Meeting of Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) leaders, c.1906 - c.1907.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a time for recognition and reflection as many women across the world continue to face struggles in their daily lives. And the debate continues…

At LSE Library we hold The Women’s Library collection which details the story of many campaigns and fights for equality starting with the British Suffrage movement.

So to celebrate this I have chosen some of my favourite images from The Women’s Library Flickr collection to share with you.


Millicent Garrett Fawcett: first president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Millicent dedicated her life tirelessly campaigning for women’s enfranchisement from 1866 until 1928 when women gained equal voting rights with men. In 1928 she wrote, “I have had extraordinary good luck in having seen the struggle from the beginning.”

Millicent Fawcett's Hyde Park address1913

Above: Millicent Fawcett’s Hyde Park address 1913

John Stuart Mill: a political economist. Mill presented the women’s suffrage petition to Parliament in 1866, and although it was rejected, the petition was the start of the organised campaign for the vote.

Postcard featuring John Stuart Mill,c. 1907.

Above: Postcard featuring John Stuart Mill, c. 1907.

Lydia Becker: after hearing a paper on women’s suffrage given by Barbara Bodichon in Manchester, Lydia rallied to the cause and became the honorary secretary of the Manchester Committee for Women’s Suffrage in February 1867.

Lydia Becker in Comus journal, 1877.

Above: Lydia Becker in Comus journal, 1877

Sylvia Pankhurst: probably not as well-known as her mother (Emmeline) and sister (Christabel). Sylvia was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which was founded by Emmeline in 1903. Sylvia, an artist, designed the famous angel of freedom suffrage emblem in 1908. She was imprisoned and force fed alongside many other militant suffragettes. By 1912, Sylvia disagreed with the direction the WSPU was taking and formed the East London Federation of Suffragettes.

Photograph of Sylvia Pankhurst , c. 1910.

Above: Photograph of Sylvia Pankhurst , c. 1910.

Emily Wilding Davison – a name that probably springs to mind with the suffragette movement. There are so many stories about Emily and her writings about her prison experiences make her a real and vibrant character even today. What did she intend to do when she ran onto the race track at the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1913? Despite her tragic death, I love the fact she is recorded as hiding in the cupboard at the House of Commons on the night of the 1911 census.

Emily Davison, c.1905.

Above: Emily Wilding Davison, c.1905.

Lady Constance Lytton – one of my favourite characters of the suffrage movement. Constance received favourable treatment whilst in prison once the authorities realised she was a woman with a formal title and a known heart condition. So determined to be treated equally, she disguised herself as an ordinary woman (named Jane Warton) and deliberately got herself arrested and imprisoned in 1910. As Jane Warton, no medical checks were undertaken and she underwent the same brutal treatment as the other prisoners, including force feeding. In the photograph below she is pictured in the centre with the feathers in her hat.

Constance Lytton and others in the 'Prison to Citizenship' pageant, 1911.

Above: Constance Lytton and others in the ‘Prison to Citizenship’ pageant, 1911.

Do bookmark the LSE Library’s Exhibition page and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date on our forthcoming exhibitions and check out the LSE Digital Library for more Women’s Library stories and an exhibition about Emily Wilding Davison.

LSE Library holds the personal papers of Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emily Wilding Davison and Lydia Becker and some papers relating to Sylvia Pankhurst.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it! Find out more about our suffrage collection.


Find out more about LSE Women: making history




Elizabeth Crawford’s The Women’s Suffrage Movement. A Reference Guide 1866 – 1928

Eleanor Payne

About Eleanor Payne

Education Officer at LSE Library