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Historian Helps Tell the True Story of the Suffragettes in New Dramatised TV Documentary
Published: 7th June 2018, 4:39pm
Millicent Fawcett's Hyde Park address A new drama-documentary broadcast on BBC One has brought the true story of the Suffragettes to life, commemorating 100 years since some women secured the right to vote.

In dramatised scenes, historian and TV presenter Lucy Worsley joins a group of suffragettes from the militant organisation, the Women's Social Political Union, where she follows them on a trail from peaceful protests to increasingly illegal and dangerous acts.

Suffragette expert, Professor Krista Cowman, from the University of Lincoln’s School of History and Heritage, worked as an historical advisor on the programme, from the early concept stage to post-production.  The drama investigates what drove the suffragettes to break the law, the prison conditions they experienced, and the ways in which the press responded to the suffragettes and their own use of publicity and branding to counteract the negative portrayals.

“Programmes like this are incredibly important in helping to bring the true story of the Suffragettes to a new audience,” said Professor Cowman, who was previously an historical advisor on the 2015 feature film Suffragette. “They allow us to see what life was really like for these young women and how and why they committed the acts they have become famed for. Some of their acts can only be described as terrorism, but it’s important to remember that these women were not full citizens so they could not vote to change the law.”

Professor Cowman has recently completed a project with VOTE 100, the UK Parliament’s official centenary body, looking at what happened to suffrage campaigns during the First World War.  

This work, funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (ARHC), aims to ensure that research into the connections between suffrage campaigns, the First World War, the Representation of the People Act, and women's entry into Parliament has the widest possible reach and impact across the centenary events.

Professor Cowman added:  “Women wanted the vote so that they could bring about changes in their own lives themselves. The vote was a means to greater equality rather than an end in itself. It is important to remember that 100 years ago women had no vote, and could not become MPs. Much has changed for women in the last 100 years but we are still some way off equality.

“As we mark this important anniversary it is worth pausing to think how our world might look when the bicentenary of votes for women comes around, and what we should start doing to achieve gender equality in public life.

“The project reminds us that many women kept fighting for the vote even during the war. Women were not given a vote as a reward for stopping their campaign.  They kept going, making it impossible for the government to ignore them.”

Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley aired on BBC One on Monday 4th June 2018 and is still available on the BBC iPlayer at:

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