Saturday, 20 January 2018

'The Road to Representation'

Back in 2013, Bristol-based writer Lucienne Boyce published The Bristol Suffragettes, to document the case, struggles and achievements of the women who militantly campaigned for votes for women in Bristol. Having since written numerous essays and articles, not to mention given many talks, on the subject, Lucienne has now collected some of these together in her most recent book: The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women's Suffrage Campaign.

Produced in a similar style to The Bristol Suffragettes, The Road to Representation maintains a largely Bristol-centric focus to its articles and is a very readable selection of essays. These cover incidents such as the attack on the Bristol WSPU shop by angered students from Bristol University to the way a variety of businesses tried to cash in on the suffrage branding by stocking purple, green and white coloured items. Lucienne's new book also covers some areas that are perhaps less often considered with regards to women's suffrage, such as the way the anti-suffrage authorities repeatedly tried to discredit the women as being 'lunatics', and the link between suffragists and anti-vivisectionists (relating to the tale of the poor brown dog in Battersea, London). 

For some people now (many of whom perhaps do not even use their right to vote), they may wonder what the fuss was all about and question what difference it made whether women had the vote or not. One answer to this lies in Lucienne's chapter about women and education, which spells out the link between a lack of representation in the voting booth and a lack of access to higher education and qualification. It is good to see these debates widened out beyond 'merely' the case of votes for women, as of course the suffrage campaign was far more than a one trick pony. 

Lucienne's website can be found on this link and has more information.

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