Emmeline Pankhurst is an elegantly attired revolutionary trying to break down the establishment, a fashionista who doesn’t give a rap for animal rights. Known as “Pank” to her suffragette devotees, she promotes window smashing, arson and martyrdom in Holloway Gaol to press her cause. Votes for Women is her goal; the feathered hat is her brand.
Etta Lemon is a formidable conservationist trying to save the world?s birdlife from “murderous millinery” and the insatiable plumage trade. Known as “The Dragon,” or “Mother of the Birds,” she is a woman of strong emotions and even stronger opinions, with no time for the male science of ornithology — or, indeed, for the idea of women’s suffrage.
Founder of the Society for the Protection of Birds in Didsbury, Manchester, 1889, in response to the plight of the crested grebe, a milliner’s favourite.
Fervently Christian founder of the Fur, Fin and Feather Folk of Croydon, Surrey, 1889. Head of publications at the early SPB, when her and Emily’s societies merged in 1891.
Humanitarian aristocrat behind a roster of good causes, from pit ponies, to girls’ education, to caged birds. President of the RSPB for 60 years.
Fashion-conscious wife of the adulterous King Edward VII, “Alix” put her influential name behind the bird protection movement in 1906.
Lowly feather washer of Finsbury, London, jailed for the theft of two ostrich feathers in 1885. Unreliable earnings of five shillings a week.
Undercover investigator of London’s most impoverished women. Disguised as a “plain hand,?”she sought needlework in Whitechapel, 1885.
Popular novelist and leading figure in the women’s Anti-Suffrage League. Author of the Solemn Protest Against Women?s Suffrage, 1889.
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‘Mary Wollstonecraft’ by Maggi Hambling. ‘It’s a sculpture about now, in her
Victorian campaigner Emily Williamson was so incensed by the millinery trade’s use
Uneasy mingling: the Servants’ Ball at ITV’s Downton Abbey, where Lady Grantham
Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4
Hear all about Etta Lemon, the ‘Margaret Thatcher’ of the birding world. How did this remarkable character hone her campaigning skills, and why was she stabbed in the back by the men who took over the RSPB?
Secrets of the National Trust with Alan Titchmarsh (Channel 5)
Erddig Hall in North Wales was once home to the Yorkes — a family famously kind to their servants. Or were they? I uncovered the story of ‘thief cook’ Ellen Penketh, jailed in 1907 for allegedly stealing £500 from her insecure mistress Louisa Yorke.
Radio Gorgeous interview with Josephine Pembroke, talking twitchers (why are hardcore birders almost always men?), the mysterious workings of the RSPB (why wouldn’t they let me revisit their archives?) and Mrs Pankhurst’s penchant for fashion (why so many feathered hats?).