Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison 'Holloway Gaol'. Written in pencil, on two sides of the paper. Transcript:

Dearest Mother,

I feel as if I had been here a very long time but I am quite well and I am not minding the physical discomforts at all only the lack of exercise and the monotony and the idleness when there is so much to be done outside. I wonder if you will be in London for the Albert Hall meeting on the 20 or 22nd I think. It may be a very wonderful meeting. I hear that Mr Zangwill is to speak.

Barbara Ayrton is here but in another great block of the prison and I have only once seen her for a moment. It is difficult to realise that there is any outside world when one lives in a grinding official machine, cut off even from the sound of the trams. The police vans which rattle in about 6 oc are the closest link we have, and I can't say that they seem to bring me into intimate touch with the life I know best! I am dreadfully sorry for some of the people - our people I mean, for we do not see enough of the ordinary prisoners to know much about their circumstances. Many of our women have been sentenced to 2 mos hard labour for windows valued at 2/= and 3/= and 5/=, just little panes not of plate glass. Of course they should have realised before doing it that it was always possible that we shd all get maximum sentences. If one enters a rebellion, one does it deliberately and shd be ready to face the consequences calmly. The thing which strikes me very much is the way the women from poorer homes mind the prison food and the hard beds and the cold water etc etc. The women who have been used to luxuries don't mind about these things nearly so much - in fact not at all. I wonder if it is the same in a campaign and whether the officers stand deprivations with much less suffering than the men.

We have been to chapel several times. The Chaplain seems to fall short of what he might do and say under the circumstances but I suppose if it is one's job to be a prison chaplain one gets over the feeling of the immense tragedy and waste and sorrow of this place.

The girls even in their hideous prison clothes look quite ordinary people. The vast proportion of them are here for petty theft connected with street walking! Charged by the men who have used them! No outside evidence being given. It is too hideously mean, isn't it? In itself ample reason for being a suffragist.

The one hopeful thing about his place is the tone of the wardresses. They are ignorant women, of course, but very kindly not only to us but to the other prisoners in any dealings with them which we overhear. I think their tone which has evidently improved immeasurably has been set by the matron who is comparatively new.

I have been moved into another block and there is now a pane in my window which opens. I have friends near me. It is all very wonderful and interesting. I think it extraordinary that a common place quiet person like me should have had a chance of being in this great movement - shd have gone to prison for a Reform.

It's the multitude of common place people who are led on to carry ?? Reform, I suppose. It wasn't exceptional people who died for Christianity or at Smithfield or who lost their lives or their freedom in order to gain other pieces of Freedom. Still it is enormous luck to be alive just now and in this thing, really in the centre of it.

I am sure we shall win soon.

Very much my dearest to you all,

Yrs,

LGA (signature heavily scribbled out) No answer must be sent