Rosa May Billinghurst


By the turn of the twentieth century, the fight for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom had already been raging for nearly forty years. Suffragists everywhere had been calling for changes that would allow women the right to become part of the political life of the nation, but their pleas had persistently been denied. Frustrated and angered, a new generation of activist women rose up, and the suffragette was born. With the motto ‘deeds, not words’, these fierce women were through asking nicely and, turning to militant tactics, they literally put their lives on the line to demand change. Among them was a woman who rarely escaped attention. With her modified tricycle for mobility, Rosa May Billinghurst threw herself into the fray alongside her sisters, suffering at the hands of mobs of angry men and a cruel and ruthless legal system. Ultimately they would be successful, but in a world where so many rights are still for the few rather than for all, their struggle for equality resonates as deeply today as it did over a hundred years ago.

So get ready to take to the streets (not literally! Stay home! Stay safe!) and join us as we venture into the protest marches and picket lines of suffragette city!


Andrews, Maggie, & Lomas, Janis. Hidden Heroines: The Forgotten Suffragettes. Crowood Press Ltd, 2018.

Purvis, June. ‘The prison experiences of the suffragettes in Edwardian Britain’, Women’s History Review, 4 (1995), 103–33.

Trueman, H. ‘Billinghhurst, (Rosa) May (1875-1953). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004.

Van Wingerden, Sophia A. The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain, 1866-1928. Palgrave McMillan, 2002.

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