettes may disable Police.
Any piece standing on one of the squares in The Arena (squares marked pink) is liable to be arrested or disabled by their opponent. Any of your pieces may arrest or disable any of your opponent’s pieces.
A rank-and-file Suffragette disables the Police by hopping over him in a diagonal direction. A Leader of the Suffragette Party can disable any member of the Police Force by hopping over him in any direction.
A rank-and-file Policeman arrests a Suffragette by hopping over her in a diagonal direction. An Inspector of Police arrests any Suffragette member by hopping over her in any direction.
A piece can only arrest or disable its opponents when it is hopping, not when simply moving. Thus, one of the smaller pieces may hop over a Leader or Inspector simply to move about the board. A single piece may arrest or disable multiple pieces during one series of jumps. Suffragettes who are arrested are moved to the Prison. Police who are disabled are moved to the Hospital. No piece can be arrested or disabled in the yellow zones outside the Arena, but may move or hop freely in these zones.
If at any point, the Prison and the Hospital each contain 12 or more inmates, either player may insist on an exchange of 6 or less pieces. The pieces exchanged must be of equal value, e.g., a Leader is exchanged for an Inspector, and the rank-and-file of the Suffragette party for the rank-and-file of the Police.
The exchanged pieces may start moving from the squares marked ‘Prison Yard’ and ‘Hospital Grounds’ respectively. No exchange can be made while any piece remains on the Prison Yard or the Hospital Grounds.
If one player does not agree to an exchange, the exchange does not occur.
The first player with six pieces in their opponent’s home base wins.
The Bodleian Library’s recent Playing With History exhibition featured, among many other interesting historical games, the only known playing set of Suffragetto; a board game based on the battles between radical suffragettes and police constables in London during the early 20th century.
A free, online version of the game is also now available: see here for details!
The game itself appears to date from 1908/9 (Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928). Although widely reported upon in recent media as dating from 1917, the earlier dates are much more likely, as the radical suffrage movement was largely abated by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
Players enact the roles of either the suffragettes, represented by 21 green markers, or police constables, represented by 21 dark blue markers. The suffragettes’ object is to occupy the House of Commons with six markers while defending their home base of the Albert Hall against the police, whose object is, likewise, to occupy Albert Hall while defending the House of Commons.
Each side includes five larger markers, representing the Leaders of the suffragettes and the Inspectors of the police, respectively.
Gameplay is engaged as each side takes turns in attempting to out-manoeuvre the other, capturing opposing markers by jumping over them as in chess or checkers. “Arrested” suffragette markers must remain within the Prison section of the board, while “disabled” police constable markers must remain within the Hospital section.
If, at any point, the Prison and the Hospital each contain 12 or more inmates, either player may insist on an exchange of 6 or fewer markers. The markers exchanged must be of equal value, e.g., A Leader is exchanged for an Inspector, and the rank and file of the Suffragette party for the rank and file of the Police.
See Georgia Tech’s Suffragetto webpage for much more information, including a printable playing board so you can play the game yourself!
Click here to contact the organisers and/or to book your place for this fascinating lecture on the real secret society of suffragette bodyguards who inspired the Suffrajitsu trilogy!
When? 6.30 – 8.00 p.m., May 19th, 2016
Where? Asia House, Library, 63 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 7LP
How much? Admission: £8
What’s it about? The lecture will explore the blossoming of martial arts in Great Britain at the turn of the 20th century, investigating the Victorian obsession for self-defence, the appeal of the ‘exotic East’, and gender as a social and cultural construct.
Starting with the mid-Victorian garotting panics, Dr Godfrey will show how a fear of violent street crime was entangled with a fascination with Indian thuggee and how in response, civilians manufactured gruesome weapons.
By the end of the 19th century, the use of violent forms of self-defence had become unfashionable and Japanese martial arts were considered to be the ideal, minimally aggressive way to fend off attackers. Experts from Japan taught politicians, the public and police alike the art of jujitsu and women sensationally took up jujitsu in the campaign for women’s suffrage.
A century later, martial arts with an Edwardian twist are again in vogue.
Dr Godfrey is a writer and researcher specialising in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. She is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and has been interviewed by the BBC on numerous occasions. Author of Masculinity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature (2010), and Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society (2012), her latest work Utopias and Dystopias in the Fiction of H.G. Wells and William Morris will be available in September 2016. Dr Godfrey is currently working on a book on the suffragettes.
The following article was first published in Votes for Women, the newspaper of the Women’s Social and Political Union, during March of 1910. At that time, Edith Garrud (right, above) had been running her “Suffragettes Self Defence Club”, which was advertised in Votes for Women, since at least December of the previous year. The club was based at Leighton Lodge in Edwardes Square, Kensington, a facility which also included a number of studios for classes in sculpture, painting and voice. The Suffragette self defence classes started at 7.00 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday evening and cost 5s, 6d per month.
Click on the article to read it at full size:
Eight months after this article was written, the intensity of the “suffrage question” was dramatically boosted when a large but ostensibly peaceful suffragette rally in central London escalated into the violent confrontation that became known as the Black Friday riot. That event forced the urgency and evolution of Mrs. Garrud’s training and by 1912 her Votes for Women advertisements read:
Ju-Jutsu (self-defence) for Suffragettes, private or class lessons daily, 10.30 to 7.30; special terms to W. S. P. U. members; Sunday class by arrangement; Boxing and Fencing by specialists. — Edith Garrud, 9, Argyll Place, Regent Street
By 1913 – in response to the Cat and Mouse Act, which allowed hunger-striking suffragette prisoners to be released and then re-arrested once they had recovered their health – Mrs. Garrud was training the secret Bodyguard Society, A.K.A. the Amazons, in preparation for street-fighting with the police.
During the very early 20th century, it became fashionable for London ladies to host “jujitsu parties” in their parlors, often hiring expert instructors such as Yukio Tani to offer basic instruction in the Japanese art of unarmed combat. Women responding to invitation cards with the word “wrestling” discreetly printed in one corner would arrive to find the drawing-room furniture shifted away and large mats rolled out across the carpet. Donning uwagi (tough, short-sleeved linen jackets) and brightly-colored sashes, they would proceed to practice the throws, grips and counters that comprised the “Art of Yielding” …
Ju-jitsu or the Japanese scientific wrestling, now being taught by a Japanese professor, Professor Uyenishi, of Seibouhan, Japan, to the Aldershot Gymnastic Staff, formed, perhaps, the greatest attraction at the annual gathering of the public schools at Aldershot on Friday last. The wrestling display was given after the boxing championships at the Gymnasium, Queen’s Avenue. One of the professor’s lady pupils from London more than once triumphantly floored her male opponent. Those who witnessed the exhibition came away with the conviction that the Japanese system of training wrestlers will long hold the field against all comers. Our photograph is by Charles Knight, Aldershot.
Suffrajitsu.com is pleased to present these two guest reviews of the Kindle Worlds stories The Pale Blue Ribbon and The Isle of Dogs, reviewed by Val Brown, author of the Toupie Lowther – her life website.
Click on the cover images below to visit the Kindle Worlds sales pages for each story!
THE PALE BLUE RIBBON by John Longenbaugh
A new, sparkling novella that opens up into an upper-class time frame wherein the young sportswoman “Miss Toupie” innocently falls in love with a charming young man. They become engaged to be married, but her engagement ring is villainously stolen. Sadly the charming young man rapidly shows an unadmirable side to his character: to her amazement he declines to seek out the villain, declaring that the ring was of little value and refusing to contact the police!
However, “Miss Toupie” is made of mightier stuff and she decides to turn detective and search for the mugger herself. Needing to know how to defend herself if needed, she prudently enrolls at the famous “Macpherson’s Gymnasium and School of Arms” – Fencing for Gentlemen”. Quickly becoming skilled to an extent that amazes the great MacPherson, she sets off fearlessly into deepest east end London, locates her villain and finally discovers the terrible truth …
Hovering around the reality of the real-life Toupie Lowther – who was, indeed, a noted sportswoman with both blade and racket – the author of this novella successfully merges her real life character into a thoughtful, vigourous and likeable heroine. Polished and dramatic, this a great new read.
THE ISLE OF DOGS by Michael Lussier
A new novella that will grip your imagination, The Isle of Dogs features the amazing all-fighting, all-women battalion of bodyguards – known widely as “Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons” – in a mystery tale of blackmail, villainy and kidnapping.
Shocked by the sudden suicide of a former Amazon, the Bartitsu babes search out and uncover the evil “Grex Canum“; a strangely secretive sodality with grim headquarters in a public house – the Anne Boleyn – situated on the aptly named Isle of Dogs in east London.
The fighting Amazons arrive on a dark night, primed and battle ready for the assault on the Anne Boleyn. They are led by Miss Persephone Wright (always known as Persi) – star of the graphic novel Suffrajitsu and a skilled champion with foot, fist and her deadly malacca fighting-stick. The Amazon Army soon attacks and holds the first and second floors of the Anne Boleyn, and finally Persi, along with Katie Brumbach the muscular heavyweight wrestler and the swordswoman Toupie Lowther – readily armed with her holstered and loaded Bisley Colt (and recently prey to the blackmailing Grex Canum herself) – fight their way up to the secret top floor, finally bursting into the black heart of the Grex Canum.
A good read that will keep the reader entranced by the action, The Isle of Dogs is smoothly presented with a fine unravelling of dramatic action. The incorporation of real life Amazons, trained in the application of the art of Bartitsu and fearful of no brutal opposition adds style as well as imagination to this well thought out and captivating novella.