Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Postcards from the edge

Here's Rosie's postcard...

10 April 1913
My dearest Mabel,

I know you are angry with me. I know you will throw this on the fire. But I shall send it in any case. You’ll have read about the affair by now. It’s in the Courier.

Yes, it was done in protest at Mrs. P being sent down on yet another flummery-mummery charge of incitement. But the intoxication of dashing up and down the waxed parquet, toffee hammers in our fists! Smashing the glass of a dozen paintings before they could hold all three of us down!

I could tell you we did not mean serious damage, which is what I said in court. You ask how I could attack pictures of ladies like ourselves. But Mabel; when I saw those daubs, a veil was torn away. They are not women: they are falsehoods told in paint with spotless skin, perfect limbs, unlined faces, hands that have never had to wring nappies. They are men’s lies told to make us hate our bodies.

I shall not lie and say I did it for you. I did it for all of us, even those who did not want it. I would do the same again, tomorrow.

I remain,
Your affectionate mother,
Annie Briggs

© 2013 Rosie Garland

Historical Note
On 3rd April 1913, Annie Briggs (48, 'a housekeeper'), Evelyn Manesta (25, 'a governess') and Lillian Forrester (33) launched a direct action to protest at the imprisonment and forced-feeding of suffragettes. They waited until Manchester Art Gallery was almost empty at 9pm. Taking toffee hammers from their handbags, they dashed about the room and broke the glass on over a dozen well-known paintings before being overwhelmed by guards.