June 9, 1912, To the Editor of The Sunday Times, “Suffragists in Prison”
This letter, written from Holloway near the end of her imprisonment there, indicates Davison’s continuing frustration at the Liberal Government’s refusal to treat imprisoned suffragettes as political prisoners. Mr. McKenna’s glib public assurances belied the reality of suffering and the status of the suffragettes who were willing to undergo imprisonment for their cause. The letter also reveals her indomitable spirit, as it promises future protests.
Sir,–It has come to my ears that Mr. McKenna, in receiving the deputation who went to him asking that those who were imprisoned for political offences should be treated as political prisoners whilst apparently denying that in ‘progressive’ England there was any Parliamentary recognition of such an offence, glibly assured the deputation that Suffragist prisoners were well treated in here when they ‘conformed to prison regulations’! Of this condition he apparently made a merit, forgetting that if we had been so foolish as to go on ‘conforming’ in the past we should never have had Rule 243A, mangled or otherwise, offered to us, and would certainly never have been looked upon, as we undoubtedly now are, by all intellectual persons, as political offenders and certainly not criminals. Until we win this recognition fully some ‘non-conformity’ may still be needed and politic!—Yours, etc.,
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
Holloway Prison, June 5