I’m a huge admirer of the suffragettes and like to think that if I’d been around at the time then I too would have donned my sash, paraded around in green, white and purple and chained myself to railings at the drop of a hat. They certainly cast a long shadow too – knowing the sacrifices they made, it wouldn’t occur to me now not to vote. In fact, whenever I consider it (not out of apathy, I should stress but rather despair) I have visions of Emmeline Pankhurst rising from the grave and beating me about my ungrateful head with an umbrella for my transgression.
Anyway, I’m really thrilled to introduce to you all The Right of the Subjects, the latest gripping novel by my talented chum Jude Starling which explores the impact of the suffragette movement on one particular well heeled young lady who enters the fascinating world of the charismatic Pankhurst ladies.
A Suffragette March in Hyde Park, Mrs Albert Broom, 23 July 1910. Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London.
Evanna Bailie is not interested in politics. She leaves the fight for women’s suffrage to her mother and sister – at least until she meets the clever, scrappy women of the WSPU. Life as a suffragette can offer her excitement, camaraderie, travel – all the things that her mill town life is lacking, and Evanna is swiftly sucked into the vortex of the campaign for Votes for Women.
Yet as Evanna’s new life leads her into adventure, it also catapults her into danger. As she learns to appreciate the finer things in life in the company of the society ladies who populate the WSPU, she must also learn to endure censure, jail time and mounting violence as the tide of public opinion turns against the suffragettes.
Dame Christabel Pankhurst, Ethel Wright, 1909. Photo: National Portrait Gallery, London.
It’s a brilliant read and definitely recommended for anyone with even the slightest interest in the period. As a bit of fun, Jude has put together this quiz so we can all answer that most pressing of questions – which Pankhurst are you?
The Pankhurst family are iconic figures in the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Britain, and important influences on The Right of the Subjects‘ plot. But this is the internet, so what better way to pay our respects and examine something with gravity and context than with a personality test? You’ll need to keep a note of the number of As, Bs, Cs and Ds you get as you go along.
1) As a kid, you were:
A: Gifted but limited by society’s restrictions.
B: The high-achieving golden child.
C: The family rebel.
D: The annoying, precocious little sibling.
2) How do you feel about direct action?
A: I’m happy to endorse it, including militant acts in most cases, and occasionally carry out similar acts myself.
B: I’m happy to endorse it (we won’t dwell on my limits as far as militancy goes), but generally prefer to delegate the task.
C: I think it has its uses and I have been involved in direct action, but it can be overused and more extreme acts of militancy are questionable.
D: I’m ambivalent – I’ve had my moments, but militancy especially seems like a tactical mistake.
3) Which of the following 21st century feminists can you best relate to?
A: Germaine Greer.
B: Julie Burchill.
C: Laurie Penny.
D: Caitlin Moran.
4) Why are people on Twitter and Tumblr cross with you today?
A: They say I’m generally given (and happily take) credit for the work of those with fewer advantages.
B: They say I’m using my political positions as vehicles for my own ego.
C: They say I have a bit of a saviour complex.
D: As time goes on, they seem to like my views less and less.
5) When I say ‘men’, you think:
A: I like them well enough, but they’re largely irrelevant as far as feminist issues go.
B: Cannon fodder. Oh, all right – syphilis.
C: Important allies in the fight.
D: I’m fine with them.
6) When you take a ‘which [insert aspect of a particular element of popular culture here] are you?’ test, which result do you usually get?
A: The heroic, firework spectacular one.
B: The subversive, devil’s advocate one.
C: The empathetic, inclusive one.
D: The lofty, cerebral one.
7) What do other people usually identify as your best feature?
8) And your worst?
9) Which of the following modern feminist issues do you think is most important?
A: The reproductive and parenting challenges of women who have limited incomes.
B: Preventing the watering down of feminist causes and ideals in the name of making them more palatable.
C: Including women who are often neglected in traditional feminist circles.
D: Highlighting the relevance of feminism to women and encouraging them to recognise themselves as feminists.
10) This quiz is:
A: Amusing in its way.
B: Not even a blip on my radar.
C: Belittling serious issues.
D: Harmless enough.
If you scored…
Mostly As – you are Emmeline Pankhurst!
You have a talent when it comes to making sure that people don’t forget you, and in working for your causes you generally strike a good balance between everyday, behind-the-scenes stuff and the headline-grabbing tactics. You’re bold, bright and not afraid to suffer for your cause, even if you do have a decadent streak and a fondness for the finer things in life. You can sometimes be prone to adopting an indiscriminate ‘us vs. them’ attitude, so be aware of this, especially if it starts to hit close to home.
In the 21st century you can probably be found: being quoted in a newspaper article as an authority on women’s issues.
Mostly Bs – you are Christabel Pankhurst!
You’re razor-sharp, articulate, witty and charming, which is just as well because otherwise you’d frighten most of your adoring followers to death. You’re uncompromising in your beliefs and your application of them, but tend to disappear when the consequences become unpleasant, and could doubtlessly reel off a list of reasons as to why this is the case. You defy expectations about women’s intellect and what women are capable of, and failure is to be avoided at all costs – or at least hushed up pretty quickly – but admitting your own fallibility would probably make you a more effective campaigner.
In the 21st century you can probably be found: succeeding in ways not directly connected to women’s issues, while blogging about feminism in your spare time.
Mostly Cs – you are Sylvia Pankhurst!
You’re creative, principled and engage at a grassroots level with your causes, even if your background means that you have to make a special effort to do this. You’re aware that not everyone is as fortunate as you are, and want to help them fight their corners as well as joining together for your shared causes. This can mean, though, that you end up getting heckled from all sides: from your own circle for dedicating all your energy to others, and from your comrades when you slip up or they suspect that you believe them to be incapable of fighting their own battles, so be wary of striving too hard for impossible levels of ideological purity.
In the 21st century you can probably be found: tweeting earnestly, expanding your horizons through hashtags and reblogs, and occasionally wading into the fray beneath the comment line on news websites.
Mostly Ds – you are Adela Pankhurst!
Something of an eternal underdog, you’re bright, you want to achieve things in this world and you’re a woman – feminism for you is common sense and you find it frustrating to see it being sidetracked by infighting. You’re rarely, if ever, the most radical in your views, but you believe in gender equality and worry that the more hardcore activists are alienating people and driving away support. This can lead you to become somewhat embittered, so take care that this doesn’t influence the development of your politics.
In the 21st century you can probably be found: being the token woman on a cult panel show, making wry remarks about magazines fixated on diets, fashion and relationships.
If you fancy being in with the chance of winning a signed copy of The Right of the Subjects then leave a comment letting me know which Pankhurst you are! I’m Emmeline apparently – so maybe she wouldn’t come after me with her umbrella after all!
The Right of the Subjects is out now.
Suffragette badge, Ernestine Mills, c1908-12. Photo: Museum of London.
Blood Sisters, my novel of posh doom and iniquity during the French Revolution is just a fiver (offer is UK only sorry!) right now! Just use the clicky box on my blog sidebar to order your copy!