New College of the Humanities

Letters to the Editor: August 2013

A selection of readers' correspondence with the editor, Paul Lay.

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To claim that Emily Wilding Davison was ‘simply trouble’ to the leadership of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) because of her freelance militancy is to overstate the case (The Good Terrorist, June 2013). As late as 1912 the WSPU secretary was trying to help Davison find literary employment, while Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the WSPU, sent her an invitation to a reception at WSPU headquarters on March 1st.

When exploring whether Davison intended to commit suicide it is necessary to read her writings and hear her voice. Pugh quotes only four words: that, following a previous failed suicide attempt, she told the prison doctor in June 1912, that ‘a tragedy is wanted’. Further quotations would have revealed that Davison was willing to risk her life because she felt that ‘by nothing but the sacrifice of human life would the nation be brought to realise the horrible torture our women face. If I had succeeded I am sure that forcible feeding could not in all conscience have been resorted to again’.

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