Emily Wilding Davison, 1872 to 1913
Royal Holloway College alumna, 1892
Emily Wilding Davison was renowned for her leading role in the Suffragette movement and was imprisoned on numerous occasions in the name of the women's movement.
She joined the Women's Social and Political Union in 1906 and quickly, like her fellow members, began a short history of extreme protest, including attacking the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hunger striking, and throwing herself down iron stairs. It has been argued that the harsh treatment she received whilst in prison drove her to the conclusion that only the ultimate sacrifice would bring success to the Suffragettes. Her most notable action resulted in her death, when she jumped in front of King George V's horse during the 1913 Epsom Derby.
On 14 June 1913 Davison's body was transported from Epsom to London flanked by a procession of women five thousand strong wearing the suffragette colours of white and purple, followed by hundreds of male supporters. The Manchester Guardian described as having "something of the deliberate brilliance of a military funeral." 50,000 people lined the route, and Purvis describes the event as "the last of the great suffragette spectacles".
To mark the centenary of votes for women, Royal Holloway, University of London, and the UK Parliament have developed a range of resources and an online course exploring the history of women's rights and suffrage.