Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What Sylvia said about Dora


(Further to London Socialist Historians Spring Term seminar held on Monday 17th March 2014: Dora Montefiore and World War One, by Ted Crawford.)

Source: E. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals. (1931). Virago pb. 1977. Index gives 6 references for Montefiore, Mrs. Dora, as follows:

p. 178 (in Chapter section headed “Student Days”: the date seems to be 1900-01, Sylvia's first year in London. She had won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art.)

… I made, unexpectedly, my first suffrage speech. Dora Montefiore, whom we had met in Manchester, had announced a Sunday open-air meeting in Ravenscourt Park, an unusual event for the suffragists of those quiet days. I went, intending to be a spectator, but found Mrs. Montefiore alone, a shower of rain having deterred the other speakers. She spoke of abandoning the meeting as she had never taken the chair in the open air, and did not think she could collect a crowd. My tenacity was aroused. “We can’t give it up!” I said. She replied that I must take the chair for her. There was not so much as a soap-box to take! […] We were well received. The affair seemed tame enough when over; ground neither for nervousness nor elation.


p.184 (1905 - section headed “The W.S.P.U. appears in the lobby”)

Introduced in April, the [Unemployed Workman] Bill was hung up for two months… Impassioned protests… secured a second reading; but Government utterances then prepared the way for its withdrawal. Lansbury, Will Crooks, Dora Montefiore, and others at work amongst the East End unemployed, marched a thousand destitute women to Westminster, and led a deputation of the most wretched into the presence of Balfour, who protected himself with a scent spray from the smell of their poverty…

p.192 (Chapter II, Militant Tactics Begin)

… Annie Kenney came up to stay with me at Park Walk. Mrs. Montefiore took her to the East End, and introduced her to the women of the unemployed movement there. Several of these women agreed to help in the struggle for the vote…

p.214 (section headed “Deputation to Campbell-Bannerman”)

In 1904 Dora B. Montefiore had raised the ancient slogan “Taxation without representation is tyranny!” and for refusal to pay her income tax had twice suffered a distraint upon her goods. On the W.S.P.U. agreeing to champion her stand, she now barred her door against the bailiff. Her house, on the Upper Mall, Hammersmith, “Fort Montefiore” as it became known, was surrounded by a high wall with a stoutly-built doorway. The “siege” began on May 24th, 1906, and continued for six weeks. Meetings were held outside, and Theresa Billington was photographed passing a loaf over the wall. Eventually the brokers forced an entry, and a piece of furniture was seized and auctioned.

p.228-9 (Chapter VI, Holloway Prison)

When Parliament reassembled on October 23rd, 1906, the W.S.P.U., as yet a small though noisy crowd, was clamouring at its doors… [As] had been arranged, an attempt was made to hold a meeting in the Lobby of the House. The order was given to clear the Lobby… The scrimmage continued in the Square outside and [list of 10 women including Mrs. Montefiore, Adela Pankhurst and  Annie Kenney] were arrested.

p. 237 (Chapter VI, Holloway Prison)

[On October 29th] Mrs. Montefiore, horrified to discover her head infested by lice, owing to the lack of precautions against the spread of vermin in the prison, precipitately gave the same undertaking [bound over to keep the peace for six months] and came out.

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