Action and Reaction

  • Adrian Thomas
  • Francis Duck
Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)


Edith and Florence actively supported the suffrage movement and other initiatives to promote the place of women in society. They joined the London Society for Women’s Suffrage, attending peaceful demonstrations and giving financial support. Edith joined the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association, a lobby group to select sympathetic parliamentary candidates. Both sisters were opposed to the militancy of the suffragettes. Edith wrote letters to The Times. She was appointed as the first treasurer of the British Federation for University Women, meeting there the engineer Hertha Ayrton and the surgeon Frances Ivens. Edith pressed for a change in the law to allow women to practice law, to become prison officers and, after war broke out, to be trained to enter posts vacated by men who have entered the military. She lobbied to ensure that academic positions held by women were not filled by men after they left. Their friend Agnes Savill prepared a medical report demonstrating the trauma resulting from the forced feeding of women on hunger strike. Concern for their relatives still in Ireland led them to prepare X-ray equipment to be used in the event of civil war.


Suffragists Suffragettes Hertha Ayrton Frances Ivens British Federation for University Women Force feeding Women lawyers Irish Home Rule 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian Thomas
    • 1
  • Francis Duck
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, School of Allied and Public Health ProfessionsCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Formerly University of BathBathUK

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