London School of Economics and Political Science: LSE acquires letter collection revealing new information about suffragette Emily Wilding Davison

LSE Library has successfully acquired a collection of letters written by and about the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who died 109 years ago today (8 June).

Davison is often remembered for being hit by the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. She died four days later in hospital.

Significantly, one of the new letters reveals that she regained partial consciousness in hospital. Historians have always thought that she remained unconscious from her injuries. You can read this letter via the Library’s online exhibition about Emily Wilding Davison.

Other letters in the collection include notes about her time in Holloway Prison and even some ‘spirit’ letters written by a medium as ‘dictated’ by Emily Wilding Davison.

The letters, which were purchased at the recent ‘Women Through History’ auction at Bonhams, were acquired using The Women’s Library endowment fund.

Another item purchased by the fund is a rare, printed pamphlet of the women’s suffrage petition of 1866, which was presented to Parliament in June 1866 by John Stuart Mill. The original petition has not survived, except for this printed pamphlet version, and another copy at Girton College, Cambridge.

Commenting on the purchases, Curator for Equality, Rights and Citizenship at LSE Dr Gillian Murphy said:

“We are extremely pleased to have these new items for The Women’s Library collection. The letters about Emily Wilding Davison are of significant historical importance as they reveal new information about the suffragette which will aid historians in their research about the movement. The pamphlet is also significant as it marks the beginning of the continuous women’s suffrage movement in Britain.

“Both purchases were made from The Women’s Library endowment fund and would not have been possible without the incredible generosity of all those who have have donated to this fund over the years.”

The Women’s Library was formally established in 1926 with the aims of preserving the history of the women’s movement and to provide a resource for newly-enfranchised women to enter public life. LSE became custodians in 2013.