Reading List: The Battle for the Ballot Box
In February 1918, after a bitter and complex struggle, certain women in Britain and Ireland gained the right to vote. They had to be over 30, property owners, or graduates voting in a university constituency. Still, it was a beginning.
In 1923, in the Irish Free State the vote was extended to all women over 21.
It took ten more years before the Representation of the People Act in 1928 granted all women in Great Britain and Northern Ireland over the age of 21 the right to vote on the same terms as men.
Prior to World War I, women in certain countries had already gained the right to vote, such as in Finland, Norway, Denmark and in the Australian states. Towards the end of the First World War women in Poland, Germany, Russia and Canada could also vote. French women (besides women in certain Swiss cantons) were the last in Western countries to be granted suffrage in 1944. In the United States a portion of the female population won the right to vote in 1919 however African American and Native American women had to wait until 1965 to vote.
While celebrating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of women's right to vote in Britain and Ireland, it's important to recall the struggles women went through in order to gain this fundamental right. The following list of books (including a text by Mary Wollstonecraft vindicating women's rights in the 18th century) focus on this battle for the ballot box that included women being tracked by special police units, imprisonment, hunger strikes, force feeding, harassment campaigns and news media bias, among other strategies they were up against.
Additionally it's interesting to read here about Thorley Smith, the first male Parliamentary candidate to stand on a women's suffrage ticket.
Banner image of suffragettes holding a sign containing a William Rooney quote