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Tea and Suffrage

In 2006 the BBC Antiques Road Show was filmed at the University of Sydney. One of the items their experts valued was a suffragette tea set manufactured in Staffordshire by Williamsons of Longton. It comprised six art deco cups, saucers and plates, a cake plate, tea pot, milk jug and sugar bowl decorated in the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The set was decorated with the iconic design of the angel of freedom blowing a trumpet and carrying a banner with the word “Freedom” on it.      The tea service was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst for the WSPU’s 1909 exhibition at the Prince’s Skating Rink in London. A Scottish version for use at a WSPU exhibition in Glasgow was produced in 1910. The angel design was also used on the cover of bound copies of the WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women . As soon as I saw the Sydney tea set I wanted one! Alas, these are very rare items and consequently very expensive. Complete sets are rarer still, and it’s more usual to see piece
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The Weird, the Welsh and the Wonderful

A lot of my fiction reading comes from small, independent publishers, particularly those who are reissuing books that have been undeservedly forgotten. There are some real gems to be discovered, and below I’ve picked out some of the more “off the beaten track” books I’ve recently enjoyed.   Reuben Sachs by Amy Levy – Persephone Books You may already know of my fondness for Persephone Books. Founded by biographer Nicola Beauman in 1998, their aim is to publish neglected books, mainly by women working in the mid-twentieth century (but not exclusively). Their books are gorgeous: clad in stylish grey covers with stunning front and end papers taken from contemporary designs by iconic designers such as Liberty’s, Lucienne Day and the Omega Workshop – and they come with matching bookmarks. Throw in a great magazine ( Persephone Biannually ) and a lovely book shop in London’s Lamb Conduit Street, and you’ve got a book lover’s paradise. Reuben Sachs is by a Jewish woman, but has been