Suffragette City: Leonora Cohen And The Leeds WSPU At Skipton Library
One Saturday in February 1913, an elegantly-dressed woman emerged from the London Underground with an iron bar concealed beneath her coat. Walking the short distance to the Tower of London, Leonora Cohen entered the building with a view to making her way to the Crown Jewels which were then housed within the Wakefield Tower.
As she approached the intimidating metalled housing which contained the coronation regalia she would have attracted little attention, owing to the hordes of excited schoolchildren milling around the Jewel room. But moments later, after flinging the bar into the case containing the insignia of the Order of Merit, she was thrown to the ground by the Yeoman Warders and arrested. Around the bar was wrapped a note containing the following words:
Jewel House, Tower of London. My Protest to the Government for its refusal to Enfranchise Women, but continues to torture women prisoners – Deeds Not Words. Leonora Cohen / (reverse) Votes for Women. 100 Years of Constitutional Petition, Resolutions, Meetings & Processions have Failed.
Deeds not Words: Leonora Cohen, from Leeds, was a committed and leading supporter of the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) who remained true to her belief that female suffrage could only be achieved using militant tactics.
Serving more than one term in gaol, and enduring a hunger strike, Leonora's direct approach was guaranteed to get noticed.
The 'Tower Suffragette', who also acted as Emily Pankhurst's bodyguard during the early years of protest, remained a supporter of women's rights, Trade Unionism, and later Feminism, throughout her very long life. She died in North Wales on 4th September, 1978, at the age of 105.
In this, the centenary year of the first stage of women's enfranchisement, Skipton Library will be celebrating the life of Leonora Cohen OBE - Yorkshire suffragette - with a commemorative event.
As part of a major ongoing outreach project, Helen Pratt, Suffragist expert, and community curator at Temple Newsam House in Leeds, will be giving a talk on the theme of Leonora Cohen, together with a presentation of contemporary WSPU dress and livery.
Leonora Cohen OBE - Skipton Library.
Thursday 25th January, 2018 at 10.45am. Event Free. Refreshments available.
Suffragette City: Leonora Cohen And The Leeds WSPU At Skipton Library, 13th January 2018, 15:02 PM