Photograph of Kitty Marion selling Birth Control Review


Katharina Maria Schafer adopted the name Kitty Marion when she moved from Germany to London in 1889, where she found work as a performer. The discrimination and harassment that women faced in the theatre profession was one of the factors that compelled Marion to join the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union).

Whilst a member of the WSPU, Marion took part in a deputation to the Prime Minister Asquith in 1908, and was first arrested the following year. She was sentenced to a year's hard labour. She went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed while in prison. In total, she served seven prison terms, including three years for setting fire to the Grandstand at Hurst Park racecourse in 1913. In all, she was forcibly fed over 200 times.

During the onset of World War One, Marion was forced to leave Britain due to both her militant actions and her German birth. She settled in New York, and here her activism shifted from female suffrage to advocacy for birth control. We meet Marion in this photograph selling the Birth Control Review (published by Margaret Sanger) in one of three locations she occupied for the following 13 years: Grand Central Station, Harold Square and Coney Island. In an excerpt from her diary, Marion draws a parallel between this and her time with the WSPU selling the Suffragette in Piccadilly Circus.[1] She died in New York in 1944.

[1] Woodworth, C., ‘The Company She Kept: The Radical Activism of Actress Kitty Marion from Piccadilly Circus to Times Square’, Theatre history studies, vol. 32, (2012), p.86

Full title:
Kitty Marion Selling Birth Control Review
1915, New York
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