Lady Constance Lytton
The letter, dated October 1909, illustrates the attitude of women from different social classes to the struggle for the vote. It refers to Lady Constance Lytton and Mary Leigh who were militant suffragettes who took part in violent demonstrations against the government and published accounts of their treatment in prison.
Lady Constance Lytton, a member of a wealthy and prominent English family, took an active interest in politics and campaigned for votes for women and prison reform. In January 1909 at the age of 40, despite her privileged background, she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. By October of that year, she was in Holloway Prison for the second time, sentenced to fourteen days with hard labour for demonstrating and breaking windows. She protested against the treatment of suffragettes by the authorities and was prepared to go on hunger strike and be force fed alongside her fellow campaigners. Her behaviour, like that of many suffragettes, shocked some sections of society and inspired others.
Print the letter and transcript below as a Word document [Rich Text Format, 1.9MB, new window].
You can read more about the actions of suffragettes in Scotland.
October 24 1909
An anonymous Working class woman's letter to Con,
Oct 24 1909
Dear Lady Constance Lytton
Women like ourselves who from force of circumstances
are unable to take a place in the fighting line do very
sincerely appreciate the noble self-sacrifice and devotion
of those like yourself, Marie Leigh, and the other brave women,
who are ready to face even the barbarous tortures
inflicted by the so-called 'Liberal Government'.
Yours very sincerely, A cowardly sympathiser.
(National Records of Scotland reference: GD433/2/339/42)