Mary Watts and Women’s Suffrage

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Posted 2nd March 2018

Mary Watts and Women's Suffrage

The eightieth anniversary of Mary Watts's death in 2018 marks one hundred years since the Representation of the People Act in 1918, which enabled all men and some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time, and ninety years since the Equal Franchise Act in 1928, which finally gave women the right to vote at age twenty-one on the same terms as men.

To coincide with this significant anniversary Watts Gallery – Artists' Village will present a display titled 'Mary Watts: Pioneering Suffragist'. Drawing on new research undertaken by Dr Lucy Ella Rose, the display will explore Mary Watts as a figurehead of non-militant feminism in her community. Mary Watts not only attended suffrage meetings but also convened them at her Surrey studio-home, Limnerslease, where 'Mary Watts: Pioneering Suffragist' will be held.

Showcasing images of Mary Watts alongside newspaper clippings, which record her participation in the Great Suffragist Pilgrimage and her impassioned speech at a 1913 meeting, this display articulates the central role Mary played in local suffrage networks. It also features some of the strong female figures and symbols of freedom that appear in Mary Watts's work, including a Compton Pottery terracotta figure of St Joan of Arc, the patron saint of the suffragette.

Dr Lucy Ella Rose
Lecturer in Victorian Literature, University of Surrey

This International Women's Day, join Dr Lucy Ella Rose and guests for the launch of her publication, Suffragists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image. Hear extracts and purchase a signed copy. Tickets available online.