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Showing posts from November, 2011

Prose and Propaganda

Those marvellous chapettes at Persephone Books have done it again with the re-publication of Constance Maud’s 1911 suffragette novel No Surrender . It tells the story of a group of suffragettes, particularly Jenny Clegg, Lancashire mill girl, and aristocratic Mary O’Neill. It’s unashamedly a propaganda novel, but that’s not to say it isn’t a fascinating read. Maud has a wonderful ability to move between varied scenes: cotton mills, the gardens of a country house, a London dinner party, a prison cell. If you’re looking for an invaluable insight to what it was like to be a suffragette as well as an enjoyable read, this is it. Indeed, it is the book’s ability to tell it like it was that makes it so compelling. It is, as the blurb notes, “faithful to real events”. But is it? Or should it, like any propaganda, be approached with caution? Are Maud’s “noble” and “unswerving” suffragettes as much products of the idealist’s imagination as is Mrs Humphrey Ward’s (president of the Anti-Suffrage