On February 6, 1918, royal assent was granted to the Representation of People Act which enfranchised the right of some women – over 30 and property-owners – to vote.
This year, national commemorations will be marking the centenary of the act, although it was another 10 years before women were finally granted the vote on equal terms to men.
Historical researcher and book dealer Elizabeth Crawford, who specialises in books and ephemera by and about women, particularly the suffragettes, is an occasional exhibitor at Etc Fairs’ ephemera events. She has been so busy giving and preparing suffrage talks throughout 2018 that she has “hardly had time” to source new stock.
Crawford also has a new book out: Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists*.
This includes detailed biographies of more than 100 artists, mostly women, all of whom made a positive contribution to the suffrage campaign.
Heavy promotion of the cause
They produced procession banners, cards, posters, cartoons, jewellery and china in their thousands, mostly for the Artists’ Suffrage League (ASL) and Suffrage Atelier (SA), as well as the principal suffrage periodicals and newspapers including The Suffragette.
Some of the artists mentioned are better known than others: Mary Lowndes, stained glass artist and founder of the ASL; Edith Craig, a costume designer and daughter of actress Ellen Terry; the landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll; craftswoman May Morris; and miniaturist Mary Slee.
This year, national commemorations will be marking the centenary of the Representation of People Act
Some names may be not so familiar outside suffrage circles, such as Mary Sargent Laurence, who designed the poster No Vote No Tax for the Women’s Tax Resistance League, and Olive Hockin.
This extensively researched book, which includes information on where the artists’ work may be seen, is a worthy addition to the canon of suffrage literature.
The next Bloomsbury Ephemera, Book & Postcard Fair will be held on Sunday, February 25, at the Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0DG.
* Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists is published by Francis Boutle, £20 softback, ISBN 9781999903732.