Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism -- Women's Fight for Change

Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism -- Women's Fight for Change

by Tessa Boase


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


'Shocking and entertaining. The surprising story of the campaigning women who changed Britain.' Virginia Nicholson

‘Full of fascinating historical detail and colourful characters… A great story, beautifully told.’ Kate Humble

When Mrs Pankhurst stormed the House of Commons with her crack squad of militant suffragettes in 1908, she wore on her hat a voluptuous purple feather. This is the intriguing story behind that feather.
Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women’s campaign captured the public imagination. Its aim was radical: to stamp out the fashion for feathers in hats. Leading the fight was a character just as heroic as Emmeline Pankhurst, but with opposite beliefs. Her name was Etta Lemon, and she was anti-fashion, anti-feminist – and anti-suffrage.
Mrs Lemon has been forgotten by history, but her mighty society lives on. Few, today, are aware that Britain’s biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, was born through the determined efforts of a handful of women, led by the indomitable Mrs Lemon. While the suffragettes were slashing paintings and smashing shop windows, Etta Lemon and her local secretaries were challenging ‘murderous millinery’ all the way up to Parliament.
This gripping narrative explores two singular heroines – one lionised, the other forgotten – and their rival, overlapping campaigns. Moving from the feather workers’ slums to the highest courtly circles, from the first female political rally to the first forcible feeding, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather is a unique journey through a society in transformation.
This is a highly original story of women stepping into the public sphere, agitating for change – and finally finding a voice.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781781316542
Publisher: Aurum Press
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Tessa Boase read English at Oxford, and has worked as a scriptwriter, a voiceover artist and an editor at The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. As a freelance journalist she has contributed to a wide variety of publications. Her first book, The Housekeeper’s Tale, was published by Aurum in 2014. 

She is married with children and lives between St Leonards on Sea, and Lazio, Italy. 

Table of Contents

Leading Characters vii

Prologue ix

Part 1 Feathers 1

1 Alice Battershall 2

2 Inspector Lakeman 8

3 97 Lever Street 15

4 Women Undercover 19

5 'Crewe Factory Girl' 23

6 The Skylark 26

Part 2 Birds 31

7 Young Etta 32

8 Young Emmeline 40

9 The Train Carriage 43

10 Of Bird-Wearing Age 47

11 The Tea Party 53

12 Emily Williamson 62

13 A Very Ambitious Title 67

14 Flight 72

15 Impracticable Dreamers 76

16 Courting the Men 82

17 Winifred, Duchess of Portland 88

18 The Crème de la Crème 97

Part 3 Hat's 105

19 Dying to Get Out 106

20 The Millinery Detectives 111

21 Queen Alix 115

22 'Egret' Bennett 121

23 Deeds Not Words 128

24 The Frontal Attack 132

25 Mrs Pattinson 137

26 The Countess Fabbricotti 142

27 Royal Approval 150

28 The 'Suffragette' 156

Part 4 Votes 161

29 Onto the Street 162

30 The Antis 174

31 The Feminine Arts 186

32 The Advice of Men 195

33 Maternal Weakness 207

34 Peak Rage 219

35 The Feeding Tube 229

36 Dumb Creation 235

Part 5 Power 241

37 At War 242

38 The Ballot Box 249

39 But What Do Women Care? 256

40 Etta and Emmeline: Two Portraits 263

41 The Coup 272

Epilogue 283

Notes 290

Select Bibliography 305

Acknowledgements 310

Index 313

Picture Credits 320

Customer Reviews