The Politics of Women's Suffrage: Local, National and International Dimensions


Edited By Alexandra Hughes-Johnson, Lyndsey Jenkins


From 1832 to the present day, from the countryside in Wales to the Comintern in Moscow, from America to Finland and Ireland to Australia, from the girls’ school to the stage, women’s suffrage was the most significant challenge to the constitution since 1832, seeking not only to settle demands for inclusion and justice but to expand and redefine definitions of citizenship. This collection advances ongoing debates within suffrage history whilst also drawing on a range of new sources, different intellectual techniques and methodological approaches, which challenge established interpretations.

With its focus on politics and political activism in its broadest sense, this collection makes a timely and substantial contribution to understanding the meaning of politics and political activism across the UK (and indeed, across the world) in this period, particularly as defined and experienced by women at the grassroots. This collection is a reminder of the ways in which women have often encountered and battled a hostile political climate, but pushed forward with determination, skill, tenacity and optimism: resonating with the renewed interest in women’s history and feminist politics today.

Dr Alexandra Hughes-Johnson is a Research Associate at the University of Oxford and Research Portfolio Manager at the Economic and Social Research Council, UKRI.

Dr Lyndsey Jenkins is s a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London

The Politics of Women's Suffrage appears in New Historical Perspectives, an Open Access monograph series for Early Career Scholars from the Royal Historical Society and Institute of Historical Research.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword: the women’s movement, war and the vote. Some reflections on 1918 and its aftermath
    Susan R. Grayzel
  • Introduction
    Alexandra Hughes-Johnson and Lyndsey Jenkins
  • I. Working within existing political structures
  • 1. The ‘success of every great movement had been largely due to the free and continuous exercise of the right to petition’: Irish suffrage petitioners and parliamentarians in the nineteenth century
    Jennifer Redmond
  • 2. Singing ‘The Red Flag’ for suffrage: class, feminism and local politics in the Canning Town branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union, 1906–7
    Lyndsey Jenkins
  • 3. Suffrage organizers, grassroots activism and the campaign in Wales
    Beth Jenkins
  • 4. Suffrage, infant welfare and women’s politics in Walsall, 1910–39
    Anna Muggeridge
  • 5. ‘Keep your eyes on us because there is no more napping’: the wartime suffrage campaigns of the Suffragettes of the WSPU and the Independent WSPU
    Alexandra Hughes-Johnson
  • II. Working through social and cultural structures
  • 6. English girls’ schools and women’s suffrage
    Helen Sunderland
  • 7. ‘A mistake to raise any controversial question at the present time’: the careful relationship of Glasgow’s suffragists with the press, 1902–18
    Sarah Pedersen
  • 8. ‘The weakest link’: suffrage writing, class interests and the isolated woman of leisure
    Sos Eltis
  • 9. Militancy in the marital sphere: sex strikes, marriage strikes and birth strikes as militant suffrage tactics, 1911–14
    Tania Shew
  • III. Navigating international structures
  • 10. ‘East Side Londoners’: Sylvia Pankhurst’s lecture tours of North America and the East London Federation of Suffragettes
    Katherine Connelly
  • 11. Suffrage internationalism in practice: Dora Montefiore and the lessons of Finnish women’s enfranchisement
    Karen Hunt
  • 12. Emotions and empire in suffrage and anti-suffrage politics: Britain, Ireland and Australia in the early twentieth century
    Sharon Crozier-De Rosa
  • 13. From Votes for Women to world revolution: British and Irish suffragettes and international communism, 1919–39
    Maurice J. Casey
  • Afterword: a tale of two centennials: suffrage, suffragettes and the limits of political participation in Britain and America
    Nicoletta F. Gullace


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November 1, 2021

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