Sapphic Suffragettes: the key role of lesbians in the fight for votes for women

Hosted by the LSE Library

LSE Library Education Room, United Kingdom


Hilary McCollum

Writer and activist.

One hundred years on from the first granting of the vote in Britain, this talk highlights the key role of lesbians and bi women in the fight for women’s citizenship.

Hilary McCollum explores the evidence that a number of the women leading the campaign for women’s suffrage were lesbians/had relationships with other women. These women include Commander-in-Chief Christabel Pankhurst; Chief Organisers Annie Kenney, Grace Roe and Olive Bartels; and leading militants Emily Wilding Davison, Mary Leigh and Lilian Lenton.

It will also consider how concerns about such relationships fuelled the split in 1907, which gave rise to the Women’s Freedom League. Whilst there has been some recognition of sexual relationships between women within the movement, the extent of such relationships among the WSPU’s (Women’s Social and Political Union) leading figures is underexplored.

Hilary McCollum @hilarymcc7 is a writer and activist based in Northern Ireland. Her novel, Golddigger, was published in May 2015. She has had several plays performed, including Lesbian Style, which explores the lives of lesbian and bisexual women.

Part of LGBT+ History Month / OUTing the Past

The British Library of Political and Economic Science was founded in 1896, a year after the London School of Economics and Political Science. It has been based in the Lionel Robbins Building since 1978 and houses many world class collections, including The Women's Library.

Follow the debate on Twitter: #LSESuffrage18 and #LSELGBT

See other events for LGBT+ History Month.


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