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In 1915, to coincide with Magna Carta’s 700th anniversary, the suffragette campaigner, Helena Normanton (1882–1957), published this essay on ‘Magna Carta and Women’. Appearing in the periodical The Englishwoman, Normanton’s essay argued that the disenfranchisement of women contravened Magna Carta’s famous clauses 39 and 40. For Normanton, ‘it is expressly contrary to Magna Carta to refuse, deny, or delay, right or justice. The right of the franchise is still unconstitutionally withheld from women, but the spirit of Magna Carta sounds a trumpet-call to them to struggle ever more valiantly to realise its noble ideal.’ Helena Normanton went on to become the first female barrister to practise in England, and she was also founder of the Magna Carta Society.

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