The Fight for the Vote

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While most people might be familiar with the name Pankhurst, there has been less focus on the campaign for the right to vote outside of London. Many incidents have been forgotten, including one dramatic event in Birmingham’s Art Gallery.

On 9 June 1914 Bertha Ryland, a 32-year-old woman living at 19 Hermitage Road, Edgbaston, walked into Birmingham Art Gallery with different intentions from those of her fellow visitors and slashed a painting, Master Thornhill,by the well-known eighteenth-century artist George Romney. Bertha was a suffragette, a member of the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU), an organisation she had joined, with her mother Alice, in 1908.

Alice Ryland had been a former committee member of the Birmingham Women’s Suffrage Society (BWSS) but had grown disenchanted with the slow progress being made by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), led by Millicent Garret Fawcett, to win women the right to vote.

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