“My Part in a Changing World”: Women’s Struggle for the Vote and the Autobiographical Subject

Joannou, Maroula (2018) “My Part in a Changing World”: Women’s Struggle for the Vote and the Autobiographical Subject. Women's Writing, 25 (3). pp. 294-313. ISSN 1747-5848

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/09699082.2018.1473015

Abstract

This essay is concerned with some 20 autobiographies by participants in the women’s suffrage movement with differing backgrounds and beliefs. Their writings reveal similarities and differences between autobiographical subjects. The author addresses the importance that some autobiographers attached to pain, the problems attendant on its representation, and their determination to make women’s pain count politically. The autobiographical accounts of Helena Swanwick, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Edith Picton-Turbevill and other suffragists are contrasted to the suffragette autobiographies of Emmeline Pankhurst and her supporters, with their emphasis on law-breaking, imprisonment and patriotic support for the war effort. The struggle for the vote was the apogee of some women’s lives, while for others a mere stepping stone; their life achievements lay elsewhere—in the peace movement, the theatre, social reform, music, religion, the police service or journalism. However, the autobiographical subjects look back on the excitement of the suffrage struggles as life-changing—the crucible in which their subsequent political understanding was shaped. In paying critical attention to the writings of militant and non-militant, Christian and secularist, socialist and fascist alike, the author shows how these autobiographies create a variegated, complex and diverse picture of the “cause”, its fault lines and its supporters.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Women's suffrage, feminism, autobiography, women's writing
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mary Joannou
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 15:33
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019 10:04
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703864

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