Emily Wilding Davison and the British Women’s Suffragette Movement

by Kasie Pleiness on November 19, 2015

9780472119035Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, is a British historical drama inspired by true events from the early British feminist movement. The film focuses on Maud Watts, a fictional 24-year-old laundress who testifies in front of Parliament for the right to vote. She is thrown in jail, where she meets Emily Wilding Davison, a real life heroine of the early feminist movement and friend of activist Emmeline Pankhurst.

Davison was at the center of one of the most memorable images of the British women’s suffrage movement — one that provides a key moment in the new film. On June 4, 1913, she attended the Epsom Derby with unknown intentions. Davison was trampled after running onto the track and attempting to grab the bridle of the King’s horse. While her death transformed her into a heroine, it all but erased her identity. In the Thick of the Fight, by Carolyn P. Collette, makes available the archive of published and unpublished writings of Emily Wilding Davison, in which she continually revisits and restates the principles that guided her. Her writings draw attention away from the singular event of her death, focusing instead on the complexity of Davison’s contributions to modern feminist discourse.

Suffragette is playing now through Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI.

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