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Art, Theatre and Women’s Suffrage


An overview of the artists, designers, writers and actors involved in the long campaign for women’s suffrage.


Art, Theatre and Women’s Suffrage

by Irene Cockroft and Susan Croft

  • An exploration of the creative explosion that occurred when the campaign for the vote brought together the talents of so many female writers and artists at the start of the 20th century.
  • An overview of the artists, designers, writers and actors involved in the long campaign for women’s suffrage.
  • Originally published to coincide with a major exhibition on the Suffragettes in 2010. Writers and artists included: Cicely Hamilton, Chris St. John, Inez Bensusan, Elizabeth Robins, Ernestine Mills, Pamela Colman Smith, Mary Lowndes, Emily Ford and Sylvia Pankhurst. (See more on The Suffragettes, here.)
About the Book

According to figures from the Centre for Women and Democracy, the percentage of female MPs elected on May 6th, 2010 had risen to only 21.5% of the total – about a dozen extra women in the Commons.

At a time when many are reluctant to adopt the label ‘feminist’, and when the movement towards proper female representation is almost at a standstill, this timely celebration of creativity during the suffragette campaign reminds us that women’s role in the politics of the nation should not be taken for granted.

From the sublime enamelled pendants of the artist Ernestine Mills to the extreme performances of the Actresses’ Franchise League, this book explores the many weird and wonderful ways the suffragettes chose to publicise their cause.

Art, Theatre and Women’s Suffrage allows us to marvel at the imagination, talent and sheer commitment of some quite brilliant individuals and their work.



“This book is a useful, straightforward first stop for a student readership.” Viv Gardner, New Theatre Quarterly, Vol 28, issue 1, February 2012

About the Authors

Irene Cockroft is an independent exhibition curator, author and lecturer specialising in the story of women’s involvement in the late 19th and early 20th-century Arts & Crafts and Suffrage movements. Irene is the great-niece of suffrage artist and enameller Ernestine Mills (1871-1959). She represents a direct link with the Women’s Suffrage campaign. Her writing includes New Dawn Women – Women In The Arts & Crafts and Suffrage Movements At The Dawn Of The 20th Century (Watts Gallery, 2005).

Dr Susan Croft has done extensive research and published widely on women playwrights. Her work includes Classic Plays by Women (Aurora Metro Books, 2010); Votes for Women and other plays (Aurora Metro Books, 2009) and She Also Wrote Plays (Faber 2001). From 1997 to 2005 she was the Curator of Contemporary Performance at the Theatre Museum in London.


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