On the Wrong Side of History

A celebrated novelist and tireless social reformer, Mary Ward has been all but forgotten because of her support for the anti-suffrage movement.

Mrs Humphry Ward (Mary Ward), by Herbert Rose Barraud, 19th century.
Mrs Humphry Ward (Mary Ward), by Herbert Rose Barraud, 19th century © Bridgeman Images.

In February 1912 a capacity crowd of 9,000 filled London’s Royal Albert Hall, which had been decorated for the occasion in the black, white and pink colours of their cause. Some 20,000 people had applied for tickets to this grand rally to make their voices heard on the issue of women’s suffrage, but the speakers who took to the stage were not there to call for women to get the vote, but to argue against it. 

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