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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Apr-18 > Books in brief

Books in brief

Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

by Diane Atkinson (Bloomsbury, £30)

In a new biography of the suffragette movement, Diane Atkinson has written not just a useful guide, but a terrific page-turner. It reads at times like a novel, but with characters and events you couldn’t make up. As you would expect, the Pankhursts are here in force, but so too are the music hall star Kitty Marion, weaver Dora Thewlis, clerk Jessie Stephenson, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and more, showing a movement much broader than its commonly presented image as exclusively white and middle class.

Even before the founding of the Pankhursts’ Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), working-class women were actively campaigning for the vote. Grande dame Emmeline Pankhurst was assisted by factory workers Annie Kenney and Hannah Mitchell; legions of working-class women joined, and formed, WSPU branches.

All-out militancy came only after decades of law-abiding protest, and as a response to astonishing levels of state brutality. Suffragettes were charged by mounted officers, kicked and beaten, and often sexually assaulted by police as well as by civilian men. At a meeting in 1908, 25-year-old Helen Ogston was burned with a cigar and punched on the breast. Pankhurst described women after the meeting “bruised, clothes torn, false teeth knocked out, eyes swollen, noses bleeding.”

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect's April issue: Four writers explain how our relationship with death has changed in as technological and medical advances have been made in recent years. Joanna Bourke explores how modern life is now able to live on through social media sites, Cathy Rentzenbrink explains how (referring to the case of her own brother) a “twilight zone,” in which someone is neither alive nor dead, has been created through medical advances. Michael Marmot argues that we are experiencing a change in regards to our life expectancy—over the course of a series of decades we have seen life expectancy increase, but what do recent decreases actually mean. Meanwhile, Philip Ball writes about his participation in an experiment to create a second brain from his own flesh. Elsewhere in the issues: Jane Kinninmont questions whether the Saudi Crown Price, Mohammed bin Salman, really knows what he’s doing, Daniel Howden charts how European attitudes to migrants might be changing and Jay Elwes asks: Does a Cornish mine hold the answer to questions about the UK’s green future?