Visual Culture

Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in the UK – Essential Reading List

Today marks 100 years since women were granted the vote in Britain. With the recent exposures of widespread entrenched misogyny at the highest levels in politics and the entertainment industry (to mention but a few instances), there is still a great deal of work to be done in achieving true equality for women. However, the work of activists and ordinary women within frameworks like the #MeToo movement, along with an increasing awareness of the need for change and the volume of female voices speaking out, brings hope that the tide is shifting.

To commemorate this centenary, we’ve put together an essential reading list of I.B.Tauris books covering the evolution of women’s position in British society, including a biography of Britain’s first female MP and a collection of ground-breaking photographs documenting the suffragette protests. These stories laid the groundwork for today’s continuing struggle and provide the scaffolding upon which to build further progress. So, as we move forward, let’s take a look at how far we’ve come…

woman's cause is man's

Suffragette protest banner, 1913: from National Archives, Washington D.C.


Suffrage and Power: The Women’s Movement 1918-1928 by Cheryl Law

“The Women’s Cause is One” – a slogan from a 1919 lobbying pamphlet in support of women’s trade unionism – sums up the crusading spirit of this exciting period in women’s history. This book shows how the women’s movement, through its network of organization and its powerful and widespread campaigning, was transformed and developed into a formidable fighting force. In the post-war period, the movement continued its assault on entrenched positions to secure women’s full and equal participation in society – in politics, commerce, industry and the professions, education, welfare, politics and for franchise extension.

30% discount with the code WOMEN18*


Birth Control and the Rights of Women: Post-Suffrage Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century by Clare Debenham

After 1918, the struggle for women’s rights intensified with a nationwide campaign for the right to birth control. This was met with significant hostility as it threatened to overturn Victorian ideas about female sexuality, female empowerment and the traditional roles of women and mothers within the family. The most well-known of the campaigners was the scientist and early feminist Marie Stopes, who opened clinics across England which fitted ‘contraception caps’ to women for free, but there were many other women, some relatively unknown until now, who campaigned vociferously for reproductive rights. This is the first book to shed light on this important period in the history of feminism, and records a struggle which continues in many parts of the world today.

70% discount until end of April 2018*

Alice Bacon - car photo

Alice Bacon campaigning in Leeds, 1945: from The Yorkshire Post.


Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon by Rachel Reeves

Alice Bacon was one of the twentieth-century’s most remarkable female politicians. A primary school teacher born into the heart of the Yorkshire coal industry, she defied the odds in 1945 to be elected the first woman MP for Leeds. In the Home Office in the 1960s she oversaw substantial social reforms, including the decriminalization of homosexuality and the legalization of abortion. This absorbing biography brings her political legacy to light, detailing the extraordinary story of her progression from the coalfields to the Commons and reaffirming her status as one of the most dedicated Labour politicians in modern history – and is written by a modern-day leading Labour female MP, Rachel Reeves.

30% discount with the code WOMEN18*


Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom by Anna Sparham (with contributions by Margaret Denny, Diane Atkinson and Hilary Roberts)

In 1903 a self-taught novice photographer, Christina Broom, turned to photography as a business venture to support her family; from this modest beginning she was to emerge as Britain’s acknowledged pioneer woman press photographer. She observed seismic changes in society in the Edwardian period through to the eve of the Second World War. The book showcases Broom’s remarkable work celebrating her personal journey, approach and skill through many rich photographs drawn from the Museum of London’s collection.

30% discount with the code WOMEN18*

christina broom photo

Suffragettes in pageant organized by National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, 1908: from Museum of London


British Women’s History: A Documentary History from the Enlightenment to World War by Alison Twells

This anthology brings together excerpts from over one hundred documents detailing women’s experiences from the end of the 18th century to the outbreak of World War I.  It looks in detail at all aspects of life for women in Britain in this period, including motherhood, marriage and domestic life; religion, philanthropy and politics; work; education; and early feminism. Twells’ documentary history draws on a wide range of sources including parliamentary reports, newspapers and journals, novels, poetry and hymns and seminal texts by activists in the women’s movement: Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Gaskell, Hannah More, among many others – authentic voices who illuminate this period of history in their own words.

30% discount with the code WOMEN18*


Keep your eyes on for more titles coming throughout 2018.

*All discounts expire at the end of April 2018
Featured image: WSPU poster by Hilda Dallas, 1909. Blog post compiled by Tia Ali | I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

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