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The Suffrage Pageant Play: Making and Performing Women’s History in Cicely Hamilton’s A Pageant of Great Women (1909) and Christopher St. John’s The First Actress (1911)

Eleanor Stewart
p. 73-97

Abstract

Au cours des dernières décennies, le théâtre suffragiste a été redécouvert et constitue aujourd’hui la première vague du théâtre féministe britannique. Tandis que la Nouvelle Femme en tant qu’individu était devenue un trope récurrent dans le mouvement du New Drama, les pièces suffragistes mettent l’accent sur le collectif, reflétant la campagne politique elle-même, connue pour ses cortèges et ses défilés spectaculaires. Ce nouvel esprit de solidarité se traduit pour la première fois au théâtre dans Votes for Women ! (1908) d’Elizabeth Robins, célèbre pour sa scène de rassemblement politique.
Sur scène, cette transition de l’individu vers le collectif n’était pas seulement représentée à travers des évènements publics et des discours politiques mais aussi à travers l’instrumentalisation de l’histoire. Les dramaturges ont mis en scène des pionnières pour établir des liens entre les générations passées, présentes et futures afin de créer une communauté féminine transhistorique. Leurs œuvres célèbrent les femmes du passé, contribuent à fonder une historiographie féministe et permettent aux femmes d’envisager un avenir meilleur.
Cet article aborde deux pièces suffragistes, A Pageant of Great Women (1909) de Cicely Hamilton et The First Actress (1911) de Christopher St. John, qui ne défendent pas l’émancipation féminine par le biais d’intrigues « suffragistes » mais en représentant scéniquement l’histoire des femmes. L’article explore la façon dont les formes dramatiques du passé (le défilé, la moralité) et la mise en scène de figures historiques légitiment la campagne en faveur du vote et condamnent les arguments anti-suffragistes.

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  • 1 For a summary of some of the social and political changes which marked Edwardian Britain see Chothi (...)
  • 2 The New Century Theatre, the Independent Theatre and the Stage Society all played an important role (...)

1Samuel Hynes has described the Edwardian era as occupying a “pivotal position between the nineteenth and twentieth century” and as being marked by a “meeting of old and new” (Hynes vii). An age of transition during which the established order of the Victorian years was increasingly challenged, it was dominated by the women’s movement.1 The world of the theatre was no exception. Although the Victorian legacy of melodrama, farce, musical comedies and variety performances was still present in the commercial theatres, a group of progressive playwrights (George Bernard Shaw, Harley Granville Barker, John Galsworthy and Elizabeth Robins) and critics (William Archer, J.T. Grein), inspired by Ibsen’s problem plays and committed to a renewal of English theatre, had begun to make their voices heard.2 Their quest was to make the theatre a forum for socio-political debate:

The new generation was knocking at the door and was beginning to stir in revolt against prevailing conventions. The influence of Ibsen was being felt and the advanced intellectual few, led by such pioneers as Bernard Shaw, J. T. Grein and William Archer had begun to show that the theatre was the place for the discussion of new ideas and philosophies […]. It was not sufficient in their view that the theatre should exist only as a place for mere entertainment; it should be used as a platform for discussion, for the ventilation of new ideas. (Wilson 12)

  • 3 There were also productions of plays by Galsworthy, St John Hankin, Yeats, Masefield and Robins and (...)
  • 4 “The New Woman of the fin de siècle had a multiple identity. She was, variously, a feminist activis (...)
  • 5 The quest to make the stage a forum for debate had its roots in the Society Drama of the 1890s but (...)

Central to the movement was the Barker-Vedrenne management of the Court Theatre whose 1904-1907 seasons promoted serious new writing such as Shaw’s theatre of ideas.3 In the context of the suffrage campaign and in a cultural landscape marked by the New Woman,4 it became difficult to keep the woman question off the stage.5 Playwrights of both sexes explored it from different perspectives: motherhood, marriage and work. As the suffrage campaign intensified, female artists were inspired by the spectacular public marches which had demonstrated that “theatricality, placed in service to propaganda was a popular and effective strategy” (Tilghman 341). In recent decades, the diverse body of work they created has become known collectively as “suffrage drama” and recognized as constituting the first wave of feminist theatre.

  • 6 The AFL was founded when, in 1908, about 400 women of the theatre met at the Criterion Restaurant, (...)

2Suffrage drama, although more openly polemical, emerged out of the New Drama movement and should be considered as part of the wider renaissance of English theatre. Robins’ Votes for Women! (1907), considered to be the first suffrage play (subtitled “a dramatic tract in three acts”), was the only work by a woman to be directed by Barker at the Court. This landmark production, followed by the founding of two structures—the Actresses’ Franchise League in 1908 and the Pioneer Players in 1911—led many women to write full-length plays, comedies, sketches and pageants to promote the cause. Members shared the common belief that the vote would improve women’s status in all areas of life, including working conditions in the theatre.6 The AFL’s main role was to support other suffrage organisations and they offered their services by holding meetings, selling suffrage literature and staging propagandist plays and events. Along with the Women Writers’ Suffrage League, the Artists’ Suffrage League and the Suffrage Atelier, the AFL and the Pioneer Players are examples of feminist engagement in the arts.

  • 7 Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952) earned her living from a young age. After ten years spent in touring co (...)
  • 8 Hamilton reinforced the argument that marriage is the only form of livelihood available to untraine (...)
  • 9 Edith Craig (1869-1947) was the daughter of the Victorian actress Ellen Terry and architect Edward (...)

3Cicely Hamilton (figure 1), actress, writer, suffragist and a founding member of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League was, like her friend and contemporary Robins, another embodiment of the Edwardian New Woman.7 In 1908, Hamilton’s Diana of Dobson’s was produced at the Kingsway Theatre, under the management of AFL member Lena Ashwell. A light-hearted comedy, but one which had raised consciousness about working conditions and the limited alternatives to marriage available for women,8 it was a great commercial success. In 1909, Hamilton wrote her first plays specifically for the suffrage cause in close collaboration with fellow suffrage artists: How the Vote was Won (co-written with Christopher St. John, née Christabel Marshall) was staged at the Royalty Theatre in April, followed by A Pageant of Great Women, at the Scala Theatre in November. These two successful AFL productions inaugurated Hamilton’s partnership with Edith Craig (figure 2) who directed them both and who was the inspiration behind A Pageant.9

4According to Hamilton, the suffrage campaign “was the first political agitation to organize the arts in its aid” (“Forward”, A Pageant of Great Women 7). Craig, actress, costume designer, theatre director, political theatrical activist and pageant organiser was convinced of the potential of the suffrage play to raise awareness:

I do think plays have done such a lot for the Suffrage. They get hold of nice, frivolous people who would die sooner than go in cold blood to meetings. But they see the plays, and get interested, and then we can rope them in for meetings. All Suffrage writers ought to write Suffrage plays as hard as they can. It’s a great work. (Votes for Women 15 April 1910)

Of course, Craig was no new-comer to political theatre. Her mother, actress Ellen Terry, was a close friend of Shaw and, as a member of the Stage Society, Craig acted in many of Shaw’s socio-political dramas. Craig and her partner, Christopher St. John, also lived for some time in London, close to Shaw and his wife.

  • 10 Margaret Nevinson (1858-1932) was a member of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League and the Tax Resist (...)

5In 1911, Craig launched the Pioneer Players, a feminist, avant-garde theatre society. The company grew out of Craig’s work with the AFL but had broader objectives: to stage plays of ideas which dealt with serious contemporary issues and were theatrically entertaining and also to raise funds for other social or political societies. The first years of the Pioneer Players showed a clear commitment to plays written by and about pioneering women. In May 1911, the Players’ production of Margaret Nevinson’s highly controversial In the Workhouse exposed the legal position of married women and resulted in a change in the law.10 Its impact led Craig to reiterate her belief in the propagandist value of the theatre: “One play is worth a thousand speeches” (The Stage 8 May 1911).

  • 11 During the same period, all over the country women had begun to take on more important roles in the (...)

6In an otherwise male-dominated industry, the AFL and the Pioneer Players were examples of women-led work which brought activists together in collaborative ventures. Women dominated all areas of the Players both on a creative and administrative level—Edith Craig was managing and stage director, Ellen Terry president, and Christopher St. John secretary.11 Suffragist women of the theatre understood that, just as in the broader campaign, they had to work collectively to bring about change. This was made possible thanks to a network of talented and politically-committed women. The structures instigated more democratic working practices which set them apart from the world of commercial theatre: collaboration rather than competition, a blurring of boundaries between professionals and amateurs, and a refusal of a clear-cut distinction between high and low art, between artistic genres and between art and propaganda. The new synergy also gave rise to cooperation between women’s cultural organizations which promoted each other. Lena Connell’s photographs of A Pageant of Great Women, for example, were sold at productions of the play around the country. Another innovation was the re-definition of theatrical space. Suffrage theatre was performed at both small-scale, local meetings or during large-scale events. Conventional theatres (the Court, the Kingsway Theatre) were sometimes used but also alternative theatrical spaces such as public halls, private homes, parks, gardens and streets.

7Contemporary critics have underlined the inherent theatricality of the suffrage movement. Lisa Tickner’s seminal work The Spectacle of Suffrage emphasizes the performative aspects of the mass demonstrations and parades and the importance of imagery (figures 3 and 4). If theatrical strategies were key to the women’s cause, there was an increasingly political dimension to the theatre. The worlds of politics and the theatre supported each other, with actresses’ talents being harnessed for the political campaign, and their own involvement in politics providing an impetus for the creation of a feminist theatre of ideas.

8Whilst the New Woman as an individual had become a familiar trope in Ibsen and the New Drama, the suffrage plays emphasized the collective, reflecting the political campaign itself. This new solidarity was first expressed in the rally scene in Votes for Women! in which suffragists invade the patriarchal space of Trafalgar Square in their claim for political power. In the plays that followed, the shift from the individual to the collective was expressed by female camaraderie (the joint writing of speeches, strikes…). Many were comedies based on conversion plots, often with a processional element, showing by the end a whole community united in agreement. But this shift was also expressed through the use of history for feminist ends. This article examines two suffrage plays which did not endorse female enfranchisement through recognizable suffragist characters or plots. Instead, they promoted women’s history-making to support the cause. By subverting theatrical forms of the past (the pageant, the morality play) and by staging historical female figures, the plays legitimized the campaign and defied anti-suffragist arguments.

A feminist appropriation of historical dramatic forms

9The suffrage campaign tapped into the popularity of civic pageantry in Edwardian England. Women were marching on an unprecedented scale in highly stage-managed parades (3000 took part in the Mud March in 1907), blurring the lines between dramatic forms and street politics. As Susan Carlson has remarked: “Women were improvising a new kind of political drama on the urban streets” (Carlson 341). But it was not only the patriarchal cityscape which was being transformed. Feminist theatre practitioners were also performing colourful political pageants in their claim for political and aesthetic autonomy. Cicely Hamilton’s A Pageant of Great Women (1909), “shows how the suffrage street processions became a major component of the propagandistic plays” (Carlson 340). Both the suffrage procession and the theatrical pageant were powerful political symbols which put a collective body of women centre stage.

  • 12 The first editions of Everyman, arguably the best-known morality, were printed between 1510 and 153 (...)
  • 13 The mystery plays, present across Europe, originated in the expansion of medieval church services i (...)
  • 14 In Britain, the mysteries of York, Chester, Wakefield and “N” Town have survived. The largest and b (...)

10The origins of these pageants lay in the medieval morality and mystery plays. Allegorical dramas in which characters personified good and evil, moralities taught a moral lesson by staging man’s journey to salvation.12 The mystery play, another form of medieval drama, was the most popular form of theatre in Britain in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.13 The mystery “cycles” dramatized biblical stories, bringing the Christian message to the streets. A celebratory event accessible to all, they were performed by, and for, the local community on pageant wagons which travelled all over the country.14 The mystery plays were funded and produced by influential crafts guilds which had the necessary resources to stage the plays regularly, usually at the Corpus Christi festival.

  • 15 Yeat’s The Hourglass (1903, revised in collaboration with Edward Gordon Craig in 1912) was an alleg (...)

11The Edwardians’ renewed interest in medieval drama was led by William Poel, founder of the Elizabethan Stage Society (1893-1905). His 1901 staging of Everyman which, as contemporaries of Poel, Hamilton and Craig would at least have been aware of, gave rise to a series of mystery plays in verse-form. The Edwardian medieval revival inspired suffrage dramatists to experiment with these historical forms to lend dignity to their political spectacles. In the late nineteenth century, poetic drama had been eclipsed by the domination of Archer and Shaw’s brand of political and scientific modernist theatre (Innes 442). However, the Edwardians’ rediscovery of allegory can be considered a precursor to the revival of symbolism in the early part of the twentieth century. This would be embodied in Edward Gordon Craig’s set designs and in W. B. Yeats’s and T. S. Eliot’s attempts at poetic drama, in their revolt against what they perceived as the limits of realism.15

12Taking Cicely Hamilton’s A Pageant of Great Women as a starting point, this article examines the different ways in which suffrage playwrights appropriated the pageant genre for feminist ends. As medieval allegories sought to teach moral values via the medium of theatre, so too were the suffrage pageant plays designed as entertaining propaganda. The term “treatise” included in the full title of Everyman (“Here begynneth a treatyse…”) highlights the parallel between the didactic nature of suffrage pageant plays and the medieval moralities.16 A Pageant of Great Women was based on a series of tableaux of famous women organised by Edith Craig who had been inspired by a suffrage cartoon of Woman chained at the feet of Justice by W. H. Margetson. Craig approached Hamilton who wrote the play and dedicated it to Craig who went on to direct it. The play stages a legal trial during which three allegorical figures discuss whether women are worthy of freedom. Prejudice (played by a man) puts forward a series of anti-feminist arguments, recognizable as anti-suffragist and based on the premise that women have too many limitations to pursue a life outside the home. Woman, a spokesperson for all women, contests his arguments and Justice (played by a woman) presides. Hamilton and Craig used the powerful aesthetics of the pageant form to celebrate the diversity of women’s achievements. Thanks to the National Trust Edith Craig Archive, we know that, prior to the production, Edith Craig and her costume business (Edith Craig & Co. costumiers) had been closely involved in the staging of many civic pageants and historical performances (Cockin 2017, 72). Here, Woman’s case is reinforced visually by a parade of historical women, whose presence serves as a counter-discourse to each of Prejudice’s claims. The timeless procession would have lent gravitas to the political arguments and given authority to the cause. For example, when Prejudice asserts that women are not educated enough, the group of Learned Women (including Jane Austen and George Sand) enter. When Prejudice argues that Woman only has enough love for her own home, a group of Saintly Women appear (for example social reformer and philanthropist Elizabeth Fry). The cumulative effect of this stately procession of pioneering women, who all in different ways challenged gender norms, offers an alternative to the androcentric view of history and argues for the inevitable future success of the suffrage movement. At the same time, the extensive cast created a large-scale public spectacle.

13Hamilton appropriates the allegorical form of the morality for propagandist ends. The use of an abstract setting and characters gives her play a more universal meaning and would have enabled associations with contemporary types. The formal style of the language strengthens the political arguments, whilst avoiding an aggressive tone. The dramatist subverts the form of the legal trial used in Everyman to affirm the suffrage message. In a rewriting of the medieval morality, Justice is raised on the stage but her authority is legal, not religious. Instead of a sinner finding his way to redemption, Hamilton stages Woman on a journey towards freedom and equality. The legal trial reminds the audience that women were demanding equality in the eyes of the law. It also gives the play a more objective dimension and suggests that full citizenship rights for women is the logical outcome. At the end, Prejudice is reduced to silence and Justice declares that Woman has won her case, predicting a future based on a more equal relationship between the sexes: “Go forth: the world is thine… Oh, use it well!/ Thou hast an equal, not a master, now”. Fittingly, it is Woman who, triumphant, has the last word: “This you must know: The world is mine, as yours … / Henceforth/ For my own deeds myself am answerable/To my own soul” (A Pageant 47).

  • 17 Although they were enjoyed by most, by the sixteenth century, medieval moralities and mysteries wer (...)

14As a result, it is tempting to argue that whilst medieval pageants reinforced the values of the dominant religious faith and represented a patriarchal aesthetic, suffrage pageant plays set out to overturn the status quo. However, evidence suggests that the suffrage pageants’ subversive nature was, in fact, in keeping with certain aspects of the medieval mysteries and moralities. These medieval dramatic forms marked a transition from liturgical to secular drama, symbolising the shift from clerical to civic control. As such, some critics have argued that these plays represented an underlying defiance of authority (a trait which also characterised suffrage drama). Charlotte Steenbrugge raises this question in her analysis of morality plays which she situates within the context of the religious tensions of the fifteenth century: “The authorities were still wary of the use of the vernacular, unauthorised preaching […] and play texts from this period may still have been an expression of lay defiance in the face of ecclesiastical restrictions” (Steenbrugge 116). This shift was also expressed in the new spaces in which the moralities were staged, creating another parallel between medieval and suffrage theatre. Just as “vernacular plays […] leaked inscrutably out of ecclesiastical buildings into the streets” (King 2), so suffragist drama extended its boundaries beyond conventional theatres into public spaces, performed, like the moralities, by ordinary people. We also know that, although it did not detract from the Christian message, irreverent humour was a feature of the medieval mysteries. Their satirical nature is, therefore, another common characteristic shared by suffrage pageant plays which did not hesitate to mock anti-suffrage arguments.17

15The openly propagandist nature of the suffrage pageants is another aspect reminiscent of the medieval tradition. Just as medieval mysteries gave the guilds the opportunity to showcase their merchandise (the Shipbuilders would have sponsored Noah and the Flood, providing the ark itself), so suffrage theatre gave activists a platform to “publicize” their political cause. Suffrage pageant plays also shared similarities with the itinerant nature of medieval drama. Hamilton and Craig exploited the flexible performance structure for propagandist ends. Multiple performances all over the country enabled A Pageant to reach a wide audience. Both medieval mysteries and suffrage pageants could be altered to take into account the local community and the contemporary situation. Medieval plays were constantly adapted to take into account the local environment. A Pageant was also adapted to include famous women known to a local area or, in the case of The First Actress, to include famous actresses of the time. By doing so, it was hoped that the spectators could identify more easily with the plays and be more receptive to the suffrage message.

16A Pageant premiered at the Scala Theatre and went on to be performed at other London venues. Thanks to its popularity, it was produced by suffrage societies all over the country and the money raised enabled the AFL to set up five regional offices (Davies 8). Craig directed all the performances, provided the professional actors and hired out the spectacular costumes from her own extensive collection which were cleaned and altered for each performance. Craig took great care to maintain high theatrical standards:

  • 18 This quotation is taken from the exhibition I attended: “Edy Craig: Women, Suffrage and the Theatre (...)

Edy held the performance rights to the play and insisted on directorial control, taking personal charge of the arrangements of these productions. She would send details of the physical description of each character so they could be cast ahead of time. To ensure the right fit for the part she would request photos of the proposed players and their measurements. […] Edy would then travel with the three professional actors who had speaking parts, along with costumes to dress the 30 or 40 players provided by each local suffrage society.18

  • 19 Ellen Terry in Votes for Women, 19 November 1909, 117.
  • 20 Clifton Chronicle and Directory, 9 November 1910 (see www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/1009, last acces (...)
  • 21 Western Daily Press, 1 November 1910, 5.
  • 22 Ibid.
  • 23 Ibid.
  • 24 According to Katharine Cockin, one performance in Sunderland attracted an audience of 2,000 (Cockin (...)

A Pageant received an enthusiastic reception from the suffrage press. Ellen Terry described the play as “the finest practical piece of propaganda written for the movement”19. Reviewing the production at the Albert Hall, the journalist from The Vote observed: “There has never been anything like this Pageant, which brought the day to its fitting close. It sang in one’s blood with its colour harmonies and the sonorous sound of its message” (The Vote 16 December 1909). It was also well received by the national newspapers, at a time when the increasing violence of the campaign was attracting negative publicity. The Daily Mirror published several photographs from the production at the Scala Theatre on its front page (including Ellen Terry in the role of Nancy Oldfield) with a headline stating: “Well-known actresses appear as famous women in a pageant advocating the cause of votes for women” (The Daily Mirror 13 November 1909). The critic described the event as “interesting and varied” (The Daily Mirror 13 November 1909). After a performance in Bristol, the review in the Clifton Chronicle read: “The matinee at the Princes Theatre […] was a huge success. The theatre was filled from floor to ceiling, so that the result from a pecuniary point of view must have been very satisfactory, and to judge by the applause, a very large majority of those present were sympathisers and enthusiastic supporters”20. The Western Daily Press stressed the size of the audiences, remarking that “the demand for seats has been so great that extra fauteuils have been added”21. Taking into account its male, anti-suffrage readership, the critic praised the production, but in slightly patronising terms: “delightful entertainment, nicely performed, always interesting, and a pleasing prompt to one’s historical knowledge […] an enjoyable and, sometimes, an impressive exhibition”22. The reviewer commented on the nature of the audience: “To judge from the applause […] one would assume the audience was somewhat sympathetic towards woman and her claims as voiced by the character”23. The critic from The Times also emphasized that the audience “were in sympathy with the cause”, but admitted “even its opponents must have been struck by the intense earnestness and absolute good taste with which these ideas were presented” (Holledge 71). From these reviews, which describe large, enthusiastic crowds,24 it is clear that the play certainly attracted attention in the national media. However, the articles also suggest that the audiences were already sympathetic to the movement. The extent to which the play mobilised spectators not yet converted to the cause is, therefore, more difficult to comment on.

  • 25 Christabel Marshall (1871-1960) changed her name to Christopher St. John on conversion to Catholici (...)

17Following Hamilton’s successful use of the pageant, Christopher St. John (figure 5),25 Craig’s partner, wrote The First Actress for the opening performance of the Pioneer Players. It was staged as part of a triple bill at the Kingsway Theatre, London, on 8th May 1911, preceded by a comedy about the prejudices facing a woman writer Jack and Jill and a Friend by Hamilton, and Levinson’s In the Workhouse. Only 5 of the total of 26 parts were for men and the audience was made up mostly of like-minded women. The first half of The First Actress, written in a realist mode, shows Margaret Hughes, the first woman on the English stage after the Restoration, facing prejudices from the male-dominated theatrical world. The second half, however, shifts to a dream-like fantasy sequence in which a procession of 11 actresses of the future (from post 1661 and ending in the present moment in 1911) encourage Hughes and celebrate her as a pioneering figure. As in Hamilton’s A Pageant, their successes serve to challenge patriarchal preconceptions. Once again, the pageant form is re-appropriated to celebrate women’s achievements and visualize political progress. The issue of equality in the theatre becomes a metaphor for the battle for political equality.

  • 26 Craig used her experience of staging pageants to further the cause when she arranged the Women’s Fr (...)

18The processional element in A Pageant of Great Women and The First Actress, enabled the dramatists to make a panoramic sweep across history, to express a collective vision of a number of prominent women (in the case of A Pageant over 50) and give the opportunity to many local activists to tread the boards. The image of women filling the stage and coming together in public was a powerful political symbol.26

A feminist recovery of historical figures

19The link between female artistic creativity and women’s history was emphasized by Virginia Woolf when she wrote in “A Room of One’s Own” in 1929: “For we think back through our mothers if we are women” (Woolf 19). However, British feminism had already aligned itself with figures from the past. The suffrage campaign was well-known for its celebration of historic women. Joan of Arc became an icon for the movement and in the Women’s Coronation Procession suffragettes dressed up as pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale and Scottish scientist Mrs Somerville or brandished banners depicting Jane Austen and Queen Elizabeth I. Like the suffrage parades, A Pageant and The First Actress also made visible historic female figures, thus recognizing the importance of role models. In light of these comments, I would like to look at the political value of resurrecting historical female figures. How can the staging of women-centred trans-historic alliances contribute to creating a feminist historiography? The feminist pageant plays re-insert women into national and international history. By reconstructing the past from a female perspective, these plays were not just making history but uncovering it and re-framing it through subversive dramatic forms. In the context of the suffrage campaign, performing the past was a powerful means to make women feel part of a collective history and to give hope for a better future.

20A Pageant of Great Women, which involved detailed historical research, highlights the diverse roles women have played, uniting women across countries and across history (Cockin 1998a, 99). As Cockin has claimed: “The diversity of women was emphasized by the collective acting out of greatness by local suffragists” (1998a, 105). All the women are in some way revolutionary figures and powerful feminist symbols. Many have faced prejudice, made sacrifices or suffered brutal deaths. The group of Learned Women range from Jane Austen, already celebrated by the WWSL in the 1908 Procession, to Greek astronomer and mathematician Hypatia, Mme Roland the French revolutionary and Marie Curie, the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize. The Artists include Sappho, considered the first lesbian poet, Angelica Kauffmann, an eighteenth-century Swiss painter and founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and Rosa Bonheur (1822-99), the cross-dressing lesbian painter, performed by Edith Craig. Elizabeth Fry, English prison reformer is amongst the Saintly Women. The Warriors range from Queen Boadicea to Joan of Arc, a symbol of un-sexualised femininity and militancy. Hannah Snell (1723-92) and Christian Davies (1667-1739) are both examples of women who disguised themselves as men to be accepted in the army and were played by St. John and Hamilton respectively. These military connotations counter Prejudice’s assertion that women were not physically apt to defend their country. Significantly, the group of Warriors is the largest and certainly the play’s emphasis on bravery and sacrifice would have resonated with contemporary audiences at a time when suffragettes in prison were on hunger-strike. All these figures defy Prejudice’s arguments and support Woman’s case.

21The procession enabled Hamilton to create implicit links with the ideology of Edwardian feminists and the prejudices they too were facing. The play capitalizes on historical precedents to put forward positive images and provide evidence that women deserve the vote. By reclaiming these women as part of a feminist past, present and future, A Pageant justifies the modern political argument. It is not difficult to imagine the identification of local activists with the heroines they were embodying, all examples of women who had succeeded in a masculine world. According to critic Sheila Stowell, the play attempts to “reclaim these ‘exceptional’ women as part of a larger feminist movement” (Stowell 45).

22Inspired by Hamilton’s use of iconic women from history, Christopher St. John focused on the acting profession in The First Actress, another play in which past and present collide. A highly public figure, who has aroused both suspicion and fascination, the actress creates a parallel with the suffragette—both challenged conventional gender roles. Although the actress was a historically marginalized figure, here the dramatist capitalizes on her celebrity status in Edwardian culture to argue for female suffrage. In the first act, distraught at her performance as Desdemona in Othello, Hughes engages in a conversation with fellow male actor Griffin who reveals his views about women’s unsuitability for the acting profession: “You have not failed. It is your sex which has failed” (St. John 11). Commenting on the audience’s reaction he says: “They were but protesting against woman’s invasion of a sphere where she is totally unfitted to shine” (12). The male characters’ essentialist view of women reduces the actress to her physical attributes. Theatre manager Sir Charles Sedley, Hughes’s lover, focuses on the visual aspects of her performance: “You were radiant, exquisite, charming! The lines were not always intelligible perhaps—but so much the better. Othello is sorry stuff” (St. John 9). According to Griffin, women treading the boards could lead to moral depravity, just as some anti-suffragists argued that women’s political engagement would create social and moral chaos. Totally disempowered, Hughes feels responsible for future generations of women: “Tis very bitter to me to think that through my failure I may have kept my sex off the stage for centuries—if not for ever” (St. John 15).

23An Edwardian audience would have drawn parallels between the sexism directed at Hughes and anti-suffragist attitudes. But, in the second act, Griffin’s arguments are discredited by the lively parade of actresses from history, performed by well-known actresses of the present (Ellen Terry played Nell Gwyn) who pay homage to Hughes. From their discussions, we learn about their acting styles, personalities and popularity. This meta-theatrical strategy, based on multi-layered theatrical identities, contradicts Hughes’s concern that she has made it impossible for other women to follow her into the profession. The contrast between Griffin’s misogynistic, conventional language and the witty, feminist rhetoric of the actresses presents Griffin’s reductive outlook as ridiculous and the anti-suffragist’s view as outmoded. The playwright also contrasts the support the female actors give each other with the rivalry and competition between the men.

24The references to each actress’s career justify Hughes’s presence on the stage and, indirectly, women’s right to the vote. Nell Gwyn, the first to enter, pays tribute to the legacy of the first actress: “Be merry Mrs Hughes. You’ve led the way, and I … will follow” (St. John 16). The apparition of Nancy Oldfield who, just 60 years after the audience hurled apples at Hughes, was given a state funeral, highlights the shift in the public’s perception of the female actor. The change in attitude suggests that the suffrage campaign too will inevitably triumph. Mrs Siddons’ declaration: “All the prejudice in all the world shall not keep us off the stage … and we’ll not fail” (St. John 19) recalls the determination of the suffragettes. Griffin’s claim that women are incapable of mimetic art and that only men can give successful performances in drag is refuted when Mme Vestris, a nineteenth-century actress famous for her cross-dressed roles, enters boldly stating: “Since men once put on the petticoats and played all our parts—Vestris will put on trousers and play some of theirs for a change! And play them so well too” (St. John 20). So, women’s desire to represent themselves on the stage is aligned with their desire for political representation. Just as actresses constructed new female identities on the stage, so the suffragettes took the power of representation into their own hands.

25The play culminates with the entrance of Lena Ashwell who plays herself. The presence of Ashwell, actress-manager and suffragist, is a visual reminder that, contrary to Griffin’s assumptions, women were capable of having a life (or even several lives) outside the domestic sphere:When I am born, dear Peg, people … will laugh at the idea that acting was once considered a man’s affair… Yet they will be as busy as ever deciding what vocations are suitable to our sex” (St. John 20). Her comments would have reminded contemporary audiences that just as the historical exclusion of women from the stage seemed outmoded in 1911, so it was equally ridiculous that Edwardian England continued to uphold the notion of separate spheres. The play thus presents the theatre and the actress as agents of change and argues that, if progress can be made in the theatre, it can be made in other areas. Creating another parallel between past and present, Ashwell evokes arbitrary geographical divisions of the world, to suggest that it is absurd to continue to divide the population into two:I see an old map where the world is divided into two by a straight line. … To my age such division of the world will seem comical indeed, yet that is how I see them still dividing the world of humanity—‘This half for men’, ‘That half for women’” (St. John 20-21).

26In a powerful image of female solidarity across the ages, the play ends with Ashwell, surrounded by the 11 actresses, proclaiming Hughes as a forgotten pioneer: “Brave Hughesforgotten pioneerYour comrades offer you a crown!” (St. John 21). The collective vision underlines a mutually beneficial legacy, as each generation, from the Restoration to 1911, continued to combat sexism in the theatre. This trans-historical family of female theatrical professionals could be considered a precursor to Woolf’s comments in 1929.

27St. John situates women’s theatre history within a broader history of women’s centuries-long struggle to combat arbitrary gender divisions. The play is a testimony to the long-standing independence of women in the theatre and highlights their absence from other areas of public life. By visualizing progress made by British actresses in their battle for equality, The First Actress creates connections between the history of women on the stage and suffragist demands. The first women of the stage are presented as both pioneer actresses and proto-feminists who broke down boundaries. The theatre is thus presented as a microcosm of a wider society and the actress as a figure with the power to expand opportunities for women. Unsurprisingly, the suffrage journals reviewed the Pioneer Players’ first performance favourably. The critic from the Common Cause described the spectators as “appreciative” (18 May 1911, 105) and Votes for Women congratulated the Players on their “emphatic success” (12 May 1911, 538).

28The Pioneer Players’ triple bill was also covered extensively by the mainstream press (Dymkowski 223). Reviews were more mixed but most critics reluctantly praised the quality of the production. Common to many are the disparaging remarks about the artistic value of propagandist theatre: “[P]laygoers as a mass can hardly be expected to wax particularly enthusiastic over stage works of the purely ‘propagandist’ order” (Telegraph, 9 May 1911, 6). The critic from the Observer started in a similar fashion: “The Pioneer Players […] are nothing if not propagandist” (14 May 1911, 9) whilst the review in the Stage described the pieces as “less significant as drama than stage-tract” and The First Actress as “of little account as a play” (11 May 1911). Nevertheless, the same critics went on to praise the production itself. For example, the Telegraph acknowledged that the pieces “made a very fair start” and according to the reviewer from the StageThe First Actress received all possible effect from the interpretation given by a strong body of popular performers, headed by Miss Ellen Terry”. What is striking amongst some male critics is the condescending language used. For instance the Telegraph stated: “the thing is daintily and gracefully done” whilst the Observer commented on “the pretty pioneers”.

29Some reactions, however, were common to both suffrage and mainstream reviewers. Several observed the partisan audience. The Stage announced that the pieces were “received with acclamation by the enthusiasts among the audience”, Votes for Women recognised the “representative audience” whilst the Academy described them as “evidently sympathetic” (emphasis mine, 13 May 1911, 587). The critic from Stageland was struck by the atmosphere of sisterhood and solidarity: “There was a general atmosphere […] of enterprise and courage and cheery comradeship. […] I looked at the packed house, at the rows and rows of women and gloried in them. Such bright, happy women, full of strong life and joyous optimism. […] Pioneers indeed they are” (May 1911, quoted in Holledge 124). Both the suffrage press and national dailies pointed out the resonances with the contemporary political situation. The Common Cause drew attention to parallels between the play and contemporary arguments for and against suffrage (18 May 1911, 105). Similarly, the critic from the Daily Mail announced that St. John’s “hit is adroit in its present-day application, and it strikes home” (9 May 1911, 8), whilst the Sketch (17 May 1911) and Reynold’s Newspaper (14 May 1911) both highlighted the link between the language used by the male characters and that of anti-suffragists.

30The more negative reviews are all critical of the overtly feminist aspect of the three plays and reject their dramatic value using disdainful language (Dymokowski 224). The Daily Graphic critic wrote: “We went to the theatre unsuspecting; but it soon dawned on us that we were to be ‘Trafalgar Squared’” (9 May 1911, 14). The Referee described the company as “that new histrionic Suffragettic body” (14 May 1911, 2). The Times dismissed the venture in no uncertain terms: “We had walked in so innocently, imagining that the pioneering of the Pioneer Players was to be dramatic, not […] feministic […]. Ought not the programme to have been printed in mauve and green on a white ground?” (9 May 1911, 13).

  • 27 1910 marked the start of a series of so-called Conciliation Bills for women’s suffrage but which, i (...)

31Highlighting the struggles and triumphs of diverse, and sometimes unorthodox, figures, enabled suffrage pageant plays to reinsert women into history, offer an alternative view of the past and articulate a feminist vision of the future. At a time when suffragettes were subjected to increasingly harsh prison regimes—the first performance of A Pageant on 12 November 1909 at the Scala Theatre took place two months after the force-feeding of hunger strikers began—and at a time of despair at the Liberal Party’s hollow promises,27 these colourful spectacles were also a means of entertaining audiences and giving hope and inspiration. The genre encouraged collectivist action and united professional and amateur actresses in a common cause. Although the audiences may have been largely made up of supporters, the attention given to the suffrage pageant plays by the national media suggests that they were successful in attracting publicity for the campaign, beyond the movement itself.

Figure 1. Cicely Hamilton, 1907. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library

Figure 1. Cicely Hamilton, 1907. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library

Figure 2. Edith Craig, c1910. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library

Figure 2. Edith Craig, c1910. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library

Figure 3. Processing suffragettes, c.1908. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE library

Figure 3. Processing suffragettes, c.1908. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE library

Figure 4. Members of the Actresses Franchise League during the Women’s Coronation Procession, 17 Jun 1911. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library

Figure 4. Members of the Actresses Franchise League during the Women’s Coronation Procession, 17 Jun 1911. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library

Figure 5. Christopher St. John (née Christabel Marshall) © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE library

Figure 5. Christopher St. John (née Christabel Marshall) © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE library
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Bibliography

Primary sources

Hamilton, Cicely, A Pageant of Great Women, London: The Suffrage Shop, 1910.

St. John, Christopher, The First Actress. Lord Chamberlain’s Plays, British Library (first performance 1911).

Secondary sources

Booth, Michael R. and Joel H. Kaplan, eds., The Edwardian Theatre: Essays on Performance and the Stage, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Carlson, Susan, “Portable Politics: Creating New Space for Suffrag-ing Women”, New Theatre Quarterly, 17:4 (November 2001), 334-45.

Chothia, Jean, English Drama of the Early Modern Period, 1890-1940, London: Longman, 1996.

Cockin, Katharine, “The Pioneer Players: Plays of/with Identity”, Difference in View: Women and Modernism, Griffin, Gabriele ed., London: Routledge, 1994, 121-32.

Cockin, Katharine, Edith Craig (1869-1947): Dramatic Lives, London: Cassell, 1998a.

Cockin, Katharine, “Women’s Suffrage Drama”, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: New Feminist Essays, M. Joannou, M & J. Purvis, eds., Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998b, 127-39.

Cockin, Katharine, “Cicely Hamilton’s Warrior: Dramatic Reinventions of Militancy in the British Women’s Suffrage Movement”, Women’s History Review, 14: 3-4, 2005, 527-542.

Cockin, Katharine, Edith Craig and the Theatres of Art, London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Davies, Andrew, Other Theatres: The Development of Alternative and Experimental Theatre in Britain, NewYork: Barnes and Noble, 1987.

Dymkowski, Christine, “Entertaining Ideas: Edy Craig and the Pioneer Players”, A New Woman and her Sisters, Gardner, Viv and Susan Rutherford, eds., Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992, 221-233.

Farfan, Penny, Women, Modernism and Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Farfan, Penny, “Women’s modernism and performance”, The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Women Writers, Linett, Maren Tova, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 47-62.

Ferris, Lesley, “The Female Self and Performance: The Case of The First Actress”, Theatre and Feminist Aesthetics, Laughlin, Karen and Catherine Schuler, eds., Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995, 242-57.

Ferris, Lesley and Melissa Leed, “Performing (Our)Selves: The Role of the Actress in Theatre-History Plays by Women”, Contemporary Women Playwrights into the 21st Century, Farfan, Penny and Ferris, Lesley, eds., Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013, 215-31.

Hill, Leslie, “The Suffragettes Invented Performance Art”, The Routledge Reader in Politics and Performance, De Gay, Jane and Lizbeth Goodman, eds., London and New York: Routledge, 2000, 150-56.

Holledge, Julie, Innocent Flowers: Women in the Edwardian Theatre, London: Virago Press, 1981.

Hynes, Samuel, The Edwardian Turn of Mind, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Innes, Christopher, Modern British Drama, 1992, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Kime Scott, Bonnie, ed., Gender in Modernism, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

King, Pamela, ed., The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and Performance, London: Routledge, 2016.

Ledger, Sally, The New Woman: Fiction and Feminism at the fin de siècle, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Pickering, Kenneth, Key Concepts in Drama and Performance, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005.

Powell, Kerry, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Theatre, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Steenbrugge, Charlotte, “Morality Plays and the Aftermath of Arundel’s Constitutions”, The Routledge Research Companion in Early Drama and Performance, Pamela King, ed., London: Routledge, 2016.

Stowell, Sheila, A Stage of their Own: Feminist Playwrights of the Suffrage Era, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992.

Tilghman, Carolyn, “Staging Suffrage: Women, Politics, and the Edwardian Theater, Comparative Drama, 45. 4 (Winter 2011), 339-60.

Whitelaw, Lis, The Life and Rebellious Time of Cicely Hamilton: Actress, Writer, Suffragist. The Women’s Press: London, 1990.

Wilson, A. E. Edwardian Theatre, London: Arthur Barker, 1951.

Woolf, Virginia, A Room of One’s Own, London: Vintage, 2001.

Internet resources

Cockin, Katharine, “Research Case Study: ‘One play is worth a hundred speeches’: How theatre helped the women’s suffrage movement succeed”. https://www.essex.ac.uk/research/showcase/one-play-is-worth-a-hundred-speeches. Accessed 15 August 2018.

Duncan, Sophie, “Who Were Edith Craig and Christopher St John?” https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/who-were-edith-craig-and-christopher-st-john. Accessed 15 August 2018.

Howes, Hetta Elizabeth, “Medieval Drama and the Mystery Plays”. https://www.bl.uk/medieval-literature/articles/medieval-drama-and-the-mystery-plays. Accessed 7 May 2018.

Ricketts, Ellen, “The Fractured Pageant: Queering Lesbian Lives in the early Twentieth Century”. https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/english-association/publications/peer-english/peer-english-10/7-ricketts. Accessed 15 August 2018.

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Notes

1 For a summary of some of the social and political changes which marked Edwardian Britain see Chothia 4-7.

2 The New Century Theatre, the Independent Theatre and the Stage Society all played an important role in promoting avant-garde theatre.

3 There were also productions of plays by Galsworthy, St John Hankin, Yeats, Masefield and Robins and translations of Ibsen, Hauptmann, Maeterlinck and Schnitzler. The Court became a model for an independent, alternative theatre, based on a repertory system. Barker was well-known for his focus on the dramatic text and the high quality of acting he demanded from all the actors.

4 “The New Woman of the fin de siècle had a multiple identity. She was, variously, a feminist activist, a social reformer, a popular novelist, a suffragette playwright, a woman poet; she was also often a fictional construct, a discursive response to the activities of the late nineteenth-century women’s movement” (Ledger 1).

5 The quest to make the stage a forum for debate had its roots in the Society Drama of the 1890s but Pinero and Jones’ portrayals of so-called New Women were ultimately conservative in order to accommodate the expectations of their bourgeois audiences.

6 The AFL was founded when, in 1908, about 400 women of the theatre met at the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly Circus. Members included Cicely Hamilton, Edith Craig, Ellen Terry, Lena Ashwell and Elizabeth Robins. These women wrote, produced and performed in their own plays or ran their own theatres. In May 1909, the AFL arranged a week of entertainments for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) Prince’s Skating Rink Exhibition and in November of the same year the first theatrical event organised by the AFL took place at the Scala Theatre. The League was not officially affiliated to either the WSPU or the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society (NUWSS). By 1914 membership had increased to 900. The League continued in existence until 1934.

7 Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952) earned her living from a young age. After ten years spent in touring companies, Hamilton became disillusioned with the parts for women and the sexism in the industry and turned her hand to writing. Hamilton also wrote the words to The March of the Women, the suffrage anthem composed by Ethel Smyth. She worked as a nurse during the First World War and in the 1920s campaigned with the Six Point Group for women's and children's rights, equal guardianship and pay. In the 1930s Hamilton became a director of the feminist magazine Time and Tide.

8 Hamilton reinforced the argument that marriage is the only form of livelihood available to untrained women by publishing the polemical “Marriage as a Trade” in 1909.

9 Edith Craig (1869-1947) was the daughter of the Victorian actress Ellen Terry and architect Edward William Godwin. Her unconventional childhood and progressive education instilled in her strong feminist values and a strong work ethic. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music and in Germany she joined the Lyceum Theatre where she worked with Terry and Henry Irving. A committed suffragist, Craig was a member of several suffrage societies and a founding member of the Actresses’ Franchise League. Having grown up with the concept of the New Woman Craig, like her mother, embodied in different ways this phenomenon. To quote Katharine Cockin: “While the concepts of women travelling alone, riding bicycles or buying property were forming the topics for debate and for fiction, they were already realities for Craig, St John and Terry” (Cockin 1998a, 59).

10 Margaret Nevinson (1858-1932) was a member of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League and the Tax Resistance League. In 1907, she was one of the suffragettes who left the WSPU to form the Women’s Freedom League. She wrote suffrage pamphlets and several articles for The Vote. Nevinson was also on the Hampstead Board of Guardians from 1904-1922, a School Board Manager, a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Council of Women Journalists.

11 During the same period, all over the country women had begun to take on more important roles in the theatre: Annie Horniman at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester, Lena Ashwell as manager of the Kingsway Theatre in London, and Gertrude Kingston followed by Lillah MacCarthy as actress-managers of the Little Theatre.

12 The first editions of Everyman, arguably the best-known morality, were printed between 1510 and 1535. Everyman was based on a Dutch play, Elckerlijc, published in 1495. There is no record of any performance of the play until Poel’s production in 1901. Facing death, the main character must give an account of his life. The play is a lesson in Christian doctrine as Good Deeds and Confession help him to achieve salvation.

13 The mystery plays, present across Europe, originated in the expansion of medieval church services in the twelfth century to accommodate those who did not understand Latin. As services became more like dramatic performances of biblical events, they started to be performed outside churches.

14 In Britain, the mysteries of York, Chester, Wakefield and “N” Town have survived. The largest and best-known was the York cycle, made up of 48 pageants.

15 Yeat’s The Hourglass (1903, revised in collaboration with Edward Gordon Craig in 1912) was an allegory influenced by Everyman, subtitled in the revised version “a morality”. Eliot’s pageant-like Murder in the Cathedral (1935) was based on the ritualistic structure of the Anglican liturgy.

16 This title appears in the first printed copy in 1510. See https://www.bl.uk/medieval-literature/articles/medieval-drama-and-the-mystery-plays (last accessed 2 December 2019).

17 Although they were enjoyed by most, by the sixteenth century, medieval moralities and mysteries were seen as having Roman Catholic tendencies and perceived as a threat to the new Protestant order. In order not to exacerbate the tensions, Elizabeth I banned the performance of all religious plays.

18 This quotation is taken from the exhibition I attended: “Edy Craig: Women, Suffrage and the Theatre” displayed at Smallhythe Place in Kent. The exhibition, celebrating the women of Smallhythe in the suffrage movement, opened on 5 April 2018 and was part of many events organised in 2018 to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK. Smallhythe belonged to Craig’s mother Ellen Terry and is now in the hands of the National Trust.

19 Ellen Terry in Votes for Women, 19 November 1909, 117.

20 Clifton Chronicle and Directory, 9 November 1910 (see www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/1009, last accessed August 2018).

21 Western Daily Press, 1 November 1910, 5.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24 According to Katharine Cockin, one performance in Sunderland attracted an audience of 2,000 (Cockin 1998a, 98).

25 Christabel Marshall (1871-1960) changed her name to Christopher St. John on conversion to Catholicism in 1912. After a history degree at Oxford she was secretary to Mrs Humphry Ward and Lady Randolph Churchill. She went on the stage for three years and became secretary to Ellen Terry. St. John went on to be a feminist playwright and suffragette. She lived with Edith Craig from 1899 and then in a ménage à trois with the artist Clare (Tony) Atwood from 1916 onwards in London and in the Priest’s House, next to Terry’s house at Smallhythe Place in Kent. The three of them were part of a community of artists, writers and theatre practitioners, many of whom were lesbian, gay or bisexual. In 1909 St. John co-wrote How the Vote was Won with Cicely Hamilton. She co-authored The Pot and the Kettle (1909) with Hamilton and The Coronation (1912) with female writer Charles Thursby. Her other plays, produced by the Pioneer Players, include The First Actress and Macrena. After Terry’s death in 1928, Christopher published the Shaw-Terry Correspondence (1931) and Terry’s Four Lectures on Shakespeare (1932). St. John and Craig revised and edited Terry’s Memoirs (1933). After Craig’s death in 1947, St. John and Atwood were responsible for the Ellen Terry Memorial Museum. St. John's papers are in the National Trust’s Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Archive.

26 Craig used her experience of staging pageants to further the cause when she arranged the Women’s Freedom League delegation for the Coronation Procession of 1911, as well as organizing many suffrage fairs to raise funds and attract attention to the women’s campaign.

27 1910 marked the start of a series of so-called Conciliation Bills for women’s suffrage but which, in the end, were never passed by Parliament.

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List of illustrations

Title Figure 1. Cicely Hamilton, 1907. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library
URL http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/docannexe/image/6948/img-1.png
File image/png, 1.1M
Title Figure 2. Edith Craig, c1910. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library
URL http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/docannexe/image/6948/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 76k
Title Figure 3. Processing suffragettes, c.1908. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE library
URL http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/docannexe/image/6948/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 209k
Title Figure 4. Members of the Actresses Franchise League during the Women’s Coronation Procession, 17 Jun 1911. © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE Library
URL http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/docannexe/image/6948/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 117k
Title Figure 5. Christopher St. John (née Christabel Marshall) © The Women’s Library Collection, LSE library
URL http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/docannexe/image/6948/img-5.png
File image/png, 1.2M
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References

Bibliographical reference

Eleanor Stewart, The Suffrage Pageant Play: Making and Performing Women’s History in Cicely Hamilton’s A Pageant of Great Women (1909) and Christopher St. John’s The First Actress (1911)Caliban, 62 | 2019, 73-97.

Electronic reference

Eleanor Stewart, The Suffrage Pageant Play: Making and Performing Women’s History in Cicely Hamilton’s A Pageant of Great Women (1909) and Christopher St. John’s The First Actress (1911)Caliban [Online], 62 | 2019, Online since 10 July 2021, connection on 03 October 2022. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/caliban/6948; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/caliban.6948

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About the author

Eleanor Stewart

Eleanor Stewart is a Lecturer in English at the University of Avignon, where she teaches British civilization and theatre studies. Her main field of research is the interaction between early 20th century British theatre and feminism. A member of the Avignon-based research group “Cultural Identity, Texts and Theatricality” (EA4277), she has published articles on both Edwardian and contemporary women dramatists. Her forthcoming book, La Nouvelle Femme sur la scène britannique, 1890-1914, is currently in press.

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Copyright

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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