Articles on Women’s Suffrage

‘A fine thing gone wrong’: Winifred Coombe Tennant and the Suffragettes

Suffragist or suffragette: what’s the difference and does it matter? Welsh suffragist Winifred Coombe Tennant thought so. Winifred Coombe Tennant (1874-1956) was president of the Neath branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. She was a Liberal, a patron of Welsh art, a member of the Gorsedd of Bards, and a campaigner for social reform in Wales. She was the first woman JP for Glamorgan, and the first woman to be appointed as a delegate to the League of Nations. Read about the life and work of this remarkable woman in South Wales.

In an increasingly violent atmosphere it became harder to obtain a hearing for women’s suffrage arguments. The root of the problem, Winifred thought, was the ‘confusion and prejudice in the mind of the public’ created by the misapplication of the words ‘suffragist’ and ‘suffragette’.

Download ‘A fine thing gone wrong’: Winifred Coombe Tennant and the Suffragettes


A long and loving association and friendship: Esther Knowles and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

In December 2019 Esther Knowles’s great niece in New Zealand sent me a copy of a letter from Esther to her employer, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, written in 1950. Esther Knowles worked at WSPU head office and subsequently for WSPU leaders Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, and was for many years Frederick’s private political secretary. In this article I look at the contents of the letter and explore its context. The article is available on this website as a free download, and has also been published on my blog.

The letter is dated 25 February 1950, two days after the British General Election. In it, Esther wrote about her response to the election results, her wish to know what Emmeline thought about it, and her longing that the two should meet to talk it over. Relying on their “long and loving association and friendship”, she was confident that “you and I…understand each other wholly. You will know therefore that I feel this impulse to commune with you, in a sense of deep humility in the confident knowledge that you will not construe it into presumption”.

Download A long and loving association and friendship: Esther Knowles and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Picture: Emmeline Pethick Lawrence (Women’s Library on Flickr, No Known Copyright Restrictions)


Spotlight on…Mabel Harriette Cross (1872-1940)

The aim of Spotlight On is to remember some of the people and places associated with the suffrage campaign, particularly in Bristol and the South West. These occasional articles are now published on Lucienne Boyce’s Blog.

The Spotlight On archive is available for download here on the website (see below).

In the latest Spotlight On I look at Mabel Harriette Cross (nee Duncan), a prominent Bristol suffragist, who also set up a maternity centre in the city during the First World War. Read Spotlight On Mabel Harriette Cross here. 

Download the Spotlight On Archive (PDF document).