A Suffragette's Love-Letters 1

Chatto & Windus, , 1907


In stock

Product Description

First edition. The book is bound in the original illustrated wraps, which are quite toned and marked with some loss, closed tears and creasing. The text block is slightly toned, foxed and rather dog-eared. Overall the book is in fragile shape, but as paperback that is well over a century old it is remarkable that it still survives. A rare suffragette novel, of the epistolary variety. The letters are between a betrothed couple, Henry and Eleanor; at the start Eleanor declines an insistent Henry’s desire to meet on the anniversary of their betrothal to instead attend an important meeting organised by her friend Amy, which we learn is a meeting of Suffragettes. The novel documents Eleanor’s development into an increasingly independent woman, continually challenging Hal’s prejudices and preconceptions. For instance when he makes an attack women’s papers and their obsession with fashion and suggests that these papers are “mirrors of twentieth century women.” and that the reflection shows them is a poor light she replies: “[鈥 if ladies’ papers and Women’s Columns are magic mirrors at all, they don’t reflect what women are: they reflect what women are imagined to be by men. And I say that these men-owned, men-made, men-held mirrors distort the truth into so intolerable a caricature that this alone would be sufficient reason for women to upset the peace and quietness of the country till they are properly understood and equitably treated.”. Strong stuff, and Hal responds in suitably whiney yet patronising fashion calling her “Norina, my own best and most beautiful pet Norina”, before firmly explaining that: “The man is the head of the woman. [鈥 man not woman, is the primate of humanity. Woman is not a man’s equal.”. Just as you are preparing for the glorious ending when Eleanor breaks off the engagement with the objectionable Henry and rides off into the sunset on a tandem with Amy, she doesn’t. Instead she becomes disillusioned and gives up the cause due to Amy and the curate being caught spooning in the woods, finishing her last letter: “She cuddles on the rug and snuggles against his knee; and, once more, she is simply her own, very own, Henri’s own, very own Little Noreen.”. Oh well, only another eleven years to wait for the 1918 sequel, when limping, shell-shocked Hal finally sees reason.