From Suffragettes

Suffragette feature film teaser trailer

The teaser for Sarah Gavron’s upcoming feature film Suffragette is pleasingly close to the opening scene of Suffrajitsu #1, in which politician William Cremer’s anti-suffrage speech is juxtaposed with activist Persephone Wright’s protest by vandalism:

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“The Second-Story Girl”: a Suffrajitsu novella by Mark Lingane

We’re pleased to be able to present this interview with Australian author Mark Lingane, whose new Suffrajitsu novella The Second Story Girl is now available from Kindle Worlds.

Second-Story Girl cover smallerLondon, 1910. Spoilt and wild, Genevieve Cranston is a party girl with little to live for when her reckless lifestyle flings into the gutters after the suspicious death of her father and the mysterious disappearance of her younger brother Lindsey.

Rescued, redeemed and trained for action by the radical suffragette Amazons, Genevieve will stop at nothing to find her missing brother. She is soon caught up in a dense web of deceit and double-dealing, as both sides of the political landscape manoeuvre to shape the future of the free world.

Time is running out, war is on the horizon and Genevieve needs to grow up fast. Lindsey is an important player in the game of cat and mouse, and with the aid of some gifted friends, Genevieve is hell-bent on saving him, and upon revenge.

 

Q:  What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era of the Foreworld?

M.L.: I’ve been dabbling with a futuristic steampunk series, but wanted to write something more in line with the actual Victorian era. The opportunity to contribute to the Foreworld popped up, and I thought, well, Edwardian/Victorian, that’s got to be close …

Q:  What were the greatest challenges in writing this story?

M.L.: The writing style of that era was much more formal, directly at odds with my own style. Also, I had to revise a lot. History wasn’t a strong subject for me at school. Then making sure that the history didn’t get in the way of the story …

Q: In what way?

M.L.: My previous knowledge of this subject, from school, amounted to a woman jumping out in front of a horse at a horse race. Reductionism to the point of absurdism. And so I researched, and the more I researched, the more I realized I didn’t know. But, what was more shocking, when I discussed these issues with a younger generation, they knew nothing about women’s suffrage.

Q: Nothing at all?  How did you explain it?

M.L.: As with most civil movements, it starts with someone with an epic amount of bravery, accompanied by either a burning rage of fairness, or a breaking point. Brave people standing up and saying ‘no more’. The brutality. The ridiculous laws. The bloody-mindedness. It hardly seems to fit in a civilized world.

It is hard to get your head around how such a simple and obvious right was perceived as being so offensive in such recent history. But the women stood strong – shoulder to shoulder – enduring, and they won.

Q: In what way(s) would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

M.L.: Fourteen thousand people in the UK are over one hundred years old. Everything has changed within living memory.  In a world where there are so many things to know, do we have time and inclination to revisit the past?

I believe that when it comes to basic human rights, these are the ones that should be pushed the strongest and loudest. Civil rights campaigns are the events that have made the world a better place. Learn about it. Talk about it. Because, as the world moves on in so many ways, at the base of ‘change’ is us – people, and people make a difference, from the individual to the wider society.

The world is better today than it was a hundred years ago, but it’s not massively different. Suffrage was about the vote, yes, but also it was about equality. It was about discrimination. Many of those same issues still haunt our society and world today. We fear change and things we do not understand. We fear ‘them’. Information (true or false) about ‘them’ is easier and quicker to disseminate. We rant about minor irritations in the isolation of our homes with the internet as the megaphone. We lock ourselves away, with nothing but opinion as king and fact relegated to an afterthought after the heat has died down, distracted from the issues that are worth debating. Equality is one of them. Possibly the one to debate. Add your voice, because debate leads to revolution, which leads to change.

Q: “Be the change you want to see in the world”?

M.L.: Yes.  One hundred years ago, the world was different. If we forget that then in another hundred years it’ll still be the same.

Q: Do you have any philosophies or advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?

M.L.: It’s all about the editor. And try to write something with a message. Before you finish your story, find the heart in your work and make sure it says what you want to say. Give the reader something to think about when they close the book. It’s your own journey, so keep your head down and stay out of trouble. Don’t read the reviews/comments. And I’m serious about the editor.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

M.L.: Authors like reviews!  I have other books available in the lobby. Well, some of us have got to make a living. I said to him, ‘Bernie.’ I said, ‘They’ll never make their money back …

 

Bio:

Mark was first published at the ripe old age of eight, when a local newspaper published his review of Disney on Ice. The next time his name was in print was a lifetime later, at the age of fifteen, when a national magazine ran his review of the Commodore 64. It was downhill from there, picking up a weekly columns in national newspapers, which funded a rather noncommittal path through university, studying a wide range of topics from Robotics, Anthropology, Philosophy, Computer Science, and Psychology.

After more than a decade as a newspaper columnist, he turned technical writer for resource companies, which provided the opportunity to travel and live in some desolate and exotic locations where the locals don’t like you much.
His novels include the multi-award-winning Tesla Evolution Series, The Ellen Martin Disasters series, and several hard-boiled Science Fiction movies stories.

Links:
web: http://mark-mywords.co/
twit: @markLingane
amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Lingane/e/B00B5TE5RY
Mark’s books are also available on iTunes, Nook, Smashwords and Kobo.

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The arrest of a suffragette Amazon?

Riot

Does this rare photograph taken at a suffragette rally show the arrest of one of Mrs. Pankhurst’s bodyguards?

It appears that the police constable is holding a pair of wooden Indian clubs in his right hand as he moves towards the woman who is turned away from the camera.  Alternatively, the woman may be holding the clubs in her left hand as the constable twists her left arm behind her back, with his right hand covering her left hand.

Indian clubs were designed and sold as exercise tools but they became the signature weapons of the Amazon guards, who sometimes carried them concealed underneath their dresses.  A large number of Indian clubs were confiscated from suffragette bodyguards after the infamous “Battle of Glasgow” brawl in 1914.

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“Carried Away”: A Suffrajitsu story by Ray Dean

Carried Away cover smallWe’re pleased to be able to present this interview with Hawaii-based writer Ray Dean, whose short story Carried Away is now available via Amazon’s Kindle Worlds.

Inspired by the Suffrajitsu trilogy, Carried Away features several principal characters from the graphic novels, including Persephone Wright and Flossie Le Mar, as well as introducing a new protagonist, Tressa Boniface.  Tressa’s journey from timid maid to confident suffragette is marked by sometimes violent class and gender conflicts, new friendships and cases of mistaken identity,  weaving in and out of the world of haute couture fashion circa 1913:

As a proper Edwardian Englishman, Lord Arnold Smythe has no time at all for the radical women’s suffrage movement. He becomes infuriated when his wife, Lady Roslyn, shows an interest in the cause.

Meanwhile, young Tressa Boniface, a serving girl in the Smythe’s household, can’t see what all the fuss is about. Why should women not be the equals of men? Tressa’s curiosity and sense of natural justice inevitably send her to a suffragette rally, and then into physical danger.

Will Tressa’s new-found friendship with Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons – a secret society of female bodyguards – teach her the courage she’ll need to rise above her station?

 

Q: What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era of the Foreworld?

R.D.: My favorite Amendment to the US Constitution is XIX, Suffrage for Women. It was first introduced to Congress in 1878 and was approved in 1919. Add my love of Edwardian Era clothing and culture and a teen-age background in martial arts and dance … when I saw the opportunity to write for this exciting world, I had to do it!

Q: What were the greatest challenges in writing this story?

R.D.: I admit, my prior understanding was that Edwardian ladies were more sedate in nature. My primary memory of ‘falling in love’ with the Edwardian era was Jane Seymour playing the character of Elise McKenna in Somewhere in Time. Now, I had to educate myself on this ‘other side’ of female nature … the kick ass side!

Q:  So which resources did you use?

R.D:  The Suffrajitsu website has so much information!! And Tony Wolf is a great resource as well. He was so wonderful to help answer my questions and really helped me as we fine-tuned my story.

Q: What were the most interesting discoveries you made during your research?

R.D.: The barbaric way that women were treated in the guise of ‘protecting their femininity.’

Every story that I uncovered as I read book after book about the suffrage movement, spawned more ideas. I know I have more stories to tell. And I’m still soaking up more research as I go.

Q: In what ways would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

R.D.: Bravery and courage. I’m a Western fan as well, and one of my favorite quotes is from John Wayne – “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

These women knew that the way wasn’t going to be easy. They were fighting not just the conception that they were the ‘weaker sex’ and that this kind of fight was ‘unwomanly.’ They faced men with clubs that weren’t afraid to use them and they risked so much to make a stand for what they wanted, what they felt was their right.

I have a kick-ass group of lady friends and I hope that we carry forward the same ideals as the Suffragettes and stand up when others would run for the hills. Courage, the real deep-in-your-heart, steel-in-your-spine courage, will never go out of style.

Q: Do you have any philosophies or advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?

R.D.: Do it. Jump in and swim. (Okay, the ‘swim’ thing is an odd thing since I can barely keep my head above water …) But really, do it. Take yourself seriously or don’t expect other people to do that for you. Be kind to your fellow writers; we all struggle. We all need encouragement, so don’t pass along negative feelings. And be willing to ‘look’ at what you’re writing. Do what you need to do to better your skills. And WRITE … lots and lots of writing!

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

R.D.: I’m not a one genre woman. I’ve always been an avid reader with varied tastes and as I’ve developed my writing through short and longer fiction, I’ve found myself writing for a number of different genres. I’m also a book junkie. The annual Hawaii Library Book Sale is my crack. I love to find all sorts of great books. I haunt the history section  and the war books. I have entirely too many books and it’s not a joke when I say I use stacks of books for night stands beside my bed.

 

More of Ray’s stories are available via Amazon.com …

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“The Isle of Dogs”: a Suffrajitsu novella by Michael Lussier

Isle of Dogs cover small

We’re very pleased to be able to bring you this interview with Michael Lussier, whose new Suffrajitsu-inspired novella The Isle of Dogs is now available via Kindle Worlds.

Isle of Dogs is a dark, hard-edged mystery/revenge drama that pits Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons against an insidious new enemy:

“London: July, 1913.

The body of a young socialite is pulled from the Thames, her suicide note hinting at blackmail, conspiracy and corruption in high places.

Meanwhile, a mysterious street gang is moving through the East End with military precision. leaving a trail of murder and mutilation in its wake.

Enter Persephone Wright and her outlaw band of Bartitsu-trained suffragette Amazons, who will stop at nothing to avenge a fallen comrade …”

Q: What was it that first attracted you to writing stories set in the Edwardian era?

M.L.: Style and personal taste have a lot to do with it.  I’ve always been a voracious reader, and there was something about Victorian and Edwardian literature that enchanted me when I was young.  I grew up reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Brontës,  Bram Stoker, G. K. Chesterton, Baroness Orczy, H. G. Wells, Arthur Machen, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde.  I even enjoyed – god help me – that occult oddball Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Q: And what was it about the Foreworld Saga?

M.L: I am particularly drawn to the Foreworld because there are still huge areas of Edwardian society that have rarely been explored outside of academia. Suffrajitsu is a breath of fresh air, in that regard.  It isn’t so much historical revisionism as it is a shadow history of people who were shoved to the margins because they were poor, foreign, queer or female.

2) Can you describe some of the challenges in writing The Isle of Dogs?

M.L.: The amount of research that needed to be done was staggering.

I never imagined that I would spend more than a couple hours of my life studying Burke’s Peerage or exploring the links between C. & E. Morton’s Bloater Fish Paste and the Millwall Athletic Football Club.   Poor naïve bastard: I sacrificed whole days and weekends to these subjects.

3) What were the most interesting discoveries you made during your research?

M.L.: My story concerns the activities of a revived Hellfire Club, so I spent quite a bit of time researching contemporary attitudes toward sexuality.

There is a misconception that the Victorians were essentially prim, high-minded eunuchs.   This isn’t even remotely true.

Q: So what were they?

M.L: Several popular music hall songs of that period that are far filthier than anything I’ve ever heard in a bar or machine shop.  I’m not talking ‘saucy’ or ‘bawdy’.  Eskimo Nell and Kafoozalum are vulgar, profane and ribald on a level that surpasses Lil’ Kim and Too $hort.

I also came across an obscure genre, which I call Erotic Biography.  Probably the best known examples are Walter’s My Secret Life and The Romance of Lust.  These are explicit memoirs which detail an anonymous gentleman’s sexual development and experiences over the course of many years and several volumes.   They portray Victorian upper-class sex as ravenous, male-oriented, compulsive and predatory.  Maids and serving girls were obliged to observe the droit du seigneur, prostitution was commonplace, pregnancies were disowned, any female age nine and above was considered fair game.  These stories are Dickensian in a really disconcerting way.

4) In what way(s) would you say the themes of the Suffrajitsu series are relevant to us today?

M.L.: Suffrajitsu is the intersection of many fascinating underground streams.  Feminism, ‘mixed martial arts’, drug addiction, homosexuality, violence against women, police intimidation and institutional intolerance.  These are issues and subjects that are still incredibly pertinent to 21st century readers.

Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

M.L.: Read as much as you can, and study the techniques of your favorite authors.  Sit down and write every day.  Don’t worry about quality at first – no piece of writing is ever very good before the first revision.  Find an editor and listen very carefully to his/her advice.  Take your reader feedback with a grain of salt.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

M.L.: When I was young, there was a truism in advertising that declared the most coveted market demographic to be men between the ages of 18 and 49.  This is no longer true, although for the most part nobody in power wants to admit it just yet.

Women are emerging as a very powerful consumer block.  They represent 60% of the world’s population and 78% of gross domestic product.  I’ve seen reports that suggest that women will soon control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the United States.   They are, for the most part, better educated and more media savvy than their male counterparts.

Additionally, young women are entering into fields that were once considered male-only; music, law, video gaming, martial arts, etc.

As the economic clout of women grows, so too will the visibility of their issues and interests.

Having spent so much time with Emmeline Pankhurst recently, I cannot help but wonder how she would seek to leverage this power in pursuit of equality in a country where the Violence Against Women Act can barely make it through Congress.

Bio

Michael Lussier has been a machinist, an orderly in a psychiatric hospital and (on one occasion only) a celebrity babysitter.  He is the author of Sherlock Holmes and Bartitsu, which can be found online here. As a general rule, Michael hates to talk about himself.

twitter: @Decervelage

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“Escapes and Adventures”

Many colourful stories are told of the adventures of the Amazon Bodyguards, including a number compiled in an unpublished manuscript by former Bodyguard Katherine “Kitty” Marshall, which was titled Suffragette Escapes and Adventures.

After one window-smashing protest, jujitsu instructor Edith Garrud reminisced, she led a group of suffragettes fleeing the police through the back-alleys of London to her dojo (martial arts school), where the fugitives hid their weapons in trapdoors hidden under the mats. By the time the “bobbies” came knocking at the door, they found only a group of young women innocently practicing jujitsu.

Campden Hill Square
Although vastly outnumbered by the police, the Bodyguard accomplished several truly impressive victories. On the night of February 10th, 1914, Suffragette leader Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst (Sylvia’s mother and a fugitive under the Cat and Mouse Act) was scheduled to give a speech to the public in Camden Square. By 8.00 that evening, the Square was filled with both pro- and anti-suffrage citizens and with a large contingent of police constables. Mrs. Pankhurst appeared on a balcony high above the Square and, pulling up the veil of her hat, delivered a rousing address, finishing by taunting the police and the government:

I have reached London tonight in spite of armies of police. I am here tonight, and not a man is going to protect me, because this is a woman’s fight, and we are going to protect ourselves! I am coming out amongst you in a few minutes and I challenge the government to re-arrest me!

When the tiny, veiled woman did emerge at street level, escorted by members of the Bodyguard, the police quickly swept in. Bodyguard Katharine Willoughby Marshall rallied the crowd: “It’s Mrs. Pankhurst, friends! Don’t let her be arrested!” The crowd surged forward but the police pounced first. When the constables pulled out their truncheons, the Bodyguard responded in kind, drawing hardwood Indian clubs (bowling-pin shaped clubs intended for exercise classes) from the bustles of their long dresses.  There was a short, bloody fight, but the police managed to seize their target. She was struck on the head and thrown to the ground, where several men held her down with their full body weight, causing her to pass out due to asphyxiation. Six policemen then lifted her unconscious body to shoulder height and began to push their way through the roiling crowd, as Katherine Marshall called out again, “Help Mrs. Pankhurst!”

The Bodyguard continued to batter the police as they made their way towards the nearby Ladbroke Grove station, at which point, bruised and exhausted, they discovered that the veiled women they had captured was a decoy; the real Mrs. Pankhurst was long gone, having simply waited out the excitement in the balconied house at Camden Square before being spirited away by the Bodyguard and a “smart woman driver”.

By far the most dramatic event in the history of the Bodyguard, though, took place about a month later. The “Battle of Glasgow” occurred at a Suffragette meeting at St. Andrew’s Hall in Glasgow, Scotland. As Mrs. Pankhurst had written in a letter to her friend Ethel Smyth:

Whatever happens will hit the Government. If I get away they will again be laughed at, and if I am taken the people will be roused. The fools hurt themselves every time.

The Bodyguard had travelled up from London by train, spending an uncomfortable night in a third-class carriage before booking into a local hotel under the guise of a theatrical troupe.

On the evening of March 9th, St Andrew’s Hall was packed to capacity with a crowd largely sympathetic to the Suffragettes’ cause. The Bodyguard carefully surveyed the crowd from their vantage point, a semi-circle of chairs set up on the stage directly behind the speaker’s podium. Garlands of white and purple flowers decorated the edge of the stage and banners bearing the Suffragette mottoes, “Deeds Not Words” and “Votes for Women” were strung high above them.

The Glasgow police had taken no chances, surrounding the entire hall with a cordon and also stationing 50 constables in the basement. The atmosphere was tense, even more so when the appointed hour of 8.00 came and went with no sign of Mrs. Pankhurst. Many members of the audience doubted that she could possibly break through the cordon, no matter how many Bodyguards she might have to help her. Thus, when she suddenly appeared on the stage, the effect was like magic; though, as with the most apparently sophisticated illusions, the principle was simple misdirection. After spreading a rumour that she would attempt to breach the cordon, she had in fact arrived at the hall early and in disguise, paid for her ticket like any other member of the public, and taken a seat close to the platform.

I have kept my promise and in spite of his Majesty’s Government I am here tonight.

Very few people in this audience, very few people in this country, know how much of the nation’s money is being spent to silence women. But the wit and ingenuity of women is overcoming the power and money of the Government!

My text is – equal justice for men and women, equal political justice, equal legal justice, equal industrial justice and equal social justice!

That was as far as she got before being interrupted by the heavy tread of police boots, as the squadron in the basement made their way upstairs to the hall. Just as the helmeted head of the lead constable, a giant of a man, appeared in the doorway, Janie Allen, a Scottish Bodyguard who was wearing an elegant black evening gown, stood up from her seat, drew a pistol and fired it straight at his chest. There was a deafening blast and the constable fell back into his colleagues, believing that he had been shot – but in fact, the pistol was loaded with blanks.

As the startled and angry police struggled to climb past the panicked giant in the doorway, the Bodyguard pulled out their Indian clubs and took up a defensive formation around Mrs. Pankhurst, who continued to speak over the commotion. The police finally broke through onto the stage and a fearsome fight took place; 25 women armed with Indian clubs and jujitsu vs. 50 truncheon-wielding police constables. The audience began to jeer and boo at the police, drowning out the speech they had come to hear.

Pandemonium now reigned in the hall. Several plain-clothes detectives, who had been hiding in the crowd, attempted to blindside the Bodyguard by climbing onto the platform, but were repelled by a barrier of barbed wire that had been hidden in the floral garlands decorating the edge of the stage. Old ladies then stood up and belaboured the detectives with their umbrellas. Chairs and tables were overturned as the combatants on the stage swung and jabbed, grappled and fell. Gert Harding, the Canadian woman who was the tactical leader of the Bodyguard, was not allowed to risk arrest by being caught with a weapon and was therefore unarmed when a constable raised his truncheon at her. She later recalled being surprised when he seemed to change his mind at the last instant and, instead, threw her into a pile of toppled chairs.

Eventually, the constables overwhelmed the Bodyguard resistance and hauled Mrs. Pankhurst off to a waiting police cab, her clothes torn to shreds during the struggle. The audience was outraged, particularly when the detectives attempted to break up the meeting, and angrily shouted them down; the meeting was, in fact, legal and they carried on with it, hearing speeches by other Suffragette leaders. Afterwards the crowd marched to the Central Police Station in St. Andrew’s Square, forming a mob of protestors that was estimated to include some 4,000 people, chanting their support for Mrs. Pankhurst until they were dispersed by police on foot and horseback.

The “Battle of Glasgow” changed the course of the Suffrage movement. As Mrs. Pankhurst had predicted, her arrest at St. Andrew’s Hall roused her supporters to a new pitch. The next day, a Suffragette named Mary Richardson protested the arrest by taking a meat cleaver to the Rokeby Venus, a famous and very valuable painting hanging in London’s National Art Gallery, later saying:

I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history.

Thereafter, the Suffragettes’ protests by arson and vandalism became more frequent and much more destructive, provoking a backlash both from within the WSPU and from the general public as well. The Bodyguard continued their duties, however, including an infamous street fight with the police outside Buckingham Palace on May 21 that left one constable knocked unconscious and many people injured.

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The suffragette Amazons in history

“We have not yet made ourselves a match for the police, and we have got to do it. The police know jiu-jitsu. I advise you to learn jiu-jitsu. Women should practice it as well as men.

Don’t come to meetings without sticks in future, men and women alike. It is worth while really striking. It is no use pretending. We have got to fight.”
– Suffragette leader Sylvia Pankhurst, quoted in the New York Times on August 12th, 1913.

By 1913, the sociopolitical battle that was the British women’s suffrage movement had reached a boiling point. Women had been petitioning for the right to vote for over four decades before suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst decided to take radical action against the government, crossing the line from peaceful protest into guerilla tactics of civil disobedience, sabotage and mass vandalism.

Faced with the practice of hunger striking by jailed Suffragette leaders, the government responded with the so-called “Cat and Mouse Act“; an unprecedented amendment to the law that allowed prisons to deal with starving prisoners without resorting to the highly controversial methods of forced feeding. Under the new Act, a starving suffragette could be released from jail “on licence”, allowed time on the outside to recover her health, and then be re-arrested on the original charge.

To keep their leaders free as long as possible, as well as to protect them against run of the mill assaults by irate defenders of the status quo, the Women’s Social and Political Union created a secret society known as The Bodyguard. Numbering 25 or 30 athletic and dedicated women, the Bodyguard was charged with providing security at Suffragette rallies throughout the UK.

Jujitsuffragettes-2

The members of the Bodyguard started training in the Japanese martial art of jujitsu, which had been introduced to London some 15 years previously by Edward William Barton-Wright, the founder of the eccentric and eclectic self defence art of Bartitsu. They were trained in a succession of secret locations by Edith Garrud, who was among the very first professional jujitsu instructors in the Western world. They also carried wooden Indian clubs concealed in the bustles of their dresses, to defend against the truncheons of the police. Journalists, delighted by this colourful wrinkle in an already juicy story, quickly came up with nicknames for the Bodyguard, referring to them as the “Amazons” and the “jujitsuffragettes”.

Click here to read about some of their escapades.

Along with their practical duties, the Bodyguard also became something of a symbolic rallying point as the Suffrage movement became ever more radical. They served an important role as agents of propaganda, ensuring that women’s suffrage stories stayed in the newspaper headlines; a necessary and valuable tactic towards winning over hearts and minds.

The outbreak of the First World War, though, put an end to the Bodyguard and to most radical Suffragette activity, as Mrs. Pankhurst decided that “votes for women” would be meaningless if England was conquered by Germany. Instead, she urged her supporters to throw their strengths and skills into supporting the government for the duration of the crisis, including many activities that were formerly considered to be strictly “men’s work”.

In March of 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed, granting voting rights to some eight million English women.

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Policewomen training in jiujitsu (1914)

With the outbreak of the First World War, many British men enlisted as soldiers and many British women took occupations that had, until then, been considered strictly “men’s work”. Suffragettes were among the first to volunteer and the group of policewomen shown above were among the first of their kind. Initially, their duties were restricted to tasks such as caring for lost children and escorting prostitutes into cells – hence the jiujitsu armlock demonstrated above.

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