The Cult of Great Women: Portraying Representative Leaders and Organizers

On a recent trip to London, I spent some time at the National Portrait Gallery to see if there were any new portraits of important ­19th-century women on display. To my great surprise and joy, there is now a whole room dedicated to “Women, politics and domestic life in Victorian Britain” which addresses recent scholarship on some of my favorite women activists.1 I found these portraits on display for the first time, and not just on display, but presented as the pioneering women they were in the movement for women’s rights in their own Victorian cult of great women. While the wall label discussed women’s limitations under Victorian law, it also addressed how these women were bringing about change:

By the middle of the century, middle- and ­upper-class women were able to participate in local government, giving them the opportunity of a small but influential role in public life. Many pioneering women came to public prominence in a variety of fields: as writers, artists and also campaigners for women’s rights. This room includes a portrait of the leading campaigner for women’s votes, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, who is shown alongside the successful artist Louise Jopling and the art historian and champion of women’s trade unions, Emilia Dilke.2

Ford Madox Brown’s unique double portrait of Garrett Fawcett with her husband, Professor and MP, Henry Fawcett, was painted when they were publishing work together on political economy and beginning their joint work for women’s rights (fig. 32).

Fig. 32: Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893), Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fawcett, 1872. Oil on canvas © (National Portrait Gallery, London).

It hangs in the same space as Hubert von Herkomer’s aristocratic portrait of Emilia Dilke in her newly married position as Lady Dilke, wife of former MP, Sir Charles Dilke (fig. 33).

Fig. 33: Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1839–1914), Emilia Francis, Lady Dilke, 1887. Oil on canvas (© National Portrait Gallery, London).

These portraits are accompanied by Sir John Everett Millais’s very popular portrait of Louise Jopling (later Jopling Rowe), a prominent professional London artist and great beauty, in her signature Parisian dress which was widely admired (fig. 34).3

Fig. 34: Sir John Everett Millais (1829–1926), Portrait of Louise Jopling, 1879. Oil on canvas (© National Portrait Gallery, London).

These portraits are representative of the National Portrait Gallery’s doctrine not only to include important historical individuals but also, and more importantly for this study, in “carving out a new space for the commemoration of women in the history of the nation.”4 This exhibit comes on the heels of Zoë Thomas and Miranda Garrett’s edited volume on Suffrage and the Arts which addresses the continued struggle to have such prominent women represented in national collections, the Ethel Wright portrait of Christabel Pankhurst not entering this collection until 2011, as discussed in the Introduction. Now it holds a symbolic place at the entrance to the 20th-century collection at the National Portrait Gallery in its ­second-floor galleries (fig. 35).

Fig. 35: Second-floor galleries, National Portrait Gallery, looking towards Ethel Wright’s portrait of Dame Christabel Pankhurst, original painting, c. 1909 (© National Portrait Gallery, London).

Framed by a series of arches that lead your eye directly to it, the portrait is spot lit so that Christabel fairly glows. Her movement forward and her extended right arm suggest that she is not only addressing an admiring audience, but also welcoming the visitor to the ­20th-century collection, representative of the changes that modernism had wrought.

While it is gratifying to see these portraits on display, what would Connell’s exposure to such portraits have been in London in the early 20th century? The portraits of the Fawcetts and Lady Dilke were housed in the Dilkes’ home, at least until Sir Charles Dilke’s death in 1911, at which time the Fawcett double portrait entered the National Portrait Gallery. In addition, it was exhibited in the early 1890s in London and was engraved on several occasions, so Connell could also have seen it in one of these contexts. The Jopling portrait would have been available to Connell in reproduction as Jopling had it engraved during the 1890s, but it did not enter the collection until 2002. As to the Dilke portrait, Connell could not have seen it in reproduction or in the National Portrait Gallery. It did not enter the collection until 1980, having been on loan there only from 1967, long after Connell’s death in 1949. But Lady Dilke was quite celebrated as an art historian and she sat for many photographic portraits which Connell could have seen.

These portraits provide an alternate kind of representation to galleries of great beauties, the latter being an artistic genre that focused on celebrating a woman’s outward charms and attractive appearance. Instead, each of these portraits not only honors the woman’s place in history by belonging to the collection, but also shows, in each case, something substantial beyond her beauty. We see evidence of her vivaciousness and determined spirit (Dilke and Jopling) and her devotion to duty (Garrett Fawcett). I will revisit the importance of such portraits for Connell’s oeuvre in chapter three, but here it is significant to note that she had these other portrait examples of professional women leaders as precedent apart from the portraits I discussed in the Introduction.

It is of further importance to note that many of Connell’s own portraits of suffrage women are housed in this same collection. In a National Portrait Gallery 2018 exhibit entitled “Votes for Women,” for example, the curators displayed many of her suffrage portraits in a case opposite the Wright portrait of Christabel Pankhurst and Brown’s double portrait of the Fawcetts.5 The goal of the exhibit was to honor the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act that gave suffrage to certain propertied women over thirty. The exhibit thus revealed that both painted and photographic portraits ­co-existed during the suffrage movement. It further attested to the devotion of the movement to its leaders through such representations.

Theories of Feminist Leadership

In order to position Connell’s portraits of these suffrage leaders, it is necessary to first review current feminist leadership theories. Contemporary feminist scholar Lisa Pace Vetter argues that we do not have examples of feminist theories of leadership because, traditionally, concepts of leadership have always focused on public life in a ­male-only arena. But, even though we consider that feminism arose largely in opposition to ­male-dominated or masculinist forms of power, we still have to acknowledge such forms of power; they helped to give rise to political approaches such as democracy, liberalism, and socialism, which have advanced women’s goals. As a result, feminists have often taken an ambivalent stance toward power and leadership, such that conflicts arise between masculinist, ­take-charge approaches versus feminist approaches that involve working collaboratively.6

But since I am framing this study through the lens of great women, it is important to acknowledge and consider how our feminist leaders have challenged the ­male-dominated forms of leadership through such cooperative models. Invoking “The Great Woman” theory of leadership, they focus on being “collaborative, cooperative, supportive, understanding, gentle, emotional, and vulnerable.”7 While such a set of leadership characteristics runs the risk of exaggerating traditional constructions of femininity,8 my concern here is with assessing Connell’s representation of these suffrage women as leaders and whether or not her portraits embody these characteristics effectively for the common cause.

As part of the concept of collaboration as a model, Vetter does an analysis of the ways that women leaders can employ Michel Foucault’s concepts of resistance to power structures. She asserts that women should “devise an alternative discourse that would empower them.”9 I argue here that Connell’s central role in representing suffrage women in positions of power is due to the fact that they are, indeed, creating just such an “alternative discourse.” But it is a ­hard-won position nonetheless. If we consider these women leaders as great warriors in a battle for justice, we have to be cognizant that they fought alongside their sister suffragists and went to jail with them. Leadership scholar Jean Elshtain “recognized gender tropes in our understanding of leadership. [In that model] the male leader is the ‘just warrior’ who is brave but gentle, and ‘protects’ his people from the violence of the world out there.”10 Suffrage women, however, as we have already seen, were subjected to male violence when they sought to assert their leadership and mission. Resistance was often their only option both as leaders and followers.

Women’s battles are embedded in the knowledge of women’s lived experiences. It is perhaps best, then, to consider that, as June Lennie argues, “[f]eminisms are not only interested in power but in empowerment, which is a key concept in the logic of emancipation.” She elaborates, stating that such empowerment discourse includes

social justice principles; open, honest communication, getting understanding through using ordinary language; developing trust and legitimizing and validating community issues; letting everybody ‘have their say’; listening to the community without judgement; using consultation to ‘break down barriers’ between experts and ­non-experts with the goal of empowerment; and aiming for common understandings.

In other words, collective working models allow for all voices and, in the process, give those voices legitimacy and purpose.11 Such empowerment models “distance power from domination” in order to understand it as collaboration.12 Suffrage women’s leadership and constituencies offer us a sustained, alternate example to the norm of masculine leadership. This shift in leadership models is best exemplified by the struggles of the WSPU whose leaders employed the ruling autocratic [read masculine] method of leadership which led to various splits from its governance by the WFL and ELFS who sought more democratic and ­consensus-building models.

Group Leaders: Garrett Fawcett, Pankhurst and Despard

Elaine Showalter has argued that “those who have become feminist icons and heroines are ­rule-breakers who followed their own paths, who were determined to experience love, achievement and fame, and who wanted their lives to matter.”13 The three leaders who Connell imaged—Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Charlotte Despard—fit her bill. Exciting, talented, intelligent, much loved and admired, they were so because they broke the rules. It is only by ignoring cultural conventions that they were able to sit for portraits, an act that signaled their true celebrity and fame. Add to this act, the fact that they were facing crises in their lives through their constant battle with the government, at which time, as C. Margaret Hall argues in Women and Identity, such women experience “personal growth and collective empowerment.”14 The portraits act as markers and makers of the sitters’ own cognizance of their “personal growth” and their example in terms of representing the ideologies of women’s “collective empowerment.” As discussed in the introductory notes on propaganda, in this context such portraits are aligned with David Welch’s acknowledgment of propagandistic imagery; that it appears during times of crisis and turmoil. Women leaders, their organizers, and their members and followers all participated in this predicament together. We will see in the analysis that follows the ways that the portraits acted as key inspiration for them.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847–1929)

Lena Connell’s ­full-length portrait of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (fig. 29 in chapter one), for example, marks a particularly high moment of such admiration. The pendant that she wears here, as well as in the ­head-and-shoulders portrait from the same sitting (fig. 36), and as a brooch in Gillian Wearing’s 2018 statue of her at Parliament Square (discussed in the Preface) was a gift to her from her NUWSS members in thanks for her devoted work to women’s suffrage.15

Fig. 36: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1909. Photograph with Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s signature (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

The ­full-length portrait is in Connell’s characteristic dark mat which includes Garrett Fawcett’s own signature and Connell’s business stamp. Dating from 1909, both portraits represent a determined leader who had been fighting for women’s suffrage for ­forty-three years, her age at the time of the portrait being ­sixty-two.

I start this analysis of women leaders with Garrett Fawcett because she was the longest lived in terms of her dedication to the suffrage cause, having taken up the charge when she was only nineteen. A sense of her strong character and her centrality to the success of the cause is reflected in this obituary from the Daily Telegraph:

The names of the militants who broke windows, chained themselves to pillars, or went on hunger strike in gaol, are sometimes quoted by the unthinking as the leaders to victory, but in reality, it was the woman of sweet reasonableness, womanly manner, quiet dress, and cultural style who did more than any other in the cause of emancipation.16

If we think that this obituary is hyperbolic, we need only review Garrett Fawcett’s many activist roles to convince us of its truth. She was prolific as a writer of other women’s lives, as an authority on political economy, and as a continuous presence in the press as a defender of women’s rights to the vote and to education. She fought against Home Rule in Ireland, for better lives for East Indian women, served in the National Vigilance Association, and the National Union of Women Workers, and belonged to many women’s suffrage groups, both nationally and internationally, including being ­Vice-President of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance and President of the NUWSS. Further, she was a founder of Newnham College, Cambridge, for women, campaigned to have women admitted to degrees, and she herself was granted an honorary LL.D. by St. Andrew’s University in 1905. Later in life, in 1925, due to these endeavors, she became a Dame of the British Empire. In short, she was an intellectual force; she possessed a clear, sharp mind, coherent arguments, and persuasive thinking mixed with a quick wit. All of this cerebral acumen came packaged in the form of a petite, pretty, ­well-dressed woman.17

Connell’s ­full-length portrait demonstrates Garrett Fawcett’s incredible resolve and resilience, emphasized by the choice to have her stand, with her fist firmly planted on the table. Connell presented this leader as determined, yet calm, contained, yet also feminine in appearance, her auburn hair swept up in a loose bun, to reveal her intelligent high forehead, bright eyes and ­firm-set mouth. By this time in the campaign, Garrett Fawcett had been long privy to the damaging stereotypes of the press’s hysterical suffragette whom she directly mocks in her own assessment of several Punch illustrations in her press cutting notes, where she refers to this caricature as “the political woman” who is “a ­red-nosed, misshapen, repulsive looking harridan.”18 Connell’s depictions of Garrett Fawcett, to the contrary, reveal a ­strong-willed woman with an intense gaze and energetic posture, conservatively dressed, but with purpose. In the ­full-length portrait, her watch is prominently displayed on her left arm as if to emphasize the value both of her time, and of the time that has already elapsed in her efforts for the cause. Such intellectual toughness reflects Barbara Caine’s assessment of Garrett Fawcett, who “right from the start, devoted her attention to insisting on the need to remove from women those political, legal and social restrictions which bound them in subjection, and denied both their adult status and their full intellectual and personal development.”19

And yet, Garrett Fawcett’s beauty was something to give men pause. It was a direct affront to the stereotyping of political women as ugly in appearance and behavior which Garrett Fawcett recognizes above. It was a very real phenomenon which then translated to suffrage women as Lisa Tickner observes:

[T]he general idea that “one never sees any pretty women among those who clamour for their ‘rights’” or as Punch put it, “The women who want Women’s rights/Want, mostly, Woman’s charms”—had its own momentum. (An MP in the 1871 debate thought the House should demand photographs of the women who wanted the bill. This had scarcely been a requirement of the ­working-class men and agricultural labourers enfranchised in 1867 and 1884.) Appearance, therefore, and ludicrously since it had nothing to do with either justice or expedience (it was used to impugn motive), was a crucial term in the imagery of the suffrage campaign.20

Attention to appearance became central to women’s campaigning, the sea of white dresses at every suffrage campaign march evidence of the general call to dress like responsible citizens if women wanted to become citizens. Hence, Garrett Fawcett must act as role model for her suffrage sisters, running the gauntlet in terms of being cognizant both of presenting a respectable, ­well-kempt self and being a strong presence as a leader. In this regard, Val Williams argues that Lallie Charles’ society portraits show women who were “demure and passive… while those pictured by Lena Connell … for the Suffragette movement were gravely beautiful, conscious of their own femaleness and of its strength and powerful sexuality.”21 I would argue that Connell’s portraits of Garrett Fawcett, then, contribute to an alternative representation of activist women, ­serious-minded, formally presented and in charge, who, nonetheless, play across societal expectations by presenting themselves through Connell’s lens as projecting a woman’s feminine allure.

Just how important Connell’s portraits of these real, fighting women were, is evidenced in Helen Swanwick’s assessment of advertising that appeared in the NUWSS organ, The Common Cause. Swanwick (1864–1939), as managing editor from 1909–12, fought against the messages of women’s fashion advertisements which she had to include in the journal to keep it afloat financially. The irony of the situation is palpable in the following commentary, in which she positions the suffrage fighters as different—both in terms of class activities and in terms of appearance—from the representations of women in the advertisements:

Except at Ascot and a few such gatherings of the notorious, who sees many women arranged in the imbecile clothes depicted in advertisements? Who sees these expressions—coarse, arrogant, sly, repulsively coy, doped, drunk, abysmally idiotic? Day after day we meet these dreadful young women and these revolting “­not-so-slim” matrons, smiling with all their dentures, and when people make histories of the ways our grandmothers lived they give us pages from fashion books!… Only the photographic advertisements show really pretty young creatures but they have generally ruined their beauty by a clown’s splash of lipstick, bloody claws and the everlasting dental grin. But if you walk about England with open eyes you will see far more women of quite a different sort, and it is an untrue writing of history to perpetuate for commercial ends, a travesty of our country women.22

Our suffrage leaders sit counter to both the garish advertisement representations and the over ­made-up photographic imaging of women. Garrett Fawcett as chief among them was of a “different sort,” the ones we want to see commemorated, remembered, revered and honored through Connell’s portraits. While I will discuss the legacy of Connell’s representations in the epilogue, here it is important to emphasize that her portraits offer up women leaders as makers of a different kind of self and as markers of change. When historians write about such women’s lives, they have these honest portraits to inspire them and to consider. In this regard, I would argue that this ­full-length portrait is Connell’s most successful portrait of a leader. While Garrett Fawcett is diminutive in stature, Connell’s positioning of her is forceful and commanding. She stands as if she is giving a speech, her hand on the table, balled up in a determined fist as if she were making a particular rhetorical point. Compare, for example, the portrait of Garrett Fawcett by her competitor, Lizzie Caswall Smith (1870–1958) in 1912 (fig. 37) showing her standing in a shallow space, full length, wearing a fur stole.23

Fig. 37: Lizzie Caswall Smith (1870–1958), Millicent Garrett Fawcett, 1912. Photograph with Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s signature (Museum of London).

Smith’s portrait lacks the dynamism of Connell’s, the latter able to go beneath the surface in order to read the passions of this brave woman in a way that she readily transmits to the viewer.24

But Garrett Fawcett also had to face stereotyping of her own self from within the ranks of liberal histories, as June Purvis has emphasized, in which “the ‘good’ feminists are those women who are ­non-militant, patient and controlled, prepared to work with men and within the structures of society rather than seeking to transform them.”25 This view of her is reflected, I argue elsewhere, in Oscar Wilde’s characterization of Lady Gertrude Chiltern in An Ideal Husband (1895), hence this critique existed both in her lifetime and in subsequent histories.26 But, the women who worked with her within the NUWSS, chief among them being Swanwick, would not corroborate such a presentation of Garrett Fawcett. Rather, they would insist on Garret Fawcett’s desire to “transform” societal structures from within the system. Of Garrett Fawcett, Swanwick argues, for example, that “in spite of her modesty; in spite of her adherence to ‘constitutional methods’ inside her own organization, as well as outside; in spite of her demure and unobtrusive personality, Mrs. Fawcett was undoubtedly our most remarkable woman.” She places her within an esteemed group of “women pioneers” such as Florence Nightingale who professionalized nursing and Josephine Butler who fought to protect women’s bodies both inside and outside of prostitution.27 Further, in a 1929 article, Swanwick focuses specifically on Fawcett’s history within the movement and its impact in terms of her leadership that reflects the calm, reasoned woman whom Connell represents:

Not easily can young women now reconstruct English society in the 1860s and grasp two of its most important conditions for a successful feminist movement. First and foremost, the leaders must be ­lady-like and modest; this in the very best sense of the words, Mrs. Fawcett was. Secondly, it was a time when people still believed in the appeal to reason, and there was a very widespread belief that women could not reason; therefore, with Mrs. Fawcett’s style of quiet argument, with no oratory and little emotion evident, but with ample store of fact and anecdote and with a ­self-control which always commanded her nerves and her temper, she was ideally suited to be a pioneer. Moreover, she looked nice, dressed becomingly, was married to a heroic blind politician and was to him the perfect wife.28

While I will come back to this critique of Garrett Fawcett as “good” feminist as a comparator when I discuss Connell’s imaging of Emmeline Pankhurst, here I would like to emphasize that working within the system is just as problematic as being the rebel who denounces it. We see this conflict within Connell’s two portraits of Garrett Fawcett themselves. As Gen Doy has determined, such outsiders as “women, black people, lesbians and gay men” were not anxious “to discard notions of ­self-consciousness, ­self-determination, the concept of individual agency and the ability to act on society from a perspective of critical reform or even revolution.”29 This very jostling and fight for the self is evident in Connell’s depictions of Garrett Fawcett who seems incredibly ­self-possessed, particularly in the ­full-length portrait, in which she appears to be moving forward to greet her audience with her passionate message of the need for women’s liberation. Connell’s portraits present Garrett Fawcett as if she were at great ease, but we know that such presentation of self is itself also hard won, evidenced from Swanwick who observes:

I sometimes think that all Mrs. Fawcett’s art of living so completely concealed its art that people were apt to forget the ­self-discipline and the public spirit which had drilled her to present such a placid surface, and underrated the steadiness of the moral fibre within. [Added to this formidable outer shell] her humour was the salt of life to her and her friends. I remember in particular how she, standing demure and elderly, the very pattern of the cultivated ­middle-class lady, delighted us by reciting with immense gusto Rudyard Kipling’s egregious poem, with its refrain: “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.” There was something in it … about fangs dripping blood and claws that scratched, and Mrs. Fawcett would pause now and then and say, “That’s me.”30

Something of her humor is present in Connell’s portraits, a bit of a twitch around her mouth, at once firm, but mischievous. This sense of humor carried her through darker times, as Swanwick intimates, but along with it, Swanwick argues that “she encouraged the young and made them believe in themselves because she believed in them.”31 A great leader both leads by example and acts as encourager and bolsterer to the younger generations, Swanwick being one of many younger women to work in Garrett Fawcett’s ranks.

As President of the NUWSS, Garrett Fawcett had to operate with strength on several fronts, the most public one being the ongoing machinations with the militant WSPU when they escalated their campaign through such violent methods as window smashing. The NUWSS had initially encouraged some of the WSPU’s more direct tactics and even hosted a breakfast for the first released WSPU prisoners. But the NUWSS soon had to take a firmer stance against such violent methods, arguing that such tactics interfered with their progress. Swanwick remarks of this situation:

Whatever admiration and cordiality there might be between individuals, the attitude of the militant leaders towards us was one of uncivil contempt. Like all moderate parties, we were kicked on both sides and while we had to endure the stones and offal which were frequently hurled at us on their account, we were constantly told by wobbly politicians that they could no longer support us unless we somehow stopped the militants…. [T]hey could do nothing “until you women all unite”…. To this Mrs. Fawcett’s answer was “Yes? Shall we all break windows or shall we all not break windows?”32

As leader, she was able to cut through the sham of the ­politician-speak with humor, grace and wisdom. These aspects of her character are evident in Connell’s portraits; her benevolent expression barely masking her years of struggle, her firm fist an emblem of her resolve on multiple levels.

But a representation of Garrett Fawcett alone is also problematic since, as Swanwick indicates, she was known as part of an intellectual couple, a fact which Ford Madox Brown puts down for posterity in the first painting of this feminist couple in his 1872 double portrait with which I opened this chapter (fig. 32). The portrait, I argue elsewhere, presents us with an early, extraordinary portrait of a partnership of equals.33 In this regard, after Henry Fawcett’s death in 1884, it would take Garrett Fawcett a while to find her individual footing and her individual self, and also for the press, honestly, to be able to consider her as an individual rather than as Fawcett’s widow. This independent identity is firmly in place in Connell’s portraits of her, yet, she continually insisted on suffrage being a question for both women and men. As Brian Harrison assesses her marriage and later politics:

Her husband sedulously encouraged her public work…. For her, women’s suffrage “was not exclusively a woman’s question. The interests of men and women were not opposed … if one member suffered, all the members suffered.”

….In March 1910, at the height of the suffrage campaign, she was still preaching the same message: “I never believe in the possibility of a Sex War. Nature has seen after that; as long as mothers have sons and fathers daughters there can never be a sex war.”34

This insistence on being responsive to male as well as female voices was evident in Garrett Fawcett’s invitation as the first woman to address the Oxford Unionists, an exclusively male enclave. She accepted this invitation a year before Connell did these 1909 portraits (figs. 29 and 36). This moment was surely in both of their minds when Connell represented her in these studio portraits.

Kenneth Florey in his study of Edwardian suffrage imagery argues that there is a relative dearth of celebrity portraits among the NUWSS in comparison with the plethora of representations among the other main suffrage groups, which suggests to him that they avoided the “‘cult of leadership’ that characterized” these rival suffrage groups.35 But Connell’s portraits of Garrett Fawcett as well as those she did of other NUWSS women who I discuss later in this chapter amongst the organizers, would seem to suggest that while they did not participate in the postcard production, they did present themselves carefully in select portraits. Garrett Fawcett’s signature on both portraits here, in addition, suggests that she gave these photographs to friends, loved ones and other admirers, just as the women did in the other groups. It does give us pause, however, to consider for future examination why the NUWSS did not create postcards of its members.

In these examples of Garrett Fawcett’s character as leader, Connell can be seen as a recorder creating artifacts of cultural resistance and social transformation. As an affront to patriarchal power, taking over visual, representational language once only associated with great men, she creates a powerful, physical manifestation of Garrett Fawcett. She manipulates this woman’s appearance to create a positive meaning within a cult of great women for a public audience. Both as summation to Connell’s leadership representation of Garrett Fawcett and as a lead in to Connell’s portrayal of other women leaders, we should keep in mind Virginia Woolf’s assessment of the concept of women as deviants in patriarchal culture, who are

perpetually wishing to alter the established values—to make serious what appears insignificant to a man, and trivial what is to him important. And for that, of course, she will be criticized; for the critic of the opposite sex will be genuinely puzzled and surprised by an attempt to alter the current scale of values, and will see in it not merely a difference of view, but a view that is weak, or trivial, or sentimental, because it differs from his own.36

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928)

In Connell’s portrait of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the WSPU militant suffragettes, she is seated at a desk looking toward the viewer wearing a ­reform-style dress. She has folded her hands on the desk, ­business-like, as if she has just paused from her work and is readying herself to address us. Dignified, composed, with a beatific expression, she invites admiration precisely because she fits the criteria of Woolf’s assessment (fig. 38).

Fig. 38: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, c. 1909 (photograph Museum of London).

She launched into an activist career, first beside her husband Richard and, after his death in 1898 when she was forty, creating the WSPU in Manchester by 1903, then moving its base to London.37 She was as determined as Garrett Fawcett to fight for women’s right to the vote and beyond. Although they were often at odds in terms of their methods, both the NUWSS and the WSPU were in the fight together. Something of Garrett Fawcett’s ambivalence about this more radical group is reflected in her memoir, in which she states:

[F]or the first five years of their existence while they suffered extraordinary acts of physical violence, they used none, and all through, from beginning to end of their campaign, they took no life and shed no blood, either of man or beast. If there was great vehemence in their demonstrations, there was also great restraint. The whole body was perfectly under control.38

This element of “control” extended to how Mrs. Pankhurst ran the WSPU alongside her daughter Christabel, which resulted in several splits over their authoritarian reign: first with the establishment of the WFL under Despard; and then the dismissal of Emmeline and Frederick ­Pethick-Lawrence, both of whom had worked relentlessly for the WSPU, mounting and running its journal as well as being in charge of much of the marketing of the group; and, finally, with her own daughter Sylvia, who split to form ELFS which was devoted to women workers. Such steely determination and a sense of a lack of compromise is present in Connell’s portrait. She gives us a ­no-nonsense, ­take-no-prisoners leader, who connects with our gaze, but seems also to hover over us. At the time of this portrait, c. 1909, the WSPU had not yet taken on more militant methods but, as chronicled here, the insistence on an authoritarian rather than egalitarian approach to leadership aligned them more with traditional methods of leadership than it did with feminist ones.39

Nonetheless, Mrs. Pankhurst had a huge following of dedicated women. For example, a ­first-hand account of Mrs. Pankhurst comes from Swanwick’s memoir, where she tells us: “I had a great admiration for Mrs. Pankhurst, whose eloquence came from the deep heart of womanhood and put into burning words what millions of women must have inarticulately felt for centuries.” Her oratory skills compelled Swanwick to write: “This little woman, not young, with tragic smouldering eyes, a deep voice and a Lancashire burr … could play upon her audience with untaught art that comes from passionate sincerity and passionate courage. I heard her often, and I never found her dull….”40

Of petite stature like Garrett Fawcett, Mrs. Pankhurst was, however, a formidable presence both on and off the platform. Connell’s portrait does her justice in terms of presenting her as intelligent and engaged, her brow not light but thoughtful. While her body is in repose, her mind seems ready for action. Positioning her at a desk is key in our ability to consider Pankhurst as a leader. Is she at her correspondence and has just set it aside to address us? Or is she preparing her next speech, which will no doubt be a fiery one? Yet, for all that, she is dressed in the modern garb of the day, a dress reform gown that has no stays and requires no corset. Her compact form is at once relaxed, intent and focused. Garrett Fawcett’s use of the word “control” would seem to extend to Mrs. Pankhurst’s considered attire as well as to her ­self-presentation. She insisted that the WSPU women be particularly careful about their means of dress in the suffrage marches. A dignified appearance was necessary to reflect their respectable characters and dispel the kinds of critique that Garrett Fawcett intimates above about the harridan stereotype.

Certainly, this portrait dates from before the escalated agitation and window breaking campaign of 1912, yet it shows Mrs. Pankhurst’s resolve. We do not often see a woman at her desk with her hands clasped together. While it is not an unprecedented pose in portraiture, it is a distinctive one. In Connell’s surviving repertoire we only see the pose again in her portrait of Mrs. ­Thomson-Price which I discuss in chapter three. Connell’s portrait of Mrs. Pankhurst reflects the ideology of the WSPU which was embedded in their purple, green and white sashes: dignity, hope and purity. While those characteristics also seem evident in a more conventional ­head-and-shoulders portrait of Mrs. Pankhurst by male photographer Martin Jacolette (fig. 39),41 his representation is missing that forthrightness and ­take-charge posture we see in Connell’s version.

Fig. 39: Martin Jacolette (1850–1907), Mrs. Pankhurst, c. 1907 (photograph Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

In Jacolette’s portrait Mrs. Pankhurst wears her Holloway brooch at her throat—a gift to those who had been in Holloway goal on behalf of the movement—overtop a velvet ribbon and high collar. She does not look at us, as she does in Connell’s image, but rather seems lost in thought, looking off to her left. She is more removed from us than is Connell’s version; in the latter portrait what seems most compelling is Mrs. Pankhurst’s engagement with the viewer. Whereas in the Jacolette photograph the lighting of Mrs. Pankhurst’s figure and ground is fairly uniform, Connell focuses our attention on Pankhurst’s slight smile; our eyes are drawn there by Connell’s signature toning, with the dark background setting Pankhurst off dramatically. Further, the Jacolette gives no sense of Pankhurst’s stature. Whereas we know she was a petite woman, Connell’s positioning of her camera just below the desk creates an image of a powerful leader who hovers over us.

Both portraits, however, sit entirely opposite to the representation of the hysterical female which Garrett Fawcett so astutely dismissed as fiction. They act as complements to the myriad photographs of Mrs. Pankhurst on the public platform at Trafalgar Square. In Emmeline Pankhurst Speaking at Trafalgar Square, February 1908 (Museum of London), for example, she raises her arm in a fist with a single finger up to punctuate a certain remark, diminutive next to Landseer’s lions, yet commanding attention from crowds of (mostly) men. A Dundee schoolteacher who was propelled into the WSPU after seeing women violently ejected from a meeting, was enamored of Mrs. Pankhurst’s public appearance. She was “very enthralled with Mrs. Pankhurst’s manner and address…. I found her a very cultured, clever, sympathetic and understanding lady, and an excellent speaker whose personality shone forth and she took her audience with her.”42 This comparison highlights the issue of a public studio portrait versus a candid campaign image, yet in both cases, as Peter Stallybrass and Allon White discuss it, political spaces act as not only sites of transgression, but also of invention:

Discursive space is never completely independent of social place and the formation of new kinds of speech can be traced through the emergence of new public sites of discourse and the transformation of old ones…. An utterance is legitimated or disregarded according to its place of production and so, in large part, the history of political struggle has been the history of the attempts made to control significant sites of assembly and spaces of discourse.43

Hence, we can argue that Connell’s studio portrait of Mrs. Pankhurst seated at a desk, a site formerly confined mostly to male portraits, echoes the candid counterpart of her voice in Trafalgar Square. One act cannot exist without the other; women were used to seeing and hearing Mrs. Pankhurst as Swanwick reports above.

As punctuation to this view, we have Mrs. Pankhurst’s own voice from her autobiography which echoes the earnestness, energy and passion we witness in Connell’s portrait. Speaking of her origins in the suffrage movement, she writes of witnessing poor, ­working-women’s tortuous stories while she was employed in Manchester as the registrar of births and deaths, concluding:

I needed only one more experience after this one, only one more contact with the life of my time and the position of women, to convince me that if civilization is to advance at all in the future, it must be through the help of women, women freed of their political shackles, women with full power to work their will in society.44

She was quite capable of bringing her audience to tears with such compassion, one famous speech she gave while in the docks ending with her infamous statement: “We are here, not because we are ­law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become ­law-makers.”45

Charlotte Despard (1844–1939)

Already an important activist when she joined the WSPU, Charlotte Despard (fig. 40) led the splinter group of the WFL starting in 1907 whose motto was “Dare to Be Free!” and whose colors were green, white and gold.

Fig. 40: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Despard, c. 1910s (photograph ©National Portrait Gallery, London).

She encouraged members to become involved in acts of ­non-violent resistance, or spiritual resistance. This was a stance she took with her fellow member of the London Vegetarian Society, the young lawyer Mahatma Gandhi. This approach involved such acts as evading the Census of 1911 as part of the WFL’s Tax Resistance League and, perhaps more impacting, launching The Great Watch from the summer to November of 1909. The WFL held constant vigil as a protest against Prime Minister Asquith who refused to receive a suffrage delegation.46 The breadth of women across classes who volunteered for this watch was fictionalized by H.G. Wells in his 1911 novel, The New Machiavelli which had been serialized in The English Review in 1910. Fourteen thousand ­woman-hours went into the watch about which Wells marveled:

There were women of all sorts, though of course the independent working class predominated. There were ­grey-haired old ladies … north country factory girls—cheaply dressed suburban women—trimly comfortable mothers of families—lank hungry creatures who stirred one’s imagination—one very dainty little woman in deep mourning grave and steadfast, with eyes fixed on distant things [perhaps a portrait of Despard herself]. Some looked defiant, some timidly aggressive, some full of the stir of adventure, some drooping with cold and fatigue…. I found that continual siege of the legislature extraordinarily impressive—infinitely more impressive than the ­feeble-forcing “ragging” of the more militant section.47

Despard, despite the group’s emphasis on ­non-violent agitation, went to prison twice. The first time she was held in Holloway Gaol for leading the deputation from the First Women’s Parliament in Caxton Hall to the House of Commons in 1907. Like Garrett Fawcett and Mrs. Pankhurst, she was widowed by the time she became part of the suffrage fight. As Elizabeth Crawford intimates, she did not come to the WSPU/WFL without experience, but rather as a very seasoned fighter, who had become “an experienced speaker, addressing audiences in drawing rooms, in public halls and in the open air; she had ­first-hand experience of work within a political party; and she was involved in local government.”48 Beyond those skills, she was known as “the Queen of Battersea” for her foundation of a rescue mission in that poor sector of London, hence she was always championed by the working classes as a savior of note.

Although Despard resigned her WFL post in 1918, moving to an executive position instead, she continued to be a symbolic figurehead for the WFL. Like so many of the suffrage leaders and organizers, she was willing to fight for a cause for which she might not see the result, stating in 1928 at full victory for equal suffrage on the occasion of her 84th birthday: “I never believed that equal votes would come in my lifetime. But when an impossible dream comes true, we must go on to another.”49 Connell pictures her in a series of portraits from what appears to be one sitting in the early 1910s: two are in the National Portrait Gallery collection, one of which shows her in a seated pose, leaning on her left hand, as if in conversation, a very natural presentation (fig. 40). A portrait of her in the Women’s Library collection shows her in profile in a Suffrage Shop matt (fig. 41) and another depicts her in a ­head-and-shoulders portrait from the Mary Evans Picture Library collection (fig. 42).

Fig. 41: : Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Despard, c. 1910s. Photograph in Suffrage Shop mat with Mrs. Despard’s signature (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Fig. 42: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Despard, c. 1910s (photograph with Mrs. Despard’s signature. © The March of the Women Collection, Mary Evans Picture Library, London).

In each portrait, Despard is dressed in her signature attire, with black mantle, lace blouse and pin at throat, in a simple ­dress-reform frock which is partly covered around her shoulders by the veil of the mantle. It is the image of mourning she took on at her husband’s death in 1890, one which she maintained for the remainder of her life. Some admirers characterized her appearance as a kind of “ascetic Bohemianism.”50 This attire was so distinctive that she had to disguise herself during deputations and other skirmishes because she knew that the police would otherwise give her preferential treatment; she wanted to be arrested alongside her fighting sisters. In each Connell image, she maintains a serious, intense expression, sometimes engaging the viewer, sometimes looking off in the distance. Connell’s portrayal seemingly matches Despard’s emphasis on ­non-violent agitation. Famous for always wearing the black mantilla and sandals, she presented an image of dignity and determination.

Swanwick characterizes Despard as a significant leader: “In the earlier days, Mrs. Despard was one of the militant leaders whom one could not fail to revere. Partly this reverence was due to her picturesque aspect of a fiery old prophetess.”51 This portrayal of Despard stems partly from the kind of portrait Connell creates: serious, still, quiet in her body and posture, the mantle setting her off as somewhat otherworldly and powerful, the adage “old prophetess” also referring to her advanced age at the time she became leader of the WFL. But she was as equally mesmerized by the WSPU as others were by her. She stated:

I confess there was something in this society which, from the beginning, appealed to me. The youth of many of the members; the fact that they had come together in womanly frankness and love, not for political ends, not to further the candidature of party men for public place and power, but for social and political ends which would affect themselves and the world; the dashing courage of the little band, their selflessness, their quiet endurance of the results of their lawless action—these things attracted me. Sometimes I ask myself, “Can this be the beginning? Is this indeed a part of that revolutionary movement for which all my life long I have been waiting?”52

This positioning of her as prophetess was matched by the character of her oratory. As Swanwick observes: “Her speech … was sibylline and mystical rather than logical…. She was the soul of honour and looked a most gallant woman, as she was. Her kindness had no end….”53 Despard also put her rhetorical skills to use, among other engagements working alongside sister members on the WFL caravan tours, to which I return in chapter four. Something of the grace of her speech is reflected in her above declaration. Similar accolades for her cogent skills come from the suffragette playwright of the AFL, Christopher St. John (pen name of Christabel Marshall [1871–1960]), whose description of her on the platform runs thus:

­Cassandra-like, the whole thin, fragile body seemed to vibrate with a prophecy, and from the white hair, the familiar black veil streamed back like a pennon … the selfishness and materialism of the crowd, its indifference to its own improvement, its deafness to the misery of others, seemed to shrivel before this woman’s look.54

And yet, there was another side of Despard, according to Gretta Cousins, who said “everyone acknowledged Charlotte Despard’s warmth and good humour, qualities that are not always evident in the ­hawk-like profile she presents in official portraits.”55 We do, however, see evidence of a soft smile in Connell’s portraits of Despard that suggest both the “­hawk-like” features of an astute leader and the necessity of a good dose of humor. This softening is aided by Connell’s use of a fuzzy focus on her lens which somewhat reduces Despard’s sharp features.

NUWSS Organizers

Helen Swanwick—née Sickert (1864–1939)

Helen Swanwick, sister to the artist Walter Sickert, had the difficult job of being editor of the NUWSS organ, The Common Cause, as I discussed earlier. Her struggles to represent the group voice rather than her own are evident in her memoir where she explains that, having become editor in 1909, by 1912 she had to resign due her disagreement with the NUWSS over its stance in relation to the WSPU. Despite constant goading from herself and other members, they refused to criticize the WSPU.56 Something of her personal resolve is reflected in Connell’s 1911 portrait (fig. 43).

Fig. 43: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Helen Swanwick, 1911 (photograph Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

She stands at a table with her left hand positioned on top of a book. She wears an expression of intelligent contemplation on her face as she looks off into the distance. Her other hand is raised in a loose fist near her shoulder, as if she is pausing in the midst of conversation to consider a thought. She dresses plainly, but elegantly, in a ­corset-free gown, her hair wrapped back off of her face. She represents a fitting picture of a proper organizer with her own convictions. Her pose, perhaps purposely on Connell’s part, somewhat mirrors the ­full-length one of Garrett Fawcett (fig. 29). Here Connell has used a tapestry backdrop rather than a dark background, showing Swanwick standing in a deeper space than we see Connell create in other suffrage portraits. This space creates an airiness around the figure which is enhanced by a softer lighting technique than we have seen Connell use in other portraits.

As one of the chief organizers for the NUWSS, Swanwick shares her own dedicated zealousness over joining the cause, one that also mirrors the energy and devotion of other organizers who were ready to give their all to the movement:

[B]elieving in the enfranchisement of women, I could not keep out of this struggle at this time. It did not attract me; it bludgeoned my conscience. I could not do other than become one of those who were heaving the wheel of reform out of its rut. I did so with a heavy heart, for I did not expect to see the result myself. It was not easy to say to Life, “Use me!”57

She goes on to tell us that she was recovering from heart strain at the time she joined the NUWSS. She was working in north England at the Knutsford branch in Manchester, as well as writing for the Manchester Guardian, working as a lecturer and as a member of the Women’s Trade Union Council. She had moved to Manchester after marrying Frederick Swanwick in 1888. Prior to that time, she was a Londoner, moving in the circles of the ­Pre–Raphaelite Brotherhood and those of other artists through her artist brother’s connections. She studied at Girton College, then took an appointment in psychology at Westfield College, London. Later, when she moved back to London in order to run the journal more efficiently, she left her husband behind, a mathematics professor at Owens College. She took a small flat on her own where Garrett Fawcett frequently visited her. Although like others at the start of the First World War, she left the NUWSS in opposition to their ­pro-war stance, being a pacifist, she remained firm friends with Garrett Fawcett. She had filled many roles as an NUWSS organizer: writer, editor, speaker, and press coordinator.58 Hence, she was one of many examples of organizers who were working, educated women.

Connell’s portrait gives us a very poised, capable woman, showing no frivolity, mirroring Swanwick’s dedicated, hard work ethic. The portrait reflects her own coming to awareness of the group’s goals and of her own sense of belonging. She concludes her memoir partially with just such thoughts:

I found it a wonderful movement, and the comradeship with women and with men, too, a most exhilarating compensation for hardships. One could see the joy it was bringing to countless women. It gave meaning and inspiration to thousands of dull lives.

“When I began to think,” was the opening remark of a new speaker, referring to the moment when our movement had first let light into a dull room of her mind. The encouragement we got from the poor and the inarticulate was best of all. Said one, “What you bin sayin’, Ah bin thinkin’ long enough, but Ah niver getten t’words reet.”59

Thus, both the women for whom they were fighting and the speakers themselves were enlightened together. The literal light that bathes Swanwick’s face is suggestive of the moment of joy when her own conscience came alive.

Swanwick finishes her memoir by discussing the potency of the vote itself which was

far beyond any mere political entity. It became the standard which rallied women who “claimed all labour as their province” and all liberty in the performance of their womanly functions; functions to be decided by women themselves, for themselves; a standard “Green as our hope in it, white as our faith in it, red as our love.”60

The colors she lists were the colors of the NUWSS. Her own satisfied expression in Connell’s portrait reveals the ­self-containment and ­self-reliance which she celebrates in this assessment. It was a modern movement run by women for women and she was at the center of it. Connell thus presents a central proud figure, upright, sophisticated, engaged, someone to be admired and someone whose work ethic was contagious for the cause.

Agnes Maude Royden (1876–1956)

Agnes Maude Royden, who went by Maude, was the subject of an Australian broadcast in 1956, upon her death. In that transmission, Dame Kathleen Courtney remarked that Royden was “one of that generation which changed the world.”61 Indeed, Royden’s influence in the women’s movement spread well beyond her work under the NUWSS for suffrage, a topic to which I will return in the epilogue. Here I want to share two portraits that Connell did of her during the suffrage years. The first portrait (fig. 44) shows a very young Royden with a slight smile on her face, turning to the right to face her photographer.

Fig. 44: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Maude Royden with Lace Collar, c. 1909 (photograph Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

The second portrait (fig. 45) dates perhaps from a little later, and includes a chalked identification of “Miss Maude Royden” whereas the first just includes Connell’s name and studio information.

Fig. 45: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Maude Royden in Dark Suit, c. 1910 (photograph Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Both portraits reveal a ­self-possessed woman with an enquiring expression that reflect the incredible intelligence and energy of this NUWSS leader.

Born to a Liverpool shipping magnate, Royden was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and then at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. After doing settlement work in Liverpool, in 1905 she began lecturing at Oxford and became involved in the suffrage movement. As an NUWSS member, she took over the editorship of The Common Cause from Swanwick in 1913, running it until 1915 when she, too, resigned because she took a pacifist stance in contradiction to the NUWSS decision to become ­pro-war. She was also an important suffrage speaker who traveled around England as well as to the United States. Further, she was associated with the WFL through her support of the Tax Resistance League and was first chairwoman of the Church League for Women’s Suffrage.62

In her biography of Royden, Sheila Fletcher attempts to reconcile her pacifism, feminism and religious stances; she became the first ordained woman preacher and campaigned throughout her life for the right of women to stand beside men in the ministry. Fletcher characterizes Royden as a complex woman for “troubled times: Feminism and pacifism alike were aspects of the need to harness spiritual power before the world rushed on its own destruction.”63

A sense of Royden’s talents and devotion to the suffrage cause is evidenced in a speech she gave in Southampton in 1913. The reporter for the Southampton Times mused:

Perhaps it is her gentleness, her perfect mental poise, her aloofness from heated argument and freedom from prejudice of any kind that have made her, not a conspicuous figure, but a penetrating influence…. Miss Royden is peculiarly above the rank and dust of the Suffrage movement—by which I do not … mean that she is not taking a very large part in the struggle on the level plains. But her spirit, so it seems to me, dwells on the heights.64

If we examine Connell’s two portraits in conjunction with this review, we see that she has indeed captured something of Royden’s platform poise. These women had to become adept performers on a public stage so the self they presented to Connell, knowing that it was for prosperity, had to reflect their serious purpose. But, as the reporter indicates, Royden seemed to sit above others. Connell thus reveals the quietness and calm engagement of Royden’s spiritual self.

Margaret Robertson—née Hills (1882–1967)

All of the groups employed their portraits to advertise the cause, particularly in announcements and newspaper articles about leading speakers. One such example appeared in The Queen: The Lady’s Newspaper in 1909 which included a ­bust-length Connell portrait of NUWSS member “Miss Margaret Robertson, B.A.” alongside those of other suffrage women by other suffrage photographers. Although the ­head-and-shoulders frontal portrait photograph does not survive in public collections, the grainy newspaper image shows a determined and beautiful woman who looks steadfastly at the viewer. Her pedigree is impressive and is just one of many examples of the educated women who took up the cause. Included in Maud ­Arncliffe-Sennett’s scrapbook, the page thus attests to a kind of cult worship of such great figures. Of Robertson it explains in fitting propagandistic rhetoric that she

[is] one of the principal organisers employed by the National Union. She is an indefatigable worker and a particularly attractive speaker. She is a Londoner born and bred. She was educated at the North London Collegiate School for Girls from the age of eight to nineteen, and is proud of having scarcely missed a day. Taking an open Clothworkers’ scholarship at Somerville College, she went to Oxford, and read English language and literature. She obtained a first class. Afterwards taking a scholarship at the Cambridge Training College, she spent a year there, and became a teacher of English at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for Girls. Mansfield, where she remained till Christmas, 1907. On returning to London she was, as she describes it, “swept into the Suffrage movement,” in which she had been interested for some time. She joined the National Union and soon felt that she would never be able to settle to any other work so long as women were voteless. So she gave up her profession, with all its prospects, and in July accepted the post of organizer to the Union of Suffrage Societies….65

Robertson’s zeal matches that of Swanwick, the rhetoric of being “swept” up by the movement a constant one in the organizers’ accounts of their involvement in the cause, embracing the power of their own voices.

Ethel Snowden—née Annakin, later Lady Ethel Snowden (1880–1951)

A radical lecturer for the Independent Labour Party (hereafter ILP), Ethel Snowden is a figure we have met in the introduction (fig. 5) and in chapter one (fig. 23) in two distinctive images by Connell from c. 1910, one an opulent ­head-and-shoulders shot showing Snowden with her head slightly turned toward the viewer; the other showing another side of her, intent, leaning forward, as if in persuasive conversation with the viewer. A further photograph, from the same sitting as figure 5, appeared in The Common Cause on June 2nd, 1910 (fig. 46).

Fig. 46: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Philip Snowden, c. 1910. Photograph reproduced with Ethel Snowden’s signature, on cover page of The Common Cause, June 2, 1910 (Digital Library, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Gracing the cover of the NUWSS organ was a great honor. Connell reveals Mrs. Snowden at her best in her ­off-the-shoulder gauzy gown, complete with a commemorative signature on the photographic reproduction. Beginning her adult life as a schoolteacher, a position through which she asserted a modernist independence in her personal life, she soon transitioned to joining the NUWSS as speaker and writer, returning to the ILP later in life. She influenced her husband, ILP chairman Philip Snowden, MP for Blackburn (later Sir Philip Snowden), whom she married in 1905, to become one of their supporters from inside the government.66

Within our investigation of women organizers, we see Connell create brand new representations of women that create a cult of greatness. That she can present more than one side of Snowden, for example, as fashionable, attractive woman (who would undoubtedly draw crowds as a speaker) and as the engaged speaker who uses none of woman’s conventional body language, but rather a decided confidence, reveals Connell’s versatility as a chronicler with a modernist vision.

Snowden was an important writer for both suffrage and socialism, taking the stance that women’s enfranchisement preceded any chance of socialism taking root in England. This position was in alignment with her identity as a socialist woman. As June Hannan and Karen Hunt argue:

Socialist women thought that being a woman was significant to their politics and this provided a lens through which they viewed their theory and practice. The term presumes that socialist women … identified themselves with other women, recognized that they suffered from inequalities and oppression because of their sex, and attempted to do something to address this in their ­day-to-day politics. [These women] sought a variety of ways to balance their politics as socialists and as women and … attempted to create a space to challenge a ­male-defined-socialist politics.67

Connell is able to capture something of that dual, determined spirit in these portraits, none of which deny Snowden’s appeal as a woman; on the contrary, her power seems to stem from her beatific expression, one that suggests her steely purpose for the women’s cause, inserting herself physically into what had until then been a ­men-only space. Again, here, Connell creates ­up-to-date representations of the modern woman at work, honoring her political stance.

Snowden’s engaging presence reflects her approach as platform speaker. A witness to her speech at the July 1913 rally in Hyde Park at the end of the NUWSS Pilgrimage, Harriet Blessley, reported that Snowden was “my favourite of favourite speakers” who gave an “impassioned, grand little speech.”68 Her energy and vivaciousness are well represented in Connell’s portraits, then, ones that help to make up an innovative cult of great women.

WSPU Orgranizers

Sylvia Pankhurst, WSPU, later ELFS (1882–1960)

Swanwick had mixed feelings about Sylvia Pankhurst, artist daughter of Mrs. Pankhurst and erstwhile sister to Christabel with whom she famously fought, first to retain her artistic career, then on behalf of working women which led to her split from the WSPU to form the ELFS. Some of this conflict is present both in Connell’s portrait of her (fig. 28 in chapter one) and in Swanwick’s assessment:

She was essentially an artist, drawn into the unsuitable and unsympathetic political machine. Martyrdom, in itself, attracted her, and she would go great lengths in inviting it. She was a very provoking colleague, owing to her habit of going her own separate way, even after she joined others in hammering out an agreed way…. She was, however, more loveable than Christabel and her devotion to the people with whom she was later to make her home in the ­East-End of London was beautiful.69

Connell’s photograph shows a very young Sylvia, her youth made even more impactful by Connell’s soft tonal technique. Yet, Sylvia has an air of independent defiance nonetheless, her expression suggesting that while she is somewhat caught ­off-guard by the camera’s shutter as she looks at an image from Connell’s portfolio, that she is ­self-aware and poised. Her air of modernism is stamped by her dress reform attire, Connell blending the soft, but dark, misty background with the lighter tones of her dress and its subtle patterning to create a pleasing image of this important woman for the suffrage cause and for working women.

Swanwick’s observations reveal how difficult leadership was for these women, especially within a family where there was already a hierarchy. Sylvia had been working on a very important series of paintings of women workers around the country in 1908 when her mother called her back to London to rejoin the movement. The painting series was reproduced in London Magazine in 1908 as Women Workers of England and offers us a unique glimpse into working women’s lives, Sylvia presenting each woman with incredible dignity and sensitivity. But she was soon putting her artistic energies into suffrage murals and graphics. Perhaps her somewhat wistful expression that Connell captures suggests her regret nonetheless that she was not allowed to pursue her own artistic vision, ironically coming back to that passion of celebrating working women with the creation of ELFS and, as Swanwick indicates, committing her time to helping laboring women.70

Connell’s depiction of Sylvia seems to mirror the artist’s own sense of herself. In this context, Barbara Winslow discusses Sylvia’s ­self-portrait, entitled Sylvia Pankhurst in the National Portrait Gallery (fig. 47), observing that it “is different from most of the existing photographs of her, mainly because she looks almost ethereally happy. In this ­self-portrait, she wears a head scarf (common to ­working-class women).”71

Fig. 47: Sylvia Pankhurst (1882–1960), Sylvia Pankhurst, c. 1907–10. Chalk drawing (© National Portrait Gallery, London).

Many candid photographs of Sylvia show her with a somewhat dour expression; whether she is in a march or standing at an event with her mother and sisters, she maintains a serious, unindulgent countenance. But Connell seems to capture her, as she captures herself in this chalk drawing, in a moment if not of joy at least of peaceful contemplation. Her ­self-portrait shows her with her mouth slightly open, as if she is delivering a speech, something that always made her immensely passionate. And the fact that she wears a worker’s cap positions her in her most important distinction from her mother and Christabel; that is, as a supporter of working women.

Add to this observation the fact that some colleagues positioned her as not as dress-and ­presentation-obsessed as her mother and Christabel but rather, perhaps in more typical art student fashion, “carelessly dressed in outmoded and borrowed clothing; her hair was always coming undone.”72 Yet, Connell’s portrait, perhaps because it is a staged studio photograph, presents Sylvia at her best, her gown crinkly new, her hair softly pulled back off of her face, her expression soft, her face impossibly young, showing no signs of the struggles she had already undergone for the cause. In fact, in her work for the WSPU, she was jailed nine times and suffered terribly from forced feeding on many of those occasions. Historians have been drawn to discuss her lack of dress sense, a stance Sylvia impressed upon her public when she rather wonderfully sarcastically stated: “Many suffragists spend more money on clothes than they can comfortably afford, rather than run the risk of being considered outré, and doing harm to the cause.”73 They dressed according to the fashion not as a strategy of “resistance by refusal,” but rather “they chose resistance through reversal. They sought to effect change not by challenging contemporary fashion and ideals of femininity, but by conforming to them.” Their choices were due, in part, to their being haunted by the continuing stereotype of the “­strong-minded woman” with her “­pebble-thick glasses.”74 Yet, many of them, as with Sylvia, dressed in the most ­up-to-date alternative dresswear—reform dress—which had its own elegance and ­A-line form that flattered every woman. Speaking of this dress phenomenon, Elaine Weiss recently exclaimed that she did not expect to find such ­fashion-conscious women among “­freedom-fighters,” stating “I didn’t think they cared about what they wore to the revolution. But they did.” Why?

Because perceptions hold power, and if women were going to be judged by their appearance—which they were then, just as they are now—then [they] wanted to shape their own image. Sartorial symbolism became a part of this strategy in the quest for the vote. They expressed themselves through their garments and costume jewelry, imbuing their fashion choices—and colour palettes—with layers of meaning.75

Despite Sylvia’s snarky presentation of the fashion dictates of suffrage, if we look at her portrait in conjunction with those of these other leaders, we see that the majority of them wore the new style of reform dress, including Despard. That they chose a new dress style embeds them more deeply into the shift to the modernist moment, presenting, with Connell’s help, a new look of resistance and leadership.

What is of further significance is that Sylvia’s ­self-portrait entered the National Portrait Gallery in 1974 as a gift, long before the Ethel Wright painting of Christabel Pankhurst joined the collection in 2011. Rosie Broadley, as discussed in the Introduction, examines the lack of full representation of suffrage women in the National Portrait Gallery; she includes Sylvia’s ­self-portrait in her discussion where she questions whether it is an actual ­self-portrait or, as Sylvia’s son, Richard Pankhurst, asserted in a letter to the Gallery, “not fully a ­self-portrait but a drawing of a suffragette.” Yet today the Gallery lists it as a representation of Sylvia and Broadley considers it as depicting “an individual likeness” which embodies “the spirit and conviction associated with all participants in the militant movement,” an argument she also makes for the Wright portrait of Christabel.76 Curiously, in Richard Pankhurst’s book on his mother’s life as artist and campaigner, he discusses this portrait as a ­self-portrait, but places it amongst a group of drawings she did of other young women workers who wear the requisite working scarf or cap.77 Yet, unlike Wright’s portrait of Christabel, which as I explained in the opening of this chapter proclaims a prominent space at the entrance to the modern section of the gallery (fig. 35), Sylvia’s ­self-portrait has not received such recognition and placement, perhaps mirroring her own position as worker bee rather than queen bee in relation to her sister.

To explain further, Sylvia’s unprepossessing countenance, both in her ­self-portrait and in Connell’s photograph, reflects her own ­self-effacing place within the movement. Unlike her mother and Christabel, she did not seek to be noticed. Rather, “she saw herself as a ­rank-and-file suffragette, attending and organizing meetings, heckling politicians and going to jail” as well as putting her artistic skills at the service of the movement.78 A fitting conclusion to this assessment of Connell’s representation comes in a letter Sylvia wrote to her mother from Holloway Prison on 18 March 1913, at a time when she was being tortured through ­forced-feeding daily during a ­two-month stay with hard labor. The letter was smuggled out and the WSPU organizers viewed it to be so endearing and so heart wrenching, that they used her words on a handbill: “Dearest Mother, I am fighting, fighting, fighting.”79 In addition, Connell’s portrait was dear to her son Richard; a version of it on a “Votes for Women” postcard, bearing her signature, was framed and mounted and on display in his home in Addis Ababa. He had gone to live there with his mother after her later campaigns to free Ethiopians from British rule resulted in an invitation from the Emperor to reside there permanently.80

Flora Drummond—née Gibson (1874–1949)

Many images by other suffrage photographers show “General” Flora Drummond in military attire, complete with cap and epaulettes to honor her role in suffrage processions during which she led sections on horseback. In 1908 she was in charge of the WSPU events for the Hyde Park demonstrations, at which time, as Diane Atkinson tells us, she acquired her nickname. Toye and Company, as manufacturers of regalia, bestowed upon her “a purple, white and green peaked cap, a gold velvet sash embroidered in purple and green silk and a pair of epaulettes trimmed in gold grain tassels.”81 Drummond’s strong character, both in her personal appearance and personality, is reflected in Sylvia Pankhurst’s frank description of her:

A little stout woman with rosy cheeks, and a most aggressive pug nose. This was Flora Drummond, a native of the island of Arran, who had a standing grievance with the Government, because after she had qualified as a ­post-mistress, she had been excluded by the raising of the height standard for such posts.82

But Connell gives us a serious study of Drummond in a ­head-and-shoulders portrait that somewhat softens her characteristically snub features (fig. 48). Although the surviving photograph is somewhat burnished, it reveals a woman of somber appearance in a simple, ­button-up gown, offering us another side to this brilliant, commanding woman’s presence amongst the WSPU fighters.

Fig. 48: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Flora Drummond, c. 1910 (photograph Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

An example of a woman ­working-class hero, born in Manchester but who spent her childhood on the Isle of Arran in Scotland, Drummond became a typist in Manchester, after having taken business training and economics courses in Glasgow. In Manchester, she and her husband were some of the earliest members of the ILP. At some point, she also worked in different factories to gain better knowledge of women’s working conditions. By 1905 she was working for the WSPU both in Manchester and London. But by 1906 she had become a leading member of the central committee of the WSPU. A fierce combatant, she was arrested nine times but never forcibly fed. Elizabeth Crawford speculates that “[l]ike Mrs. Pankhurst, she was probably deemed too prominent a personality to be so treated.”83 Sylvia Pankhurst further describes Drummond as an innovative, effective speaker, “brimful of ­self-assurance and audacity” who “was always able to draw a laugh from her audience by jocular stories … good at organizing and directing in a ­rough-and-ready way.”84

Indeed, Drummond identified herself as a working woman when she led a deputation of working women alongside Annie Kenney—a sister Manchester laboring woman who had early on committed to the WSPU—to see Lloyd George. As Atkinson points out, she was able to connect with working women from a position of similar experience, as a younger woman having worked long hours as a mantle maker. Speaking to the East End Canning Town branch of the WSPU in 1907, she emphasized the “terrible strain women had to endure through being crushed by ­man-made laws.”85 And that is also what makes Connell’s portrait so compelling because it offers us a representation of this fighting woman who, even though she had qualified for a professional role in society, and was denied it on the basis of her own physicality, was able to nonetheless be a prominent presence. She is perhaps most well known for her innovative steam launch, megaphone in hand, passing the terrace of the House of Commons to invite MPs to attend the WSPU Hyde Park demonstration. Her timing was purposeful: she directed her barge past the garden side of the House where MPs were enjoying tea with their female friends.86 Plucky, energetic, dedicated, fearless, always with a sense of enjoyment in her posture and her expression, Connell captures this large personality with panache.

Evelina Haverfield (The Honorable—née Scarlett, 1867–1920)

Drummond was also one of only a few women who rode horseback in the processions, along with Evelina Haverfield, who joined the WSPU by 1908 and rode as mounted marshal in the WSPU 1910 procession. The two of them thus represented lower- and ­upper-class examples of women workers for the cause, Haverfield being the aristocratic daughter of 3rd Baron Abinger, who kept the last name of her first husband although she married twice. She was lover and friend to another WSPU suffragist, the chauffeur Vera (Jack) Holme.87 There is an important photograph of the “Suffragist Cavalry Riding for the Vote” which includes Haverfield beside Holme, along with Drummond and Jessie Kenney, the latter the sister of Annie, who came to London as a paid worker for the WSPU at her sister’s urging.88 This photograph documents their presence at the head of the march for “From Prison to Citizenship” where they led the west procession designed by Edith Craig and Laurence Housman.89 This was no small feat; it was a ­six-mile long procession of ­ten-thousand suffragists.

Connell did three portraits of Haverfield at one sitting during the suffrage years that are testimony to her position as leader of such processions. One example is The Hon. Mrs. Evelina Haverfield (fig. 49) which shows her in a ­head-and-shoulders pose with her arms crossed over her chest.

Fig. 49: Lena Connell (1875–1949), The Hon. Mrs. Evelina Haverfield, c. 1912. Photograph with Evelina Haverfield’s signature (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

She is dressed in riding attire, her hair pulled back off her face, which bears a serious, intent expression. Sylvia Pankhurst described her as always dressed in hunting stock of this sort. Pankhurst also observed her transformation within the ranks, possibly partly due to her aristocratic origins, but ones soon regulated by suffrage work: “When she first joined the Suffragette Movement her expression was cold and proud…. During her years in the Suffrage Movement her sympathies so broadened that she seems to have undergone a rebirth.”90 Sylvia was able to give us an accurate reading of Haverfield because she knew her well; by 1914 she had joined ELFS, a further testimony to her alteration.

To present an aristocratic woman not in evening dress like Lady Dilke in the Herkomer portrait (fig. 33), but rather in her customary attire for suffrage marches, was incredibly daring on both the part of Connell and her sitter. It declared perhaps more than her debunking of her class. She would never, in the 19th century, have been portrayed in such apparel. Perhaps it owes something to her unconventional love life, taking a stance against heterosexual presentation of self. Holme wrote a short biography of Haverfield which attests to their close relationship as horsewomen and comrades; the words on her tombstone sum up her priorities: “a good rider, a good fighter, a most loyal friend.”91

Constance, Lady Lytton (1869–1923)

Another aristocrat involved in the movement for the WSPU was Constance, Lady Lytton (fig. 50).

Fig. 50: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Constance, Lady Lytton, 1910 (photograph Museum of London.

She maintained a strong voice for the WSPU and for its prisoners of all classes. Connell presents her wearing her prison medals proudly: the Holloway brooch of a portcullis, symbol of the Holloway Prison, at her chest (designed by Sylvia Pankhurst); her Prison Medal; and her Hunger Strike Medal. Such a presentation conflates the many lives of this prominent fighter who joined the WSPU in 1909 and who became a paid organizer in 1910. As an aristocrat, she soon discovered that she was treated differently as a prisoner than women of the lesser classes. Due to this situation, she famously reinvented herself as the lowly Jane Warton and took on the persona of this ­self-fashioned, ugly harridan with no name of importance. She did so to be purposely arrested so that she could report back on the differing treatment she suffered without her titled name. Hence, it is most fitting that Connell presents her with her ­hard-earned prison medals as they are emblematic of her important role in the movement.

Brought up as a ­well-protected, sheltered daughter of an aristocratic family with a diplomat father, as a young adult she acted as doting aunt and fond sibling with no life of her own. Lady Lytton was expected to marry young and marry well. She had other ideas. She was also a constant worry to her mother because she suffered from frail health, but, as her sister Betty, Lady Balfour, intimates in her edited volume of Constance’s letters: “[I]t must always be remembered that the impression Con made on those who knew her best was of a radiant joyous personality rather than of a melancholy one.” She cites Constance’s friend, Mrs. ­Pethick-Lawrence on this point: “To her comrades … she showed the aspect of great joy and of deep inward satisfaction, and even of elation, as though her life had found its justification which she had formerly in her great humility doubted.”92 She came alive once she joined the suffrage cause, having found her purpose and a goal.

Speaking of her arrest as Jane Warton, Lady Lytton wrote:

It was the first time I had been to prison without my name, and I can assure you it made a great deal of difference. Perhaps it is only human. I do not complain of position influencing people like wardresses or policemen, but when it comes to law and the Home Office, surely one can expect something more like justice!93

Her expectation of justice was thwarted, like that of her comrades, yet she nonetheless offered a role of leader to women of the lower classes, one of whom wrote to her sister:

If someone could write the story of that spiritual pilgrimage, showing the atmosphere of the home where it started, and the contemporary current of thought among women that led Con out of that shelter into Jane Warton’s cell, a great deal that cannot be understood now would be made clear. It is a symbol of the spiritual origin of the Women’s Movement. In fact, to me she has always represented the spiritual history of unnumbered women of our own class which led to the breaking of shackles which most of the men of the same class are hugging ­to-day.94

Beyond her example to those of the lower classes, Lytton was also aware of the injustice of the suffrage depictions in the police reports and newspaper accounts, her comrade Ethel Smyth sharing that Lytton characterized such reports “of hysterical girls of 18! (‘We are all 18,’ she said) and then looked round Bow Street [the police station site].—The rows of rather grave, quite particularly quiet and sane women about my age! Well, well!”95

Hence, it is all the more important that Connell presents Lady Lytton as a woman of a mature age, her greying temples carefully arranged around her intelligent head, her gaze intent upon us, her mouth pressed flat, with an open book before her. In her surviving suffrage oeuvre, Connell is able to present us with women of all ages who fought for the cause, in strong defiance of the ­narrow-minded newspaper accounts.

But, further, Lady Lytton was widely revered, lending a unique character to Connell’s cult of great women. Annie Kenney, writing to Betty Balfour in May 1912 asserts of “Con”:

Few people know what she is to thousands of women. I always feel she is one of those few people in life to whom you could go, if ever you were so unfortunate as to get into trouble of your own making. She was to me like the priest to those who have full belief in the Roman Church. How we love her and admire her! How little we feel, how ­small-hearted and ­narrow-minded compared to her! I always think of her as a lamp that throws out its light that those who are stranded can be guided to safety and security.96

In another note in her own memoir, Kenney further asserts: “If the mystic sages and seers of the world are those who understand the true meaning of the words, love and humility, then she was an adept in the school of the world’s great occult human teachers.”97

Add to this admiration, the fact that Lytton suffered a stroke while on hunger strike that destroyed her health, such that her mother nursed her the remainder of her life, and you have a true sense of her willing sacrifice for the movement. She was a true great one, which a Mrs. Arnold Foster intimates to Lady Balfour:

[She] set a standard by which women felt they must measure themselves, and finding themselves wanting, felt that they must live more finely. That is what heroes and saints do for us, they lift up our standards of faith and achievement…. [L]ike many others I feel ­to-day the same deep impulse of gratitude and love that we felt in the dark days when she lay in prison with us.98

As with so much in the women’s movement, they were able to break down class barriers through this shared cause as ­comrades-in-arms who nonetheless had leading ladies of inspiration. Connell’s somber portrait is then an apt testimony to this brave woman who penned in visiting Australian suffragist Vida Goldstein’s autograph album her two signatures, as Lady Lytton and Jane Warton, along with the following quote:

Under a Government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man (or woman) is also in prison. (From Thoreau). Jane Warton wrote this on the walls of her cell, Walton Gaol, Liverpool. Jan. 1910. Homewood. Knebworth. Herts.99

Her stalwart stance is also evidenced in an anonymous note in Goldstein’s autograph album from her London visit:

“To defend the oppressed, To fight for the defenseless, Not counting the cost,” is what Lady Constance Lytton wrote on the walls of her prison cell as seeming to embody the aim of those who are fighting in the women’s cause today.100

Gladice Keevil (later Mrs. Rickford, 1884–1959)

Another paid organizer for the WSPU was Gladice Keevil (fig. 17 in introduction; fig. 51) who, when Connell did these portraits, had just returned from her first stint in Holloway Prison, as previously discussed. The postcard version I reproduce in this chapter is from the same sitting as the previous one with a slightly different pose.

Fig. 51: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Gladice G. Keevil, c. 1908. NWSPU postcard (with notations) based on a Connell photograph (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

In addition, it has a notation from the original owner, who has inscribed it with “spoke at Walsall. Oct. 23, ’08.” Keevil was a heavily engaged WSPU speaker who traveled widely. She was given large responsibilities, such as the organization of the WSPU platform on Women’s Hyde Park Sunday rally, 21 June 1908. At this event, the Daily News reported:

Miss Keevil was a particularly striking figure. Robes in flowing white muslin, her lithe figure swayed to every changing expression, and the animated face that smiled and scolded by turns beneath the black straw hat and waving white ostrich feathers was the centre of one of the densest crowds.101

This description demonstrates with what valor and courage such women spoke on platforms. Well dressed, articulate, engaging, all are qualities that Connell captures in her two portraits.

In addition, as I previously discussed, Connell did this series of portraits of Keevil on her release from Holloway Prison. The portraits thus act as marker and maker in one, marking her as a defender of the cause at all costs, including that of her own freedom, and as a maker of change. The notation on the side of figure 51, along with this commentary above from the press, and from the following witness to her platform speaking, emblematize the politics of visibility at work: “Clever speaker and knows her subject” appears on the back of a postcard portrait of Keevil from a Queen’s Park, Belfast, ­open-air meeting in 1910.102 Further, one of these photographs (fig. 17) appeared in an oval format in “To Hyde Park! Portraits and Biographies of the Twenty Chairmen for Sunday, June 21,” in Votes for Women.103 This set of portraits, then, indicates a commemoration of Keevil’s prison time and her continued use of them to promote herself as speaker and to spread the word of the WSPU. We see how the message is further disseminated in the sending of the postcard from one eyewitness to a friend who could not be present, yet she held in her hand an image of a political woman who was both engaging as a speaker and well informed. The short biography included in the Votes for Women article provides a summary of her work for the WSPU, ending with an explanation of her arrest alongside Mrs. Pankhurst at the 1908 deputation which resulted in her being imprisoned for six weeks.

Keevil’s bravery went much further than this prison stint and her platform speaking engagements. Just as one example, in 1909 the Prime Minister held a meeting about the proposed People’s Budget at Bingley Hall in Birmingham. The organizers were so afraid of suffrage interference that they took extreme precautions, which included a ­nine-foot-high barricade from the railway station to the hall, “giving the city the appearance of being under siege,” according to Atkinson, which it was. Nonetheless, Keevil and her ­co-partner Elsa Gye (1881–1943) created a rousing disturbance outside.104 Such women were not mere greats, they were living, breathing, active heroines who were able to cause so much consternation that such political events had to implement plans to keep them out. What power, what force was theirs!

Rachel Barratt (1875–1953)

Rachel Barratt became a ­full-time organizer for the WSPU after working as a science teacher in Wales and as a student at the London School of Economics, stating that she left her studies behind because the WSPU work “was a definite call and I obeyed.” She worked closely with Annie Kenney who described her as “an exceptionally clever and highly educated woman. She was a devoted worker and had tremendous admiration for Christabel. She was learned, and I liked her.”105 Kenney positions her within the cult of great women with these further words, grateful for her help when Kenney took over the WSPU work in London while Christabel had taken exile in Paris and the other leaders were all in jail. As her assistant, she says: “I chose Rachel Barratt, who reasoned about everything, and analysed every point, and drew her conclusions carefully and with extreme caution. Was it any wonder that my preserving angel shouted her name?” Stating further that “Rachel alone knows what we went through those first few months”106 she chooses the rhetoric of greatness, reliance and camaraderie that were so essential to this ­women-led movement.

But Kenney’s appreciation barely scratches the surface in terms of the extent of Barratt’s sacrifice for the cause. She was imprisoned and released under the Cat and Mouse Act (the Prisoners Temporary Discharge for Ill Health Act 1913), several times. The Government enforced this Act because they did not want to be responsible for women’s deaths in prison when they went on hunger strike. While the Act did make hunger striking legal, the women were released only until they were well, then ­re-arrested. Sometimes these strictures forced Barratt to take on incognito names and appearances, living in hiding in order to run what became her later job, managing the WSPU paper, The Suffragette.107

Further, as one of the very experienced organizers, she “worked up” the constituency in Dundee when Winston Churchill tried to sway voters there in 1908. Along with Helen Fraser (later Mrs. Moyes, 1881–1979) from the Glasgow office and Elsa Gye, she spoke at factory gates and hired theatres for “monster meetings,” holding some two hundred meetings during the final week of Churchill’s campaigning. In addition, she brought the American suffragist Alice Paul into the fold while they were both students at the London School of Economics. Paul would go on to use British suffrage tactics in her work in America for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, first working with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and then for her own National Women’s Party (NWP).108

Connell pictures Barratt in a simple oval mat, with her signature in pencil appearing on the mat itself. Barratt looks off to the side in a simple ­head-and-shoulders portrait, lost in thought, carefully coiffed and wearing an unassuming buttoned blouse (fig. 52).

Fig. 52: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Rachel Barratt, c. 1910 (photograph Museum of London).

Such an image of respectability and strength mirrors her incredible bravery and resolve, as well as her dependability, Kenney’s tribute to her ending with “without Rachel Barratt I should have broken down….”109 Her steadfastness was also noted by her Australian lover, Ida Wylie (Ida Alexa Ross Wylie, pen name I.A.R. Wylie)(1885–1959) who marveled at Barratt’s “fine disposition” particularly under pressure, such as when she went to stay at Wylie’s “Mouse Hole” in St. John’s Wood during one of her escapes from the police; it was known as one of the suffragette hiding places for “suffragettes on the run.”110

Marguerite Sidley (later Mrs. Rose, 1886–1984)

Marguerite Sidley was a trained typist who lent her skills to the WSPU from 1906 to 1908, working as a paid organizer who was arrested several times and who eventually transferred from office work to outdoor work due to a diagnosis of consumption. In 1908 she left the WSPU for the WFL, along with her mother, and continued to work on caravan tours until her health pushed her back into the WFL offices, where she was employed until 1916.111 Connell’s portrait of her (fig. 53) is on a WFL postcard.

Fig. 53: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Marguerite Sidley, c. 1908. WFL postcard based on a photograph by Connell with Marguerite Sidley’s signature (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

It shows her in ­head-and-shoulders format, wearing her WFL Holloway brooch at her throat and her WFL enamel flag brooch further down, partially visible underneath her signature.112 As a signed photograph, it signifies that it is an image that she probably gave or sold to an admirer from one of her many speaking tours. A young woman with a compelling presence, her dark brows and earnest gaze are indicative of her purpose as a modern woman on the campaign trail.

Mrs. Norah Dacre Fox—née Doherty, later Elam (1878–1961)

One of the more controversial figures in the WSPU group was Mrs. Norah Dacre Fox who worked closely with Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst between 1912–14 and continued working with them during the First World War. Connell creates an incredibly flattering portrait of Dacre Fox standing in a deep space, the dark tones of the carbon process enhancing her own dark looks (fig. 54).

Fig. 54: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Dacre Fox, c. 1912–14 (photograph Museum of London).

Originally from Dublin, her family eventually settled in Teddington, England. By 1913 she became the General Secretary of the WSPU and led the campaign against forced feeding of imprisoned suffragettes. She had been imprisoned three times. She also became ­sub-editor of The Suffragette journal when Kenney and Barratt, among others, were arrested. She made herself invaluable through her theatrical speaking events and her management of “a host of affairs in the office,” presiding “at our weekly meetings” according to Mrs. Pankhurst.113 While Dacre Fox fought within the WSPU during the First World War with anti–German sentiment, she eventually joined the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and became a Nazi sympathizer. As a result, she was imprisoned during the Second World War for her fascist activities. But nothing of that later history is present for us in Connell’s portrait which dates from the 1912–14 period.114 She was considered a fine speaker, hence uniquely placed to take on the forced feeding campaign. Connell reveals her elegance and charm as well as something of her strong character in this standing portrait, in which she holds our gaze with a slight smile on her face.115

The WSPU was well represented by women of all ranks of society, as these individual portraits attest. In the “To Hyde Park!” article in Votes for Women, the author explains how the WSPU women, no matter their class standing, are nonetheless

[u]nited in their intense enthusiasm for the cause of women. They understand that if women are to take their right place alongside of men in the development of the country, if they are to be in the best sense womanly women, they must needs first win their independence…. They have proved themselves exponents of the women’s position to whom men and women are prepared to listen with eagerness….116

This commentary nicely articulates my concerns here with showcasing the movement’s approach to feminist thought, sexuality and the body. The women are praised for being “womanly women,” that is, maintaining their conventional feminine appearance. In addition, their behavior on the platform and in the movement in general has been possible because of their significant control of their bodies and their emotions. A feminist stance is maintained since they, not unlike Garrett Fawcett, project the goal of subversion from within the ranks.

WFL Organizers

Maud ­Arncliffe-Sennett—née Sparagnapane (1862–1936)

Maud ­Arncliffe-Sennett appears in a postcard for the WFL from a Connell photograph, with “Votes for Women” above her portrait and the details of the WFL below (fig. 55).

Fig. 55: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Maud Arncliffe-Sennett, c. 1908. WFL postcard based on a photograph by Connell (Museum of London).

It is a frank, bold, ­no-nonsense portrait of her, ideally suited for professional presentation of self. She looks out past the viewer, wearing her best blouse and brooch, with her hair pulled back to reveal the strong features of her face. Key for suffrage history is ­Arncliffe-Sennett’s careful recording of the movement in her ­thirty-seven-volume scrapbook (British Library); she was a journalist, actress and activist. Born to Italian immigrant parents in London, she acted under the name of Mary Kingsley while walking the boards in England and Australia. She also ran the family confectioners’ business with her husband Henry after 1898 (noted for being the oldest manufacturers of the ­much-loved Christmas cracker) in Clerkenwell. She was a member of the NUWSS, then the WSPU, then struggled with being a member of the WFL before resigning in favor of only the AFL.117 While I will return to her in chapter three where I focus on actresses and writers, here it is important to discuss her in terms of her role for these other organizations.

­Arncliffe-Sennett seems to have particularly liked this Connell portrait as it appears in many articles about her; she includes one such example in her scrapbook at the end of one of her own articles on “Woman and the Vote” for The Planet. Underneath the image, which has its own full page, she is listed as “A leading member of the Women’s Freedom League, who is contributing to this issue an article on ‘Woman and the Vote.’”118

­Arncliffe-Sennett also includes the portrait in an article in The Vote with her picture featured to one side of one column of the article, “Why I Want the Vote,” which she also saved in her scrapbook.119 This type of column became a special feature in the journal, the explanation being:

Under this heading we shall have from time to time the personal opinions of our ­best-known supporters, giving the reasons why they want the vote. We all know the broad reasons why we want it; but the intimate reasoning which has led others of us into the ardent fighting front ranks has a special interest. This week one of our most elegant speakers gives her reasons—and with no uncertain voice.120

We can hear her strong, angry voice in her response to being an employer of men and a ­business-owner, yet being denied the vote herself in “Why I Want the Vote.” Her wording is indignant, showing her to be a formidable character whom Connell presents as such: “I, a ­middle-aged woman, sit in my office and construct the means by which they earn their living, yet am shut out myself.” More important, she wants the vote to give her women workers their own voices, many of them as “sole supporters of their humble homes….” She wants the vote out of fair play, out of a desire to correct the apathy of the government towards the high numbers of murders among poor women; and to educate children, protect mothers and to eradicate bad divorce laws. All of these stances stem from her being a woman who understands women’s needs. Her rhetoric here and elsewhere is earnest, heated and pointed. Her sense of purpose is palpable, similarly, in Connell’s portrait.

Lilian M. Hicks (1853–1924)

­Arncliffe-Sennett included a “Votes for Women” WFL postcard of Mrs. Lilian M. Hicks in her scrapbook which comes from a portrait by Connell (fig. 56).121

Fig. 56: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Lilian M. Hicks, c. 1910. WFL postcard based on a photograph by Connell with Lilian Hicks’ signature (Museum of London).

As with several of Connell’s portraits, it shows Hicks seated and looking at images, pausing to turn to the viewer. She has also signed the postcard, suggesting that it was owned by an admirer before it entered the Museum of London collection. From the same sitting, we find a profile portrait of Hicks reproduced in The Vote for an article devoted to an interview with her (fig. 57).122

Fig. 57: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Mrs. Lilian M. Hicks, c. 1910. Photograph reproduced from The Vote, April 2, 1910 (Digital Library, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Mrs. Hicks, to be distinguished from her suffragist daughter, Amy (1877–1953), was very aware of being a representative of an older generation devoted to the cause. In the interview she opens with this statement:

This is often called a young woman’s movement, and certainly to one who has worked for a good many years in the cause of “Votes for Women” it is most inspiriting to see how eagerly young and ardent women are crowding into the ranks; but “active service” has proved very attractive to many of us older Suffragists as well.123

Her experience was extensive and ­long-standing; she had been working on the suffrage cause since the 1880s. Once the increased agitation began, she joined the WSPU with her daughter, then moved to the WFL for whom she worked on the caravan campaign, but then she later moved her affiliation back to the WSPU, becoming honorary secretary of the Hampstead branch from 1911–13. Yet she continued alignment with the WFL in her position as honorary treasurer for the Tax Resistance League. She was arrested twice, once for obstruction on Black Friday alongside her daughter and once for window smashing but she was acquitted both times. She eventually joined the United Suffragists when it was founded in 1915, becoming its honorary secretary.124 Each time she changed affiliations, her daughter joined her. In terms of a legacy of greats, her daughter became the more radical of the two, being imprisoned for four months in 1912 for window smashing and credited with starting a hunger strike when she was imprisoned during this time at Aylesbury, alongside another suffragist, Charlotte Marsh (1887–1961).125 But her mother had received a similarly progressive upbringing from a father who strongly believed in “women’s capability,” training his daughters, as he did his sons, to be independent and take care of their own affairs. She was further fortunate in her choice of husband alongside whom she worked on several suffrage campaigns.126

Connell’s portrait of Hicks seated is compelling, showing her looking at a book of prints after Sir Joshua Reynolds’ painted portrait beauties. Yet, Connell presents us with a woman who is much more than an overwrought Reynolds fashion plate. Indeed, she is formidable, her steady gaze at us assessing us with great confidence. And her voice is as powerful as this image would have us believe. Apart from her other duties, she was a strong advocate for women educators in her position on the North St. Pancras Committee, fighting for their equal pay, so much so that she explains:

Although this was defended on the ground of custom, I finally resigned my post … as a protest. But, of course, we cannot deny that it is the custom to pay women at a much lower rate than men. The Government is the greatest sinner in this respect, and every other employer follows its example as a matter of course. And they will go on doing so until we have the power to raise our status and demand equal pay for equal work.127

Echoes of Connell’s own laments are present in this monologue, attesting to what must have been spirited conversations between the two women as Connell created these portraits.

Sarah Benett (1850–1924)

Sarah Benett (fig. 58), Honorary Treasurer of the WFL, as listed on this postcard, shows her standing in a ­three-quarter view, holding a small book and wearing a reform dress on which she has pinned her WFL Holloway brooch, one she would have received for being a ­hunger-striker.

Fig. 58: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Benett, c. 1910. WFL postcard based on a photograph by Connell (Museum of London).

Despard as “the mother of the League” would have presented her with this brooch in honor of her service to the cause. In the portrait, Benett maintains a steady, serious gaze, and an upright posture which conveys a strong level of dignity. A Connell profile portrait of her standing, from the same studio session, was reproduced in an article about her in The Vote in her capacity as Treasurer of the League (fig. 59).128

Fig. 59: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss S. Benett, c. 1910. Photograph reproduced from The Vote, March 5, 1910 (Digital Library, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Before she joined the league, Benett was a general store owner and had started more than one cooperative society. She began with the WSPU, being arrested in 1907, then moved to the WFL. She was arrested both on Black Friday and during the window smashing campaign showing that at some point she had rejoined the WSPU. Something of her iron will, which Connell captures so well, is reflected in her comments at one of her trials for window smashing when she strongly stated that she remembered the days when she “walked her shoes off trying to get signatures to a petition; now she was at the forefront of the militant movement which was absolutely necessary.”129 She was also a modern game changer once she was in prison, requesting that the women have access to gym equipment so they could stay fit, a request which apparently amused the Home Office due to her advanced age.130

Benett had long been a Trade Union sympathizer, the cooperative society work she had done being in association with the Potteries district in Burslem but, when asked by her interviewer why she had forsaken unionism for suffrage, she replied:

I found as years went on that the ­co-operative system was captured by people who were actuated by the worst spirit of commercialism…. But, after all, this is only another way of saying that they were tainted with the spirit of the age—a ­self-seeking, ­self-advertising materialism. And so I came to see that if one wants to give permanent help one must endeavor to change the spirit of the age even more than the wrongs that it fosters. This can only be done by bringing into every phase of life the woman’s outlook and ideals. So, you see, I found, as the rest of you did, that all roads lead to votes for women.131

Is it so singularly incongruous that a woman of advanced age, with all of Benett’s experience, should make such a modern request when she dresses as a modern woman and voices so strongly such reformist and inclusive ideas? What a formidable example she was of perseverance, passion and dedication. Connell bows to Benett’s wisdom, age and experience in her presentation by shooting Benett from below in both portraits (figs. 58 and 59), which indicates a considered reverence, not unlike that which Connell conveys in her portrait of Mrs. Pankhurst (fig. 38). In the ­three-quarter length portrait, Benett looms over us, but does not ignore us as would an aristocrat in a Reynolds portrait. Instead, she engages us directly. She herself rejected the kind of ­upper-class, conventional, cossetted lifestyle represented in Reynolds’ portraits. For example, when prodded by Marion Holmes, her interviewer, who tries to compliment her on devoting her whole life to this work, she responds:

I have not given up anything, really. I might, of course, have had a social position of sorts, but only if I conformed to many frauds and took much trouble, for the ­so-called pleasures of social life would be very irksome to me. Then I am not in the least suited for being a female curate or a lady bountiful—which would be the only alternative if I persisted in following in conventional grooves.132

We need no better modern view of a woman’s role in the movement than this statement which confirms that suffrage women were taking an “alternative” route. Her emphasis on rejecting “conventional grooves” is most telling, her own portraits mirroring those strong sentiments of a woman finding her own path rather than conforming to societal dictates.

Miss Muriel Matters (later ­Matters-Porter, 1877–1969)

Miss Muriel Matters who we met in the introduction sat for many portraits during her time in London; she was another modern woman who followed her own path. Arriving there in 1905 from Adelaide, South Australia, to continue her training in acting and music, she was soon caught up in the fight, aligning with the WFL as a caravan speaker due to her strong background as a trained elocutionist. South Australian women (and indigenous communities) had earned both the vote and the right to sit in Parliament in 1894. Connell did several portraits of Matters, some of which I will discuss in chapter three. In terms of her recognition as an organizer, Connell did at least two portraits of her seated with an open book, elegantly dressed with her hair in an elegant ­up-do, one of which accompanied an article on her in The Vote in 1910 and which was reproduced as a “Votes for Women” WFL postcard (fig. 60).133 In both images (figs. 60 and 61), it is significant that Connell chooses to present her reading or looking up from her reading.

Fig. 60: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Muriel Matters, c. 1910. WFL postcard based on a photograph by Connell (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Fig. 61: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Muriel Matters of Australia, Lecturer, c. 1910. WFL postcard based on a photograph by Connell (Museum of London).

Matters was well educated and an avid reader, taking up Henrik Ibsen’s Doll’s House at fourteen, stating: “I shall never forget my joy in finding that the sentiments I had always vaguely but keenly felt had been put into words, forcible, majestic, dignified. Then I took up the study of Browning and Whitman, and I felt sure that all I had to do was to take all their beautiful, inspiring messages, and everyone would be straightway uplifted, and reformed.”134 That background then propelled her into teaching by the time she was seventeen, after which she trained as an elocutionist and actress. As a South Australian, she was able to speak as an ­already-voting citizen in her home country. This fact is celebrated in figure 61 which titles her as Miss Muriel Matters of Australia, Lecturer. She was famed for her beauty as well as her elegant speech, two factors which aided her in her most fantastic stunt: in 1908 she gave the first speech from a woman behind the Ladies’ Gallery grille in the House of Commons where she had chained herself. Guards had to take the grille with them when they seized her as she and her companion had conveniently lost the key. As amusing as this event was, it was also sensationalized in the press, earning her the title of “that daring Australian girl.” It is a topic to which I will return in chapter four where I analyze her other exploits. Here it is important to note that such events fueled her position as speaker and organizer for the WFL. Yet, it also backfired since, as Sandra Stanley Holton intimates, the NUWSS removed support from the WFL because of this grille incident.135

The fact that Matters was already a citizen with a vote was compelling for her listeners. For example, she ends The Vote article by saying:

I know the power of the vote. I know how, in Australia, the status of women went up immediately they had it. And they used it well too. In a certain constituency of South Australia two candidates were refused by the women because of their notorious immorality, and they themselves nominated another and put him at the head of the poll. You know I am going back there on a lecturing tour in a little while. I want to tell them the truth of the movement over here; how Englishwomen are suffering and fighting for what they won so much more easily.136

The extent of her presence in the cult of great women that Connell helped to establish is evident in the closing remarks of the article. Author Marion Holmes exclaims: “But the many friends of Muriel Matters will be glad to know that she is only going to be lent to Australia for a little while. Our movement is too greatly in need of her special gifts of inspiring oratory and winning personality to give her a long leave of absence.”137 This view is reinforced by Holmes’ rather hyperbolic, propagandistic description of “the huge crowds standing in snow and slush caught by her spell, of whole townships that had been converted by her logic to Votes for Women” on a recent Welsh campaign.138 This enthusiasm is documented, then, in Connell’s portraits, which appeared as WFL postcards bearing the “Votes for Women” slogan.

Anna Gillies Macdonald Munro (later Mrs. ­Munro-Ashman, c. 1883/4–1962)

Many members of the WSPU moved to the WFL, chief among them being Anna Munro who had initially joined the WSPU in 1906, becoming its organizer in Dunfermline before joining Teresa ­Billington-Grieg as her private secretary under the new banner of the WFL. Her background included working on behalf of sweated workers in the East End of London as well as in Edinburgh and Glasgow through the Sisterhood of the Poor Movement. Her fine spirit is revealed in her arrest and imprisonment under the WFL for her part in a deputation, but she had long been honed to defend women in this previous work on behalf of the laboring classes as a devoted socialist.139 Connell’s portrait (fig. 62) reflects the fact that she was “an elegant, tall woman and an eloquent speaker” who campaigned on the WFL caravan around the country.140

Fig. 62: Lena Connell (1875–1949), Miss Anna Munro, c. 1910. Photograph with Anna Munro’s signature (Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science).

Like Garrett Fawcett she was an incredible beauty, Connell capturing her mass of glossy dark hair which Munro has piled high on her head. Her intense dark eyes that meet ours directly are somewhat softened by her slightly hesitant smile and downward head positioning. She is, however, beguiling for all of that. No wonder then that the man she married, Sydney Ashman, had first been captivated by her when she was on the WFL caravan touring the country in Berkshire.141 This Connell portrait bears her signature, testimony to its demarcation in the cult of great women.

These iconic photographs of women organizers and their leaders reveal that Connell had taken a huge leap forward in representations of women in modern culture. Although she was aware of past portrait traditions, she created portraits of women who, like herself, were fighting what was then the most important women’s cause. As a suffragist herself, she was cognizant of the fact that art was being put to use for propagandistic purposes for a women’s movement for the first time, a sentiment echoed in Cicely Hamilton’s introduction in 1948 to the later edition of the Pageant of Great Women to which we turn in chapter three:

There were two respects in which the Woman Suffrage Movement differed from the general run of political strife. It was not a class movement; every rank and grade took part in it. And it was the first political agitation to organize the arts in its aid….142

Although we do have the previous example of Trade Union and Chartist banners, Hamilton’s double points are reflected in Connell’s surviving portraits of suffrage leaders and organizers: they came from all classes (and all ages I would add) and the agitation used portraits of women for the first time as part of its propagandistic machine to create a cult of women who embodied greatness and who fought together for change.143

1. See Colleen Denney, Women, Portraiture and the Crisis of Identity in Victorian England: My Lady Scandalous Reconsidered (Farnham, Surrey, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009).

2. “Women, politics and domestic life in Victorian Britain,” Wall label, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2019.

3. On Louise Jopling (later Rowe) see Patricia de Montfort, Louise Jopling: A Biographical and Cultural Study of the Modern Woman Artist in Victorian Britain (Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2017).

4. Miranda Garrett and Zoë Thomas, “Introduction,” Suffrage and the Arts: Visual Culture, Politics and Enterprise, eds., Miranda Garrett and Zoë Thomas (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 13.

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

6. Lisa Pace Vetter, “Overview: Feminist Theories of Leadership,” in Gender and Women’s Leadership: A Reference Handbook, ed. Karen P. O’Connor (Los Angeles/London/New Delhi: Sage, 2010), 3.

7. T.L. Pittinsky, L.M. Bacon and B. Welle, “The Great Woman Theory of Leadership? Perils of Positive Stereotypes and Precarious Pedestals,” in Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change, eds., B. Kellerman and D.L. Rhode (San Francisco: ­Jossey-Bass, 2007), 93–127; discussed in Vetter, “Overview,” 6.

8. Vetter, “Overview,” 6.

9. Ibid., 8.

10. Jean Ehlstain, “Against Androgyny,” Feminism and Equality, ed., A. Phillips (New York: New York University Press, 1987); discussed in Laura Sjoberg, “Feminist Approaches to the Study of Political Leadership,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Leadership, eds., Joseph Masciuelli, Mikhail A. Molchanov, and W. Andy Knight, 149–73 (Farnham, Surrey, England/Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), 153.

11. June Lennie, “Deconstructing Gendered Power Relations in Participatory Planning: Towards an Empowering Feminist Framework of Participation and Action,” Women’s Studies International Forum 22 (1999): 97–112; discussed in Sjoberg, “Feminist Approaches to the Study of Political Leadership,” 168.

12. John Hoffman, Gender and Sovereignty: Feminism, The State, and International Relations (London: Palgrave, 2001); discussing Hannah Arendt’s concept of power from her On Violence (New York: Harvest Books, 1970); quoted in Sjoberg, “Feminist Approaches to the Study of Political Leadership,” 168.

13. Elaine Showalter, Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage (New York: Scribners, 2001), 14.

14. C. Margaret Hall, Women and Identity: Value Choices in a Changing World (New York: Hemisphere Publishing, 1990), xi.

15. Information on the pendant from Elizabeth Crawford (Private Collection). It was on view next to Connell’s ­full-length portrait of Millicent Garrett Fawcett in the 2017 exhibit on women’s suffrage for the Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science Library exhibition hall. The ­head-and-shoulders portrait is mounted on a simple mat. The notes on it in the Women’s Library collection attribute it to Connell, based on the documented example of the ­full-length portrait in which Garrett Fawcett wears the same attire along with the pendant. See TWL. 2004.9 Photograph Box A03.

16. “Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett,” obituary, Daily Telegraph (6 August, 1929).

17. See David Rubinstein, A Different World for Women: The Life of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (Columbus, OH: Ohio University Press, 1991), especially chapter 3 on her work on political economy; and Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and Their Circle (London: Francis Boutle, 2002). Rubinstein addresses just how complex a character Millicent Garrett Fawcett is, correcting ­long-held assumptions based on Ray Strachey, Millicent Garrett Fawcett (London: John Murray, 1931), the work of her ­self-appointed biographer, who gives a laudatory, superficial read of her. I address Garrett Fawcett’s choices and how cultural critics of the time period might have perceived them in “The Scandal of the Feminist Woman at the ­Fin-de-Siècle: Cultural Critique in Oscar Wilde’s Play, An Ideal Husband (1895),” in Women, Portraiture and the Crisis of Identity, 211–239. On her journalistic work at the Athenaeum see Marysa Demoor, Their Fair Share: Women, Power and Criticism in the Athenaeum, from Millicent Garrett Fawcett to Katherine Mansfield, 1870–1920 (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2000), especially 57–64. See also Andrea L. Broomfield, “Forging a New Tradition: Helen Taylor, Eliza Lynn Linton, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and the Victorian Woman of Letters,” Ph.D. diss. (Temple University, 1994).

18. M50/2/26/2, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Newspaper Cuttings on Women’s Suffrage, August ­1884-May 1894, Millicent Garrett Fawcett Papers, Women’s Suffrage Collection, Manchester Central Library, Manchester Archives and Local Studies, Manchester, England.

19. Barbara Caine, “Millicent Garrett Fawcett,” in Victorian Feminists (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 224.

20. Lisa Tickner, The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign 1907–1914 (London: Chatto and Windus, 1987/Chicago: University of Chicago, 1988), 163–164.

21. Val Williams, The Other Observers: Women Photographers in Britain 1900 to the Present (London: Virago Press, 1986), 91–92.

22. Helen Swanwick, I Have Been Young, with an introduction by Lord Ponsonby (London: Victor Gallancz, 1935), 196–197.

23. It is difficult to do more than speculate on how these photographic professionals viewed each other. They would have belonged, perhaps, to the same professional women’s clubs and photographic societies and would have known each other’s works. It is more difficult to determine the choices that their sitters were making. Perhaps sitting to more than one suffrage photographer was the sitters’ way of supporting the photographers’ careers within the movement without appearing biased. Several women who sat for Connell, for example, also sat for Smith, including Flora Drummond.

24. The Women’s Library holds at least 10 portraits by Lizzie Caswall Smith of suffrage women, along with 6 portraits by Ada Schofield and a large number by Mrs. Christina Broom. For a comprehensive listing of suffrage women photographers see Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866–1928 (London: Routledge, 2001), 546–549, where she lists Connell as was one of 44 photographers. Of those, 15 were women. A welcome addition to the art historical suffrage scholarship would be a volume dedicated to all of these women photographers.

25. June Purvis, “A ‘Pair of . . . Infernal Queens? A Reassessment of the Dominant Representations of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, First Wave Feminists in Edwardian Britain,” Women’s History Review 5 (1996): 267.

26. See Denney, “Scandal of the Feminist Woman.”

27. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 185.

28. Helen Swanwick, from Time and Tide (1929); quoted in Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 185.

29. Gen Doy, Picturing the Self: Changing Views of the Subject in Visual Culture (London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2005), 3.

30. Swanwick, from Time and Tide (1929); quoted in Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 185.

31. Ibid.

32. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 192.

33. See Denney, “Voiceless London,” 136–140.

34. Millicent Garrett Fawcett; quoted in Women’s Suffrage Journal (1 January 1872): 4; and from Garrett Fawcett to Lady Frances Balfour, 5 March 1910, IHi/6895, Women’s Library Autograph Collection, The Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science; quoted in Brian Harrison, “Two Models of Feminist Leadership: Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst,” Prudent Revolutionaries: Portraits of British Feminists between the Wars (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 20.

35. Kenneth Florey, Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013), 137. The phrase is from Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 562.

36. Virginia Woolf, “Women and Fiction,” in Virginia Woolf, Women and Writing, ed. Michèle Barratt (London: The Women’s Press, 1979), 49.

37. On the WSPU, see, for example, Brian Harrison, “The Act of Militancy: Violence and the Suffragettes,” Peaceable Kingdom: Stability ad Change in Modern Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 36–38.

38. Millicent Garrett Fawcett, What I Remember (London: Fisher Unwin, 1924), 181.

39. For a tempered reading of the leadership skills of Garrett Fawcett and Mrs. Pankhurst, see Harrison, “Two Models of Feminist Leadership: Millicent,” 16–43.

40. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 188.

41. See Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 548.

42. Quoted in Leah Leneman, A Guid Cause: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland (Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 1995), 75.

43. Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), 80.

44. Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story (New York: Hearst’s International Library, 1914), 33. For a contemporary, feminist positioning of Emmeline Pankhurst which, while acknowledging the biases of past studies, gives us a more balanced, comprehensive and fair reading, see June Purvis, Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography (London, New York: Routledge, 2002).

45. The full speech is in Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story, 127–128. She gave this speech when she, Christabel and Flora Drummond were arrested in 1908 for intent to start a rush on the House of Commons.

46. See Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 168. See also Claire Eustance, “Meanings of militancy: the ideas and practice of political resistance in the Women’s Freedom League, 1907–14,” in The Women’s Suffrage Movement: New Feminist Perspectives, eds., Maroula Joannou and June Purvis (Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 1998), 51–64.

47. Quoted in Mulvihill, Charlotte Despard, 88.

48. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 503.

49. Quoted in Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 168.

50. Mulvihill, Charlotte Despard, 38.

51. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 190.

52. Quoted in Mulvihill, Charlotte Despard, 68.

53. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 191.

54. Quoted in Mulvihill, Charlotte Despard, 77.

55. Ibid.

56. Swanwick, I Have Been Young.

57. Ibid., 182.

58. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 186–87; Crawford. Women’s Suffrage Movement, 666–667.

59. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 203–204.

60. Ibid.

61. KDC/H2/1–6, Kathleen Courtney Papers, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science.

62. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 610–611.

63. See 7AMR/3/04, Agnes Maude Royden Papers, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science; and Sheila Fletcher, Maude Royden: A Life (London: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 5. She was the first woman Doctor of Divinity. Connell did many professional portraits of her in this role under her married name. I will return to this set of portraits in the epilogue.

64. Quoted in Fletcher, Maude Royden, 105.

65. “Leaders and Speakers in the Women’s Suffrage Movement,” The Queen: The Lady’s Newspaper (March 17, 1909): 557; included in ­Arncliffe-Sennett Collection, Vol. 7, reel 2: 31.

66. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 642; and June Hannan and Karen Hunt, Socialist Women: Britain, 1880s to 1920s (London, New York: Routledge, 2002).

67. Hannan and Hunt, Socialist Women, 9.

68. Quoted in Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 642.

69. Swanwick, I Have Been Young, 188.

70. On her artistic career see Richard Keir Pethick Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst: Artist and Crusader (London: Paddington Press, 1979); and Tickner, The Spectacle of Women. See also E. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals (London: Longmans Green, 1931); Patricia W. Romero, E. Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987); Sylvia Pankhurst: From Artist to ­Anti-Fascist, eds., Ian Bullock and Richard Pankhurst (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992); A Sylvia Pankhurst Reader, ed., K. Dodd (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993); and Barbara Winslow, Sylvia Pankhurst: Sexual Politics and Political Activism (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996).

71. Winslow, Sylvia Pankhurst, 17–18.

72. Ibid., 13.

73. Quoted in Cally Blackman, “How the Suffragettes used fashion to further the cause,” The Guardian (Oct. 8, 2015); retrieved 8/23/19 from­suffragette-style-movement-embraced-fashion-branding.

74. Blackman, “How the suffragettes used fashion.”

75. Elaine Weiss, “The Raiment of Resistance,” Lenny (March 13, 2018; retrieved 8/23/19 from­womans-hour-elaine-weiss-suffragette-fashion.

76. Rose Broadley, “Painting Suffragettes: Portraits and the Militant Movement,” in Suffrage and the Arts, 159–183. Richard Pankhurst quoted and discussed on 176.

77. Richard Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, 128–129. Liz Rideal, Mirror Mirror: ­Self-Portraits by Women Artists (London: National Portrait Gallery, 2001), 55, discusses it as a ­self-portrait also but mistakenly states that Sylvia is wearing prison clothing and hence dates it from her first prison experience in 1906. Richard Pankhurst, however, situates it along with these other chalk drawings of women workers in 1909.

78. Winslow, Sylvia Pankhurst, 13.

79. Cited in Diane Atkinson, Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 385–86.

80. James Jeffrey, “Sylvia Pankhurst: from suffragette to patriot’s grave, in Ethiopia,” Post Magazine (16 March 2016); retrieved 9/6/19 from­post-magazine/article/1925790/­sylvia-pankhurst-suffragette-patriots-grave-ethiopia.

81. Atkinson, Rise Up, Women!, 97.

82. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Suffragette Movement, 191.

83. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 175–176.

84. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Suffragette Movement, 191.

85. Atkinson, Rise Up, Women!, 69–70.

86. Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story, 113.

87. According to Atkinson, Rise Up, Women!, 153, Haverfield lived in Devon from 1911 with Holme which, she asserts, “sounds much more like a marriage than the one she had with her new husband.” He was John Balguy, a Royal Artillery officer. On her wedding day she wrote that she would neither change her name nor her lifestyle; she was already heavily involved in the suffrage movement by this point in her life. I discuss women’s communities in more detail in chapter three.

88. 7VJH/10, Photocopies Box 2, Vera (Jack) Holme Papers, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science.

89. Tickner, Spectacle of Women, includes another similar photograph of them at the head of the west procession, 118. On Housman’s artistic and organizational contributions to the suffrage movement, see 21, 47, 192, 245–46.

90. Quoted in Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 280.

91. 7VJH/4/1/103, Vera (Jack) Holme Papers.

92. Letters of Constance Lytton, Selected and Arranged by Betty Balfour (London: William Heinemann, 1925), 156. See also Constance Lytton and Jane Warton, Spinster, Prison and Prisoners: Some Personal Experiences (London: William Heinemann, 1914); and Lyndsey Jenkins, Lady Constance Lytton: Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr (London: Biteback Publishing, 2015).

93. Letters of Constance Lytton, 199.

94. Mrs. Coombe Tennant to Lady Balfour, Letters of Constance Lytton, 265–66.

95. Report from Ethel Smyth to Betty Balfour, March 6, 1912, from Holloway Prison, in Letters of Constance Lytton, 229.

96. Letters of Constance Lytton, 233.

97. Annie Kenney, Memoirs of a Militant (London: E. Arnold, 1924), 88.

98. Letters of Constance Lytton, 264–65.

99. 7VDG Box 1 FL067, Vida Goldstein Papers, Women’s Library, London School of Economics and Political Science.

100. 7VDG Box 1 FL067, Vida Goldstein Papers.

101. Quoted in Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 313.

102. Ibid.

103. Votes for Women (May 7, 1908), 145.

104. Atkinson, Rise Up, Women!, 166–167.

105. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 35; Annie Kenney, quoted on 36.

106. Kenney, Memoirs, 180.

107. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 36.

108. See Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 230–232 for Fraser; and 254 for Gye. On Barratt and Paul see Atkinson, Rise Up, Women!, 94.

109. Kenney, Memoirs, 182.

110. Atkinson, Rise Up, Women!, 398.

111. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 637.

112. On suffrage jewelry and badges, see Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 303–310.

113. Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story, 311.

114. Connell’s portrait of Dacre Fox is also reproduced in Susan McPherson with contributions from Angela McPherson, Mosley’s Old Suffragette: A Biography of Norah Dacre Fox ( publishers; revised edition, 2010), 80.

115. See; and https://­

116. Votes for Women (May 7, 1908), 141.

117. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 624.

118. Mrs. ­Arncliffe-Sennett, “Woman and the Vote,” The Planet (February 26, 1910): 34–36; collected in ­Arncliffe-Sennett Collection, Vol. 9, reel 3, 1909–1910.

119. Maud ­Arncliffe-Sennett, “Why I Want the Vote,” The Vote (February 26, 1910): 207; included in ­Arncliffe-Sennett Collection, vol. 9, Reel 3, 1909–1910.

120. Leader to ­Arncliffe-Sennett, “Why I Want the Vote,” 207.

121. ­Arncliffe-Sennett Collection, Vol. 9, reel 3, 10 Nov. 1909–29 April 1910.

122. Marion Holmes, “An Interview with Mrs. Hicks,” The Vote (April 2, 1910): 68.

123. Lilian Hicks, quoted in Holmes, “Interview with Mrs. Hicks,” 68.

124. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 284–285.

125. Ibid., 285.

126. Holmes, “Interview with Mrs. Hicks,” 68.

127. Lilian Hicks, quoted in “Interview with Mrs. Hicks,” 68.

128. Marion Holmes, “The Treasurer of the League,” The Vote (March 5, 1910): 220.

129. Sarah Benett, quoted in Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 49–50.

130. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 50.

131. Sarah Benett, quoted in Holmes, “Treasurer of the League,” 220.

132. Ibid.

133. Marion Holmes, “Concerning Muriel Matters,” The Vote (February 19, 1910): 196. I am grateful to Frances Bedford, MP for Florey, South Australia, and to her colleague, Steven Anderson, for giving me a tour of the South Australian House of Parliament and Chambers, where, over an elegant lunch, we discussed all things Muriel Matters. Bedford is the founder of the Muriel Matters Society, located in Adelaide, South Australia. Thanks are due to Ian Peak for introducing me to Frances Bedford. Due to Bedford’s promotion of Matters, in part, there is a plethora of material on her in South Australia at the State Library of South Australia Archives in the Muriel Matters Society, Ephemeral Collection; as well as at the Muriel Matters Society site: ; in a recent play written and performed by Joanne Hartstone, That Daring Australian Girl, foreword by Frances Bedford (Edinburgh/Cambridge: 49 Knights Independent Publishing House, 2018); performance viewed at Adelaide Fringe Festival 2019; in Robert Wainwright, Miss Muriel Matters: The Fearless Suffragist who Fought for Equality (Australia: HarperCollins/London: Allen & Unwin, 2017); and in Clare Wright, You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians who Won the Vote and Inspired the World (Melbourne/London: The Text Publishing Co., 2018). I will return to Miss Matters in each subsequent chapter.

134. Matters; quoted in Holmes, “Matters,” 196.

135. Sandra Stanley Holton, Feminism and Democracy: Women’s Suffrage and Reform Politics in Britain 1900–1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 47–48.

136. Matters; quoted in Holmes, “Matters,” 196.

137. Holmes, “Matters,” 196.

138. Ibid.

139. Leah Leneman, A Guid Cause: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland. Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 1995), 73.

140. Crawford, Women’s Suffrage Movement, 430–31.

141. Ibid.

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

143. See Colleen Denney, “Epilogue: From the Hammer to the Fist; March, Process, Progress and Protest,” The Visual Culture of Women’s Activism in London, Paris and Beyond: An Analytical Art History, 1860 to the Present (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018), 140–41.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!