Did Emily Davison kill herself so women could get the vote?

Emily Davison, one of the most famous suffragettes, is still famous in the world today, she is remembered for her violent protests, fire starting, stone throwing, broken windows and numerous assaults, this caused her to go to prison many times. In this essay I will explain the events of Emily Davison's life in more depth.

Emily Wilding Davison was born in Blackheath, in Southeast London on 11 October 1872. She studied at Royal Holloway College and at Oxford University, despite the fact that women were not allowed to take degrees at that time. In 1906, she joined the Women's Social and Political Union, otherwise known as the WSPU, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst. Three years later she gave up her job as a teacher and went to work full time for the suffragette's. She was frequently arrested for acts ranging from causing a public disturbance to burning post boxes and spent a number of short periods in jail, I know this information from reading her prison record.

Emily, went on hunger strike in Strangeways Prison and that lead to being force fed, she described the torture as 'barbaric' she then threw herself down an iron staircase as a protest. She landed on wire netting, which saved her, however, she suffered some severe spinal damage. Emily Davison and a fellow militant in whose flat she lived, she had organised a Derby protest without tragedy, in which she would wave the purple, white, and green Suffragette flag at Tottenham Corner, which they hoped would stop the race. On the day of the protest, As the horses rounded Tottenham Corner, Emily slipped under the railings and ran out on to the course in an attempt to stop the race, Some say she tried to pin the Suffragettes flag onto the chest of the horse, Others say she held a piece of paper up to avoid seeing the horses charge up to her. As the horse's rounded Tottenham Corner, One of the horse's chest hit Emily and the impact fractured the base of her skull. She was then transferred to Epsom Cottage Hospital. She died four days later without regaining consciousness.

It is believed Emily commit suicide in hope for people to change their opinion and get women the vote. A possibility of her reason for entering the race track was that she was trying to attach a flag to the King's horse, so when the horse crossed the finishing line it would quite literally be flying the suffragette flag. Evidence for this was that she had supposedly been seen in the weeks before stopping horses in the park near her house. However, this is only one of many theories, i found this information in my own research. It is still uncertain whether Emily truly intended to kill herself in the name of the suffragette cause that day. In her handbag was found a return train ticket and an invitation to a suffragette meeting that night, which do not suggest that the incident was planned. However Emily’s previous actions might suggest she was prepared to kill herself for the cause. In my opinion i beleive Emily, had planned a big protest in which she thought would make people think again, on women being able to vote, she had then, before the day of the protest written a letter to her mother, incase the plan had gone disastrously wrong in which it did, to back this up, after her death her bag was examined and inside was a returtn ticket to a suffragette meeting the following week, i do believe she was very determined and was willing to make a difference, but she said herself, that a Suffragette dying in prison would look bad for the authorities, therefore i believe Emily Davison's death was indeed accidentle, i have come to this conclusion from using my own research.

The public viewed her actions as those of a 'mentally ill fanatic' and some previous supporters of the suffragette movement were so appalled by the incident, they ceased to be associated with 'the cause'. The media concentrated on the wellbeing of the horse and jockey (who seemed to never recover from the guilt he felt) rather than the cause for which Emily died.
The First World War then pulled society together and took the focus away from political activism of this sort. It was not until 1928 with the passing of the Equal Franchise Billthat women over 21 were finally allowed the vote.


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