The Real Women Behind Suffragette
A harrowing chapter in history finally gets its due with Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan (below right in photo) and Meryl Streep as crusaders for women's voting rights in Great Britain, plus the real women who inspired the movie.
Photo: Steffan Hill/Focus Features
The film chronicles the battles of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a militant organization founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst (played by Streep) that protested with radical measures like rock-throwing and hunger strikes. Here, we highlight a few of the movement's unsung heroes.
Photo: Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images
The Leader of the Pack: Flora Drummond
Drummond oversaw the WSPU's Cycling Scouts, a troop of valiant suffragette riders who circulated information to women living outside city centers. Her fondness for military garb (she often wore epaulets and attended marches on horseback) earned her the nickname General.
Photo: Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty
The Undercover Agent: Lady Constance Lytton
After realizing that her heart condition—and prestigious family—earned her preferential treatment from prison officials, Lytton disguised herself as a homely suffragette named Jane Warton so she could endure the brutal treatment that less wealthy detainees suffered. (Many hunger strikers were force-fed.) In 1914, she published Prisons and Prisoners, a memoir of her four experiences in jail.
Photo: Courtesy of her Edith Garrud's granddaughters
The Martial Artist: Edith Margaret Garrud
Described as "the suffragette who knew jujitsu," Garrud (who first saw the sport performed in a theater with her husband, also a physical education instructor) taught self-defense courses to fellow members of the WSPU. In 1913, she trained a female unit called the Bodyguard, whose main mission was to protect Pankhurst, recently released from prison.