Hello everyone! I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this enlightening book; Suffragette Planners and Plotters, The Pankurst/Pethick-Lawrence Story by Kathryn Atherton.
Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence were an extraordinary couple and theirs is an extraordinary political and personal story. Emmeline was treasurer of Mrs Pankhurst s militant Women s Social and Political Union. Fred was the only man to achieve leadership status in the organisation. Without their wealth, determination and skills we might never have heard of the suffragettes . Emmeline was always at Mrs Pankhurst s side whilst Fred was the Godfather who stood bail for a thousand women. Both were imprisoned and force-fed. They provided the militant movement with its colours, its home, and much of its vision, and it was their associates who initiated the hunger strike and who brought force-feeding to national attention.
But in 1912 the couple were dramatically ousted from the organisation by the Pankhursts in a move that has often been misrepresented. This book is a portrait of the couple and their relationship with the Pankhursts, and of their inspirational fight, not just for the vote for women, but for freedom and equality across the world. The Pethick-Lawrences were once as well known as the Pankhursts. But they have been neglected by history. This is the first book to give the Pethick-Lawrences the recognition that their part in the fight for the vote deserves, shedding new light on the development of the militant campaign.
It is also the first to address in detail the complexities of the dramatic split with the Pankhursts which has been misunderstood for a hundred years.
I am and always have been hugely fascinated by the Suffragettes and the Suffrage Movement, and I am slowly devouring as many books about that time that I can. I have find that as fascinating some can be, they can be long-winded with over enthused long chapters that even for someone who loves history, can be tiresome to read. I happy to say that this will not put you to sleep, it is a fascinated and enlightening book which really grasped my attention.
This book tells the remarkable story of Emmeline and Frederick Pethic-Lawrence, who were undoubtable a vital part in Suffrage cause, but i believe were a little over shadowed by the mighty and hugely renown Pankurst sisters, yet if it wasn’t for Emmeline and Fred the suffrage movement may not have gone the way it did, as this couple were hugely instrumental for the cause. I will admit that even though i had heard about the Pethick-Lawrence’s, I didn’t know the full extent of their involvement in the fight for equality. As the authors states in this, they seemed to disappear in history behind the more militant and well known fighters.
Emmeline begin to work as Mrs Pankhurst secretary in the WSPU, like the other members Emmeline was a hands on militant member, but unlike a lot of the other members her and Fred were very wealthy. Fred was known as the ‘Godfather’ in the WSPU as he was the man who dug deep in his pockets to bail out the suffragette’s when they were imprisoned, he must have really earned the women’s respect as he was the only man to be given a leadership role in the organisation, which to me shouts just how much power and influence these two had.
As fascinating as they were as a couple, for me it was Fred that really stood out for me, he seemed like a remarkable man. Not only did he actively support his wife, he stood by her, Fred was also an active supporter of the cause himself, he was passionate about equality for everyone, not only for women but he wanted equality for everyone no matter your sex, place in society or race, and I whole heartedly applaud him for that. From reading this he comes across as so passionate and always willing to help the cause and his wife when he could.
This is a fascinating book that goes into great detail about two equally fascinating people who don’t have the recognition for their work and their achievements in the suffrage fight as other individuals do. It is an engaging and very informative book that is brilliantly researched, there is not doubt that the author is deeply passionate about the history, her writing it vivid, it has a real warmth and realism to it that conveys not only the facts, but the authors opinion in a way that engages the reader.
A great book for anyone who is interested in Suffragette history.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie. x