"Miss Browne is sleeping in Annie's
So wrote Mary Blathwayt when ousted
from the bed of suffragette Annie Kenney. Mary had met Annie at a
women's suffrage meeting and adored her from the start. She was not
the only one. At least two other suffragettes, Emmeline
Pethick-Lawrence and Clare Mordan, said they had fallen in love
with Annie the first time they met her.
The nature of these relationships
concerned some in the movement. After the vote was won, Teresa
Billington-Greig said, "There was an immediate and strong emotional
attraction between Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Annie Kenney...
indeed so emotional and so openly paraded that it frightened me. I
saw it as something unbalanced and primitive and possibly dangerous
to the movement".
Annie Kenney was a mill worker from
Oldham who joined the Women's Social And Political Union (the
militant suffragette organisation founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and
her daughters) after hearing Christabel Pankhust speak at a
suffrage meeting in 1905. Annie was drawn to Christabel who invited
her to come to tea the next Saturday. She said: "The following week
I lived on air, I simply could not eat… It was as though half of me
was present, where the other half was I never asked."
Annie and Christabel became
inseparable and were soon the first women to be arrested in the
suffrage cause after unfurling a banner at the Free Trade Hall in
Manchester saying, "Will you give Votes for
Find out more about the fascinating
lives of lesbian and bi suffragettes in the November issue of DIVA.
On sale now at the links below.
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// divasub.co.uk //