Miss Dora Marsden

Gender: Female

Marital Status: Single

Born: 1882

Died: 1960

Place of birth: Marsden, Yorkshire, England

Education: Local pupil-teacher system; Owen's College, Manchester

Occupation: Teacher

Main Suffrage Society: WSPU

Society Role: Organiser

Arrest Record: Yes

Recorded Entries: 3


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

Further Information:

Family information: Father was a 'woollen waste' dealer, who left his wife and five children and went to America in 1890.

Additional Information: Dora volunteered to organise for the WSPU in Manchester in 1908. The following year she resigned from her then post as headmistress of Altrincham Pupil-Teacher Centre, so that she could join a WSPU deputation, made up mostly of Lancashire women, to the House of Commons. She was arrested at the deputation and sentenced to one month in prison. She spent a brief spell organising in London, before returning to the north, where, in 1909, she was arrested with others for breaking the windows of a hall in White City, Manchester. She was sentenced to two months in Strangeways Prison, where she went on hunger strike and was released after a few days. She spent much of her time in prison naked because she refused to wear the prison uniform and kept stripping it off when forced to dress in it. She was placed in a straitjacket. Dora was also thrown out for heckling a meeting in protest at women's treatment in prison and, in 1910, interrupted a 'spectacular fashion meeting' held at the Empire Hall by Winston Churchill. Dora was not a great organiser, failing to keep on top of records and accounts, and as her relationship with those at the WSPU offices worsened, she decided in early 1911 to resign. Struggling to find a place, she started her own radical feminist magazine quite separate from the suffrage movement, The Freewoman. The magazine only lasted for just under a year, but people either loved it or hated it ? perhaps it was the 'Marmite' magazine of its era. In it, among other controversial debates, Marsden attacked the WSPU and the former suffragette militancy that she had been involved with.

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