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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitlePapers of Emily Wilding Davison
Ref No7EWD
Box Fetch NoMICROFILM BOX 1-2; Boxes 1-3 (use microfilm only); OS04-OS05; archive badge boxes 4 & 10; PC6.9; Archive Textile Box 03, 09, 10, 11; Archive Ceramics box 01-04
Extent3 A boxes (use microfilm only), 2 OS boxes, 2 badge boxes and objects
Admin Biographical HistoryEmily Wilding Davison (1872-1913) was born in Blackheath in 1872. She attended Kensington High School and then Holloway College. However, two years into her course her father died and she was forced to leave to become a governess. She was subsequently able to pay for a course at St Hugh's College at Oxford. She finally sat her final examinations in 1893 when she took a first-class degree. She was employed by the Church of England School for Girls in Edgbaston from 1895-6, moving to Seabury School in West Worthing during the next three years. She then moved again to Berkshire where she became a governess until 1906, the year in which she joined the Women's Social & Political Union. She was employed by the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) as chief steward at the Hyde Park procession in Jun 1908 and was one of the nine arrested in Mar 1909 when a deputation from the Caxton Hall to the Houses of Parliament was prevented from seeing the Prime Minister. She was arrested a second time in Jul 1909 when after interrupting a meeting in Limehouse addressed by Lloyd George. This time the sentence was doubled to two months and Davison went on hunger strike. She was released after five days, beginning the long series of arrests, imprisonments and releases after force-feeding that would make up much of the rest of her life. In Sep 1909 she was arrested with Dora Marsden for throwing balls labelled 'bomb' through the window of a meeting in Manchester, received a two month sentence and was released after two and a half days having gone on hunger strike. Unable to find work, she became a paid organiser of the WSPU from Apr 1910. She managed to enter and hide in the House of Commons three times between 1910 and 1911, and was the first to embark on a campaign of setting fire to pillar-boxes. During her imprisonment in Holloway Prison in 1912, she took part in the hunger strike campaign along with other suffragettes and was force fed on numerous occasions, as well as throwing herself over landing railings on two separate occasions, incurring injuries which would continue to afflict her. On the 4 Jun 1913, she tried to seize the bridle of Anmer, the King's horse running at the Derby. She received head injuries and never recovered consciousness, dying on the 8 Jun 1913. Her funeral was preceded by a large funeral cortege that became one of the iconic events of the campaign for Women's Suffrage. The service took place at St George's Church, then the coffin was taken by train to the family grave in Morpeth in Northumberland. Her hunger strike medal, issued by the WSPU, was buried with her. After her death, she became an almost mythic figure in popular culture and her memory was perpetuated both within the movement and beyond.
Custodial HistoryThe Emily Wilding Davison archive was deposited with the Fawcett Library by Mrs Ruth Yates, daughter-in-law of Rose Lamartine Yates, in two accessions in Dec 1985 and Jan 1986. Yates had contacted Dr and Mrs Pankhurst (then City of London Polytechnic Librarian) in Oct 1985 after reading an article about Sylvia Pankhurst (by Richard Pankhurst) which mentioned a missing portrait of Mary Gawthorpe. This was in Yates' possession together with the other papers in the collection.

Most of the material relating to Emily Wilding Davison came into the possession of the Lamartine Yates family through Thomas Lamartine Yates, a lawyer who represented EWD's family at the inquest into her death. The archive also includes some of Rose Lamartine Yates' own papers. RL Yates was a member of the Wimbledon branch of the WSPU and was involved in the founding of the Suffragette Fellowship in the 1930s. Through this connection, many of the items of suffragette memorabilia seem to have been brought together, originally for the Suffragette Fellowship's Women's Record Room. The Suffragette Fellowship initially held the material at the Minerva Club in Brunswick Square, London. Then, in May 1939, the Reading room was transferred to 6 Great Smith Street before closing in Sep due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The records were then distributed to places of safety. The papers seem to have remained with the family until their deposit in the Fawcett (subsequently The Women's) Library in 1985/06.
DescriptionThe archive consists of personal papers (1909-1913), including employment papers (1913), personal correspondence (1909-1913), writings (1911-1913), papers related to membership of Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) (1912-1913) and to her death (1913-15); papers of Rose and Tom Lamartine Yates related to the Davison inquest; WSPU papers (1905-1914), and papers of other suffrage organisations (1910-1914); papers of the Suffragette Fellowship and the Women's Record Room (1936-1940); photographs (1908-1914), miscellaneous items including 'Justice Tea' teabags, revolving picture of 'elusive Christabel', newspapers and cuttings (1910-1988); posters and illustrations (1908-1914); papers related to the Cat and Mouse Act (1913); artefacts; additional papers (1980s).
Publication NoteThe archive has been used for research towards books on Emily Wilding Davison, including Ann Morley and Liz Stanley's 'The Life and Death of Emily Wilding Davison'.
Related MaterialSC/19 consists of additional correspondence and papers relating to the life and death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, purchased at auction in April 2022.The Women's Library Museum Collection contains photographs of Emily Wilding Davison's funeral. The Women's Library Archives contain additional press cuttings and ephemera related to Emily amongst the archives of several suffrage campaigners. These include a programme for memorial service of Emily Wilding Davison pasted into the Suffrage Scrapbook reference 10/45. The papers of Mary Leigh Browne, believed to have been a great friend of Emily, held at The Women's Library, include a file of receipts, ref 7MLB/C/3, in which is an envelope labelled (in biro) 'The Emily Davison, Miss' containing a small, worn key and a receipt from 'F W Woolworth, 136 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY', apparently for 25 cents.
The National Archives holds papers in the Metropolitan Police Archive, MEPO/2/1551 and in the Prison Commission Archive, PCOM/8/174. Royal Holloway College, Egham, Surrey, contains a reference in the register of students, RHC AR/200/1, p. 14.
As at 2007 stills and film footage were made available on the web at A search for 'Emily Davison' resulted in contemporary footage of her being injured in 'The Derby 1912 and 1913' and her subsequent funeral.
Related Record9/20
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThis collection is partially available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library @ LSE in advance of their first visit.
* Papers are available on microfilm only.
* Photographs are available for research.
* Some artefacts are currently UNAVAILABLE as they are awaiting conservation (from Jan 2006).
Former Reference NumberFL554-FL555
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