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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleCohen, Mrs Leonora
Ref No8SUF/B/018
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 4
Date26 Oct 1974
Extent108:12 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography for Leonora Cohen
DescriptionInterview took place at 9 Whitehall Road, Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales. Also see interview 8SUF/B/019.

Interview summary:

0:00 mins:
Grounding in women's emancipation. Father's work as an artist and meeting her mother in Belfast. Started school aged 7 when her tuberculosis had cleared. Taught embroidery by her mother, who made a living from craftwork following her father's death from TB. Attended Church of England school aged 7-14. Parents' politics. Her mother became a radical through suffrage.

15:00 mins:
Huge admiration for her mother. Brought up vegetarian for health reasons. Her mother's methods of educating her children. Nervous and shy - found militancy difficult. Hard school-life due to being fatherless, but a rich home-life. On leaving school became a millinery apprentice, leading to a salaried position and a successful career.

30:00 mins:
Buyer and Manageress at a shop in Bolton. Met her husband, a Jewish jeweller from a respected Leeds family. Married against her mother's wishes. Retired from millinery and began to support the suffrage movement, with backing of her husband and son. Housed Lilian Lenton for 8 days to assist her escape [to France to evade imprisonment for arson in the suffrage cause, in 1913].

45:00 mins:
Ostracised by friends for her militancy. Struggled for money as husband was dismissed from family business. Worked on munitions during the First World War. Enjoyment of being a homemaker and conflict with suffrage commitments. Anti-liberal stance. Involvement with Leeds Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) fundraising activities, leading to position as secretary. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence.

Relationship with the police resulting in a move to Harrogate before the war. Lilian Lenton. Recruiting working women through the Labour movement with Marie Lloyd. Spies in the ranks obtaining information for the police or the press. Support of reporter from Leeds Citizen newspaper. Dame Ethel Smyth came to see how Lilian Lenton had escaped. How she came to know Lilian Lenton and her escape. Temperance views. Meeting at Caxton Hall with Emmeline Pankhurst in the chair.

75:00 mins:
Deputation to Lloyd George and Sir Edward Grey at India House in Whitehall where she put the case for women tailors [1913]. Start of militancy. Window-smashing campaign mooted. Planned and executed own protest at Tower of London, smashing the crown jewels [1913]. Marched to Leman Street Police station and on to Thames Police Court. Provided her own defence in sessions in London. Bailed out by Mrs Morrison [Sybil Morrison ?]. Stayed on in London to attend a meeting at the Pavilion Music Hall. Spoke alongside Dame Ethel Smythe with Emmeline Pankhurst as chair.

90:00 mins:
Admiration for Emmeline Pankhurst. Meeting Christabel Pankhurst in Leeds. Annie Besant and theosophy as influences. The hostess system for suffragettes coming to London. Mrs Morrison's character. Addison Gardens.

105:00 mins:
Reasons for selecting the Tower for protest.
Related Record8SUF/B/019
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 06 Side 1-2
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