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Saturday, 13 April, 2002, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Suffragette letter shows fighting spirit
Letter from Emmeline Pankhurst
Mrs Pankhurst fought for women to get the vote
A newly-discovered letter written by the leader of the Suffragette movement is to go on show in a museum.

The letter from Emmeline Pankhurst, dated 11 May 1911, is written on paper headed 'Votes For Women'.

It was written in the midst of the struggle to change voting rights.

The one-page letter was discovered by researchers going through material in preparation for the opening of the De Morgan Centre, an exhibition space for 19th Century art in south-west London.

Women's rights

The letter is addressed to Wilhelmina Stirling, an early feminist, and it asks her to "see what progress is being made, not only in the getting of the votes but in the work of preparing women to use it wisely when it is won".

Dr Lois Drawmer, a trustee of the De Morgan Foundation, found the letter among an archive of papers that once belonged to Mrs Stirling.

Emmeline Pankhurst
Mrs Pankhurst was arrested three times

She said that it showed that the Suffragettes were fighting a belief that women had inferior minds.

"The letter also shows how women were working together to get the vote.

"They were lobbying Parliament, chaining themselves on railings, going to prison and going on hunger strikes in desperate attempts to be listened to.

"They took direct action and were prepared to suffer for what they believed in."

Militant behaviour

Emmeline Pankhurst was the most prominent fighter for women's rights at the beginning of the 20th Century.

From 1908 to 1909 she was arrested three times but her militant behaviour ended at the start of the First World War.

In 1926 she was asked to stand as Conservative candidate for an east London constituency.

She died before she could be elected but lived long enough to see the Voting Rights for Men and Women Act passed just weeks before her death.

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See also:

01 Feb 02 | Arts
Women's Library finds home
06 Feb 98 | UK
Women's battle for the vote
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