The Rebel Suffragette The Life of Edith Rigby by Beverley Adams

 This is an interesting biography which tells the story of Edith Rigby sympathetically, but analyses the role of the militant suffragettes, and whether their acts of vandalism and violence were justified. Edith didn't want to just play the role of middle-class housewife, because she grew up amongst mill workers and the poor in Preston, even though she came from a well-off family, and she wanted to help them. She established a school for working-class girls, which was extremely popular, but the role of suffragette was made for her. Edith campaigned for the cause, but she felt that it wasn't getting anywhere, so she started committing violent acts. She committed arson, and she was found guilty of an attempted bomb attack in Liverpool. She also threw black pudding at an MP! She went to jail several times, enduring force feeding, and going on hunger strike.

Charles, Edith's husband, who was a well-respected doctor, supported her all through this, even writing letters about her plight to the papers. Although very long-suffering, he got a bit upset if he had trouble getting meals after a day at the surgery. Edith disappeared a few times for reasonably long periods, which he found difficult. At one stage, she worked as a maid at an upper-class house for a week!

This biography includes a chapter on the role of men who supported the cause. They have had short shrift before now, so I was pleased to see a discussion of their role. The book also includes a summary of women's rights until the present day.

I enjoyed this book. Although I don't agree with Edith's militancy, she seems to have been very likeable, and I liked learning about another suffragette.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Hels said…
Thanks for your review. I know before WW1 Edith Rigby was found guilty of arson and an attempted bomb attack in Liverpool. She wasn't alone in being incarcerated and they all had to survive the hunger strikes during their stint inside. Clearly not all the suffragettes supported her militant tactics back then!

But I am certain that people now would not be so patient. New Zealand and Australia gave the vote to all women decades earlier and they couldn't understand why the Motherland still made women fight for their vote.

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