Miss Lilian Ida Lenton

Gender: Female

Marital Status: Single

Born: 1891

Died: 1972

Place of birth: Leicester, Leicestershire, England

Occupation: Dancer

Main Suffrage Society: WSPU

Arrest Record: Yes

Recorded Entries: 6


Other sources: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4769024
Elizabeth Crawford, The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866?1928 (1999)

Database linked sources: https://www.suffrageresources.org.uk/resource/3215/lilian-lenton

Further Information:

Additional Information: Lilian joined the WSPU after she had finished her qualifications, aged 21. She was arrested under the alias 'Ida Inkley' and sentenced to two months in prison after taking part in the WSPU window-smashing campaign in March 1912. By 1913, violent militancy was reaching its height and at this time Lilian decided she wanted to commit an act of arson. She set out on a series of such actions. She was arrested and put in prison on suspicion of setting fire to the tea pavilion in Kew Gardens. She went on hunger strike and, within two days, was forcibly fed. She was very quickly released from prison, as she became seriously ill with pleurisy after food force-fed through a tube had entered her lungs instead of her stomach. There was outrage when the Home Secretary denied that she had been forcibly fed. The Home Office's own papers proved this to be false. Once she had recovered, Lilian avoided recapture until she was arrested and charged as 'May Dennis' for setting an empty house on fire in Doncaster, with accomplice Harry Johnson. She was released from a prison in Leeds after hunger striking. She was not forcibly fed. In July 1913, Lilian escaped to France in disguise, and a 'wanted' photograph of her was issued. She returned to England and was rearrested while reclaiming a lost-luggage bicycle at Paddington Station, London. Then began a cycle of hunger striking, forcible feeding, release under the 'Cat and Mouse Act', rearrest, imprisonment and so on. While on the run, she appears to have set fire to an empty house in Cheltenham. She was still on the run when the WSPU brought an end to militancy in 1914 ? though she had been recaptured in Birkenhead, Liverpool, before another hunger strike and release in early May. In the end, Lilian was unimpressed by how the vote was won in 1918, as she herself did not qualify under the terms of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

Other Suffrage Activities: Lilian worked with the Scottish Women's Hospitals Unit in Serbia during the First World War, and later for the British Embassy in Stockholm. She became a speaker for the Save the Children Fund and, between 1924 and 1933, an organiser and speaker for the Women's Freedom League (WFL). She also worked with animal welfare organisations and, until 1953, was the secretary of the National Union of Women Teachers.

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