by David Roberts
“Dedicated to the memory of all the suffragettes and suffragists who did right and persisted knowing Failure was Impossible.”
This year we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave some women over the age of 30 the right to vote for the very first time in the United Kingdom. In December, we mark 100 years since the first general election in which they voted.
Roberts’ distinctive drawings depicting the battle for female emancipation are imbued with compassion and good humour, showing the brave and resourceful women at both the nadir and pinnacle of their struggle. His narrative is at once uncomplicated, erudite and insightful, perfectly encapsulating the activists’ aspirations and frustrations as they fought for their enfranchisement with every means available to them.
He is particularly good at hats, which, of course, were essential headwear for ladies and gents during this period. In Roberts’ illustrations, the suffragettes wear their remarkable titfers like helmets and their heavy Edwardian attire as if armour, donning their official WSPU purple, green and white sashes with considerable pride.
His amusing stories of women outfoxing the police to sneak into Parliament in order to heckle, and the warmth with which he captures their facial expressions, often furrowed with audacity and determination, make reading Suffragette: The Battle for Equality an absolute pleasure. This book is an outstanding introduction to a significant era in our history.
“Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.”
– Millicent Garrett Fawcett
Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for providing an advance review copy of this title.