I was tipped off about this 1970s children’s book by someone on Twitter who knew I was working my way through as many suffragette books as possible. And although Miss Rivers & Miss Bridges by Geraldine Symons (Puffin Books) is sadly long out of print, there are a fair few second hand copies available on Amazon Marketplace at very reasonable prices, so I snapped one up.
Miss Rivers & Miss Bridges is aimed at readers of around 11 years old, and follows teen heroines Pansy and Atalanta over a week in the early 1910s, when Pansy has come to stay with her friend and see the big smoke. Free-spirited Atalanta, who is blessed with a bohemian author and actress for parents, is impassioned by the suffrage movement and determined that she and Pansy will make their mark for the cause, and attract the attention of Emmeline Pankhurst.
Their determination sees them hurl a brick through a window at 10 Downing Street, dive into the Thames, cause a scene in front of the Prime Minister at the theatre, and even end up in the police cells… A busy week by anyone’s standards.
While it is, of course, entirely ridiculous that Pansy and Atalanta could get away with all this without serious repercussion, just suspend your disbelief and go with the flow of these passionate and spirited young women as they illustrate the depth of feeling that exists in people of all ages for female emancipation.
The long-running fight of our foremothers for the vote must never be forgotten, and it is important that our children are educated to know about this important part of their history. And Miss Rivers & Miss Bridges is an entirely readable and fun way of doing that.