NEWS - Tara Morton: Mapping Women's Suffrage
Many wonderful local stories continue to emerge about the women and men who fought bravely in various ways for female suffrage – stories the Mapping Women’s Suffrage project seeks to tell ready for the suffrage centenary in 2028.
The new book The Rebel Suffragette: The Life of Edith Rigby (Pen & Sword, 2021) a Lancashire suffragette is one such tale. Its author, Beverley Adams, was born and bred in Lancashire and her local knowledge and passion fizzes through her account of Rigby’s life. Beverley, who gained her BA (Hons) in English Literature and her MA in English with The Open University, recently contacted the Mapping Women’s Suffrage project and said, ‘I have always had an interest in the suffragettes and their cause, and when I discovered Preston had its very own suffragette who had taken part in many of the campaigns and been imprisoned, I decided to delve further’.
Beverley’s book speaks of Rigby as a complicated, often unpredictable middle-class woman, who championed the rights of local working-class mill women (including their access to better education) alongside her fight for the Votes for Women cause. Rigby, inspired by its leader Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, joined the Women’s Social and Political Union becoming a fully-fledged suffragette. Her exploits included burning down Lord Lever’s bungalow at Rivington, Lancashire, and throwing a Black Pudding at an MP!
Life as a suffragette meant arrests, imprisonments, hunger strikes, and forcible feeding for Rigby who eventually fled to Ireland to escape police recapture after her temporary release from prison under the government’s ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act (see our Glossary of terms in Resources).
Researching and writing her story meant Beverley also encountered many of Rigby’s local comrades in the struggle for the vote. ‘It became important to me’ she explains ‘that more people become aware not just of Edith, but of other less well-known suffragettes, so to have Edith included in the Mapping Women’s Suffrage project is fantastic! I feel very proud to have contributed to her profile here…like I have done what I set out to achieve - to bring Edith alive and highlight the lives of women like her who sacrificed so much so that women like me could vote’.
Yes, we’re happy to say that Beverley will be contributing more Lancashire Votes for Women campaigners to our map as we head toward the centenary. In the meantime, you can read more about Edith Rigby by clicking her 1911 home on our map at 28 Winckley Square, Preston, or on her name under WSPU on the drop down-menu to the side.
You can also purchase Beverley’s book at Pen & Sword, Amazon etc. or contact her on email@example.com
Thank you, Beverley – and we look forward to glimpsing into the lives of more Lancashire campaigners on our suffrage map!
Are you a local archive that has images to add to Edith Rigby’s, or any other campaigner entry on our suffrage map? Do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.