With the new film Suffragette being released this October, there will be renewed interest in the women’s suffrage movement. I’m looking forward to seeing the film, starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan but I hope it doesn’t glorify the role of the suffragettes, without at least some mention of the many women who believed that women’s suffrage could, and would, be achieved by women making their arguments peaceably and logically.
Many of the women who promoted temperance were strong, intelligent women – Lady Henry Somerset and Rosalind Howard, Countess of Carlisle to name just 2. Naturally they saw the sense in women having the vote and baulked at the notion that they were an inferior species. They demonstrated through their temperance work that they were very capable of organising themselves, locally and nationally. They held rallies and demonstrations. They had their own journals. They travelled the country delivering powerful speeches. Their appeal crossed the social divide and they should be given some credit for awakening the sleeping giant which was the voice of women’s emancipation.
It was no co-incidence that the joint founder, and 3rd President, of the British Women’s Temperance Association was Margaret Bright Lucas – the sister of MP John Bright, a forward thinking reformer, best known for his anti Corn Law campaign.