This book is the product of over fifteen years of research and travel. I wish to thank all of my grant funders, including the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences, who awarded me a Seibold Fellowship in 2013–2014 for research travel; and a Caitlin Long Fund grant in 2020 to cover publication costs; and the University of Wyoming Office of Academic Affairs which supported two sabbaticals in 2005–2006, and spring 2019. In addition, I am grateful for continuing travel and research funds from the Gender and Women’s Studies Program within the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice, University of Wyoming, which has helped me fill in the gaps of the scholarship within various archives. Further, I thank the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research at the University of Wyoming; in my Affiliate Faculty position I received a research award in 2015–16 to begin the manuscript of this book. I was able to enhance this work considerably during my 2019 sabbatical work in Australia on the visual culture of Australian women’s suffrage. Funding for that journey came from three sources at the University of Wyoming: The Social Justice Research Center Research Fellowship; The Center for Global Studies U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop “Conversations in Democracy” Fellowship; and an International Travel Grant from the Global Engagement Office.

I have been fortunate to work with excellent staff and scholars at the following institutions in England: The Museum of London; the Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science; the National Portrait Gallery Heinz Archive and Library; and the British Library. Crucial conversations with independent scholar on British women’s suffrage, Elizabeth Crawford, as well as Terence Pepper, Katherine Cockin and Diane Atkinson, have greatly enhanced my knowledge. The assistance of archivists and museum personnel have been vital; I owe considerable gratitude to Beverley Cook, Gillian Murphy, and Anna Towlson. On a personal level, I continue to be blessed by the friendship of Marten Matthews and Caroline Jenkins, who offered ­much-needed respite in the English countryside and its coasts when the work became too much. Weekend reprieves with you were essential. In Australia, I am most grateful to the following institutions for their assistance: The National Library of Australia, Canberra; the State Library of South Australia, Adelaide; and the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. On another personal note, I wish to thank my ­long-time Aussie cycling friends who I first met on the Tour de Wyoming bike ride in 2009 and have the lingering hangover to prove it (!); located in Adelaide, they were such welcome hosts. I am grateful for their friendship and thank them deeply for connecting me to important people and festival events as well as being enchanting companions and guides: Ray Taarnby, Trevor Davey, and Ian Peak. And to the woman who was my best friend when I was a child living in Melbourne (and, as we discovered some 49 years later, still rocks as one of my soulmates), Niki Harley. I owe special gratitude to Frances Bedford and Steven Anderson for being such generous and gracious hosts at the Parliament House of South Australia and for their continued work on keeping the legacy of Miss Muriel Matters, “that daring Australian girl,” alive in the Muriel Matters Society. Sincere thanks to my colleague Rachel Sailor and my ­always-mentors Gabriel P. and Yvonne Weisberg who provided intellectual support at critical moments. The staff at McFarland Press, in particular my editors Natalie Foreman and David Alff, have been very patient with all of my questions. I thank them for supporting this project. Perhaps my biggest debt goes to the person with the most patience, my fearless computer specialist, Margarita Rovani, whose help was crucial at many stages of the book. And to our Gender and Women’s Studies office associates, Wendy Perkins and Crystal Hill, without whose help there would be no images in this book!

I dedicate this book to my grown children, Caitlin and Keefer ­Denney-Turner, ensconced themselves in the humanities world, out there aiding, enriching and improving lives through provocative theatre and international human rights work. I love you both to the moon and beyond and am so proud of how you are both making a difference in the world with your passion, energy and dedication. I hope that you continue to take the world by storm, kiddos!


When I began the final version of this book in 2019, we had just lost one of our most important women’s voices, Toni Morrison. And, as I revisit this preface today, I am still reeling from the testimony of U.S. House of Representatives member, Alexandria ­Ocasio-Cortez, standing on the House floor to call out the misogyny and racism of some her male colleagues. Now we, as feminists, feel somewhat vindicated since Joe Biden just announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate for the Presidency. But then our feminist world all but collapsed when we lost Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In the wake of her death, I heard from every generation of women students I have had the pleasure to teach over that past ­thirty-two years. The correspondence that hit me the hardest was from one of my youngest former students, who simply wrote: “I am not okay.” These strong women offer us alternative ways of being and give us hope. For certain generations of women, our admittedly ­well-meaning mothers just wanted us to fit in rather than be rebels. They knew from their own experiences that to fit in offered some semblance of peace, if not happiness. But some women are born with big engines and generous hearts that propel them to make a difference. Such is the case of the British suffrage women I share with you in this book.

I was recently at a Women’s Yoga and Meditation Retreat at Shambahla Mountain Center in northern Colorado, near my home in Wyoming. I met many amazing, thoughtful women between the ages of ­twenty-eight to ­my-then sixty and beyond. For all of them, the most important draw for the retreat was that it offered them time with a group of women; the power of women was palpable in both their initial sharing and their heartfelt closing words, many of them, like me, having already lost their mothers and grandmothers, hence their most immediate lineage, history and mentors.

Since they all knew I was a Gender and Women’s Studies professor working on women’s suffrage, they had a lot of questions about this collective history of which they were a part. But, perhaps most poignant to me, was one new friend who had grown up in the deep South, like me. Although I left the South at age eight, I still had a Southern mother and three Southern sisters with whom to contend, all of whom had drunk the Kool aid but who also, seemingly in the same breath, were powerful voices in my life who have never suffered fools gladly. My new friend was still fighting, at age ­fifty-five, to find a strong, independent woman’s example in her life. Her questioning belied the fact that she was, indeed, a very thoughtful, powerful woman in her own right, but one who had to wait until college to have her discomfort over prevailing power structures confirmed. How was my life experience, even though we started within the same framing, so different? How had I become who I was and who were my role models? Perhaps some of us do not need role models. We are, like my own daughter, born ready to face the world. Although my daughter’s first verbal expression was “light” it could just as easily have been “bring it.” And yet, she too needed some examples of women who acted differently from the norm, women like our suffrage leaders who became cognizant, some early in life like Millicent Garrett Fawcett, some at age forty like Emmeline Pankhurst, of the need to fight for women’s equality. They knew then as we do now, that our world does not include us as part of the power structure even though we possess great sway and influence. And, in conjunction with that battle for equality, they also knew then as we do now, that we need to see them represented and visible. Visibility acts as a key concept for women: studies have shown that young women will not seek out certain careers if they do not see themselves reflected in a woman who has made it in that field. Ideally, such successful women can act as mentors for the next generation of young women. The politics of visibility is a more recent feminist approach: Open any New York Times and you are bombarded by articles on gender, or on women’s power specifically, even in a rather ­tongue-in-cheek way, as in “This is an Article About Women” by Nicola Pardy which, while she acknowledges the politics of visibility “to accomplish political recognition and, hopefully, change” echoes in her analysis Sarah ­Banet-Weiser’s 2018 investigation of these issues in Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny. ­Banet-Weiser embraces the positivity of the politics of visibility while also being cognizant that in our current culture, “popular misogyny” is a “structural force.”1 Our suffrage women participated in what I term a “cult of great women,” one for which they had to be visible in the streets, on the platform, and in portraits that their grateful followers could share and admire. Yet, they too, like women today (even our Representatives), had to face a constant backlash of misogyny which was cultural as well as structural. For them, as for us, as Pardy argues, visibility is “still not enough.” As my children’s generation is fond of saying, “the struggle is real.” Yet, we could not be moving forward, however incrementally, without the work of these brave, dedicated suffrage women in England and around the world. As the suffragist actress Cicely Hamilton asserted forty years after the Edwardian suffrage movement achieved its goal of enfranchising women:

Looking back … one realizes how often the hopes of the idealist have been falsified! But this is also certain; that the Movement meant more than the striving for a vote and that the young woman of today inherits as a birthright much that an older generation saw only as a distant possibility.2

It is to these dedicated, ­hard-working, unrelenting women I turn in this study, ones whose spirits rose above injustice, seeking to eradicate it so that future generations of women could have access to less embattled lives and basic human rights.

I became interested in Lena Connell—née Adelin(e) Beatrice Connell; later Mrs. Beatrice Cundy (1879–1949)—as an artist who represented suffrage women when I found two of her iconic suffrage photographs in the Women’s Library in London: one is of the leader of the constitutional suffragists of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, Millicent Garrett Fawcett (reproduced in chapter one), and the other is her unique ­double-portrait of Edwardian suffrage theatre greats, Edith Craig and Cicely Hamilton (reproduced in chapter three). I have spent many research visits studying her work at the Women’s Library through its various moves from the London Metropolitan University in the East End in its ­purpose-built space and, even before, in its chilly basement across the way before builders turned the former wash houses of the district into a space for its collections. The past several years I have been able to work on this collection at the London School of Economics and Political Science Library which took the collection under its wing at a crucial moment, thankfully, and it now has a dedicated space within that library with its own group of very helpful archivists and curators. In addition, an appreciation for Connell’s work led me back to the Museum of London where I have done extensive work on their large collection of suffrage materials. Further, the Heinz Archive and Library at the National Portrait Gallery, London, has seen me darken its doors on several occasions to study Connell’s files and its collection of her work. I owe particular scholarly gratitude to Shirley Neale, working with Terence Pepper at the National Portrait Gallery, London, whose sleuthing resulted in the only sustained study we have of Connell’s life and career.3 During my most recent sabbatical in 2019, I visited the Women’s Library again, finding delightfully that additional Connell portraits had entered the collection. In addition, I went to Australia to work on the Australian women’s involvement in the Edwardian suffrage movement at library archives in Canberra; Adelaide; and Melbourne. I was fortunate to work with Frances Bedford, MP for Florey, in Adelaide, South Australia, and her colleague Steven Anderson, who shared a newly unearthed Connell portrait of the incomparable Muriel Matters (reproduced in chapter three) that they had purchased for the Muriel Matters Society which hosts events to honor this important Australian suffragist. This discovery came about as a result of Elizabeth Crawford’s own detective work in “the shoe boxes of women’s attics” as Bedford likes to characterize this kind of research investigation. It is my hope that this publication will bring more of Connell’s portraits to light.

Also crucial to this volume was a research trip I took to London in 2018 which was then in the midst of its centenary commemoration of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 which gave the vote to women householders over thirty. I was able to see and digest many exhibits that honored the women included in the present study, particularly the “Votes for Women” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery that showed painted portraits of Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Christabel Pankhurst, the latter being the ­co-founder of the militant suffrage group of the Women’s Social and Political Union, based first in Manchester, then in London. Adjacent to those iconic portraits (which I discuss in chapter two) was a display case of some of Connell’s suffrage portraits from the gallery’s collection.4 This was a first! Her works have never been on public display en masse before, the Museum of London being the partial exception as it has included some of her portraits in its large suffrage displays. Just as important, I had my picture taken with Gillian Wearing’s ­life-size statue of Millicent Garrett Fawcett which had just been unveiled in Parliament Square as part of the centenary commemoration. It is the first statue of a woman and the first statue by a woman to be erected in the Square. Garrett Fawcett holds a banner, that ­all-important visual marker of women’s voices during the suffrage campaigns, that reads: “Courage calls to courage everywhere,” a phrase taken from a speech she gave in 1920. I will return to such “double portraits” in the epilogue where I come back to the legacy of women’s suffrage in such representations.

Lastly, during my 2019 sojourn to London, I stayed not only on the street where Connell once lived, but also in the exact building, delighted that when I booked my AirBnB I would be ­co-existing with her spirit. I visited the site of her studio at 50 Grove End Road (the building has long since been demolished to make way for a block of flats), and simultaneously felt both elated and how fitting it was that I should be coming back to this part of London, having been a student at the American School in London just up the road back in the 1970s. There are many coming homes for me as I continue to do research in London. This one was the most meaningful as I daydreamed about important suffrage women entering her studio and of her stimulating talks with her famous neighbors, Sir Lawrence ­Alma-Tadema and his equally talented artist wife Laura, whose former home still stands at the bottom of the street near the famous Abbey Road crossing.

Going to Melbourne, Australia, was also a coming home, a place I lived as a child in the late 1960s. I had my first epiphany about art when I went on a school trip with my best friend, Niki Harley, to the newly opened National Gallery of Victoria only a few blocks from my house. On my return trip in 2019, Niki and I became reacquainted and revisited the Gallery together, having our picture taken in front of the mesmerizing water wall, the monument I have held in my head all of these years as my entrée into the art world and as a precious memory to our friendship.

Connell was a central figure in the world of Edwardian suffrage photography. Evidence, symbolically and actually, appears on the base of Wearing’s statue: at Garrett Fawcett’s feet Wearing has arranged supportive photographic portraits of many of the suffrage women organizers, among them several of Connell’s portraits reproduced in this volume. Why is that so? Open any book on the movement and you will find her portraits of suffrage leaders and personalities, yet we have been without a volume devoted to her practice and its significance for the Edwardian suffrage cause. Hence, this study is the first one to examine Connell’s suffrage portraits as part of a what I call a “cult of great women” that embody, within the Edwardian world, a decisive move into modernism.

In this context, I focus on what I characterize as a “separate spheres imaginary” that seeks to break down the largely mythical strict binary of the public, male world versus the private, domestic, female one. London’s urban arena was beginning to allow both a space to talk about and recognize suffrage women’s visibility.

The study takes the ­two-pronged approach of feminist art history: resurrecting women’s art careers; and adding to the lexicon of representations of great women. Hence, it examines Connell as a professional photographic artist herself entering the public domain, as well as her body of suffrage portraits, placing both within the British suffrage movement’s propagandistic efforts and its goals of sophisticated, professional representations of its members. It contextualizes Connell’s surviving photographic portraits of ­twenty-nine suffrage activists and explains how, where and why she disseminated them as propaganda. The mode of inquiry involves examining how the visual culture framework both manifested and digested these political portraits with regards to their representation of the suffrage movement’s goals.

I will address the literature on Connell in the introduction, and more specifically in chapter one, where I discuss her business practices and our remaining evidence of that practice. But here it is necessary to note that, despite having just passed the centenary in England which gave women the partial vote in 1918, a celebration that has resulted in many new suffrage publications, few scholars have examined suffrage portraiture at all within the existing visual materials that the Edwardian suffrage movement generated. Yet, Connell’s suffrage portraits came at a key moment in British women’s history: it was the first time that ordinary middle- and ­working-class women came together with aristocratic women and not only sat for formal portraits, but also shared their portraits publicly, ones that created this new “cult of great women.” While that, in itself, is historically significant, what is more intriguing is to ask, what leadership ideals they, along with their photographic chronicler, wanted to convey about suffrage women and their values? To that end, the four central research questions this book addresses are: (1) What roles do these visual representations of suffrage women play in agitation for the vote? (2) What special meaning did such portraits have for women in search of the vote? (3) Did the textual rhetoric match the fervor of the photographs, or was it more (or less) explicit and why? (4) What is the legacy of those images in activist and political circles, both historically and today?

1. Nicola Pardy, “This Is an Article About Women,” Sunday Review Section, New York Times (July 28, 2019): 9; and Sarah ­Banet-Weiser, Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny (Durham, NC; London: Duke University Press, 2018), xi.

2. Cicely Hamilton, “Foreword,” A Pageant of Great Women (London: Suffragette Fellowship, 1948), unpaginated.

3. Shirley Neale, “Mrs. Beatrice Cundy, née Adelin Beatrice Connell, 1875–1949,” History of Photography 25 (Spring 2001): 61–67.

4. “Votes for Women,” (27 January–3 June 2018), National Portrait Gallery, London.



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