Miss Kitty (Katherina Maria) Marion

Gender: Female

Marital Status: Single

Born: 1871

Died: 1944

Place of birth: Rietberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Occupation: Actor

Main Suffrage Society: WSPU

Other Societies: AFL

Arrest Record: Yes

Recorded Entries: 10


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/activity/3203/what-were-the-suffrage-campaigners-fighting-for

Further Information:

Family information: Mother died when she was two years old. Came to live with aunt in England in 1886.

Additional Information: Kitty joined the WSPU in 1908, having spent a number of years touring in variety and music halls up and down the country, appearing on stage as a 'Refined Vocal Comedienne'. Kitty was soon taking part in deputations to the House of Commons, and sold the WSPU newspaper Votes for Women on the street ? a difficult task, which often exposed women to verbal abuse and, on occasion, physical assault. Perhaps unsurprisingly as an actor, Kitty also joined the Actresses Franchise League (AFL) when it formed in 1909, and was arrested that year taking part in another deputation. In 1909, Kitty was arrested again. This time she travelled to Newcastle, where she knew that Liberal Party politician Lloyd George was visiting, and threw a stone at a post office window there. She was given a one-month sentence, went on hunger strike, was forcibly fed and set fire to her cell in protest. Kitty continued with her stage career, appearing in WSPU processions in between stage shows. She was arrested on 'Black Friday' in 1910 and again shortly afterwards, but discharged. In 1911 she was imprisoned again for taking part in protests after the much-hoped-for Conciliation Bill was 'torpedoed' by the government. She was arrested again in 1912, for smashing windows in London as part of an organised protest. With over 20 other women, she was taken to Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, to serve her six-month sentence (Holloway Prison in London was full). She went on hunger strike with the other imprisoned suffragettes and was forcibly fed. She noted how the female prison warders, who had already carried out force-feeding on 20 women before her, were visibly upset. In September, she heckled Liberal politician and Welshman Lloyd George when he was speaking in Wrexham, and she 'received blows and abuse from every side, my hat being torn off and my hair pulled'. When all suffragettes were told by Christabel Pankhurst to do as much damage as they could in 1913, she set about several acts of arson, including burning down the house of an MP in Sussex. She was arrested for setting fire to the Grandstand at Hurst Park Racecourse, which she saw as a 'most appropriate beacon' as it was not long after Emily Wilding Davison's death at a racecourse in Derby. Kitty was sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour. After a hunger and thirst strike, she was temporarily released under the 'Cat and Mouse Act'. After that followed a series of arsons while on the run from recapture by the police. She was recognised and reimprisoned at the end of the year, went on hunger strike and was forcibly fed twice a day. She was force-fed a staggering 232 times before being released due to ill health, again under the 'Cat and Mouse Act', to recover at a WSPU nursing home. Despite being watched by police from CID, she slipped away and remained at large until the war broke out in 1914. She disagreed with the Pankhursts' 'giving up' of the women's suffrage cause for the war effort and, being German-born, as anti-German feelings increased, felt compelled to leave for America.

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