Festival of Words sheds new light on women’s struggle for the vote and beyond

  • New insights into women’s fight for the right to vote set to be shared through series of events in Sheffield
  • Suffrage 100 events reveal a biography of the life of Christabel Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline, who was the driving force behind the militant wing of women’s suffrage movement
  • Hidden diaries that reveal the sensational life of Kitty Marion – who was sent by the Pankhurst family to carry out a nationwide campaign of bombings and arson attacks – set to be shared at Suffrage 100 events
  • Events to shine fresh light on the thousands of non-militant campaigners – the suffragists – who helped win women’s right to vote
  • Suffrage 100 events part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words 2018

A piece of artwork showing women holding up signs calling for the right to vote

New insights into women’s struggle for the right to vote are set to be unveiled as part of a series of events in Sheffield this week (9-16 October 2018), thanks to a historian from the University of Sheffield.

The events, curated by Dr Julie Gottlieb from the University of Sheffield’s Department of History, are set to reveal new insights into women’s suffrage to coincide with the 100th anniversary of women’s (partial) suffrage under the Representation of the People Act.

Developed for the Off the Shelf Festival of the Words – one of the largest literary festivals in the UK – featured events include a new biography of the life of the daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel, who co-led the Women’s Social and Political Union and was the driving force behind the militant wing of the women’s suffrage movement.

The series includes the untold story of the sensational life of Kitty Marion – who was sent by the Pankhurst family to carry out a nationwide campaign of bombings and arson attacks, as these women fought for the vote by any means necessary.

The events are also set to explore how rebel women were represented in the cinema of the time, including Urban Gad’s Die Suffragette. A mirror of its time, early cinema reflects the myriad positions that existed in society on the controversial issue of female suffrage. Cinematic depictions of women worked as a powerful propaganda tool and ranged from sensitive portrayals of women and their struggle to crude anti-feminist humour.

The festival’s Suffrage 100 events are also set to shine a new light on how there were thousands of non-militant campaigners, the suffragists, that helped win women’s right to vote and the story of the suffrage movement in Ireland.

Dr Julie Gottlieb, who was also a historical advisor to the artist who designed the statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett that was unveiled in London’s Parliament Square earlier this year, said: “The suffrage 100 strand of events at the Off the Shelf Festival is a chance for people to discover new things about the women who fought for the vote—a wider range of women than many people may think—as well as evaluate the aftermath of suffrage and the legacy today of the first wave of feminist campaigners.

“Some of the figures will be unfamiliar, while others will be revaluated in light of new research findings and against the backdrop of our own contemporary concerns about gender equality and women’s representation in history and in the present.

“The Suffrage 100 strand gives diverse audiences the opportunity to hear about new perspectives on women’s suffrage and explore some remarkable stories on the way.”

The Suffrage 100 strand of events are being held in various locations throughout Sheffield from Tuesday 9 -Tuesday 16 October, 2018.

Suffrage 100 events

Feature: Millicent Fawcett - a statue to suffrage

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