This week on Labour Rose there will be a tribute to the Suffragettes.
Emily Wilding Davison was born in Blackheath, London on 11th October 1872. She won a bursary to Royal Holloway College in 1892, but was forced to drop out when her father died and her mother could no longer afford the fees.
She then took up employment as a private governess, then a schools teacher, raising enough money to study Biology, Chemistry, English language and literature at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She obtained honours in her final exams, women at that time were not allowed to do degrees at Oxford.
In 1906 she took up a teaching post and she also joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. Formed by Emmeline Pankhurst. In 1908 she left her teaching post to dedicate herself to the movement.
Emily became a campaigner for Votes for Women, women’s rights.
In 1909, she was put in prison at Strangeways for throwing rocks at Lloyd George’s carriage and attempted to starve herself and resisted force- feeding. A prison guard angered by what she tried to do, tried to fill the cell with water. The door was eventually broken down and she was freed. She sued the wardens of the prison and was awarded 40 shillings.
On 2nd April 1911, the night of the 1911 census, Davison hid in a cupboard in the Palace of Westminster overnight so that on the census form she could state that she was in “House of Commons”. In 1999 a plaque to commemorate the event was set in place by Tony Benn MP.
On the 4th June 1913 at the Epsom Derby , Emily ran out in front of the King’s horse. It is possible that she was trying to attach a scarf/flag to the Kings horse . It is still unclear to this day. She was knocked to the ground by the horse, Anmer and died four days later at Epsom Cottage Hospital, from fractured skull and internal injuries.
Emily is buried in the church yard of St Mary the Virgin, Morpeth.
Her gravestone bears the WSPU slogan “Deeds not words”