In 2013 some of our choir walked from Lands End to St Just, inspired by the March of the Women, 100 years before, who walked from Land’s End to London demanding Votes for Women. Tonight, in the atrium of the Eco Park we sang March of the Women, conducted by our leader, Claire, using a toothbrush.
Ethel Smyth’s rousing March of the Women was composed in 1910 to words by Cicely Hamilton, with a tune adapted from a traditional Italian melody. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928) introduced it as the official anthem of the Women’s Social and Political Union and it became associated with the suffrage movement more generally. Info from the British Library
In 1911 it was sung on Pall Mall in celebration of the release from prison of a number of activists. The following year, the conductor Thomas Beecham (1879–1961) apparently heard it sung in Holloway Prison, where Smyth and Pankhurst were imprisoned and it is said that Ethel Smyth conducted the imprisoned women singing at their windows, using her toothbrush as a baton. Some of you know that my Great Granny was a Suffragette imprisoned and force fed in Holloway. I like to think she may have known and sung this song.
There was a rueful smile when I saw this cartoon.