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

It has been 100 years since women in Britain were given the right to vote. There is still a lot of work to be done in order to achieve true equality for women, especially in light of the recent revelations of pervasive, deeply ingrained misogyny at the highest levels of politics and the entertainment industry, to name just a few examples. But there is hope that things are changing because of the efforts of activists and regular women inside movements like the #MeToo movement, as well as a growing recognition of the need for change and the volume of female voices speaking out.

We’ve compiled a must-read list of I.B. Tauris publications that explore the history of women’s status in British society in honor of this centennial. The list includes a groundbreaking photo collection of suffragette protests and a biography of the country’s first female member of parliament. These tales served as the foundation for the ongoing battle of today and as a framework for future advancements. Therefore, as we proceed, let’s assess our progress.

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

The catchphrase from a 1919 lobbying booklet in favor of women’s trade unionism, “The Women’s Cause is One,” encapsulates the fighting spirit of this momentous time in women’s history. This book demonstrates how the women’s movement evolved into a potent fighting force through its extensive and effective campaigning and network of organizations. In order to ensure women’s full and equal involvement in society, including in politics, business, industry, and the professions, as well as in education, welfare, and politics, as well as the extension of the franchise, the movement persisted in undermining established positions in the post-war era.

30% discount with the code WOMEN18*

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

Following 1918, a national push for the right to birth control heightened the fight for women’s rights. Since it challenged Victorian notions of female sexuality, female emancipation, and the traditional duties of women as mothers in the home, this was greeted with intense opposition. The most well-known of the activists was the scientist and pioneering feminist Marie Stopes, who established clinics all throughout England where women could get free “contraception caps” fitted. However, there were numerous more women who vigorously advocated for women’s reproductive rights, some of whom were little known until recently. This book documents a struggle that is still going strong in many parts of the world today and is the first to shed light on this significant time in the history of feminism.

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

Among the most notable female politicians of the twentieth century was Alice Bacon. Born into a family steeped in the coal industry of Yorkshire, she taught primary school before overcoming great odds to become the first female MP for Leeds in 1945. She led significant social reforms at the Home Office in the 1960s, such as the legalization of abortion and the decriminalization of homosexuality. Written by current leading Labour female MP Rachel Reeves, this compelling biography illuminates her political legacy by telling the remarkable story of her rise from the coalfields to the Commons and reaffirming her place among the most committed Labour politicians in modern history.

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)

Christina Broom, a self-taught amateur photographer, started taking pictures as a business enterprise in 1903 to help support her family. From these humble beginnings, she went on to become Britain’s first recognized pioneer woman press photographer. She witnessed the profound shifts in society from the Edwardian era to the final moments of World War II. The book features numerous exquisite images taken from the collection of the Museum of London to highlight Broom’s extraordinary work, which honors her approach, personal journey, and talent.

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

Excerpts from more than a hundred papers that describe women’s experiences from the end of the 18th century to the start of World War I are collected in this anthology. It delves deeply into every facet of women’s lives in Britain during this time, including work, education, early feminism, philanthropy, religion, and family life. A vast array of materials are consulted in Twells’ documentary history, such as parliamentary reports, newspapers, journals, novels, poems, hymns, and foundational writings by women’s movement activists like Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Hannah More, among many others. These individuals are real voices that shed light on this historical era in their own words.

30% discount with the code WOMEN18*

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