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Kenney, Annie (1879–1953), suffragette Image With digital objects
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Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Holloway Prison.—Discusses business relating to properties and investments, and refers to a forthcoming Exhibition.

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Transcript

Holloway Prison
March 4th 1909 {1}

My dear Husband.

I knew that there would be many matters of private business you would want to discuss with me & that if possible you would obtain a permit for an interview so that we could discuss them verbally which is of course the only satisfactory way. Since however that is not possible, I am glad to be able to tell you what I wish about the one or two matters which you mention. As regards “The Bungalow” property. The tenant you tell me leaves when the lease runs out. That is this month I believe. You say he has friends who will take it on at a lower rental. But I am not inclined to lower the rent, at any rate for the present. This is a good time of the year for letting such a property. And I do not think there will be any difficulty in finding tenants. I do not wish to sell in any case. You know I have always considered that we do well to hold that land. Being so near to London, it is bound to go up in value.

“The Mascot.” If you are renovating or decorating, the colour which I should wish to predominate is the blue that is the real dutch blue. You have a sample of it in the almanak† that hangs over my little desk in the Mascot dining room. I know you will superintend what is necessary in the garden. Rapley knows a great deal about the work & my wishes with regard it. I know how perfect & how beautiful everything will be. My special joy is in those May tulips. Some beautiful flowers were brought into the ward this morning—daffodils & some double golden tulips. Though no one told me where they came from, my heart told me. Flowers are a great joy to those who are here. So is music. Every afternoon when I am out at exercise I hear music. A Band in the street plays well known airs.

With regard to “The Sundial”. This house is let until the end of May. Will you write to the George Foxes & ask if they want it for June, or if not whether I shall reserve any other time of the year for them. From middle of July to end of August, it is let to the Esperance Club. I have not seen the books which you have presented to the Library. But no doubt I shall do so in good time. I have Shakespeare & other literature. I have not been at all dull. The week has gone quickly. I sleep like a baby—& feel that I haven’t a care or worry in the world. No news comes from the outside world. But I know perfectly well that everything is happening as I should wish. I have absolute confidence that all is well. No newspapers, not even our own could tell me more surely. You say hard work suits you. Well, a quiet life with domestic occupations seems to suit me, for I too feel very well & mean to come back thoroughly rested & fit for work. I hope you will fill up my dates for beginning of May. I shall not entangle myself with the machinery until after the Exhibition. Lady Connie will go to Annie in Bristol before Easter but do not make any other engagement out of London for her. Lady Connie should open the Exhibition on one of the three days. If this commends itself to you you can proceed to arrange it without delay. I am sure it would be the right & appropriate thing.

Dont you think it strange that out of over fifty people charged with the same offence, I am the only one to get sentence of two months. Two or three have been arrested twice before for the same offence. & Mrs Despard the leader of another deputation was sentenced to a month only. Why this divergence? I should like it explained.

I have had a letter from Mort about the business of the investments in trust for me under my Father’s will & estate. He says that he is inclined to sell the Columbian National Railways. There has been a considerable rise lately, he says, but he is not impressed with the stability of the investment. I told him I should like to see him & my brother Tom about this & various other matters, but if that would cause delay in this particular case, he can refer to you & if you think well he can sell. He also mentioned important developments in the Gazette. Have I not a legal right to see our family solicitor & trustee to transact private family business? This right should be claimed if it is a right.

Our financial report & balance sheet should receive my signature. Will you ask if the M.S. or proof can be sent to me to sign. If this is not granted, the explanation should be given in the Report, of the reason it goes out to the world without the signature of the Treasurer.

Now Goodbye. And “God bless us all—every one”[.] There is every reason why joy & love & infinite thanks should fill all our hearts. To me, this is a time of expectancy, of happy waiting for the spring. The bursting of new life & beauty—the eternal miracle & revelation. Just as the earth keeps already the joy of a great secret, so I keep already the promise of the future & hold its festival in my heart. My thoughts go to you all, & yours,—the thoughts of you all—come to me full of blessing. Special love to my Mother & to Aunt Ellen, who—

Your
Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

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The letter is written on a printed form. Other handwritten details on the sheet include the number (2141) and name of the prisoner, and some pencil notes in Fred Pethick-Lawrence’s hand.

{1} ‘Prison’ and ‘190’ are printed.

† Sic.

Typed copy of a letter from Emmeline Pankhurst to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

COPY.

Boulogne sur Mer.
September 8th, 1912.

My dear Mrs Lawrence:—

It is during a breathing space such as we have had that one is able to quietly take stock of the situation and see things in their true perspective and this I have been doing. No doubt you and Mr Lawrence have also been thinking much about the Union and its work. We, Mrs Tuke, Annie, Christabel and I have met here and had a long talk and as a result I write you this letter which embodies our views. I want you to regard it as a business letter and to realise that in all our hearts are feelings which are very deep and real but which it would be out of place to express here.

First let me tell you how matters stand.

1. Of course you have been kept informed of the Government’s proceedings to recover the costs of the prosecution and how after much effort the sale at Holmwood has been for a time postponed.

2. I enclose a letter claiming compensation which has been answered to the effect that we are travelling abroad. This claim is likely to be followed by others.

3. The new premises are nearing completion. Mrs Tuke and I return to London next week to superintend furnishing and removal. Before going to Evian-les-Bains for our cure we deposited with the solicitor, Mr Blount, a sum of money to cover the rent for three years so that the guarantors are now entirely protected against possible loss.

4. Christabel leaves Boulogne next week to establish herself in Paris. It is commonly known who she is and where she is and so we have decided that it is better she should be in Paris the seat of French Government, where she will be in touch with the representatives of the English Press and also that the moment has come for her to resume her own name and live quite openly. She will now sign her articles and letters.

Now as to the situation as it seems to us to affect you and Mr Lawrence, and your position in the Union as Treasurer.

It is quite evident that the authorities and also the Insurance Companies and property owners mean to take full advantage of the fact that they can attack Mr Lawrence with profit and through Mr Lawrence weaken the Movement. So long as Mr Lawrence can be connected with militant acts involving damage to property, they wil make him pay. Nothing but the cessation of militancy, (which of course is unthunkable† {1} before the vote is assured) or his complete ruin will stop this action on their part. They see in Mr Lawrence a potent weapon against the militant movement and they mean to use it. This weapon is a powerful one. By its use they can not only ruin Mr Lawrence, but they also intend, if they can, to divert our funds. If suffragists, feeling strongly as they do, the injustice of one having to suffer for the acts of otheres, raised a fund to recoup Mr Lawrence, it would mean that our members[’] money would go finally into the coffers of the enemy and the fighting fund would be depleted or ended. It would also reduce militancy to a farce for the damage we did with one hand would be repaired with the other. It is well to see things at their very worst especially when the very worst is not only possible but highly probable. In one night, by one militant act, hundreds of thousands of pounds might be involved and the only individuals in the Movement who would be affected apart from imprisonment of those responsible would be you two. So long as you are a responsible official of this Union this will be so. Then there is the Albert Hall Meeting. What we say at that meeting is of vital importance. I know that it will be my duty as Chairman to make a militant speech, a speech that will lead to further acts of reprisal on the part of the Government if it is followed, as it will be, by a fresh outbreak of militancy. No doubt there will be another prosecution for conspiracy in which those who share responsibility with me will be involved. The Gov. can only take me when they proceed against me and that will do them more harm than good but in taking you they repeat the money getting process. I know you will understand me when I say that if to ruin Mr Lawrence would help the Woman’s Cause I should think it worth while for what is the individual as compared with the Cause? When however far from helping it is a source of weakness, a positive injury, then the case is different! What is to be done?

This is what we suggest after long and anxious thought. It is a way of retaining your active participation in a great Imperial Movement which is just beginning and at the same time of preventing the Government from striking at the militant Movement in England through you. The Union has paved the way by my two visits to Canada, by the establishment of the first W.S.P.U. there, by the presence of scattered members and by the deputation to Borden. Will you for a time lead the Imperial Suffrage Movement in Canada? It is a great mission and a great role. The Government would get a huge rebuff. Like all their previous acts of tyranny this latest one would recoil on their own heads and they would find that instead of crushing the Movement in England by attacking you they had actually helped to spread it throughout the Empire. We have often felt in this Movement that we were guided in a mysterious way. Perhaps the events and trials of the past few months have been preparing us for greater developments. You can do this work. For me to undertake it would not change the situation here for the difficulties and dangers would still remain.

Following on the deputation to Borden we are sending Miss Wylie (whose brother is a Canadian M.P.) to organise our scattered members. We are endeavouring to get together a special Canadian Fund to launch the Campaign. The growing importance of Canada makes a W.S.P.U. Movement there imperative even if you do not agree to control and guide it.

Of course you might decide to carry out the project of foreign travel of which you have so often talked. All that I have written is with the full approval and concurrence of our friends who share my anxieties and hopes. Please show my letter to Mr Lawrence and discuss it with him and believe that I have left unwritten many expressions of affection and appreciation which we all feel very deeply. I hope your holiday has been a pleasant one. It must have been a great joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I send this letter to New York in the hope that you may get it before sailing.

Very affectionately yours,
(Signed) E. Pankhurst.

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A typed transcript.

{1} Followed by a superfluous closing bracket.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy.)

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Transcript

Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence is of Celtic stock. Her forbears lived in Cornwall[,] the rock-bound peninsular to which in ancient days came the intrepid Phoenician mariners to mingle their blood with the aboriginal inhabitants. But her father, a Bristol merchant, made his house in Weston-super-mare and she herself responded to the call to come to London to be a “Sister” in the West London Mission under Hugh Price Hughes and Mark Guy Pearse.

It was not until she was nearly 40 years of age that the little band of militant suffragettes unfurled their banner of revolt and at Keir Hardie’s suggestion sought her help. In a spirit of dedication she yielded to the entreaties of Annie Kenney[,] the mill girl who had come from Lancashire with £5 in her pocket “to rouse London”.

Her Cornish love of freedom, her passionate anger at injustice, her sense of shame at the humiliating status of women, her desire to befriend the weak and oppressed all combined to force this choice upon her. She consented to become the treasurer of the new movement. Instinctively she realised that she was setting her foot upon an uncharted path. But she certainly could not have forseen† into what strange and unconventional ways it would lead her.

In fact she was on seven separate occasions to see the inside of His Majesty’s prison. She was to go through the hunger strike and to suffer the painful indignity of forcible feeding. As a treasurer she was to raise a campaign fund of over a quarter of a million pounds and to become known as the most seductive beggar in London. In all this she was sustained by a strong inner sense of mission; and she was fortunate in having what was denied to many others of the suffragettes[,] the active support of her men folk—her father, her husband and other relatives and friends.

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The file number ‘2069’ has been written at the top of the first sheet in pencil.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Women’s Cosmopolitan Club, 133 East 40th Street (New York).—Is recovering from tonsilitis. Discusses the plans for her lecture tour, and refers to the kindness of her hosts.

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Transcript

Women’s Cosmopolitan Club, 133 East 40th Street
Oct 27. 1914

My dearest. Just a little postscript to my letter yesterday. The doctor came yesterday as soon as I had posted it—& I was bundled into bed—reporters were sent away & the receiver taken off my telephone!

Susan was suddenly transformed from secretary into nurse—a part she plays most excellently. The unpleasant symptoms began at once to yield to the treatment & I feel quite on top of them already. Tonsilitis is the name of the malady.

Though I haven’t been in New York twenty four hours, I feel I am going to like it immensely & am going to have a simply ripping time. My lectures are not yet arranged owing to various hitches—that I neednt explain. But I saw Feakins yesterday & we got on very well[.] I like him as a business man very much. He thinks my fee a very moderate one, & would have taken me on at 250—at the same time, things are very awkward just now. 1. Shortness of time for arrangements[.] (2.) People financially hit by the war. (3.) November given up to the Elections & campaign in full swing everywhere—nobody any time to take on anything till they are over. (4.) C.P. {1} & Annie Kenney speaking, & queering the pitch. So far as I can find out neither of the above are bothering to make any business arrangement.

If I am having a good time & am asked by Feakins to give him a chance by staying over December, would you object? I dont want you to be or to feel deserted, but since the voyage is such an ordeal—(it was 7 days sheer purgatory this time) it seems a pity now I am here, not to stay if I’m wanted. Should it suit your work or your plans to come out here later on, I believe you would enjoy it, for I am quite sure I am going to have many friends here. I cant tell you how sweet & kind everybody is to me. The only person with whom I cannot “blossom” is Mrs S. Blatch. Its a case of “didn’t like her”. But I am not going to let that stand in the way! She can be very very useful to me & I mean to please her, & do her credit. There is a crowd of splendid girls, like the Lewisohns & Alice Wright. And numbers of interesting men & women who are inviting me to their homes. My quarters here are perfection—absolute comfort & harmony—no ugly luxury—just like the dear Lewisohns themselves. I found beautiful roses in my room & a sweet note from them. But they came after I had been bundled to bed yesterday & Susan had been instructed by the doctor to keep everybody outside. I shall send you all the cuttings I can get before post time. You might send them on to V. f. W. {2} & perhaps Miss Offley will afterwards collect & keep them. Your very happy comfortable & lucky

Patz.

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{1} Christabel Pankhurst.

{2} Votes for Women.

Letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

Women’s Cosmopolitan Club, 133 East 40th Street (New York).—Has given a speech at Miss Wald’s settlement and prepared her speech for Friday. Christabel Pankhurst’s meeting was not a success. Discusses plans for her tour.

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Transcript

Women’s Cosmopolitan Club, 133 East 40th Street
Oct 29 {1}

Dearest. I’ll begin a letter now, as it will have to be posted tomorrow to go by the Saturday Mail. I shall send you a week-end letter by cable after the Meeting: so you will have that news before you get this letter. I have made a very rapid recovery & everybody has been angelic[.] I havent missed anything important[.] I was bundled out of bed into my clothes & into a taxi to attend a Dinner & Reception afterwards at Miss Wald’s Settlement on Tuesday night—put on a bed in a dark room between the events—made my speech with which everybody expressed themselves delighted & bundled back into a taxi before the people left their chairs. Yesterday Mrs Blatch’s Dinner in my honour was postponed till next week—& I had a quiet day in my room to save my throat for Friday. My temp: was still nearly 100 yesterday. This morning I felt much better & got up & went downstairs to breakfast. For I must harden up a bit for Friday. My temperature is now normal & I feel I need fresh air & exercise. I have been so frightfully much drugged with aspirin & pyramidon to bring down temperature, that I feel dazed & numbed—& I must get back to more normal conditions[.] I have written out my speech & a typist is making 20 copies of it—& I shall send you one. If you like to abridge it or publish it as it stands, you can (but I dont see any occasion)[.] “Votes” is too small now for the reproduction of speeches—& for a pamphlet we have no audience unless one develops in the meanwhile. The Harbens might like to see it—and some of my friends including Mary Neal & Doctor Chapman & Elizabeth Robins. I have not at present had any new light upon the war from the American Papers. All the opinion I have read, or encountered is on the side of the Allies. If there is any German sympathy it is lying low[.] Nothing illuminating! But remember all I have seen of New York is three days inside my bedroom.

The weather has been perfectly lovely the whole time—clear & blue with brightest sunshine.

My friends here are very warmly reminiscent of you. Miss Wald (the Jane Addams of New York) in introducing me on Tuesday night spoke your name saying you were honoured & admired over here with deepest recognition of the stand you have taken & the work you have done.

I hear on all sides of disappointment in C.P.’s meeting on Saturday. Alice Wright didnt go—the Lewisohns came out in the middle. Mrs Blatch says the tickets were pressed upon people, she was given a box & entreated to come—& all her friends who were there tell her the same story. The Hall was only half full. The only thing that saved C.P. from acknowledged failure ws the mercy of the reporters whom she captivated. They all described her as a lovely young girl of twenty three!—a marvel for her age!

Have just been out for a short walk up along 5th Avenue to Broadway & back. The Club gives on Lexington Avenue on one side, the entrance being in East 40th St. Its the nicest place, (barring Clements Inn & The Mascot) in which I have ever stayed. Both S. & I have a bathroom & dressing room as well as a bed-sitting room to ourselves—& the appointments, & facilities are absolutely perfect.

I am booked up with a delightful programme ahead—though a very easy one. But I will tell you of these events as they come off. I am not able to tell you of any fixtures outside New York yet—there have been many “nibbles”—but I think things are hanging fire until after Friday. Everybody of course wants to get me for nothing & our previous correspondence in connection with our tour is rather embarrassing. People write & say “you said you would be willing to help a Suffrage Society”[.] November is a frightfully awkward month as I told you—& C.P. & A.K are a complication because they are ready to go anywhere for their expenses & hospitality. Feakins still thinks if I could give him time, he could get me a fine tour—but he is being cut into every way by the present concatenation of circumstances—& I have not promised him December. I do want to know if you would be very grieved if I did send you a cable later, to say I should like to stay on over Christmas. I may never feel the least inclined to do it but you cant say anything in a cable when you do send it—that is why I want to know before the possibility crops up, what your feelings on the matter are. Its much too early to form any judgment yet—but if my speech does catch on—& I think you will consider it a speech that might catch on—opportunity might occur to go further & further West—possibly to the Coast even. Friends & hospitality I should find everywhere[.] People are overwhelmingly hospitable & warm. Dont say anything about this to anybody else please[,] as the suggestion might not crop up at all.

If you want to know what I feel—well—frankly I should like it immensely. I find that you need not work any harder than you choose[—]you have only to say what you want & what you dont want. Its “play” to me after the W.S.P.U & compared to Emergency Corps. And I want to know much more of the people who interest me enormously.

There is nothing to bring me back to England except you. So if you will either join me or be happy & content without me, I shall feel free if it ever comes to a choice!

Susan had her letters brought on in the Franconia by arranging with the Purser, she hasnt got them yet, & I dont think the boat has arrived. I have not yet received any English mail. Love to all friends. A hug for my old Sweetheart. Ever your own

Patz

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{1} This day was a Thursday.

Letter from Jessie Kenney to Lady Constance Lytton

Transcript

Hotel du Golfe | La Guimorais | St Coulomb | Ille-et-Villaine | France.
Sept 13. 1921.

Dearest Lady Conny,

I am writing to ask if you will very kindly do something for me.

I am to be admitted to the Wireless College at Colwyn Bay where I am going to train as a Wireless Operator and at the same time to study for my London Matric. I have already applied to the Principal and he has accepted me.

But each student is required to supply the following:—

(a) Certificate of birth

(b) Particulars filled up on enclosed form

(c) Letters from two persons of British parentage, and of standing, signifying that the applicant is the person described on the birth certificate—that the particulars on attached form are correct—and that the applicant and his† parents are of good character.

I am enclosing my birth certificate and the form referred to above which I have filled up—so that you can see all is in order. Both my father and mother are dead as I think you know.

There are two people I should like to have as sponsors for my entry into the wireless world. One is yourself and the other is Professor Bickerton (President of the Royal Astronomical Society) who was a good old supporter of ours in our good old fighting days and he has been more than encouraging to me in my new quest.

I should be therefore so glad, dear Lady Conny, if you would send me a letter which I can forward on to the Principal with the enclosed form and birth certificate.

I have decided after all not to go to Australia as things seem very unsettled out there. Also I find that before I can do anything in wireless it will be necessary for me to take a degree and I am working to this object. And if one is to take a degree in Science it is better to take it in this country of course. Colwyn Bay has an excellent and mild climate, and so one can work and study there without detriment to one’s health. My two good and generous sisters in New York are helping me financially for my first year’s training.

Women are not being trained as Wireless Operators and special facilities are being given to me because of my enthusiasm in the matter and my keenness to go ahead in the cause of scientific work. The Prime Minister has sent me a little note wishing me success, and if it had not been for this I doubt if I should have been accepted. So you can gather from this that I am helping to blaze another trail for women and I hope to prove worthy of all the confidence and faith that has been put in me. One thing I feel so strongly about in this affair is that one is never too old to start anything. It seems to have astonished quite a few people that I should wish to go in for scientific work at the age of 34 and begin studying for a degree in science now. But I feel just as I did when I began work in the Suffrage Movement, and one is as young as one feels—isn’t one?

I wonder how you are keeping. I saw the notice in the Press and the leading article about your dear mother’s birthday {1}. How devoted you must all be to her and how proud she must be of all of you. I do wish you could have met my mother. You would have loved her. She was a wonderful and good woman. Whenever any of us are in doubt or trouble we always feel her presence and influence near. In life she always specially watched over the weak one and the one needing help and she seems to do this still.

You will be pleased to hear that Annie’s little baby boy {2} is perfectly lovely and is so happy and good.

I am enclosing a stamped addressed envelope. I am staying at the above address for a little holiday—It is a little hotel in an out of way spot in Brittany, and one that has been visited by many Suffragettes.

With love & all good wishes

Ever yours,
Jessie Kenney.

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{1} Edith, Countess of Lytton, celebrated her eightieth birthday this year.

{2} Annie Kenney’s son Warwick.

† Sic.