Source 13 - Letter to Maud Arncliffe Sennett

Key members of the WSPU objected to the way in which the organisation was run and attempted to establish a democracy. This proposal was blocked by Emmeline Pankhurst who insisted that the movement required military discipline rather than democracy. Teresa Billington Greig, Charlotte Despard and Edith How-Martyn responded by forming the Women's Freedom League (WFL) in 1907. Many WSPU members also left to join the WFL.

Many policies similar to those of the WSPU were retained - members of the WFL were often willing to break the law to raise the profile of the cause. Some of its members refused to pay their taxes, for example. Unlike both the NUWSS and the WSPU, the WFL did not cease campaigning during WWI as many of its members, including Charlotte Despard, were pacifists.

Maud Arncliffe Sennett was an executive committee member and often spoke at public meetings and rallies.

This letter was saved by Maud Arncliffe Sennett and put in her scrapbook that documented the suffrage campaign. It is from Teresa Billington Greig and Edith How-Martyn, two prominent members of the WFL. Here, they ask for Maud's assistance in putting up campaign posters across London, before the opening of Parliament in October 1908.

Look at source 13 and 14.

  • What do they show you about how the suffragette campaign was organised?
  • What is the importance of communication (particularly keeping everyone well informed) in a campaign?
  • If the campaign was running today, what other methods would be used to communicate a message? Is it easier to run campaigns in the present day? Describe modern-day factors which could both help and hinder the operation of a campaign?

Author / Creator: T. Billington Greig and E. How-Martyn
Date: 1908
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: c.121.g.1, Vol 5