Cartoon captioned 'Magna Carta' in publication 'Votes for Women'


Established in 1907, Votes for Women was the official newspaper of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which campaigned for women’s suffrage in Britain. The issue for 27 January 1911 depicted the barons presenting Magna Carta to King John, with an accompanying essay outlining ‘How Militant Methods Won the Great Charter’. By claiming Magna Carta to be the product of aggression, both the artist Alfred Pearse (1855-1933; under the pseudonym ‘A Patriot’) and essayist Joseph Clayton legitimised the suffragettes’ increasing use of direct action. The front page image of King John was pasted into this scrapbook owned by the suffragette, Maud Arncliffe Sennett (1862-1936). 11 months later, Sennett herself was prosecuted for breaking the windows of the offices of the Daily Mail, because the newspaper had failed to report the holding of a WSPU rally.

Full title:
Cartoon captioned “Magna Carta” in Votes for Women, vol. iv (new series), no. 151 (27 January 1911)
27 January 1911
Held by:
British Library
C.121.g.1 (Arncliffe Sennett Collection, vol. 13)

Related articles

Magna Carta in the 20th century

Article by:
Alex Lock

Throughout the 20th century, Magna Carta inspired figures across the political spectrum, from suffragists and fascists to those drafting human rights legislation. Dr Alexander Lock explores the charter’s relationship to the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and modern America.

Radicalism and suffrage

Article by:
Alex Lock

Dr Alexander Lock discusses Magna Carta’s relationship to parliamentary reform and to radicals fighting oppressive government. Find out how this medieval peace settlement was reinvented as a potent symbol of liberty and justice.

Related collection items

Related people