New Thanet author tells the other half of the story
Ever since Laura Probert met a real live suffragette on holiday in Guernsey when she was eight years old she has been interested in the lives of women in late Victorian and Edwardian times. A retired librarian, who now lives in an Edwardian house in Ramsgate, Laura cares passionately about the town and its history. When she joined the Ramsgate Society Laura realised that most of the illustrated talks were about sailors, soldiers and smugglers so she decided to tell the other half of the story and research the history of women in East Kent. Her first talk was about Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills, Ramsgate's first lady mayor and the town's very generous benefactress. Laura has set up Millicent Press named after her grand-daughter Millicent Grace, but also to honour Millicent Garrett Fawcett, one of the leading suffragettes.
Laura's first book “Women of Kent rally to the Cause” looks at suffrage activity in East and South Kent (1909-1918) taken mainly from local press reports for Canterbury, Deal, Dover, Folkestone, Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs. People were usually surprised when Laura mentioned what she was writing about as they did not think there were any suffragettes in Kent. Setting the scene with chapters on Edwardian Thanet and the fashions of the day, as advertised in local newspapers of the period, this book sets out to dispel that myth.
During the long Edwardian summers many women were alone in Kent's seaside resorts from Monday to Friday while their menfolk worked in the City. They therefore had more freedom than normal to attend meetings and take part in suffrage-related activities. Many well-known suffragist speakers, including Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, came to Kent to speak and to encourage women to join suffrage societies.
Margate Local Studies Library put Laura in touch with the grand-daughter of a suffragist, Beatrice Chapman, who had been an active member of the NUWSS in Margate in 1913. Laura proudly wore her original badge and ribbon when she spoke at a Women's History Conference at the University of Kent in Chatham recently. The logo for Millicent Press is adapted from one of the Chapman family's photographs.
“Women of Kent Rally to the Cause”
(ISBN 978-0-9558674-0-8) is available from
Millicent Press, PO Box 441, Ramsgate CT11 7WU
£9 per copy including postage and packing.