Suffragettes and Surrey: 100 years after the Epsom Derby Protest

100 years ago, in 1913, Emily Davison died after throwing herself in front of the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby in Surrey. The county has many connections with the women’s suffrage movement. Dame Ethel Smyth, who lived near Frimley Green and later in Woking, composed the suffragette anthem, ‘The March of the Women’. This was described at the time both as a hymn and a call to battle. There are interesting links between Smyth and the scholarship currently being undertaken on lesbian sexuality and on women’s writing by a number of staff in English Literature here at Surrey. Smyth had several relationships with women, and fell in love with both Emmeline Pankhurst and Virginia Woolf. Furthermore, Smyth was a writer as well as a composer. It is appropriate therefore that the University’s School of Art has recently appointed the musicologist Dr Chris Wiley, who has researched the connections between Smyth’s work and her sexuality. A century after Davison’s death, it is timely to remember the achievements as well as the sacrifices of the Surrey Suffragettes.