Chiswick's Role in The Suffragette Movement

How The Vote Was Won: Art Theatre and Women's Suffrage

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Aurora Metro in association with The Museum of Richmond presents the exhibition How The Vote Was Won celebrating the incredible artistic and political achievements of the suffragettes.

This unique exhibition focuses on the work of writers and artists who were involved in the movement. The Actresses’ Franchise League (AFL) wrote, directed and performed dozens of plays all over the country to raise awareness among ordinary people of the need for full citizenship and political representation. The Artists’ Suffrage League created posters, postcards and banners for the movement while others produced jewellery and a variety of crafted objects from silver and enamel to bedspreads and clothing to raise money for the cause. Two Chiswick women were central to the movement:

Inez Bensusan (1871-1967) was born in Australia where women gained the vote in 1902. In Britain she rapidly became actively involved in running the AFL Play Department. Bensusan went on to set up The Women’s Theatre season at the Coronet Theatre in 1913. During the First World War, The Women’s Theatre performed extensively for troops in France.

In later years she settled in Chiswick, co-founding the House of Arts to encourage theatre, art and music locally. She died in 1967 aged 96.

Elizabeth Baker (1876-1962), a shorthand typist who began writing plays in 1907, is best-known for Chains, about the entrapment of men and women by work and social expectations. Chains was first performed by the Play Actors Subscription Society at the Court Theatre in 1909, then at the Duke of York's Theatre with Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson in the cast (revived at the Orange Tree, Richmond, 2007.) She lived in Esmond Rd, Chiswick.


Exhibition: The Museum of Richmond

 Old Town Hall, Richmond

 Surrey TW9 1TP

 1st May – 4th September 2010 

Curators: Irene Cockroft and Susan Croft


Talk: Shirley Williams 27th May, 7.30pm at the Library Room, Old Town Hall, Richmond.

£5/£3 concs. Tel: 020 8332 1141

Playreading: How The Vote Was Won by Cicely Hamilton and Chris St John, at the Orange Tree Theatre, 1 Clarence St, Richmond on Saturday 19th June 11.00am

£10/8.00 concs. Box office: 020 8940 3633

For more info contact: Pagan Hopkinson, Marketing Officer  

May 14, 2010


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