A meticulous account of the battle for equality

Struggle and Suffrage in Glasgow comes with the subtitle of ‘women’s lives and the fight for equality’, and that’s exactly what this book is.

It chronicles events that took place as the women of Glasgow battled for the right to vote: marching on the streets, daring escapes from under the noses of police officers, and a meeting which ended in a riot.

Author Judith Vallely has created a fascinating tome, which chronicles just how far women just a century ago went in order to fight for their equality, fighting for things that so many will take for granted these days – university education, workers’ rights, and of course the right to vote and be elected to the Houses of Parliament.

The book highlights the darker and lighter moments of the fight. On a dark January night in 1914, Glasgow’s iconic Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens became the target of a bomb attack which shattered 27 large panes of glass. The police concluded it was the work of militant suffragettes after discovering footprints of ladies’ shoes and an empty champagne bottle and cake.

The tales of women being force fed when they refused to eat are nothing short of disturbing, with tubes forced down their throats.

Highlighting the inspirational women of Glasgow of the time and their quest for equal rights and improvements in all areas of society, the book has fascinating illustrations, including a horrific anti-suffrage postcard, which depicts a woman with an oversized cartoon tongue sticking out, with scissors on it, and the caption: ‘That ugly mouth, why don’t you shut it? If I had your tongue like this I’d cut it.’

This book celebrates how things changed, as women moved from factories to driving trams to staffing hospitals on the frontline when war broke out, with a selection of fascinating quotes from newspaper coverage at the time through. A meticulous work of research.

Struggle and Suffrage in Glasgow, by Judith Vallely, published by Pen and Sword, £12.99.

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