Item 42 - The Women’s Bulletin, including a memoir of Evelyn Sharp by Lord Pethick-Lawrence

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The Women’s Bulletin, including a memoir of Evelyn Sharp by Lord Pethick-Lawrence


  • 15 July 1955 (Produção)

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(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)


by The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake

Evelyn Sharp was a valiant suffragette, and a most lovable friend. She had great talents and devoted all of them to the woman’s movement willingly and without stint.

She was one of a distinguished family. Her brother, Cecil, will live in history as the compiler of old English songs and folk dances which he collected from remote parts of England and America. Another brother was head of the London Fire Brigade and originated the particular bell which the fire engines ring to clear the streets. She herself before the outbreak of the militant movement was a journalist and an author of children’s stories. She had an instinctive insight into a child’s mind and her books attained great popularity among the young.

Much of this work she had to abandon as she threw herself more and more into the activities of the votes-for-women cause. She spoke at meetings, she wrote articles for the press, she took part in illegal militancy, suffered imprisonment, and underwent the hunger strike. She never lost her sense of humour, she never became bitter, she never forsook her innate humility.

I well remember the occasion when in 1912 I called on her to make what I suppose was the greatest sacrifice of all for the cause—the abandonment of all her outside work in order to devote her whole time to editing the weekly organ—Votes for Women. I had long foreseen that one day I myself as editor of the paper might be arrested and I had turned over in my mind to whom I could entrust the position during my imprisonment. I could think of no one who could fill it half so well as Evelyn. But I realised that if I approached her before my arrest she was likely to offer all sorts of objections and I decided to wait until the event occurred when I felt sure her loyalty and devotion would sweep all hesitation aside.

But I had not counted upon my arrest being made late in the evening with the instruction my wife and me to prepare ourselves for immediate departure to the police station. The paper was only 24 hours away from going to the press. How was I going to communicate with Evelyn in time? At that moment our front door bell rang. A visitor was announced—Miss Evelyn Sharp! For no particular reason she had selected that evening for coming to see my wife and myself! We were allowed a few minutes’ conversation with her. I put my request. She accepted the onerous responsibility without demur.

Through the troublous months and years that followed until the vote was won she remained at her post either alone or in association with myself and my wife; and in her expert and courageous hands the continuity of the paper and its policy was maintained with dignity and determination.

The friendship between us was sealed by this sacrifice and we were fortunate in finding ourselves in agreement regarding many of the world issues which arose after the women’s victory was won. I was particularly pleased that she was able to make a second literary reputation. Her articles in the press had a pungency all her own without a trace of malice. Among her noteworthy books were a biography of Hertha Ayrton, “The London Child”, “The Child Grown Up” and an autobiography—“Unfinished Adventure”. She also wrote the libretto for Vaughan Williams’ musical comedy “The Poisoned Kiss”. It was an added happiness to my wife and myself when in 1933 she married our old friend Henry Nevinson.

As she passed into the eighties she came to need the care and attention which only a nursing home can provide and I frequently gave myself the pleasure of visiting her there. On these occasions, up till a little while before she died her face would light up with interest as we shared some reminiscence of the suffrage days.

Pethick Lawrence.

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      This description was created by A. C. Green in 2020.

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