Suffragettes Dress as Famous Women in History Favorite 

Date: 

Jun 17 1911

Location: 

London

On June 17, 1911, a week before the coronation of King George V, women from diverse backgrounds united in costume and with installations over a shared political view - that of rallying the right for women to vote. Known as the Women's Coronation March, women thronged the streets between Blackfriars Bridge and Albert hall in a five-linked chain, dressed for the most part in white. The chain, decorated with flowers and flags, enlivened by matching music, and tied up here and there into a knot by a tableau or a pageant, was in ceaseless movement throughout its entire length.

These suffragettes, dressed as notable women from the past, joined the march and the rally in the Royal Albert Hall. Leading the procession was Marjorie Ann Bryce, dressed as Joan of Arc, that supreme type of militant and conquering womanhood. Other characters included Jenny Lind – the most celebrated soprano of her day; Grace Darling – a heroine who rescued survivors from a boat wrecked off the Farne Islands; Mrs Somerville – a science writer and advocate of higher education for women and women’s suffrage, after whom Somerville College, Oxford, is named.

Forty thousand women from all of Britain’s suffrage societies had paraded through London, along with their male supporters in the Men’s Leagues. The Procession was a counterpoint to the largely male royal processions held to celebrate the coronation. The procession dramatized, before the eyes of a watching empire, both women’s patriotism and their exclusion from the political nation. It mobilized a range of symbolic and material resources in a spectacular display of women’s solidarity in pursuit of their political goal.

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