To Emily Wilding Davison, suffragette. From Sarah.


Dear Emily Wilding Davison, I was about 10 when I heard about how you died; I felt like a rush of panic, admiration and desire to be just like you. You fought so tirelessly for what you believed in. You cared. You pushed so hard - more and more until the only thing left to part with was your mortality. It made me wonder what I would put my life on the line for? The WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) fight was told to me like it was history - something that happened in the past that we can look back on with distance because the ‘problem’ was solved, except now, as an adult, I realise that the fight you gave your life to is still ongoing. Every day. And I almost feel, as my childhood hero, that I have to play a part in that daily fight. The older I got, the more I thought about you - your motivation, the surrounding aspects, how your death affected the cause - I engaged in wondering if some of the extreme measures were terrorist acts. I actually feel uncomfortable writing the word terrorist in a letter to you. Is there such a thing as a positive terrorist? I felt for a while like questioning it almost betrayed what you believed in, but I think it’s important to try and see everything from every angle. So, who are you? Were you? Are you? Every time someone asks me ‘Who would your dream guests at a dinner party be?’, you are always on my list. I feel like I want to ask you so many questions about you, your life, your experiences, your beliefs but I’m almost anxious about what you would tell me in case it’s not what I would want to hear. You’ve been a large influential part of my life, a hero of sorts, for over two decades, so I almost feel like I’ve created you - a version of you in my mind. You, your story, your work fascinate me and I wish I could’ve met you. Through my work (inspired by you!) I met one of your living family members - she’s so lovely and continuing your fight, too. I wonder if you’d get on? I wonder if you knew what a huge impact you would have on your family, my family, my history, society? Of course you couldn’t but it’s almost comforting to think you would and that’s why you knew that the end of tour life meant the start of others’. Thank you for all you did, whatever your thought and intention, you’ve made a huge impact on me, and in turn, those around me. How do you end a letter to your dead hero? I don’t know. It’s as much for me as it is for you. Sarah

About Emily Wilding Davison

suffragette. Born 1872, died 1913. More information about Emily Wilding Davison.

Received April 7, 2017.
Published May 10, 2017.