Women’s Progression…good and not so good. What did the suffragettes & suffragists really want?

I think when we hear the words “suffragettes” or “suffragists” we conclude that women wanted the vote, wanted the chance to be heard – which, of course, is true. However, I think if we dig deeper into ourselves, even as we are today with the vote being granted to all women over the age of eighteen, we understand the motivation and passion behind all that these women attempted and suffered was about so much more than obtaining the vote.

To me, their fight was about validation, acknowledgement and respect.

The vote was finally granted to women over the age of 30 in February 1918 and then, ten years later, granted to women over 21 giving them equal standing with men. When we look back, it is almost unfathomable that women were not given a voice when so many of them worked in service, retail and factories all over the country. Were they not affected as much by financial, welfare and domestic decisions as men?

It is not hard to imagine the conversations that occurred between women all over the world about the injustice of having to work and raise children, to obey and service families with a budget deemed acceptable by fathers and husbands. How could the government not anticipate that women would eventually rise up? Would revolt?

After all, they were sending a clear message to women - You Do Not Matter.

Hence the battle that spanned decades bringing women together to form a solid, unshakeable, force that would not be silenced without victory.

The suffragists were the peaceful campaigners, relying on rallies and appeals, letters to MPs and people of influence. Then emerged the suffragettes, frustrated, angry and filled with determination. 

These women concluded only militant action would ensure they were heard. That it was only with drastic action that the press would provide space for them in their newspaper pages.

I have wanted to write a novel with women’s suffrage as the backdrop for many years but couldn’t seem to find the heroine whose story I wanted to tell. At least, I didn’t until I began to write the first book in my Pennington’s Department Store series, The Mistress of Pennington’s.

It wasn’t very far into writing the first draft that a secondary character emerged, and I knew I had found the woman to tell my ‘suffrage story’. Esther Stanbury was raised by a mother who had been active in the fight since Esther was a young girl. When her mother died, Esther pushed forward with the Cause…much to her father’s disappointment.

Banished from her home and sent to live in Bath with her aunt, Esther’s passion and determination as a suffragist did not falter. In A Rebel At Pennington’s, Esther grows and changes, eventually being faced with the dilemma of whether to join the suffragettes as her frustrations only grow more profound.

I loved writing this book and I loved writing Esther with all her beliefs, virtues and flaws. A Rebel At Pennington’s is most definitely a book of my heart and I hope readers feel that as they turn the pages.

Blurb & Buy Links:
One woman's journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington's Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women's progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.
When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life's challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists' determination to secure the vote.
Will Esther's rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Buy Links:


  1. Fabulous post. I'm glad you're paying tribute to the women we owe so much to. Good luck with this great series, Rachel.

    1. Thank you so much, Sandra! So sorry I missed this - your support means the world to me :) x