O, Woman!
Wodehouse, the Globe, and the Suffragettes

A bibliographical study of references to the suffragette movement in “By The Way” 1905–08
and in other early Wodehouse writings


Suffragettes in London

Women’s suffrage was first seriously proposed in England in 1851, but it wasn’t until seventy-seven years later that British women were fully enfranchised. The intervening years saw the suffrage movement progress by fits and starts, falter for lack of political support, and then finally take firm root beginning with the establishing of the Women’s Franchise League in 1889. Its founder was Emmeline (née Goulden) Pankhurst (1858–1928) of Manchester. Mrs. Pankhurst became the driving force and public face of the suffrage movement in Great Britain during the first years of the twentieth century. In 1898, she invigorated the movement on a national scale with the founding of the Women’s Social and Political Union, which adopted the motto “Deeds, Not Words.” Fed up with the patronising attitude of the country’s political leaders, she eventually called for militant action. Emmeline and her growing corps of followers, including her daughters Christabel, Sylvia and Adela, made headlines with their numerous demonstrations and arrests.

On October 13, 1905, Christabel and a large group of “Suffragettes” (as they were christened by the Daily Mail) attended a meeting held by Sir Edward Grey, a leading Liberal opponent of the movement. There they assaulted a policeman, were arrested and sentenced to seven days in jail with the option of a fine. They chose the former, went to prison, and were thereafter sarcastically referred to by the press as “Martyrs” for their cause. The ladies of the movement continued their protests in Parliament and on the streets, and there were more arrests and imprisonments; yet the prevailing male sentiment was that women belonged in the home, not at the polls. Before his term as Prime Minister (1908–1916) H. H. Asquith, later 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, served as Chancellor of the Exchequer for 1905–1908. He was a staunch opponent of women’s suffrage and the target of numerous protests and demonstrations.

The Globe and Traveller newspaper, one of London’s most conservative, opposed the Woman’s Suffrage movement. The anti-feminism Zeitgeist prevalent in Great Britain reflected the view of the British “establishment,” and the paper’s editorials condemned the motivation, actions and aims of the Suffragettes. Which brings us to P. G. Wodehouse, from the years 1901 till around the end of the decade a contributor and editor of the Globe’s daily humour column, “By The Way.” As front-page news events, the adventures of the Suffragettes provided much fodder for Wodehouse and his cohorts in the “By The Way” room at the Globe. Following the company line, the commentary in “By The Way” projects an attitude of condescension, bemusement and mockery as concerned the movement. But it must be said that the men of England, including Wodehouse, were acclimated to the inferior position of women in politics—it was how they had been raised and how things were. But Women’s Suffrage was a simmering issue that questioned the country’s status quo, and passions were strong and vehement on both sides. The pot boiled over on Wodehouse’s watch.

We shouldn’t impute any political feelings to Wodehouse (or his co-authors of “By The Way”) because of what we see in these columns. Wodehouse was a Globe employee, and the paper’s published political commentary had to satisfy the editorial dictates of the bosses. It cannot be said to reflect what Wodehouse himself may have actually thought about giving women the right to vote or his feelings toward women generally. He couldn’t have published pro-women’s rights material at the Globe even if he wanted to, and the editors were not shy when finding fault with their political adversaries. More often than not, these paragraphs do take the high road and achieve their intent by illustrating the human foibles of the protagonists, rather than condemning them on self-serving moral grounds. Other paragraphs, though, are blunt, smug, and condescending. Nonetheless, it’s what the “Old Subscribers,” as Wodehouse called them, wanted to hear. A caveat—many of these paragraphs do not bear stylistic traits or markers of P.G.W.’s early work in prose, and political commentary was not his forte. Although there are unmistakable signs of his hand throughout, I make no conclusive claims to attribution unless noted.

Wodehouse left the Globe around 1910; the activities of the suffragettes were to escalate, gaining in strength and momentum and reaching even more serious levels of mayhem over the next few years. When England entered the Great War (1914–1918) Mrs. Pankhurst and her followers declared a cessation of hostilities and Britain’s hundreds of thousands of suffragettes joined the country’s other women in dedicating their time and effort to bringing about England’s victory. When the war ended, the Suffragettes re-emerged: stronger, more disgusted with the status quo, and determined to be heard, even if it meant the use of extra-legal means.

By 1928, when The Representation of the People Act was passed and English women finally received the blanket right to vote, Wodehouse was a rich, world-famous author with about thirty-eight books to his credit. Wodehouse and Asquith became friends, and 1927’s Meet Mr. Mulliner was dedicated to him.

Here are some of the early exploits of the intrepid women of the suffrage movement, seen through the eyes of the young London journalist and his “By The Way” colleagues. (Please see the comments about attribution at the end of this article.) There are some lovely Wodehouse nuggets here, sparkling through the years, and published here for the first time since their original appearance nearly 110 years ago.

John Dawson

Why should women wait? asks a female franchise advocate. In the Aerated Bread-shops they do, as a matter of fact.

(BTW, May 22, 1905)

Note: Besides baking a yeast-free bread raised using carbon dioxide gas, the Aerated Bread Company operated the ubiquitous A.B.C. tea shops, which employed waitresses, and which became among the few places where Victorian women could eat in public without a male escort.

We approve of political zeal, but we think that Miss Pankhurst, who hit an inspector and his men at Manchester on Friday because “she did not know they were police, but thought they were Radicals,” went too far. One should not judge by appearances. Many a man who looks like a Radical is really quite a respectable person.

(BTW, October 16, 1905)

Note: WOMEN’S RIGHTS AGITATORS. LADIES EJECTED FROM A POLITICAL MEETING. Miss Christabel Pankhurst, who recently applied to be admitted to the Bar, and Miss Kenney were charged at Manchester on Saturday with disorderly behaviour and obstruction. Miss Pankhurst was also accused of assaulting the police. The two ladies attended a Liberal demonstration on Friday, and interrupted Sir Edward Grey’s speech by questions about votes for women....Miss Pankhurst, it was stated, spat in the faces of a superintendent and an inspector....Miss Pankhurst said she thought the officers were Liberals responsible for the meeting, and expressed sorrow that one was not Sir Edward Grey himself. (Aberdeen Journal, October 16, 1905)

Speaking of the grille in the Ladies’ Gallery, Miss Violet Hunt said that ladies sitting there could hear very few of the speeches. Some people have all the luck.

(BTW, February 16, 1906)

Note I: Following an 1834 fire, metal grilles were built to cover the windows in the Ladies’ Gallery in the House of Commons chamber, to ensure that MPs were not distracted by the sight of women watching them at work. The grilles made the Ladies’ Gallery hot and stuffy, and obstructed the view of the women inside, making them a powerful symbol of the exclusion of women from Parliament. Suffragettes targeted the Ladies’ Gallery during the campaign for votes for women. In 1908 two suffragettes chained themselves to a grille as a protest, with a cry of “We have listened behind this insulting grille too long!”

Note II: Violet Hunt (1862–1942), from Durham, was a well-known author and hostess who founded the Women Writers Suffrage League. Her literary salons attracted the most important authors in London, including Rebecca West, Ezra Pound, Joseph Conrad and D. H. Lawrence. Somerset Maugham and H. G. Wells were among her lovers. She inspired characters in two of Maugham’s books.

Signs are not wanting to show that the Women’s Rights movement is making a steady advance. Speaking at a meeting the other day, a man gave out the following important statement. “I see no reason,” he said, “why women should not become medical men.”

(BTW, February 23, 1906)

“We shall go after him again and again,” said one of the vociferous ladies who called at 10, Downing-street, to C.-B., “until we do get him to receive a deputation, even if we have to take a stove and kettle and prepare our tea on his doorstep.” On the whole, therefore, the Premier is wise to give in and have done with it. It would be a pity to drive the ladies to drink.

(BTW, March 10, 1906)

Note: Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, leader of the Liberal Party, served as Prime Minister from December 1905 to April 1908.

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman may be glad to hear of a short way with feminine agitators. Some of the women who took part in the recent riots at Georgetown were sentenced to have their hair cut.

(BTW, March 19, 1906)

   To a Suffragette.

Oh woman, in our hours of ease
Your acts occasionally please:
But every now and then (as now)
A most colossal nuisance thou.

Your voice is very loud and shrill
When you give tongue behind the grille:
They have to summon the police
’Ere you’ll consent to keep the peace.

And members, if their hearts are weak,
Turn pale when they begin to speak;
And nerveless in their seats they drop
When unseen hecklers bid them stop.

The Speaker’s is no happy lot;
He has to teach you what is what,
And to direct with eagle eye
The active con-stab-u-la-ry.

Oh, woman, cease to fight and brawl:
The profit from such ways is small.
With every scene like this, the less
Become your chances of success.

(BTW, April 26, 1906)
As of November 2013, “To a Suffragette” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

“It was the only thing we could do as self-respecting women,” explained one of the leaders in Wednesday’s suffragette riot. The old Noblesse Oblige spirit.

(BTW, April 27, 1906)

Note: AFTER THE BATTLE. After yesterday’s scene in the Commons, flushed with triumph and obviously gratified at the success of their demonstration, the suffragettes stayed on the pavement outside Palace Yard discussing their achievement. Yes, said Miss Kenney, thirty of us got into the Gallery, never mind how we managed it. We all shouted “Vote! Vote! Divide! Divide! Vote! Vote!” the thirty of us. Then the police rushed up and cleared us out. They asked us to go, and then we were seized and pushed. There were three policemen to one woman, but there was no screaming and no hysteria. (Evening Telegraph, April 26, 1906)

The casualty list at St. Stephen’s is shocking just now. Sir Edward Carson has his left arm in a sling, Lord Castlereagh his right. Sir Lewis M‘Iver is leaning on a stick, Mr. Cremer is lame, and Mr. Fenwick has got a black eye. It almost looks as if the suffragettes had been interviewing them.

(BTW, April 27, 1906)

Note: The M.P.’s mentioned were all opponents of the suffrage movement but none were injured.

One D. Nichol calls upon citizens, factory girls, and women to assemble in their thousands in Trafalgar-square on May 14 to march on the House of Commons. “We’ll all be merry! O merry! merry! merry!” concludes the deathless poem on the handbill; “we’ll all be merry, for it’s Revolution Day.” It has been decided not to mobilise the army. On Revolution days in this country we simply call the policeman.

(BTW, May 12, 1906)

It is announced that the Suffragettes are making great preparations for their visit to C.-B. to-morrow. He is believed to be making great preparations also. Some people even say that they include a suit of armour.

(BTW, May 18, 1906)

The headlines in a daily paper run:—


What with this and the rain, the Suffragettes must have had a damp time on Saturday.

(BTW, May 21, 1906)

Note: THE WOMEN AND THE PREMIER. For many months the woman suffragettes have been dogging his footsteps like sleuthhounds. Nowhere has he felt himself safe. At his political meetings they have made themselves so noisily conspicuous as to necessitate their ejection as public nuisances. The have besieged the door at 10 Downing Street and had to be forcibly removed by stalwart policemen. The premier made a supreme effort on Saturday to get rid of their embarrassing attentions by receiving nearly five hundred of them at the Foreign Office. They were met with plenty of expressions of sympathy, but after that a plain declaration that nothing could be done for them by the Government. The Premier may well feel uneasy as to what they may do next. (Dundee Courier, May 21, 1906)

A well-known suffragette has fortified her Hammersmith villa against the subtle machinations of a bailiff of the Crown, refusing to pay her taxes on the ground that taxation without representation is tyranny. The lady is well-provisioned; the suffragettes are heartening her from the outer walls; and the castle’s strength still laughs the siege to scorn.

(BTW, May 25, 1906)

Note I: SIEGE OF SUFFRAGETTES. The women’s suffrage movement has entered on a new phase to-day, when Mrs. Montefiore, one of the leaders, instituted a form of passive resistance against the income tax collector. Having refused to pay because she has no vote, she barricaded herself inside her house at Hammersmith to keep out the bailiffs. A large crowd, which included many suffragists with their banners, collected outside the house to watch the siege. Mrs. Montefiore declared that the reason for the demonstration was the Premier’s reply to the deputation on Saturday that he was against women’s suffrage. The speaker called Mr. Asquith an assassin. (Evening Telegraph, May 24, 1906)

Note II: In 1897, Dora Montefiore (1851–1933) from Surrey, formed the Women’s Tax Resistance League. In 1906, to protest lack of political representation, she refused to pay her taxes and remained barricaded in her home for six weeks. The house, surrounded by a wall, could be reached only through an arched doorway, which Montefiore and her maid barred against the bailiffs.

Speaking at the Woman’s Federation, Mrs. Allan Bright said that patience has always been the monopoly of women and donkeys. Not invariably. We have known donkeys to kick; though this is not invariably a women’s rights movement.

(BTW, May 26, 1906)

The Pope evidently agrees with the new ladies’ Imperial Club. “Women,” he said, “should not vote. Heaven preserve us from political feminism.” C.-B., of Downing-street, is not so piously invocative; yet whenever he is approached by the suffragettes, it is noticed that he skirts the subject.

(BTW, May 28, 1906)

Note: POPE OPPOSED TO FRANCHISE. Pius X made a somewhat guarded reply to a question on the subject of women’s desire to take a more prominent place in the world’s work. He was ready to approve the feminism movement as long as it respected Christian morality and kept within the limits of purely social as opposed to political activity. “There is much to praise in feminism and its desire to raise the social and intellectual status of women, but Heaven preserve us from political feminism,” he said. (Dundee Courier, May 25, 1906)

The suffragettes have now called on Mr. Asquith in Cavendish-square. That is to say, they would have called upon him, only he happened to be enjoying himself elsewhere at the time. “If he refuses to see us the next time we call,” says Miss Billington, “we shall have to take stronger measures.” Subject to the permission of the policeman on the beat, in fact, we understand they will sit on the doorstep and take tea.

(BTW, May 29, 1906)

Note: Teresa Billington (1877–1964), a schoolteacher from Lancashire, was a speaker for the Women’s Social and Political Union and one of its most vocal and active members.

 The Premier to the Suffragettes.

Ask me no more: I’m sorry if you’re vexed;
  I’ve seen your point and deeply sympathised.
  You think it is a shame? I’m not surprised:
But, to return politely to my text,
Ask me no more. (Etc.)

(Books of To-day, June 1906)

Note: SUFFRAGETTES FOILED. Mr. Asquith Slips Away by the Back Door. A deputation of women suffragists, consisting of Miss Billington, Miss Kenny, Miss Miller and three others called at Mr. Asquith’s house in Cavendish-square yesterday. On being told that he was at the Treasure Offices, Miss Kenney and another member of the deputation drove there and returned a half-hour later and reported that the Chancellor was not at the Treasury. They again requested to see Mr. Asquith, but after having waited for two hours, they had the mortification of seeing him drive away in a brougham from the back of the house. (Western Times, June 20, 1906)

Mr. Asquith has settled in his policy in regard to the ladies suffrage question. It is the policy of the back door.

(BTW, June 20, 1906)

 Women of the Moment.

    No. I.—Miss Kenney.

A violent lady named Kenney
Can shriek rather louder than any.
 Mr. Asquith, I hear,
 Is alarmed when she’s near—
A sentiment shared in by many.

(BTW, June 20, 1906)

Note: Annie Kenney (1879–1953) was a working-class suffragette who became a leading figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union.

The “Express” calls the Suffragettes “a miscellaneous, bedraggled crowd of female Hooligans,” and asserts that Miss Billington’s face was red. These stately rebukes will have far more effect than any amount of imprisonment.

(BTW, June 22, 1906)

The “Pall Mall Magazine” has an article on “Mrs. Asquith at Home.” For its next number we suggest “Mr. Asquith Away; by a Suffering Suffragette.”

(BTW, June 23, 1906)

The best influence of women, says an M.P., will never be best expressed through the ballot-box. The suffragettes agree with him. They like to express their influence through the horse-whip.

(BTW, June 27, 1906)

Note: MISS KENNEY’S WHIP. Chief Inspector Derby said in his opinion trouble was brewing. When he arrived on the scene he saw a rush for Mr. Asquith’s door by Miss Kenney and other members of the crowd. Miss Kenney carried a whip. (Manchester Courier, June 28, 1906)

Rumours are afloat that Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George are at loggerheads over the latter gentleman’s speech, in which he advised the suffragettes to go for their enemies and not for their friends—to go for Mr. Asquith. In light of the Cavendish-square battle this was not happily put.

(BTW, June 27, 1906)

Note: Mrs. Pankhurst read a portion of a speech which she stated was made by Mr. Lloyd George at Liverpool. He said, “Why don’t you women leave your friends alone, and go after your enemies in the Cabinet, and the greatest enemy of all, Mr. Asquith?” (Aberdeen Journal, June 26, 1906)

The “Express” has degraded Miss Billington to “Billington.” The rebuke is fearful in its severity, but not, we fear, unmerited.

(BTW, June 28, 1906)

Note: Miss Billington Released. Fine Paid Without Consent. Miss Teresa Billington, one of the “suffragettes,” has been released from Holloway Gaol. Her release was totally unexpected by her. She had settled down to serve the sentence of two months’ imprisonment passed on her at the Marylebone Court last week for her assault on the police outside Mr. Asquith’s house in Cavendish-square. Her fine, fixed at £10 as an alternative to imprisonment, was paid by a lady sympathiser. (Manchester Courier, June 28, 1906)


   The Baffled Martyr.

Shame, shame upon the woman who
 Has freed me from the tyrant’s snare,
Anathema upon her hat,
 And on the way she does her hair.
The right to stay in gaol was mine,
 To suffer for the Female Charter,
And she has dared to pay the fine
 And spoil my chance of being a martyr.

I saw my sex in bondage, and
 Made war just to disturb the peace,
They blocked my glorious path and so
 I took a kick at the police.
This is my honour, not my shame,
 Though many think I am a rum ’un,
But let them tremble at my name,
 When I assert the rights of woman.

They took me struggling to the gaol,
 For me its terrors had no dread;
That I might wear the crown of crowns
 I almost wished they’d shave my head.
Alas! Alas! They’ve let me out,
 Gone is the joy of my uprising.
But I shall quickly find, no doubt,
 Another means of advertising.

(BTW, June 28, 1906)
As of November 2013, “The Baffled Martyr” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

Note: SUFFRAGETTES IN THE SQUARE. Speaking at a lively meeting of woman suffragists in Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoon, Miss Billington said that if men had had a grain of spirit in them they would never have allowed Mr. Asquith to be placed in the Cabinet, and that women would have to do their work for him and turn him out. Ironical cheers, and a voice rang out: “Get your hair cut!”) (Derby Daily Telegraph, July 2, 1906)

At their meeting in Trafalgar-square yesterday, the suffragettes called upon Mr. Asquith to resign. He is said to be considering the matter unfavourably.

(BTW, July 2, 1906)

According to Mrs. Pankhurst, women suffragettes have no quarrel with the police. When they hit them and kick their shins it is not to be supposed that they are angry with them.

(BTW, July 2, 1906)

Miss Billington has received an offer to go on the music-hall stage. To do a Comic Knockabout act, of course, assisted by a super (in shin-guards), dressed as a policeman.

(BTW, July 3, 1906)

Note: SUFFRAGETTES DECLARE FOR PRISON. Marylebone Police-court was crowded on Wednesday morning, when three ringleaders of the suffragette disorders in Cavendish-square—Anne Kenny, Jane Starborough, and Elizabeth Knight—were ordered to find bail to the amount of £100 each or to go to prison for six weeks. They elected to go to gaol. (Grantham Journal, July 7, 1906)

According to the husband of one of the suffrageous ladies who has gone to prison, her children are not wailing in the happy home. “They know their mother is suffering for a good cause, and they are happy and well-cared-for.” Their mother happens to be happy and well-cared-for also; suffering being strictly prohibited.

(BTW, July 10, 1906)


The “Express” gets more and more bitter every day about the Suffragettes. To-day it speaks of Miss Billington as “one of them, Billington by name.” There is a quiet, almost plaintive, dignity about this which should make the lady wilt like a crushed blossom.

(BTW, July 23, 1906)


There once was a keen Suffragette
Who suffered the total upset.
 While waving a banner,
 She slipped in a manner
That scared everybody she met.

(“More victims [of] banana skins”: BTW, August 9, 1906)

Miss Pankhurst announces that, until Mr. Asquith yields, she and the rest of the shrieking sisterhood intend to “go for him for all they are worth.” But, after all, of course, all depends on what they are worth.

(BTW, September 13, 1906)

Note: SUFFRAGETTE’S CAMPAIGN. Miss Christabel Pankhurst, the well-known suffragette, addressed last night a largely attended open-air meeting at the Cross, Cupar. For an hour, she advocated the cause of votes for women with conspicuous ability, devoting the latter part of her speech to criticism of “Asquith, the whole hogger,” a very determined enemy of votes for women. Why, she asked, should one man stand in the way of votes for millions of human beings? He might be a valuable man, but his will against so many people was not to be considered. (Dundee Courier, September 13, 1906)

Miss Pankhurst does not appear to have a high opinion of Mr. Bryce, the Irish Chief Secretary. She has elegantly referred to him as a one-eyed democrat, on the ground that he is blind to the political existence of women. In future perhaps he will keep this one eye of his on Miss Pankhurst.

(BTW, September 25, 1906)

Miss Pankhurst yesterday accused Mr. Asquith of being like Napoleon. We have not noticed the resemblance ourselves.

(BTW, October 1, 1906)

Mr. Asquith has informed the suffragettes that he is willing to receive a deputation in Fife. They are now said to be jubilant; but, on the whole, they will be wise to sip the cup of joy slowly. After all, though you may force a horse to the water, you cannot make him drink.

(BTW, October 9, 1906)


When we came in battle order, with the will to do and dare,
With our flags and banners waving on the breezes in the Square,
“The hour will come,” we cried, “when he the stiffened knee shall bow”:
It’s come at last, you’ll notice, for he’s going to hear us now.

Behind his stony ramparts he could shelter when in town,
Or flee the wrath and speeches by the back-door with a frown;
But now he’s changed his music whaur the Scots wi’ Wallace bled,
And we’re going to put new notions about women in his head.

From the crowded ways of London we will gang to far-off Fife,
Where the trumpets call to duty in the forefront of the strife,
For our tongues are ever ready, and our words are fierce and hot,
And if Asquith tries to quash us—well, perhaps, he’d better not.

(BTW, October 9, 1906)
As of November 2013, “Victory” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

Note: SUFFRAGETTES PREPARING FOR THE ASQUITH CONFERENCE. The Right Hon. H. H. Asquith, M.P. for East Fife, will have a new experience at Ladybank on Saturday. He will receive a deputation of the ladies associated with the Suffrage movement, in which Miss Sylvia Pankhurst, Miss Billington, and Miss A. Kenney are the leaders. By consenting to receive them Mr. Asquith has probably appeased the anger of the suffragettes. The stolid Chancellor who dodged them by a back door in Downing Street has at last surrendered to the ladies, and the outcome of the meeting is eagerly awaited. (Dundee Courier, October 10, 1906)

The “Express” says that in the Paris Central Markets “there will be a large number of pretty girls modestly eager to be kissed by Le Lor’ Maire.” Some officials have all the luck. How different, for instance, is the attitude of the suffragettes to Mr. Asquith.

(BTW, October 13, 1906)

Note: Refers to the Lord Mayor of London.

The L.C.C. are going to present a petition to Parliament praying that women may be elected to County Councils on the same terms as men. Miss Billington and Co. are copious speakers, but if and when elected, we do hope they will join the Moderates.

(BTW, October 18, 1906)

To-day’s Great Thought.—“We are delighted at all times and in all places to see ladies—upon golf links.” (Mr. Asquith, at Dundee).

(BTW, October 19, 1906)

Mr. Asquith says lady golfers are to him a delightful proof of how, by peaceful penetration, woman can extend her legitimate domain. Miss Billington scorns such frivolous fatuity, however. She asks for a vote, and the Right Hon. gentleman would present her with a golf club.

(BTW, October 20, 1906)

Note: AMUSING TRIBUTE AT A GOLF BAZAAR. Mr. Asquith, opening a golf bazaar at Dundee to-day, said golfers were delighted to see ladies on the links. He had watched there the process of female emancipation going through its successive stages. It began with exclusion, then passed to toleration, and now it amounted to welcome. They might draw any moral they pleased from the chapter in the history of female effort, and said it was to him a most gratifying proof of how by a process of peaceful penetration woman could extend her legitimate domain. (Derby Daily Telegraph, October 19, 1906)

Who was it called the Women Suffragists the “Insufferabelles”?

(BTW, October 24, 1906)


Emmeline Pankhurst arrested.

The Policeman’s Plaint.

I wish I was like me brother,
 Wot’s on a country beat.
He hasn’t got no worries:
 His job ’ud suit me a treat.
He sits with an ’andy stop-watch
 On top of a blooming style,
A-timing these automobiles
 Over the measured mile.

He don’t have to go and grapple
 With feminines, like me:
Ho no! He spends his evenings
 With a pipe and a pot of tea;
While I’m a-struggling madly
 With a femile suffriget.
I wouldn’t like to change places?
 Oh, no! Not ’arf! You bet!

There’s some as is scared of burglars;
 I don’t take account of such:
And others ’ates runaway horses
 Which I can’t say they trouble me much.
But there’s one thing we’re all agreed on,
 Which is that we never met
Such a ramping, rearing terror
 As the femile suffriget.

(BTW, October 24, 1906)
As of November 2013, “The Policeman’s Plaint” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

Note: DEFIANT SUFFRAGETTES. ELEVEN GO TO GAOL. MORE UNRULY SCENES. The ten suffragettes who were arrested outside the House of Commons surrendered to their bail at Westminster Police Court yesterday. Some of the women started to chant “Votes for Women,” and “Votes for freedom.” As fast as they pulled them down the women got up and began shouting. They were all ejected. Miss Kenney and Miss Billington were forbidden to enter the House again this session. Mrs. Pankhurst: “We have a right to defend ourselves in this court and to place our statement before the British public. We are going to do it.” Magistrate: “This is not a place for politics and I shall keep order in my court. At all events, you are each bound over in £5 to be of good behaviour and to keep the peace for six months.” Some of the accused were carried bodily out of the court, and Miss Pankhurst, while shouting and gesticulating at the Magistrate, was pulled out of court by two policemen. The eleven suffragettes were subsequently removed to Holloway Gaol. (Manchester Courier, October 25, 1906)

One of the police officers on duty at Westminster Police-court during the row yesterday, appears to be of this opinion, at all events. “You men,” one of the ladies shouted at him, “what are you? Bah!” “Just so,” he replied, with unruffled calm.

(BTW, October 25, 1906)

The Best Thing said in court yesterday.—“I saw her being haled out by the police,” said Mrs. Sanderson of a fellow suffragette. “There was a great noise of heavy boots—” “The police make noises like that sometimes,” said Mr. Horace Smith.

(BTW, October 25, 1906)

Note I: Horace Smith was the presiding Magistrate at Westminster Police Court.

Note II: Suffragette Amy Sanderson, of Belshill, Scotland, spoke at hundreds of public meetings and was arrested at least a dozen times.

It is a curious coincidence that one Horace Smith should have written a book called “Rejected Addresses,” while another Horace Smith, many years afterwards, should have allowed the suffragettes to make speeches. Heredity, possibly?

(BTW, October 26, 1906)

   The Suffragette’s Song.

When your life is spent in worry and in hustle,
 When your only occupation is to test
The strength of some large, stout policeman’s muscle,
 You will often feel you’d like to take a rest.
You wish that you were back again in prison,
 Where your meals were always ready on the nail,
  Where it wasn’t thought good manners
  To be waving blood-red banners:
 Yes, you’d miss the quiet comforts of a gaol.

Put me in my little cell,
 Rock me off to sleep,
  If you want me knock upon the door.
Call me in the morning,
 Bring me breakfast while I wait,
  As you used to do when I was in before.

There are pleasant little spots my heart is fixed on;
 There is Parkhurst, also Portland by the Sea;
And some prefer their Pentonville or Brixton,
 But Wormwood Scrubs is good enough for me.
And Dartmoor is so breezy and romantic,
 You’re sorry when they let you out on bail.
  When you’ve wrestled with the bobbies
  For some hours all round the lobbies,
 Then you miss the quiet comforts of a gaol.

Put me in my little cell,
 Do not make a noise;
  Leave a warder watching at the door.
Let my days be sweetened
 By a round of honest toil,
  As they used to be when I was in before.

(By The Way, October 25, 1906)
As of November 2013, “The Suffragette’s Song” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

Note: Parody of “Put Me In My Little Cell,” Wodehouse’s song from Sergeant Brue.

Mr. F. W. Pethwick-Lawrence, husband of one of the arrested suffragettes, sent a note to Pankhurst last night which ran as follows, “I will give £10 a day for each day that my wife remains in prison.” One cannot but admire the gentleman’s sound common-sense, almost the only redeeming feature of the deplorable episode.

(BTW, October 25, 1906)

Almost immediately after Mr. Pethwick-Lawrence’s fervent statement that he would pay £10 for every day his wife was in prison, the authorities have released Mrs. Pethwick-Lawrence. This is petty spite.

(BTW, October 29, 1906)

“Anything that has a vote wears trousers,” shouted one of the suffrageous females who besieged the sacred precincts of the House. If she had remarked that everyone wears trousers who has a vote, she would have been more correct.

(BTW, October 26, 1906)

Mrs. Martin explains that she goes to prison “that women’s homes may be worthy of the name.” It is probably our mistake; but we were under the impression that she went to gaol for making a disturbance contrary to the statute in that case made and provided.

(BTW, October 27, 1906)

Note: Suffragette Selina Martin (1882–?) of Lancaster was imprisoned many times. She seems to have disappeared after 1910.

The cruellest blow the Suffragettes have received up to the moment of going to press is announced in a letter to the papers. Mr. Algernon Ashton formally washes his hands of them.

(BTW, October 29, 1906)

Note: Algernon Ashton was a piano professor at the Royal College of Music but he was known (and widely satirized) primarily as an inveterate “letter-to-the-editor” writer. Wodehouse threw barbs at him occasionally, in By The Way and in The Globe By The Way Book.

The latest revelation is that recently two suffragettes called on a certain Scotch M.P. at his home while he was dining, and were invited into a reception room. On his appearance they locked the door and declined to deliver the key until he had given solemn undertaking, in ink, that he would obtain fifty other M.P.’s to work for woman suffrage. This is comparatively mild behaviour for a Suffragette.

(BTW, October 31, 1906)

Note: LOCKED IN ROOM BY SUFFRAGISTS. It has just leaked out that a well-known Liberal M.P. who represents a Scottish county, was last week imprisoned in his own home by a couple of ardent women suffragists. He was dining when he was informed that a lady wished to see him on urgent business. Entering the hall, he saw not one lady but two, and invited them into the reception room. When all three were within the visitors locked the door, secreting the key and informed the gallant gentleman that he must endeavor to get fifty M.P.’s to pledge to work for votes for women. The prisoner demurred, but his fair visitors were obdurate and insisted on his signing an undertaking before they would surrender the key. What could he do? He was in the minority of two to one. He signed the document and received back the key. The ladies departed triumphant, and the hon. member resumed his dinner. (Evening Telegraph, October 31, 1906)

The Sufferingettes are still playing high comedy, we notice. The protests of Mr. Cobden Saunderson against the “indignities” to which his wife has been subjected having secured for the whole of the ladies treatment accorded to first-class misdemeanants, Mrs. Cobden Saunderson protests that she will not avail herself of the new privileges. She prefers to lead the Simple Life, so fashionable nowadays.

(BTW, November 2, 1906)

Note: THE IMPRISONED SUFFRAGETTES. We have no sympathy with the special methods adopted by the women suffragettes who invaded Westminster Hall last week. But the authorities believe they will crush the movement by dressing the defendants in prison garb and feeding them on the ordinary prison diet for two months. They should be treated as first-class misdemeanants, like many political prisoners have been in the past. The treatment—as described by Mr. Cobden-Saunderson—to which his wife and her companions are subject will react in favour of the defendants, and do the very thing which it is intended to prevent. (Western Times, October 31, 1906)

Mr. Keir Hardie announces his sympathy with the Socialists who advocate armed revolution. When the great revolution occurs, a sensation is expected from his regiment of Suffragettes, armed with hatpins.

(BTW, November 5, 1906)

Note I: “Mr. Keir Hardie addressed an audience of 2000 persons at Synod Hall, Edinburgh, yesterday under the auspices of the Independent Labour party. He said “Socialism would remain in politics and that there was the alternative method—armed revolution.” (Aberdeen Journal, November 5, 1906)

Note II: (James) Keir Hardie (1856–1915) was a Scottish socialist and labor leader; in 1892 he became England’s first socialist M.P. The conservative press mocked Hardie mercilessly, and his entry in the Globe By The Way Book’s facetious “Who’s Who” leaves no doubt how the Globe felt about him: “Inverted patriot; played football for Oxford vs. Cambridge, 1877, and scored eleven goals against his own side; visited India and Australia in 1907, to the disgust of both.”

Note III: There are numerous references in contemporary British newspapers relating to people being stabbed with hat pins, but I’m unable to find any instance of a suffragette so employed. The joke is meant to be condescending and doesn’t appear to be based in fact.

A Spanish policeman has just turned out to be a woman. If the fashion of women policemen comes in in England, the next turn-up between the Suffragettes and the Force will be worth seeing.

(BTW, November 6, 1906)

Mr. Keir Hardie will to-day ask leave of the House to introduce a Bill to confer on women the power to vote. Mr. Hardie’s politics have long been outrageous. Now they are going to be suffrageous.

(BTW, November 7, 1906)

Miss Pankhurst made a sinister remark to an interviewer yesterday. Asked to explain what exactly was meant by the “vigourous action” which the Suffragettes proposed to take with regard to those M.P.s who should interfere with the passing of the Women’s Franchise Bill, she replied, “Every member who speaks against the Bill on Wednesday will be a marked man.” It sounds uncommonly as if they were going to come up to the scratch.

(BTW, November 10, 1906)


He thought he saw a Suffragette,
 Who shrieked and made a fuss:
He looked again, and found it was
 A motor-omnibus.
“I’m glad of that,” he said. “It’s not
 So dangerous for us.”

(BTW, November 10, 1906)

   The New Footbawl.

[According to a daily paper, the Cambridge forwards in yesterday’s match “were as garrulous as ever, the Edinburgh Academicals being beaten for loquacity in both tight and loose.”] (Excerpt):

“So here’s to Jones, who led our pack,
 And here’s to good old Smith,
Likewise to Johnson, whose remarks
 Were always full of pith.
We’ll simply shout down any team
 That comes upon the scene,
Unless one day we have to play
 A Suffragettes fifteen.”

(BTW, November 13, 1906)
As of November 2013, “The New Footbawl” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

Mr. John Burns visited Mrs. Cobden Saunderson in prison yesterday, and the rumour is afoot that he went to suggest a secret treaty with the suffrageous enemy. On the condition that they will be good for the present, it is understood that he holds out hope for them in the sweet by-and-by.

(BTW, November 15, 1906)

Note I: John Elliot Burns (1858–1943) trade unionist, socialist and politician, called “The Man With the Red Flag.” His interests included women’s suffrage, working hours and conditions, employment, pensions, poor laws, temperance, social conditions, local government, South African labour, and the Boer War. Wodehouse mentions Burns in his lyrics to “Oh, Mr. Chamberlain,” from The Beauty of Bath in 1906.

Note II: The 1868 Christian hymn “The Sweet By-and-By” refers to heaven.

A suffragette who attempted to address a meeting in Old Palace-yard yesterday afternoon was instantly gathered in by a policeman. He escaped unhurt.

(BTW, November 20, 1906)

Note: SUFFRAGETTES DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE THE HOUSE OF LORDS. Between thirty and forty suffragettes attempted to hold a demonstration yesterday afternoon outside the House of Lords. The police intervened, and as the demonstrators refused to desist one of their number, Miss Milne, was arrested and taken to the Police-station. Later on she was bailed out by Miss Christabel Pankhurst. (Western Times, November 20, 1906)

That appears to have been a very conciliatory policeman who arrested Miss Milne in Old Palace Yard, in that she did endeavour to become an oratorical sufferingette, contrary to the regulation in that behalf made and provided. He told her that if she went about a mile away from the House of Commons she would be allowed to speak.

(BTW, November 21, 1906)

Note: Alice Milne of Manchester was secretary for the Manchester chapter of the Women’s Social and Political Union.

  The Suffragette.

   (By a Policeman.)

As I was standing upon my beat
 In my tunic neat and blue,
I sees a woman a-waving a flag,
 And I says to ’er, “ ’Oo are you?”
She sticks a hat-pin into my leg,
 And she ups and says to me “Boo!
I’m a kind of a giddy cosmopolouse,
 Woman and Springbok too.”

(BTW, November 20, 1906)
As of November 2013, “The Suffragette” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

Note I: The South Africa (Rugby) Football club, called the Springboks, toured the British Isles and France in 1906, playing 29 matches, including a notorious victory against France by the score of 55–6. The team received widespread condemnation for its overly-aggressive play, and numerous injuries were sustained by opposing teams. “Springbok” for a time became a metaphor for violence.

Note II: A takeoff on Kipling’s 1896 Soldier an’ Sailor Too: “E’s a sort of a bloomin’ cosmopolouse—soldier an’ sailor too.”

In the Sufferingette proceedings at Westminster Police-court, yesterday, the venerable Mrs. Despard complained that the police would not arrest her. These ladies are really remarkable. They complain when they are arrested, and they complain when they aren’t. Even a policeman cannot please everybody.

(BTW, November 21, 1906)

Note I: SUFFRAGETTE GOES TO PRISON. Miss Alice Milne, the suffragette arrested Monday afternoon at the Palace Yard, was yesterday charged with behaving in a disorderly manner and resisting the police. Mrs. Despard said Miss Milne acted under her directions, but the police refused to arrest her. “If anyone,” she said, “ought to be called in question over this business I am that person.”

Note II: Suffragette Charlotte Despard (1844–1939), from Kent, was herself imprisoned twice for her activities.

“When we could not talk to each other,” says one of the imprisoned Suffragettes, “we winked. We all learned to wink.” Oh, Woman, Woman!

(BTW, November 26, 1906)

Note: Wodehouse readers know that he referenced Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion” (O woman! in our hours of ease; Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, etc,) often throughout his novels.

   The Outsiders.
  (By a Suffragette.)

[“The House of Commons isn’t composed of gentlemen,” said a Suffragette on Monday last.]

Why is it no M.P. can
Be a little gentleman?
When we come and wave our banners
Why do they forget their manners?
Why are they amused extremely?
Is it right? And is it seemly?

(BTW, November 28, 1906)
As of November 2013, “The Outsiders” is among 168 “By The Way” poems from 1906 currently under consideration by the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project, which is charged with identifying authentic Wodehouse verse found in the Globe.

One of the advertisers continues to remark that she who rocks the cradle rules the world. The suffragettes do not believe a word of it, however. To say nothing of ruling the world, they complain that a poor woman cannot even get a vote in it.

(BTW, December 6, 1906)

Note: “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the Hand That Rules the World” is the title of a 1865 poem by William Ross Wallace.

The lot of the Suffragettes is not so hard, after all. They have their consolations. Miss Marie Corelli states in one of the magazines that she is “just a woman like themselves.”

(BTW, December 10, 1906)

Note I: Novelist Marie Corelli (born Mary Mackay in 1855) began writing in 1886. She was widely read but came under harsh criticism for her over-the-top melodramatic writing. A critic at The Spectator wrote that she was “a woman of deplorable talent who imagined that she was a genius, and she was accepted as a genius by a public to whose commonplace sentimentalities and prejudices she gave a glamorous setting.” Wodehouse lampooned, mocked, and savaged her throughout his early journalistic years for her publicity-seeking, pretentious airs.

Note II: MARIE CORELLI AN ANTI-SUFFRAGIST. “Better be a Cleopatra than a Suffragette,” is the conclusion arrived at by Miss Marie Corelli in the Rapid Review. “Why would I want a vote?” she asks. “Stupid women clamour about their ‘rights’ evidently unaware that in the very force of the clamour they are throwing all ‘rights’ away. The clever woman sits at home—and, like a meadow spider, spreads a pretty web of rose and gold, spangled with diamond dew.” (Western Times, December 15, 1906)

The five suffragettes who re-started the old row in Palace-yard have gone down for the usual martyrdom, but this time for fourteen days only. However, their friends will know where to find them at Christmas.

(BTW, December 15, 1906)

Note: THE SUFFRAGETTES. PRISONERS ELECT TO GO TO GAOL. At the Westminster Police Court to-day six women suffragists, Elizabeth Davis, Margaret Kelly, Sarah Morrisey, Lily Johnstone, Bessie Armstrong, and Augusta McDougall, were charged with disorderly conduct, causing an obstruction, and resisting the police in the execution of their duty outside the House of Commons last night. (Derby Daily Telegraph, December 14, 1906)

The suffrageous ladies now in gaol threaten to cause as much trouble as possible. According to a suffragette who happens to be “outside,” they “are going to insist on having new prison clothes, and will not accept those which have been worn by other people.” Not even if the Governor gives them fits.

(BTW, December 20, 1906)

The Suffragettes, it seems, do not like being called Suffragettes. A correspondent suggests Suffrageese.

(BTW, December 21, 1906)

It appears that Miss Teresa Billington is to wed a gentleman whose ancestors with Wallace bled. We heartily congratulate the lady, but we are certainly much surprised that she should put her neck under the iron heel of the oppressor.

(BTW, December 21, 1906)

Note I: MISS BILLINGTON ENGAGED. Miss Teresa Billington of Manchester, one of the women suffragists who was imprisoned in connection with the Downing Street disturbance, is to be married early in the New Year to Mr. Frederick Greig, a young Scotsman. She was a schoolteacher previous to joining the Women’s Social and Political Union. (Manchester Courier, December 21, 1906)

Note II: Sir William Wallace (c.1270–1305), one of Scotland’s greatest national heroes, led the Scottish resistance forces during the first years of the long struggle to free Scotland from English rule.

One of the Suffragettes arrested for trying to get up an extraneous row in the precincts of the House of Commons is named Ivy Heppell. She has such a clinging manner with her that the police had the greatest difficulty in getting her away from the railings.

(BTW, December 22, 1906)

Note: THE SUFFRAGETTES. LATEST OFFENDERS FINED. At Westminster Police Court to-day, Miss Ivy Heppell, Bristol, (and others) were fined 20s. or 14 days for obstructing the police at the House of Commons last night. (Derby Daily Telegraph, December 21, 1906)

The suffragettes are again out of gaol. On Christmas Day, the diet does not appear to have satisfied them; not being adequately recherché. They had also to go twice to chapel. “I never was at chapel so much in my life as I have been of late,” says one of them. They are difficult to please, these ladies. They want to do all the preaching themselves.

(BTW, December 28, 1906)

Note: SUFFRAGETTES’ CHRISTMAS IN GAOL. The five women suffragists who went to prison on December 14 in default of paying fines for creating a disturbance at Palace Yard, Westminster, were released from Holloway Gaol on Thursday morning. They considered the prison Christmas disgraceful. Except for extra chapel, it did not differ from the ordinary day’s routine. For breakfast they had brown bread and tea; for dinner, soup, three potatoes, and brown bread; and for tea, cocoa and brown bread. (Cheltenham Chronicle, December 29, 1906)

An official Christmas card delivered to one of the suffragettes in gaol exhorted her to avoid strong drink. The lady did. She is a teetotaller, and also couldn’t get it.

(BTW, December 31, 1906)

New Year Resolutions

(of topical personalities, Books of To-Day, January 1907)

The Suffragettes: To learn Jiu-jitsu.

More Mind-Readers

(one of eight faux letters to the editor, Books of To-Day, January 1907)

Sir.—While on duty in Palace Yard during one of the recent Suffragette disturbances, a woman rushed towards me with a hat-pin. She said nothing, but somehow it was borne in upon me in a flash that her intentions were unfriendly. 13 X A1 (in hospital)

Lady Harberton thinks that the husbands of the suffragettes who have been in prison are entitled to a certain amount of gratitude. Not gratitude. Congratulations.

(BTW, January 5, 1907)

It is announced that Miss Theresa Billington’s wedding, which is to take place in Scotland in a week or two, will be of the quietest possible description. Even the other suffragettes will not be allowed to make a disturbance.

(BTW, January 15, 1907)

  The Suffragettes’ Opera.

[We learn that a play has been written round the Suffragettes, and accepted by a London manager. It will probably be found necessary to turn this into a musical comedy, if it is to attract a modern audience; and, in such case, lyrics will be required. We propose to supply these. The first will be the Opening Chorus, sung by a band of Suffragettes, armed, cloaked, and masked, the “back-cloth” to represent Palace-yard.]

Our dauntless band, you will understand,
 Is doing the thing in style.
You must know what’s what if you mean to plot,
 Or plotting is not worth while.
Some plotters shout and stamp about,
 And even forget to scowl.
We always go upon tip-toe,
 And speak in a muffled growl.

   We do not call any noise at all
    Consistent with propriety,
     In a seek-seek-seek,
     A hide-and-seek,
      A seek-er-et society.

Now all the names of the foes of our aims
 We keep on a private list.
When in the street we happen to meet,
 We mutter “Hola!” or “Hist!”
We tackle each task in a cloak and mask,
 Which is what conspirators do:
And we possibly may in a sinister way
 Just whistle a bar or two.

   Each day we change the countersign:
    Our motto is Variety
     In our seek-seek-seek,
     Our hide-and-seek,
      Our seek-er-et society.

(BTW, January 16, 1907)
“The Suffragette’s Opera” will not be submitted to the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project until early 2014.

  The Suffragettes’ Opera.

[Having finished the Opening Chorus, the author will doubtless bring on his heroine. She will want an entrance song. This is it.]

When I was in the nursery, I was filled with discontent,
Because I had no voice at all in household management:
Oh, no, of course, you never found them come consulting me;
And, if I disobeyed, the order ran, “Across the knee!”
 I hadn’t any voice in the affair
 They seemed to think that I’d no right to care.
    Ah, how rapidly a spank’ll
    Bite into your soul, and rankle,
 When you haven’t got a voice in the affair!

And when I came out in the world, I found it just the same;
A woman has no finger in the pie, and it’s a shame!
At gaining rights and freedom one may try to have a dash,
But fourteen-stone policemen rally round one in a flash.
 One hasn’t any voice in the affair.
 You are tackled from behind ’ere you’re aware.
    But if you have any wits you
    Will start practicing jiu-jitsu:
Then at last you’ll have a voice in the affair.

(BTW, January 17, 1907)
“The Suffragette’s Opera” will not be submitted to the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project until early 2014.

  The Suffragettes’ Opera.

(The topical-political song is always popular. The following might do as a quartette, sextette, or octette, according to taste.)

  Quartette: Leading Suffragettes

Meet me down at Palace Yard
 Shortly after eight.
Jump upon the swift Vanguard:
 We must not be late.
Woman’s not a toy or doll!
(Have you got your parasol?
 Is your hat-pin sharp and bright?)
    Now for the debate!

For we’re all after Asquith, Asquith, Asquith.
 He’s the man we want to find.
 Why do we want him? Never mind!
 Hurry, or else you’ll be left behind,
  When we talk to Mr. Asquith in the evening.

Come and join our merry throng:
 Let the banners fly.
When he sees us creep along,
 He’ll look rather wry.
Woman’s not a puppet. No!
(Bring some eggs and things to throw.
 Got a bad tomato? Good!
    That’s the thing to try).

For we’re all after Asquith, Asquith, Asquith.
 What is it we mean to do?
 You would shudder if you knew.
 Come and be there at the interview,
  When we talk to Mr. Asquith in the evening.

(BTW, January 18, 1907)
“The Suffragette’s Opera” will not be submitted to the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project until early 2014.

  The Suffragettes’ Opera.

(In a musical play a ditty of the semi-coon order is indispensable. The following to the air of Miss Ellaline Terris’s “Au revoir, my little Hyacinth,” would suit any Suffragette heroine.)

  Song: Heroine.

The Suffragettes were crying
O’er a comrade who was trying
 A month of prison life at Pentonville.
They missed her cheery greetings
At the indignation meetings.
 She’d left a gap impossible to fill.
But one optimistic speaker
In a voice that grief made weaker,
 This consolation gave the saddened throng:
“Oh, dry the tear that’s starting;
This is not a final parting:
 Our friend will come again to us ’ere long.”

 Au revoir, my absent Suffragette!
  Au revoir, but not Good-bye!
 I know you’ll soon be free to go
  Hitting pleecemen in the eye.
 Though the judge quite plainly said “One month!”
  His decrees will be upset;
 For if a by-election comes, the Government
  Will release our absent Suffragette.

(BTW, January 19, 1907)
“The Suffragette’s Opera” will not be submitted to the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project until early 2014.

Announcement is made that the suffragettes do not intend to make another descent on the House of Commons at the opening of Parliament. They would like to get in; but they are tired of being run in.

(BTW, January 21, 1907)

A woman’s P.S. is proverbially the most important part of her letter. Writing to the “Times” to-day on Woman’s Suffrage, a lady concludes, “P.S.—Why have we votes for municipal and other matters and are denied them for the far more important questions of Imperial concern?” Possibly because they are far more important questions, we should say.

(BTW, January 22, 1907)


(Faux music-hall performers’ advertisements, Books of To-Day, February 1907)

KEIR HARDIE (“The beau-ideal of pantomime ‘dames’.”—Vide Press), in his new rôle of “The Suffragette”. Every night.

According to Mrs. Antoinette Funk, a Chicago lawyer, the next step in the emancipation of women will be to make wives responsible for their husband’s debts. May it be soon.

(BTW, February 6, 1907)

Extract from a letter from Miss Alice Milne to Miss Pankhurst: “No doubt Miss Gawthorpe will have told you what kind of a time we had at Mr. Winston Churchill’s meeting. . . The audience rose as one man . . .Your sister got a kick on the temple, Miss Gawthorpe fainted, and Mrs. Chatterton was almost strangled.” The Gallant Rads!

(BTW, February 7, 1907)

Note I: Yesterday, our representative had a conversation with the three ladies who received such brutal treatment at the Liberal meeting addressed by Mr. Winston Churchill in the Free Trade Hall on Monday night. Miss Adela Pankhurst, Miss Gawthorpe and Mrs. Chatterton are by no means Amazons, and they fared badly. Both Miss Pankhurst and Mrs. Chatterton bore facial evidence of the rough treatment they received. A blow from the fist of some apostle of fair play left that lady with the lower part of her face discoloured and swollen, while Miss Pankhurst’s swollen and bruised face, the result not of blows but of kicks when she was on the ground, proclaimed the type of cowardly ruffian by whom she had been assailed. (Manchester Courier, February 6, 1907)

Note II: Mary Eleanor Gawthorpe of Leeds (1881–1973) was a suffragette, socialist and trade unionist. At a rally in Hyde Park in 1908, she addressed over 200,000 spectators.

Miss Billington of the Suffragettes is about to marry, but she still declines to divulge the whereabouts of the wedding ceremony. It is understood that she claims the right to altar her ways in privacy and peace.

(BTW, February 8, 1907)

Miss Billington was married at Glasgow yesterday, and henceforth the lady will be disguised as Mrs. Grieg. But a Billington by any other name will hit as shrewdly.

(BTW, February 9, 1907)

The police at Moscow have found a bomb, twenty pounds of dynamite, and a red flag in a girls’ high school. Girls will be girls.

(BTW, February 11, 1907)

At a fancy-dress ball at Kennington, the winning costume was worn by a lady who had written over her heart, “Shall Asquith Die?” The label seems somewhat of an exaggeration. As a matter of fact, the Suffragettes have never desired to do anything to the right hon. gentleman except curl his hair for him.

(BTW, February 11, 1907)

Once more the foot of the oppressor will soon be on the neck of the downtrodden. Miss Gawthorpe, another prominent suffragette, is to marry.

(BTW, February 13, 1907)

To-day’s Frightful Threat.—“If the Government does not give way, I am going to bring 1,000 cotton operatives to London, and we will go on the floor of the House of Commons and voice our opinions there.” (Miss Annie Kenney, of the Suffragettes’ Army).

(BTW, February 14, 1907)

Mrs. Slipshod says the reason the suffragettes marched on the House of Commons the other afternoon was that they were in the last stage of Despardation.

(BTW, February 15, 1907)

Note: a play on the name of suffragette Charlotte Despard

In the House of Commons yesterday the Ladies Suffrage Bill, sponsored by a gentleman named Dickinson, was read for the first time. The suffragettes are jubilant, hoping it will not be the last.

(BTW, February 16, 1907)

Note I: OUR LONDON LETTER. Mr. Dickinson introduced this afternoon his Women’s Enfranchisement Bill, designated to enable women to vote at Parliamentary elections. The Suffragettes have undoubtedly achieved a great feat. It is not expected, however, that he will carry the whole of the Front Bench with him, for Mr. Asquith, Mr. Herbert Gladstone, and Mr. Winston Churchill are all suspected of hostility. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, February 16, 1907)

Note II: Willoughby Dickinson, 1st Baron Dickinson was M.P. for St. Pancras North and a supporter of women’s suffrage.

Among the suffragettes at present retired from business are one author, two artists, one secretary, one actress, one musician, one doctor of laws, one draper, and one widow. We are somewhat surprised not to find a lady wrestler.

(BTW, February 16, 1907)

“It is very bad,” says a correspondent of the “Daily Mail,” apropos of the battle of Palace Yard, “that women should be so roughly handled by policemen.” It is rather bad, too, that policemen should be so roughly handled by women.

(BTW, February 16, 1907)

Note: SUFFRAGETTE RAID. FIFTY-EIGHT ARRESTS. MOUNTED POLICE ENGAGED. A great convention of suffragettes was held in London on Wednesday, and culminated in an extraordinary fight between some eight hundred women and police, mounted and on foot, outside the House of Commons. They formed a procession in rows of fours, and, headed by Mrs. Despard, marched toward the Houses of Parliament. Within five minutes women were seen struggling with policemen and six arrests were made, Mrs. Despard among the number. Four women eluded the vigilance of the police and succeeded in getting into the inner lobby. There were a good number of members of Parliament about, and immediately the women gave vent to their war-cry, “Votes for Women.” They were quickly pounced on by policemen and led out of the House. Some had to be carried out. Another exciting demonstration followed, with the result that a number of further arrests were made, bringing up the total to fifty-eight. Among those arrested were Miss Sylvia Pankhurst and Miss Christabel Pankhurst. (Manchester Courier, February 15, 1907)

Another sex deficiency has been discovered. It is that woman may drink wine for years, and yet fail to tell the difference between Chateau Margaux at 15s. a bottle and vin ordinaire at 1s. 6d. a pint. Add this to the older allegations that she cannot sharpen a lead pencil or throw a stone, and you probably get the reason why she has not hitherto been favoured with the vote.

(BTW, February 18, 1907)

Mrs. Pankhurst says the Suffragettes will not be afraid if the Horse Guards and soldiers are brought out to fire on them. Mr. Haldane does not contemplate this necessity; having the assurance of Mr. Gladstone that the police are doing very well.

(BTW, February 19, 1907)

Note: Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane, from Edinburgh, was an influential Labour politician who served as M.P. for Haddingtonshire 1885–1911 and was allied with Asquith and Sir Edward Grey. Herbert Gladstone, 1st Viscount Gladstone, was the youngest son of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, served as M.P. for Leeds and Leeds West, and was Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman’s Home Secretary 1905–1910.

It is announced that Mr. Tree’s next production will be “Joan of Arc.” It seems a topical notion. This eminent lady was one of the earliest leaders in the Women’s Rights movement.

(BTW, February 20, 1907)

Note: Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree was a distinguished English actor and theatre manager.

We are sorry that the Law should have been hard on the woman whom a constable said he found the other day “punching a wall.” In these stirring times most women would have punched the constable.

(BTW, February 20, 1907)

One of the martyrettes who has just emerged from Holloway says she can face men and policemen, but objects to fighting horses. Then why not stay away? So far as we can make out, it is quite a voluntary performance.

(BTW, February 21, 1907)

Another daughter of the regiment states that prison life is very hard. The bread is good, she adds, but it would be better if it were accompanied by a little butter. Mr. Gladstone is evidently missing his chance. He should have the meals of all the warriors ordered in from the Savoy.

(BTW, February 21, 1907)

  The Happy Land.

  (The Rhode Island Senate has passed the Bill granting the suffrage to women).

Rhode Island is a charming spot,
Where worries and disputes are not.
No woman in that pleasant place
Ever displays a frowning face.
Benignant simpers are the mode
In the progressive Isle of Rhode.

Policemen there go on their way
Without a fear, without dismay.
They know their life will not become
One long and arduous Rugby scrum.
No Suffragettes the Force can goad
In the pacific Isle of Rhode.

Oh, Suffragettes, why linger here,
Exposed to ribald scoff and jeer,
When there awaits you, if you please,
A happier home across the seas?
We should not grieve if your abode
Was henceforth in the Isle of Rhode.

(BTW, February 21, 1907)
“The Happy Land” will not be submitted to the attribution panel of the P. G. W. Globe Reclamation Project until early 2014.

“C.-B.” has declined to permit the Suffragettes personally to present a petition at the Bar of the Commons. He is afraid that, gifted with an egotistical imagination, they would be inebriated with the exuberance of their own verbosity.

(BTW, February 25, 1907)

Note: FEMALE SUFFRAGISTS AND THE PREMIER. The resolution carried with practical unanimity at the women suffrage meeting in the Union Hall, Aberdeen, on Monday night, was telegraphed to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman yesterday morning. A petition has also been sent to the premier. (Aberdeen Journal, February 20, 1907)

According to the “Express,” a Woman’s Anti-Female Suffrage Movement has been started. It puts the ladies who assault policemen on behalf of a down-trodden sex in rather an awkward position.

(BTW, February 27, 1907)

On her release yesterday one of the suffragettes told the welcoming crowd that after being thrown about like a sack of potatoes, and known as No. 27, it was almost embarrassing to come among friends again. The Holloway wardresses evidently realise the fact that the suffragettes are really small potatoes—and very few in the row.

(BTW, February 28, 1907)

Note: RELEASED SUFFRAGETTES. Thirty more of the Suffragettes who had undergone a fortnight’s imprisonment in default of paying fines for a breach of the peace in the Old Palace Yard were released from Holloway gaol yesterday. A brass band was posted at the prison gates, and for an hour before the women made their appearance selections were played. (Western Times, February 28, 1907)

The suffragettes will be delighted to observe that the Ghent Town Council is making arrangements to increase the strength of the force by adding feminine policemen. The good rough-and-tumble form displayed by English women of late has led the Council to hope for equally good results from the ladies of Ghent.

(BTW, February 28, 1907)

Miss Christabel Pankhurst threatens that if the House of Commons throws out Mr. Dickinson’s Female Suffrage Bill there will be a revolution. In that case, we warn the lady that it will again be necessary to call the police.

(BTW, March 1, 1907)

“C.-B.” says he will, with much pleasure, give his support to Mr. Dickinson’s Ladies’ Suffrage Bill when it comes before the House of Commons. Other agitators will please note. It is only necessary to assault the police and besiege Cabinet Ministers at home in order to get from a Radical Premier what they desire.

(BTW, March 4, 1907)

Note: C.-B.’s comments were in a reply to a letter from the secretary of the Dunfermline Women’s Suffrage Society, according to the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, March 2, 1907.

Now that Mrs. Despard has been released from Holloway, we hope that she will not again yearn for the honour of leading the Sufferingettes to battle. But if she does, she is certain to be in the van, if it is only the prison van.

(BTW, March 7, 1907)

Note: Two more suffragists, Mrs. Despard and Miss Sylvia Pankhurst, were released from Holloway Gaol yesterday morning after their three weeks’ detention. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Thursday, March 7, 1907)
 “In the van” here is used in the sense of ‘vanguard’—at the head of a line of soldiers, as well as ‘caravan’—a closed vehicle.

Ladies who want the vote may be interested in a new book called “A Suffragette’s Love Letters.” “She cuddles on the rug and snuggles against the knee,” we read in it, “and once more she is simply her own, Henri’s own, very own—Little Doreen.” No doubt she is; but she should take an early opportunity to find a loftier seat.

(BTW, March 8, 1907)

Note: “Where there are two votes in the house, there will often be two opinions.”—“A Suffragette’s Love Letters.” (Luton Times and Advertiser, March 1, 1907)

Many members found it impossible to be in the House at voting time on the Suffrage Bill yesterday. Some were called away on business, others were rather unwell, and others again remembered they had a prior engagement. Now the cynics are asking them whether distance lent enchantment to the view or absence made the heart grow fonder.

(BTW, March 9, 1907)

Note: As it turned out, no vote was taken; the Speaker refused to accept a motion for closure, and the bill was “talked out.”

Like Mr. Winston Churchill, the Premier seems anxious to be remembered by posterity as a maker of phrases. In the suffragette debate yesterday, he said the time had passed when women could be regarded as uitlanders by predestination. On the contrary, some of them want to be burghers by free-will.

(BTW, March 9, 1907)

Note: “The stage was long past when woman, by her position in society, was sheltered in some mysterious way from the rough and tumble of life, and was precluded from exercising a share in public affairs. In fact, we had given up the idea which had been prevalent in former days that a woman was an outlander by predestination. (Laughter)” (Dundee Courier, March 9, 1907)
 “Outlander” is a translation from Afrikaans uitlander, a non-Boer in the Transvaal.

“Don’t think I exaggerate,” says Miss Christabel Pankhurst, “when I say we women are ready to die for the cause.” It is hoped, however, they will remember that the police aren’t.

(BTW, March 11, 1907)

The new suffragette drama to be produced at the Court Theatre next month is to be called “Votes for Women.” It is called a drama; but the critics will certainly expect it to be either a farce or a tragedy.

(BTW, March 16, 1907)

Note: A SUFFRAGETTE PLAY. It is interesting to learn that a suffragette play has been written by Miss Elizabeth Robins, that clever actress and novelist, who did so much to get Ibsen proper recognition in this country a few years ago. The drama is to be produced at the Court Theatre for some eight days, beginning April 9th. The time chosen is the present year, and one of the acts will represent a meeting of the women in Trafalgar-square. (Gloucester Citizen, March 8, 1907)

The “Saturday Review” calls upon the Home Secretary for statistics as to the number of umbrellas converted into bayonets. May we, on our part, add a request that the right hon. gentleman will also beome statistical as to the number of hatpins converted into daggers?

(BTW, March 19, 1907)

It appears that “Women are to confer on the position of the Woman’s Suffrage Bill at Caxton Hall to-day.” The position is this. It is dead.

(BTW, March 20, 1907)

Miss Camille Clifford is about to tour in the provinces with a piece specially written for her called “The Suffragettes.” Now, they won’t call her a Gibson Girl.

(BTW, March 20, 1907)

Note: Miss Camille Clifford is to tour the provinces in a new musical comedy written specially for her and called “The Suffragette.” (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, March 20, 1907)
 Miss Clifford became famous for her hourglass figure: she closely resembled the idealized beauties drawn by American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. Wodehouse had seen her in New York in The Prince of Pilsen, and after that production had brought her to England, she worked with some of his theatrical colleagues in other plays, so it is likely they had met.

Only one man was among the army of seventy-five ladies who were martyred by the police in Palace Yard recently. He is like the last rose of summer. He blooms alone.

(BTW, March 22, 1907)

At the Police Court yesterday one humouristic Suffragette pleaded that it was not she who resisted the police, but the police who had resisted her. It was the only thing he could do, however. He was a body at rest, and she was a body in motion.

(BTW, March 22, 1907)

According to a daily paper, two vixens, while fighting at Fletching, Sussex, rolled down a bank, and were drowned in a tank of water. Suffragettes, we presume.

(BTW, March 25, 1907)

There is a certain pathos in the following advertisement in a contemporary:—“Lost, March 20, nine p.m., in Palace-square, Westminster, leather bag, contents: small sum money, bunch keys, penknife, pencil, &c., reward.—Finder please return quick to Women’s Social and Political Union, 4, Clement’s-inn, Strand.” More was lost on Mohacs field.

(BTW, March 26, 1907)

Note: “More was lost at Mohács field” is the refrain of an English version of a Hungarian folk-song lyric, commemorating the defeat of Hungary’s army by the Turks in 1526, in which 14,000 Hungarian soldiers were killed, and after which the nation lost its powerful, independent status. The tragedy is cited to trivialize the suffragettes’ claims of “martyrdom” for being arrested and losing a purse.

The charge against a militant suffragette yesterday was that she held a policeman in one hand and clutched the rails with the other. Presumably, she would have been arresting him if he had not arrested her. He desired to be in the forward movement also.

(BTW, March 26, 1907)

It was the budding Suffragette, aged eight, who came back from church one Sunday complaining that, while the congregation frequently said Amen, they never said A-women.

(BTW, March 26, 1907)

A contemporary publishes a letter from a lady who states she would be sorry to be governed by the votes of nine-tenths of the Sex whom she meets. Well, she need not be sorry—not at present. But the time may come.

(BTW, March 28, 1907)


There was a stout lady of Chester,
Who said the disturbance distressed her.
  So she sat on the ground
  Till a crowd rallied round.
(It took seven men to arrest her.)

  (one of 6 limericks, Books of To-day, April 1907)

C.-B. must have got a nasty fright when, going from his private saloon to have tea in the dining-car on his way to Cannes last Friday, he found at the next table to him Miss Kenney and Miss Gawthorpe. Probably to the disappointment of the spectators, who must have expected something special, the thing ended in a “friendly discussion.” They did not so much as throw a teaspoon. What are Suffragettes coming to?

(BTW, April 2, 1907)

Note: A SURPRISE FOR “C. B.” When on his way to Cannes in the “train rapide,” on Friday afternoon, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman entered the dining car for the purpose of partaking of tea. He sat down at the table adjoining one at which were seated Miss Annie Kenney and Miss Mary Gawthorpe, two of the leaders of the suffragette campaign. The two ladies introduced themselves to the Prime Minister, and a friendly discussion ensued. The Premier expressed approval of the educational work of the Women’s Social and Political Union, but criticised its methods. He gave no hope that the Government would bring in a bill enfranchising women this session. (Hull Daily Mail, April 2, 1907)

A great mistake, says a Japanese baron, is made in suggesting that woman is inferior to man. Especially if you suggest it to the woman, and she happens to be an armed Suffragette.

(BTW, April 12, 1907)

News comes from Cape Town that a Woman’s Suffrage Society has been formed there. Happily the Premier of the Colony is safe; but if the local suffragettes wish to assert themselves there is no reason why they should not sit on his doorstep till he returns from England.

(BTW, April 16, 1907)

Note: General Louis Botha, leader of the Boers and first Prime Minister of the newly-self-governing Transvaal state, was attending a conference of colonial premiers in London at the time. For “doorstep” see also March 10, 1906; May 29, 1906; and June 20, 1907 items.

We notice that in the list of constituencies to be invaded by the Suffragettes, in opposition to sitting members, is that of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. This really seems lamentable ingratitude. Sir Henry voted for the Woman’s Suffrage Bill, recently rejected by the House of Commons; and now they want to throw him out also.

(BTW, April 17, 1907)

Somebody has thrown a political egg at the wife of the Suffragist candidate for Wimbledon, and Mr. Chaplin has expressed his strong sense of the impropriety of the act. We agree with that view. The electors have to be convinced, not with bad eggs, but with good arguments.

(BTW, May 10, 1907)

Note: CANDIDATE’S WIFE INJURED. As Mr. Bernard Russell, the women’s suffragist candidate for Wimbledon, was, with his wife, leaving a meeting at Raynes Park in a motor car last night a rotten egg was thrown. Mrs. Russell was struck between the eyes with great force, and a large lump was raised, causing the lady considerable pain. It is believed that Mrs. Russell, who has been most active in the campaign, will be incapacitated for the remainder of the election. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, May 8, 1907)
 Henry Chaplin (later 1st Viscount Chaplin) was the Unionist candidate for the seat, and would win the election.

It is stated that the appeal of the suffragettes for £20,000 to carry on the holy cause is already a success. Miss Pankhurst says the movement can only secure recognition by demonstrations of a dramatic character; and she apparently thinks that the more it is chequed the more it will flourish.

(BTW, May 18, 1907)

Note: The pun on ‘cheque’ (bank draft) and ‘check’ (to stop something, as with an obstacle) works better to the ear than to the eye.

At the Exeter Hall meeting of the suffragettes to-day, each one of the audience will be required to pay for admission, half-a-crown in the cushioned seats, and sixpence in the places which are not soft. This is expected to go a long way towards the utter elimination of those who wish to sit in the seats of the scornful.

(BTW, May 30, 1907)

Note: Cf. Psalm i, 1: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

“It is the business of every woman in this hall to shriek for all she is worth,” said Mrs. Pethick Lawrence at the Suffragette meeting in Exeter Hall the other day. We do not think for a moment that any Suffragette will neglect her duty. Business is business.

(BTW, June 1, 1907)

Note: At a suffragist meeting at Exeter Hall last night Mrs Pethick Lawrence advised her followers to “shriek their loudest.” We thought they had been doing this all along. (“Mail” Mustard and Cress, Hull Daily Mail, May 31, 1907)

Suffragettes have a great deal to put up with for the Cause. The speaker in Hyde Park yesterday finished a burning stream of eloquence, and paused for the cheers. A voice in the crowd said, “Good old auntie!” Only that, and nothing more.

(BTW, June 3, 1907)

Note: SUFFRAGETTES BAITED. SCENE IN HYDE PARK. Under the presidency of Miss Christabel Pankhurst, the suffragettes held an open-air meeting in Hyde Park, London, yesterday afternoon. A large crowd, composed principally of young men, assembled, but the proceedings throughout were somewhat farcical, the addresses being constantly interrupted by snatches of song and weak persiflage. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Monday, June 3, 1907)

“Our latest scheme for catching votes,” says one of the Suffragettes, “is to set up a stall at Earl’s Court.” Suffragette literature is to be sold; but it is more than probable that visitors will regard it as no catch.

(BTW, June 4, 1907)

Note: The Women’s Social and Political Union has broken out in a new direction. They have taken a stall at Earl’s Court Exhibition, and it was opened for business to-day. (Dundee Courier, June 5, 1907)
 Earl’s Court was a venue in southwest London for fairs and trade shows as well as an amusement park; it was completely rebuilt in the 1930s as it stands today. Perhaps the author of the item meant “no catch” in the angling sense of a fish to be thrown back and in the matrimonial sense as well.

In order to increase the fun of the fair at Jarrow, it is hereby suggested that the Suffragettes, the Local Vetoists, the Passive Resisters, the Vegetarians, the Anti-Vacs, and the National Armament Reductionists should each run a candidate also. Even then, if the electors do not see what they want in the political window, it is respectfully requested that they will step inside and ask for it.

(BTW, June 14, 1907)

Note: THE JARROW CONTEST. As the Liberals have quarrelled with the Irish and the extreme wing of the Labour Party, no less than four Candidates are in the field at Jarrow. (Luton Times and Advertiser, June 14, 1907)
 The Local Vetoists were part of the Temperance movement; their proposals would have given communities the power to vote against liquor licenses. At this time in British politics, Passive Resisters referred to religious Nonconformists opposed to paying taxes on the grounds that a portion of the tax went to support denominational (i.e. Church of England) religious teaching in publicly-supported schools. The Anti-Vac movement opposed mandatory vaccinations.

Parisian suffragettes have taken a leaf out of the book of Mesdames Pankhurst, Billington, and Co. A dozen of them have besieged the Palais-Bourbon, carrying banners with the strange device, “Suffrage des femmes.” M. Clemenceau was not in the Chamber, and the suffragettes do not appear to have had the courage of their convictions. They did not go and sit on his door-step.

(BTW, June 20, 1907)

Note: SUFFRAGETTES OF PARIS. DEMONSTRATION BY A DOZEN. [Reuter’s Telegram.] Paris, Monday. Some little excitement was caused outside the Palais Bourbon this afternoon by the appearance of a dozen female suffragists, with a white flag, bearing the words “Suffrage des femmes.”...The deputation asked M. Jaures to support their cause in Parliament, and withdrew on being informed that M. Clemenceau, the Premier, whom they also wished to see, was absent.

Current statistics compiled by the Registrar General show that the expectation of life among women is three years longer than that vouchsafed to men. Why, then, should they be in a hurry for the vote? When all the men have died, all the women living will have three years to settle the question by themselves.

(BTW, June 26, 1907)

Note: The “expectation of life” has advanced, in the case of males, from an average of 38.91 years in 1838-54 to 44.13 years in 1891-1900, and, in the case of females, from 41.85 to 47.77—females having thus the expectation of three years’ longer life. (Aberdeen Journal, June 26, 1907)

“C.-B.” nearly fell a victim to the Suffragettes again yesterday. One of them saw him approaching the House, but before she could give him a tract two policemen intervened and escorted him in safety. The lady is believed to have turned to the constables and said something scathing about interfering busybodies.

(BTW, June 27, 1907)

To-day there will be opened in the Euston-road a “School for Mothers” promoted by Dr. Sykes, medical officer of health for St. Pancras. The institution should be particularly largely attended by husbands of suffragettes.

(BTW, July 1, 1907)

It is said that the Suffragettes find that their encounters with the police require a regular course of hard training, which is not always easy to get. Now, however, the summer sales solve the difficulty in a very simple way. Any Suffragette who has reached the “bargain counter” and fought her way back to the exit with her bargain intact, feels that to repel a charge of mounted constables would be easy fruit.

(BTW, July 3, 1907)

Simultaneously with the announcement that women's suffrage was defeated in the Cape Parliament yesterday by 66 votes to 24 we hear that the Cape of Good Hope Hatpin is already on sale in the South African drapery stores. There has been a big rush on this long and crescent-shaped weapon. It is double edged, and owes its popularity among the suffragettes to the striking advertisement, “One Lunge Lays Out a Legislator.”

(BTW, July 5, 1907)

“Will our English ladies,” asks a weekly paper which is devoted to feminine pastimes, “ever take bowls into favour again?” It is unlikely. It will be a case of “from bias free of every kind,” in regard to the game of bowls. At least, until Female Suffrage is accomplished. After that—well, a bowl might prove a handy means of catching the Speaker's eye.

(BTW, July 12, 1907)

Note: “From bias free of every kind” is sung by the Usher in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury.

The fact that there are now two parties of Suffragettes has caused the liveliest apprehension among members of Parliament, who may now when leaving Palace Yard be taken on both sides at once by two separate armies.

(BTW, September 13, 1907)

Note: SUFFRAGETTE SPLIT. NEW PARTY TO BE FORMED. For the first time in the history of the Women’s Social and Political Union trouble has arisen in its ranks. As a result three of its most prominent and active members, Mrs. Despard, Mrs. H. Martyn, and Miss Hodgson, have seceded from the organisation; while there is said to be a distinct possibility of their forming a Women’s Suffrage Party differing in several particulars from that which they have now left. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, September 13, 1907)

Marcel Meunier’s record (fifty times in thirty-two seconds) has been beaten by a female cone-careerer of Etampes, aged nine. It is felt that this has given an enormous impetus to the Suffragist movement all over the world. If women can spin the spindle as well as men, they can vote as well as men.

(BTW, October 23, 1907)

Note: Meunier was a French boy skilled in the art of diabolo: juggling an hourglass-shaped spindle by means of a string connected to the tips of two sticks, one held in each hand.
 On Saturday Mr Ben Nathan, the well-known variety agent, was honoured by a command from the Prince of Wales to bring the famous boy diabolo champion—Marcel Meunier—to Marlborough House. There, before the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, he gave an exhibition of his skill, and had the gratification of being highly complimented on his wonderful dexterity. (Hull Daily Mail, October 19, 1907)
 A little girl of nine living at Etampes has beaten Marcel Meunier’s record by catching the diabolo fifty times in thirty-two seconds. (Dundee Courier, October 24, 1907)

The Chairman at the Poplar Town Hall, where Mr. Sydney Buxton spoke last night, was considerably incommoded for a time by the presence of several suffragettes. But while he made a little speech saying how much he regretted that one lady had been already removed, and how anxious he always was to have the chance of answering the suffragettes face to face, there were plenty of his stalwarts busily engaged in ejecting the rest of the vehement ladies.

(BTW, October 26, 1907)

Note: TWELVE WOMEN EJECTED. Mr. Sydney Buxton addressed his constituents at Poplar, London, last night, and the meeting was made the occasion of an uproarious demonstration on the part of the Poplar section of the Woman’s Social and Political Union. Immediately Mr. Buxton rose, Mrs. Drummond shouted some questions concerning woman suffrage, but nearly the whole of her remarks were lost in the din of uproar which followed. Mrs. Drummond shouting wildly, two or three stewards then essayed to remove her....Mr. Buxton essayed to make another start, but he was again and again interrupted, and altogether twelve women had to be ejected before order was restored. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, October 26, 1907)

Some sensation has been caused in Belgium, apparently, by a wild man of the woods. It seems that he “shrieked when captured, and made no reply to the questions put to him.” This may seem strange to Belgians; but an ordinary English Suffragette does all that as a regular thing.

(BTW, January 4, 1908)


  Some details, hitherto unpublished, of the recent raid of the Suffragettes on Downing Street.

A Suffragette down from Devizes,
Just to show how the Force she despises,
  Threw a constable flat,
  And then jumped on his hat—
These things are unpleasant surprises.

  (one of 6 limericks, Books of To-day, February 1908)


(by Herbert Westbrook and Wodehouse, Globe, June 1908)

Who’s Who (Our Lightning Edition):

Keir Hardie:Publications: … How I Became a Suffragette, 1906.


Today’s Great Thought: America talks boastingly of her athletes, but I have seen an English policeman, though not in training for athletic feats, beat both long jump and hundred yard records. I was after him with a hat-pin at the time. — Mrs. Pankhurst.


Five Minutes at the Academy: The Woman’s Part.—A well-conceived and cleverly-executed picture of the Suffragette (new style) debating how to use her newly acquired vote. Shall she vote for the Radical or the Unionist? The former promises Home Rule (which sounds as it ought to be helpful to women), but, on the other hand, his opponent owns a lovely dark moustache.


Five Minutes at the Olympic Games: Latest advices report that Mr. G. K. Chesterton has strained a tendon. His place in the Hundred Yards race will probably be taken by Constable C14 (James Bodd), of Palace Yard, who has accomplished several fine performances of late; notably when, in endeavouring to elude a testy Suffragette, he covered eighty-five yards in 7 2-5th seconds.

M.P.-Sticking should be a soft thing for Miss Christabel Pankhurst.

Our Rapid Calendar:

August 31, 1908: Nothing in the papers to-day about Hackenschmidt, Winston Churchill, Hall Caine, Christabel Pankhurst. National illuminations

November 30, 1908: Nothing in the papers to-day about Free Trade, Alcoholic Excess, the Socialists or Suffragettes. National illuminations.

December 10, 1908: Hall Caine tells us what he thinks of the Suffragettes.

January 17, 1909: Novel war-cry “Votes for Women!” invented and patented by Suffragettes.

January 24, 1909: Grand Mass Meeting of Suffragettes on Mr. Asquith’s doorstep. Policeman removes them both.

Women, Wine and Song!

 Twice he is saved from the vile attacks of his enemies by her Grace the Lady Marjorie Stagg-Mantle, a beautiful young Suffragette, who is hanging about Palace Yard in the hope of getting chance to slip about two inches and a-quarter of jewelled hat-pin into the fleshy part of Mr. Asquith’s leg.

 It is here that he meets the Hon. Lady Marjorie Stagg-Mantle, who comes to warn him that the Countessa Maria Spaghetti, a cosmopolitan Suffragette, in the power of the Hon. Marquis Luke Lockhart, is conducting a revolutionary campaign against the new Premier’s “Government Monopoly of Hat-Pins” Act.

Our Great Beauty Competition:

 Judge’s Remarks. “If she is not a Suffragette, then I cease to be one.”—Mr. Keir Hardie

Editorial Note:

 Mixed hockey is the Suffragette’s safety-valve.


(Novelette, Alston Rivers, April 1909)

“I understand,” he said, with a tinkle of defiance in his voice, “that the Suffragettes, as a last resource, propose to capture Mr. Asquith and sing the Suffragette Anthem to him.”


(Novel, A. & C. Black, September 1910)

“We happened to have a word or two,” said Mr. Richards at length, “on the way home from church on the subject of Women’s Suffrage.”

[. . .]

“In Australia,” said Edward in even tones, “they’ve got Women’s Suffrage already. Did you know that?” he said to Mike.

In July 1909 Marion Wallace Dunlap was convicted of willful damage caused by painting a wall at St. Stephen’s Hall with Suffragette slogans. Sentenced to one month’s imprisonment but being denied political prisoner status, on July 5, 1909, she commenced a hunger strike, throwing away the food brought to her. She replied to every question put to her: “Votes for women.” A group led by Ada White were arrested at another demonstration, tried, convicted and imprisoned in Birmingham’s Winston Green Gaol. They too went on a hunger strike, and authorities decided to force-feed the fasting women with milk through their nostrils, causing national outrage. Still Parliament refused to act, and the years 1910–1914 were aflame with the new militant tactics of the Suffragettes. The papers were full of reports of demonstrations, parades, vandalism, assaults, confrontations with officials and destruction of private and government property. On April 3, 1913, Emmeline Pankhurst was tried and convicted for her role in a bomb explosion at a house being built for Prime Minister David Lloyd George. She was sentenced to three years penal servitude, an event which set off a wave of arson and bombings throughout England. Taking to the streets of London, suffragettes attacked shops on Oxford Street and The Strand, smashing windows and throwing stones at 10 Downing Street.


The following items from the brief period in 1913 when Wodehouse alone wrote the “Charivaria” column in Punch were found by Neil Midkiff:

Questioned concerning the bomb outrage at Walton Heath, an official of the Women’s Social and Political Union said: “It might have been done as a joke.” One has, of course, to be in the mood to appreciate this kind of genial fun. Once you see it, you laugh heartily.

(Punch, February 26, 1913)

Note: “BOMB OUTRAGE AT THE CHANCELLOR’S HOUSE. SUFFRAGETTES SUSPECTED. OVER £500 DAMAGE. MAD WOMEN’S LEADER THINKS IT “GRAND.” Suffragettes are believed to be responsible for a dastardly outrage that we perpetrated on Wednesday morning at a villa which is being built near the Walton Heath golf course. About four o’clock in the morning two bombs were secreted in the upper part of the house. Lighted candles and paraffin saturated rags and shaving were placed with them to act as time fuses. Shortly after six o’clock the first of these machines exploded. Practically the whole of the north wing of the building was wrecked. All the indications are believed by the police to point to Suffragettes as the authors of the outrage. Two hatpins, without beads, were found near the second bomb, and a hairpin also. A woman’s golosh was picked up in a field nearby. The house was to have been leased by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a week-end golfing cottage. The officials at the head-quarters of the Women’s Social and Political Union have disclaimed all knowledge of the affair. But Mrs. Drummond on Wednesday said the explosion was a “grand” affair, and spoke in high praise of the criminals. Speaking at Cardiff on Wednesday night, Mrs. Pankhurst said she accepted full responsibility for the outrage.” (Western Gazette, February 21, 1913)

We have seldom heard of a more excellent idea than that of the New York suffragettes, who have decided to ride on horseback to San Francisco. Mr. Punch’s heartiest moral support will be given to such London militants as decide to attempt something on the same lines. A pilgrimage to, say, Peru, if they took their time over it and did not hurry their return, would surely be wonderfully impressive.

(Punch, Feb. 19, 1913)

Note: BETTER THAN WINDOW BREAKING.—A number of New York Suffragettes have decided to go on a horseback ride to San Francisco, scattering buttons and franchise handbills on their way. (Dundee Courier, February 13, 1913)

That a Suffragette’s proposal to enter a cage containing three lions, and while there to address an audience on Woman’s Suffrage, should have been forbidden is not surprising. The curious point is that no protest came from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

(Punch, March 5, 1913)

A severe earthquake was recorded by Mr. J. J. Shaw at West Bromwich, at 9 a.m. on the 14th inst. When the Militants learn that these tactics are only damaging their cause?

(Punch, March 26, 1913.)

Note: AN EARTHQUAKE. A very severe earthquake was recorded by Mr. J. J. Shaw, at West Bromwich at nine o’clock yesterday morning. The recording pointers were displaced three inches during maximum phase. Owing to the diagram commencing in a very indefined and gradual manner, the distance and direction was hard to deduce, but the shock was probably at a distance of from six to seven thousand miles. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, March 15, 1913)

Too much has been made by newspaper humorists of the Suffragist who threw a pot of paint at the Home Office and missed it. She hit Whitehall—which, in our opinion, is very fair marksmanship for a woman.

(Punch, April 2, 1913)

For posting a bill advertising the Suffragettes’ Self-Denial Week on a pillar-box, a woman at West Ham has denied herself twenty shillings and four shillings costs.

(Punch, April 2, 1913)

Note: DUNDEE PILLAR-BOX FIRE. The Suffragettes have set fire to a Princes Street ‘pillar box.’ All Dundee was agog last night in anticipation of Suffragette outrages following upon the three years’ sentence imposed upon Mrs. Pankhurst. (Dundee Courier, April 4, 1913)

Mr. Punch’s Football Experts

(Faux reports on football games by political figures, Punch, October 29, 1913, found by Neil Midkiff)

Sheffield Tuesday Afternoon
Leytonstone Hotstuffs.
S-lv-a P-nkh-rst.

Tuesday Afternoons 0. Hotstuffs 0.

The crude exhibition of masculine fatuity which attracted 30,000 prejudiced males to Leytonstone on Saturday ended, as one might have foreseen, in a result—a result as negative and fruitless as the Government’s opposition to the Cause. A pointless draw, I heard it called by one man. Another, a moment later, stated that each side had secured a point. Can anything better illustrate the futilities and contradictions of this man-made sport? As long as football is confined to one sex, as long as Man guards it jealously as his special preserve, so long will this inane state of things continue. Women are not permitted to become members of First League teams. What is the result? Idiotic and ineffectual struggles like Saturday’s at Leytonstone. These footballers do not know the rudiments of warfare. Not a single member of either eleven carried with him on to the field a bomb, a horse-whip or even a hat-pin. There was an autocratic official who, I believe, is known as the referee. I saw this man blow his whistle and refuse to allow one burly player a goal which he had scored. What did the player, the craven, do? Did he hunger-strike, like a man of spirit? No, he took it lying down. For the rest, the Hotstuffs wear rather sweet shirts, pink relieved with a green insertion; and the Tuesday Afternoons’ goal-keeper has a nice face.


(Novelette by C. H. Bovill and Wodehouse, The Strand, June 1914)

“The Suffragettes did it. They left copies of Votes for Women about the place. The silly asses set fire to two other theatres as well, but they happened to be in main thoroughfares, and the fire-brigade got them under at once.”

[. . .]

“That gives your comedian time to get off and change and come on again as Mrs. Pankhurst.”

Crowned Heads

(Short Story, Pearson’s Magazine, April 1915)

Thinking he’d be interested, I read him a piece from the paper where I seen about these English Suffragettes, and he just went up in the air.


(Serial, Saturday Evening Post, June–August 1915)

Other people worried about all sorts of things—strikes, wars, suffragettes, the diminishing birth rate, the growing materialism of the age, a score of similar subjects.


(George H. Doran Co., New York, 1920)

Jill was well-dressed, but, in the stirring epoch of the Suffrage disturbances, the policeman had been kicked on the shins and even bitten by ladies of an equally elegant exterior.

The serialization in Grand magazine, October 1920, titled Jill the Reckless, refers here to “the Suffragette disturbances”.


In 1999 Time Magazine named Emmeline Pankhurst one of the “100 Most Important People of the 20th Century,” stating: “she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back.”

A Closing Comment:

In all fairness to Wodehouse and his colleagues, we should remember that the attitudes toward women and women’s suffrage reflected in these columns were dictated by the editorial policies of the Globe and of Punch and designed to appeal to their Establishment readership. Wodehouse’s writings under his own name give a different view of women and their roles. Most of his fiction written during his tenure on “By The Way” was published in schoolboys’ magazines, and female characters are mostly absent or peripheral in these. But among his stories for general audiences during this period, Wodehouse wrote five stories narrated by Joan Romney in a very sympathetic and believable first-person voice of a girl on the threshold of womanhood, using her intelligence and her observation of human nature to accomplish her goals.

By 1910, his stories frequently featured self-reliant, capable, and clear-headed young working women, of whom The Maid in “The Man, the Maid, and the Miasma” and Annette Brougham in “The Man Upstairs” may be taken as examples. Even when reduced by circumstances into self-dependence, like Joan Valentine in Something New, they accept their lot and buckle down to it in a way that Wodehouse clearly approved. Joan Valentine especially strikes a note for equality of the sexes when she insists that Ashe Marson must regard her as a full partner in recovering the scarab, and since she is treated throughout as being more mature and sensible than Ashe, her attitude is further underlined.

Readers who know mostly the Jeeves and Wooster stories, in which much of the comic premise involves Bertie’s attempts to avoid demanding aunts and reform-minded fiancées, might get the wrong impression that Wodehouse always treated women as adversaries in his plots. A broader look at his stories—many of which are available on the Madame Eulalie web site—will turn up many thoroughly admirable heroines, treated with respect and without condescension.

It’s clear that Wodehouse was capable of poking fun at silliness whether male or female, and some of that is evident in the “By The Way” items above. Though his fiction rarely touches on political issues, the attitude he takes toward his best female characters suggests to me that in his own mind, Wodehouse might well have welcomed votes for women.

Neil Midkiff


The “By The Way” columns from the Globe and Traveller: All of the “By The Way” columns are unsigned, and at least two people contributed to the column every day; the paragraphs and verses displayed here (BTW) were all written on days Wodehouse worked on the column (as verified by entries in his journal, “Money Received for Literary Work”), but have not been formally attributed as being written by him. They are provided here through the courtesy of the P. G. Wodehouse Globe Reclamation Project and with the permission of the Wodehouse Estate. The “By The Way” excerpts may not be reproduced or republished in any form without permission. To the extent that the selected “By The Way” column excerpts are shown to have been written by Wodehouse, they should be treated as © by the Trustees of the Wodehouse Literary Estate in appropriate territories.

Globe scans obtained by Ananth Kaitharam and Karen Shotting, transcription and annotations by John Dawson and Neil Midkiff, with research funding by Raja Srinivasan.

Additional material, proofreading, and web conversion credit to Neil Midkiff.

John D. Clare’s The Suffragettes—Women’s Epic Fight for the Right to Vote was sourced for this article.

Please send comments, corrections and additions to Johndawsonkc@msn.com.

—John Dawson, February 2014.

Vintage films of the Suffrage movement in England can be seen at:




and a full-length documentary here: