Emily Davison

The news of the death of Emily Davison went all around the world, on the 4th June 1913, at the Epsom Derby dressed in white and stood at Tattenham Corner stood Emily Wilding Davison. With the sound of speeding horses coming towards her, Emily ducked under the barrier and tried to grab at the reins of the King’s Horse Anmer as it passed. Davison had no chance and ended up pulling down the horse as it passed bringing the horse down on top of her. Although the jockey only received minor injuries, Davison received a number of kicks and blows from the horse including a number to the head by the kicking horse. Davison was taken to a local hospital where they tried to relieve the pressure on her brain, but she died four days later having never regained consciousness.

Born on the 11th October 1872, Davison came from a middle class background, although after the death of her father when she was 19, the family income began to decline and she had to leave the Royal Holloway college and take employment as a governess. She did however later earn enough money and managed to attend a women’s college in Oxford where she would gain a first class degree in English.

Davison would later on grow frustrated at the lack of opportunities for women, having to settle for a job as a teacher. In 1906 this frustration would lead her to join the WSPU Women’s Social and Political Union, which was originally founded by Emmeline Pankhurst to campaign for votes for women. Davison was a well-balanced and much liked character, who loved to increase the awareness and passion for her cause, so much so that it did get her imprisoned on a number of occasions. Davison suffered a number of harsh punishments while in prison, when she went on hunger strike as a protest she was drenched with icy water from a hose, and she was then forcibly fed.

​Over time Davison would come up with ever more ways to try and cause trouble and bring notice to her cause, and again she was continually imprisoned for these crimes. I t was getting to point where she thought that something more significant needed to happened for people to take notice as going on hunger strike was not having the effect needed. In January 1913, Davidson was recuperating from another spell in prison and much like the WSPU, she had fallen on hard times. The WSPU was having to fight against a hard line government whose thoughts in 1913 were elsewhere rather than the rights of women to vote. June 1913 would see the death of Emily Davison at the Derby, Davison had achieved her goal of getting noticed and attention to the plight of women of the day. Davison’s funeral saw over 5000 women march alongside the funeral procession in London. Emily Davison should not be seen as a mad woman or unbalanced, after all she had bought a return rail ticket to the Derby, she had planned to return, but she was strongly passionate about her faith as an Anglican and to her she was just doing the duty of her god.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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