Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison. Closely written in ink on lined paper from a note pad. Transcript:

PRIVATE

Please not to mention my letters if you write,

Dearest Mother,

I hope that Alan and Ivy will soon be going down for Easter. If I did not feel very miserable about you, I shd be well able to wait on here contentedly (or fairly so) until the end of my sentence. I can't bear you to be minding it though. Of course I know that it was inevitable that you wd mind. If one could bear all the hurt oneself it would not be nearly so bad; but other people are hurt more. Ever so much more and you perhaps most of all. Dearest I am so sorry.

From the selfish personal point of view this has been a big experience. It brings one up close against the most tragic and terrible facts about women's lives and is a sort of concentrated proof of how necessary it is that some radical alteration shd be made in their position.

The rows of faces in Chapel make me cry, morning after morning - not for myself, but for them. They are so inexpressibly sad. Its useless to punish them, most of them, anyway: just as it is to punish us. A movement which aims at altering the system which has dealt so cruelly with generations of women, needs the tears and sacrifice and passion of women before it can win - don't you think there is something in that? We are all fellow prisoners and these other women regard us as comrades - and indeed we are. It is largely an accident whether one is here as a victim or a prisoner of war. I have never been so close to anything as sad or ugly as this and I don't think I ever knew so clearly before why women need political equality and complete re-adjustment of their position.

The Home Office is behaving in its usual way. Mr MacK [Reginald McKenna, Home Secretary] has stated that Mrs P has been given all facilities for preparing her defence in the Conspiracy Charge, whereas she has up to the present time been allowed none except that she sees the newspapers. She might get a life sentence - and simply because she is in prison for having broken a window valued at 3/=. She is denied access to papers, to her co-defendants and is not allowed opportunities for getting witnesses. There was a great scene over it y'day, because they had the effrontery to send a government shorthand writer to report her interview with her secretary and solicitor. She declined to have the interviews under such conditions, as it was monstrous that she shd be forced to tell the prosecution the lines of defence. The Governor was sent for: he read correspondence with Mr McK in which Mr McK said he cd not understand where the misunderstanding had arisen as all facilities were granted, at which Mrs P said - who is lying, you or Mr McK? He was extremely uncomfortable and finally the government clerk was told to withdraw. It is like over every single thing. The Albert Hall meeting on Thursday comes at an extraordinarily opportune moment. It ought to be a wonderful meeting. Evelyn is arranging it and is going to speak and she and Mr Nevinson are editing the paper [Votes for Women] . It has sold tremendously since the row.

I have been reading an interesting book about the Empress of China. She used to strangle anyone who was tiresome and chuck them down wells, or advise them to commit suicide. It must be annoying to our government that public opinion couldn't be trusted to submit to women being similarly dealt with, though I dare say it would. There is no unfairness to which they will not stoop and the word of no government official can be trusted, over our question at any rate. It is a revelation of hostility and bitterness and falsity.

I am just counting the minutes until I come home. Only 13 days more only each day seems about 20 times as long as it ought. Try not to be sad about me my dearest one. I am very well and glad to be here if only it is not distressing you and making you ill. I think about you all a very great deal.

Please give my news to Aaa. I wd write to her too only paper is at a premium and it is rather dangerous writing at all.