Today – February 6th 2018 – is the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which enabled some women over the age of 30 to vote for the first time and paved the way for universal suffrage 10 years later.
To celebrate this we are profiling Mabel Capper, Warrington’s first female journalist who devoted much of her life to the struggle for women’s suffrage.
Manchester-born Mabel Capper came from a family of active suffrage campaigners. Her mother was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union and her father and brother were involved in the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.
Mabel started her career as a journalist at the young age of 10 by editing a manuscript magazine and quickly became the first female journalist on the Warrington Examiner in 1907. Described as the “engaging lady journalist” she actively publicly corresponded with other local newspapers such as the Manchester Guardian, arguing the cause for women’s suffrage.
Between the years 1907 and 1912 Mabel dedicated much of her time to the cause, including taking part in by-elections and protest campaigns throughout the country. She also took part in more militant activities such as the disruption of political meetings and polling stations as well as window-breaking. She was even one of 4 suffragettes accused of targeting Prime Minister Asquith with a bomb in Dublin, a charge that was eventually withdrawn.
Mabel was imprisoned a total of six times and was one of the first suffragettes to be force-fed as the result of a hunger strike.
In 1912 her first play, entitled ‘The Betrothal of Number 13’ was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The subject matter was the stigma imposed by imprisonment, even on the innocent.
Following the declaration of war in 1914, Mabel became a nurse with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, later becoming involved with the pacifist and socialist movements. After the war she returned to journalism and worked as a journalist on the Daily Herald.
Mabel married fellow writer Cecil Chisholm in Hampstead in 1921. Following the Second World War she moved to Hastings, where she died in 1966.
Our display ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ celebrating the Warrington women who fought for women’s suffrage runs until 28th April 2018.