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Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is known in many countries as a Feminist who played a leading part in the world-wide Suffrage Campaign before the War.

She often says she was born to take part in the great Movement of Thought, which in her life time has entirely transformed the Status of women in every sphere of life. At any rate she remembers that as a very young child, slighting references to women made carelessly, aroused in her a burning protest, and a desire to become their champion. This desire found outlet first in Social Service, including the founding (with Miss Mary Neal) of Maison Espérance—a Business for working girls with the 8 hours day—a minimum wage, and the many activities associated with it.

In the ear 1905 came the clarion call of the Militanti† Suffrage Movement. In 1906 Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence became Treasurer for the Campaign and during the next 6 years there was raised in one organisation, a fund of a Quarter of Millions {1} sterling.

Together with her husband she started the first Militant Suffrage Paper Votes for Women, which they carried on as co-Editors.

In 1908 she was arrested for attempting to speak in the Lobby of the House of Commons, after the refusal of the Government to receive a Deputation of Women (that had come to put their case) had been announced to them by the Police. Subsequently she was arrested twice for leading a Deputation to Parliament, and once under the old Conspiracy laws. In the latter case she was sentenced to 9 months and placed in the 1st division. The majority of her fellow suffragists in prison were not accorded the same treatment as political prisoners. They protested by the Hunger Strike, and she made common cause with them, was forcibly fed and subsequently released, having served five weeks of the 9 months sentence.

In the Autumn of 1914 a cable summoned her to New York to address a vast Suffrage Meeting in the Carnegie Hall. On that occasion she helped to inaugurate the campaign which two years later led to the political enfranchisement of the women of the State. Further she called up {2} the Women of America (this the greatest of the neutral Powers) not to become obsessed by the War spirit but to combine their allegiance to the principle of arbitration and to work for a real settlement rather than a fight to the finish. She travelled from the East to the West of America, speaking everywhere of the Solidarity of women as the Mothers of the human race and therefore the {3} natural Peacemakers. As a result of her campaign the Women[’]s Peace Party (afterwards the American Section of the Women’s International League) was formed {4} with Jane Addams as its president, and the two women sailed with fifty American delegates to take part in an International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April 1915. It will be remembered that this Congress representing 16 nations was unanimous in urging a Peace by Negotiation, and that a delegation appointed at the Hague was received by several Chancellors in Europe, by the President of the Swiss Republic and by the United States; it was also received by the Pope. On behalf of the women of the world this delegation pleaded for a continuous Council of Mediation and Reconciliation to be formed by the Neutral States, in order to conduct negotiations between the warring Powers, and if possible secure an understanding and a[n] agreement which would avoid a fight to the finish and its consequent devastation of the whole of Europe.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence has continued up to the present moment to work towards the Removal of all legal Restrictions upon the equality and freedom of the sexes, also towards and for the practical realization of the solidarity of the Human race (rooted in the Solidarity of women of all races as political {5} Mothers) which demands the abolition of Poverty and War.

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Carbon copy of a typed original, corrected by hand. ‘? About 1920’ has been added by hand at the top of the first sheet. A few mistypings which are not easy to represent in print or describe briefly have been corrected, as noted below.

{1} ‘of Millions’ mistyped.

{2} Perhaps a slip for ‘upon’.

{3} Mistyped.

{4} Altered from, or to, ‘founded’.

{5} Altered from ‘potential’.

† Sic.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, to accompany an article by her published in South Africa

(Carbon copy.)

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Transcript

Mrs. Pethick Lawrence. Biographical notes.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence[,] writer of the following article, recently made a tour in South Africa and was brought in touch with many of the leaders of public opinion in this country. She was known in advance by many South Africans as a prominent leader of the Women’s Movement in Great Britain. She was a colleague of Mrs. Pankhurst in the Women’s Social and Political Union, and is the President of the Women’s Freedom League. Her husband is in the present British Government and holds the office of Financial secretary to the Treasury.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is one of the founders of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom which she mentions in this article. This League has its headquarters in Geneva and has national branches in twenty-six countries and correspondence centres in a further sixteen countries where branches are not yet formed. All her life she has been deeply impressed with the wast[e]fulness of war and irrationality of war. In her opinion war never settles any question, on the contrary it unsettles everything. During the Boer War, her husband was Secretary of the Conciliation Committee.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence was an intimate friend of Miss Emily Hobhouse, and while in this country she renewed her old friendship with women like Mrs. Ex-President Steyn who worked with Miss Hobhouse to mitigate some of the horrible conditions brought about by the Boer War

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‘? 1930’ has been added by hand at the top of the first sheet, together with the file number ‘2069’.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Typed, with handwritten corrections.)

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Transcript

Biography of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is well known all over the world as a feminist who played a leading part in the world wide Woman Suffrage Campaign before the war She is also known as an internationalist who during the four years of the great war brought all the influence she possesses as a public speaker upon the people of her own country and upon the people in America to work for a Peace by negotiation and reconciliation, rather than a Peace dictated by the victorious armies.

In the Autumn of 1914, a cable summoned her to New York to address a vast suffrage meeting at the Carnegie Hall. On that occasion she helped to inaugurate the campaign which two years later led to the political enfranchisement of the women of that State. As a result of her campaign the American section of the Women’s International League was formed at Washington in January 1915, with Jane Addams as its President, and the two women sailed with fifty American women delegates to take part in an International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April 1915.

At the Conference of the Women’s International League in Zurich in May 1919, she registered her vigorous protest against the terms of the Versailles Treaty which had been published a few hours before the meeting was held.

In June 1920, Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence represented her country in an International Peace meeting in the German Reichstag in Berlin. She also spoke in the Mozarteum Great Hall in Salzburg, in the Town Hall, Vienna and in other towns on the “Women’s International League and Constructive Peace”.

She has since visited America twice and has been once to South Africa where she took part in the celebrations that welcomed the granting of woman suffrage in South Africa, the last dominion in the British Commonwealth to enfranchise its women. Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is President of the Women’s Freedom League and vice-President of the Women’s International League, British Section,

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‘Revised March 1933’ has been written at the top of the first sheet, together with the file number ‘2069’.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, for a broadcast in Australia

(Carbon copy, with handwritten corrections.)

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Transcript

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is well known all the world over as an ardent champion of liberty and as an opponent of war and all other antagonisms of race, class, or sex which threaten the freedom of the human spirit.

One of her earliest recollections is of the great fight which her father put up in Weston-super-Mare for the right of free speech over a Salvation Army case; and his ultimate victory [in the Beatty v Gilbanks judgment] {1} establishing an important tradition of liberty made her very proud to be his daughter.

When she was only eight years old she fought her own first battle for democracy. At her school a barbarous and antiquated rule forbade the pupils to speak to the domestic servants in the house. Emmeline Pethick broke this rule and was “sent to Coventry” for a whole week as a punishment. On another occasion, when one of the head mistresses was relating to the girls with great approval an assault made with rotten eggs upon the late Henry Bradlaugh, she horrified the school by protesting in the presence of the lady and before them all that Bradlaugh’s atheism was preferable to the kind of Christianity that resorted to such cowardly persecution.

In her teens her spirit was fired to a sense of injustice by the reading of many books such as “Adam Bede”, Goethe’s “Faust[”], and “The Story of a South African Farm”.—Later in life Olive Schreiner the author of the latter was to become one of her intimate friends.

Determined to do her part she enlisted as a “Sister” in Mrs. Prior Hughes’ West London Mission. In these {2} days the working girls of London had no holiday at all during the year except Sundays and bank holidays. “Sister Emmeline” personally visited a number of employers and persuaded them not to sack their girls if they absented themselves for a week in the summer. Of course they got no wages but Sister Emmeline herself took them away into the country.

Later she and another sister founded the Espérance Working Girls Club which became famous through introducing the old Morris Dances into every county of England.

It was during a performance by the Esperance Club that she first met her future husband, and their common Cornish heritage at once drew them together. The guests at the wedding included the old women of St. Pancras Workhouse, the members of the Canning Town Men’s Club, and Mr. Lloyd George then known mainly as an opponent of the Boer War. After marriage they decided to unite their two surnames of Pethick and Lawrence and for a time their interests were absorbed in the London Evening paper of which Mr. Lawrence was the editor.

But it was not long before the militant suffrage movement with its insistent challenge to Authority was to claim all their attention. The name of Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence coupled with those of Mrs. Pankhurst and “Christabel” was on everybody’s lips. Six times she faced arrest and imprisonment, once going through the hunger strike and being forcibly fed. As Treasurer of the W.S.P.U. (Women’s Social and Political Union) her speeches at the Royal Albert Hall, London, were famous and her success was demonstrated by the gathering of no less than a quarter of a million pounds for the movement.

She and her husband edited the weekly newspaper “Votes for Women” which rapidly attained a large circulation. It chronicled at one time two hundred meetings a week on behalf of the organisation & reported that at a demonstration in Hyde Park the audience had been estimated by the Times newspaper in the neighbourhood of half a million.

On one occasion when Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence was announced to take the chair at a meeting from which it was intended that women should start a march to the House of Commons, a body of students broke into the hall for the express purpose of preventing the meeting. Mrs. Lawrence came in and mounted the platform and addressed the students. She told them that as men who had already secure[d] the rights that women were struggling for she was confident that their sense of fair play would not allow them to stand between women and their freedom, and she called upon them one by one to withdraw. So great was the power of her personality that they went out row by row and the meeting took place as originally arranged.

On another occasion addressing the jury in a law court she explained and defended the militant methods of the suffragettes in the following words:—“This great movement is, as you heard counsel for the plaintiff say, gathering momentum every day like a great flood. Now, when a tide is dammed back it overflows, and inevitable destruction is wrought. But men do not argue with a flood; they do not put the responsibility on the flood; they put the responsibility upon, and they argue with, those who have dammed back the stream and prevented it from flowing in its ordinary channel.”

“The Story of the progress of the human race is the story of the birth of great moral ideas, new ideas that have pushed their way into the common life, either by the process of evolution or by the process of revolution. Evolution is the natural and the right process, but there have been occasions in history, as you know very well, where the process of evolution has been obstructed by those who held the sceptre or rule. That is the position at the present moment.” Mr. Justice Darling who tried the case said at the opening of his summing up that hers was the “most eloquent speech he had ever heard in that Court”.

During the years of the great war Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence used all her powers as a speaker and writer to urge upon her countryment the need for securing a Peace by negotiation and reconciliation rather than one dictated by victories on the field of battle.

Summoned to the U.S.A. in the Autumn of 1914 to address a vast suffrage meeting in the Carnegie Hall (inaugurating the campaign which two years later led to the adoption of the women’s vote throughout the whole of the United States), she made a tour of that country speaking both on questions of peace and of women’s disabilities. Largely as a result of her campaign the American section of the Women’s International League was formed with Jane Addams as its President; and the two women sailed with fifty American delegates to take part in the International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April, 1915.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence strongly disapproved and protested against the terms of the Versailles treaty which she clearly foresaw contained the germs of future trouble in Europe. After the war was over she travelled over the Continent and was the first English person to address meetings in the principal cities of Austria. She also spoke in the Reichstag in an international conference.

Many parts of the British Empire have secured visits from her. In Canada, India, and South Africa she has held many public meetings. On more than one occasion she has hoped to come to Australia to return the visit of Miss Vida Goldstein, but so far circumstances have always intervened to prevent her.

During recent years she has continued to urge the claims of peace and disarmament and to champion the right of the married women to the choice of her own nationality and the character of her employment. In all her activities Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence has had the active support of her husband who was Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the late Government in England.

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At the top of the first sheet is written the file number ‘2069’ and the following note: ‘Compiled by F.W.P.L August 1934 & sent to Mrs Littlejohn in Australia for a Broadcast in Sydney.’

{1} The square brackets were added in pencil.

{2} i.e. ‘those’.

Carbon copy of a letter from F. W. Pethick-Lawrence to Margery Fry

Asks for her help in securing a position for Yella Hertzka as the head of a training colony to equip German refugees for agricultural work overseas.

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Transcript

10th. May. 1939.

Dear Miss Fry,

I am very sorry you are not able to be with us on June 6th, but of course I realize how extremely busy you are.

I feel I must apologise to you for what I am going to do. I want to appeal for your consideration on a very special case and if possible I want you to give your help, although I know that you are already overwhelmed with all kinds of problems.

Mrs. Yella Hertzka of Vienna (an agricultural expert) is a refugee in England. She has been a leading spirit in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom since 1918 and is a very gifted and effective person. Her main qualification is that of a creative garden and farm architect. She has been the head of a horticultural college in Vienna for twenty or thirty years, has travelled largely and understands soil and climate and how to bring virgin soil under cultivation, as well as how to arouse the enthusiasm of ignorant and hopeless people. In addition to this technical knowledge, she has a very brillliant† temperament and is a born leader.

All this information is leading up to this one point. Frau Hertzka is exactly the right person to put in charge of a German Refugee Training Colony which is to equip men for pioneer agricultural work in distant lands, and it seems to those who know her a tragic waste of her of special qualifications not to use her in this capacity. I know that the chief farm colonies are run by the Friends Society and that is one reason why I am writing to you as a friend. I know that they are very short of money; I know that they are under a sort of obligation to employ British gardeners and so forth, but if you could meet Frau Hertzka, I think that you would recognise that she would be a unique asset to any farm training scheme. She does not want any more than just enough to live on; she is passionately content with the country and with the work on the land, but she does want freedom to organize so that she may carry out, so far as funds will allow, her creative ideas. It is very difficult for a refugee to insist with any emphasis upon her special qualifications. A person like Frau Hertzka must have an advocate, and this advocate must be a friend and a person of influence[;] that is why I venture to write to you about this matter because you are the only person I can think of who could get anything done.

Yours sincerely,
[blank]

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† Sic.