The Millicent Fawcett statue by Gillian Wearing has been unveiled in Parliament Square today. It is the first statue in the square to depict a woman.
Millicent Garrett Fawcett led the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). This was a distinct organisation from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Unlike the ‘Suffragettes’, Fawcett and the NUWSS eschewed militancy and violence, an approach which appealed to my great-grandmother, Marjory Ingle.
Marjory was radicalised to the cause of women’s suffrage while she was a teacher in West Yorkshire in 1904, and met prominent suffragists such as Ethel Annakin, Isabella Ford, Mary Gawthorpe and Millicent Price at the Leeds Arts Club. By 1909 Marjory had moved to the Browning Settlement in Walworth, south London, where she was recruited as a paid organiser for the NUWSS. Mrs Fawcett described the organisers as “mostly highly intelligent young women of University education”.
Earlier this year, on the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, I posted extracts from The World of an Insignificant Woman, the biography of Marjory Ingle by her daughter Catherine Thackray (my great-aunt).
The construction of a statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square is a vindication of the work of the NUWSS. It honours all the women, including my great-grandmother Marjory Ingle, who played an integral part in their successful campaign. I couldn’t be more proud.