Diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray: volume 2

Scope and Content

Manuscript diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray, covering Jan 1908-Dec 1914. Summary of the diary:

By 1908 Eunice is speaking regularly at suffrage meetings, mainly in Scotland, though she finds few sympathisers at home: 'my neighbours with very few exceptions disapprove not only of militants, the wonderful new movement, but even of woman suffrage. With a shrug of the shoulders they say they don't want the vote, they have everything they want - ease, position and wealth.' In May 1908 she is in Dundee helping the suffrage campaign to keep the Liberals out at the by-election. First mention of meeting prominent suffragists during the campaign - Annie Cobden Sanderson, Teresa Billington Greig, Charlotte Despard, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Evelyn Haverfield. Particularly trenchant views on Winston Churchill, the Liberal candidate: 'I think him a very poor speaker and wonder what all the fuss is about. He strikes me as fundamentally dishonest and would say or do anything to gain a point. I should never trust him', and there are further entries later in the volume about Churchill. Lunches with Keir Hardie. Her suffrage work now takes her regularly to London, for Women's Freedom League (WFL) meetings, and to take part in the great suffrage processions of Jun 1908, which she describes. Travels all over southern Scotland to meetings: 'the speaking, now I have embarked, comes easily and I can hold any crowd, hostile or sympathetic.' Meets Emmeline Pankhurst and Flora Drummond. Eunice's mother appears to be supporting her daughter, and involved in suffrage work. In London for a 'bill-sticking parade' in Oct 1908 Eunice saw strong-arm police tactics against a Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) demonstration in Parliament Square, and was herself arrested, though subsequently released. She went on to the magistrates court the next day to see the women sentenced ('I do not like the Pankhursts much, but I declare I bow to their spirit; they were in the right today and the magistrates wholly and lamentably in the wrong.') The entries are now largely about her political activities. In Nov 1908 Eunice gives a long supposedly verbatim account of an amusing exchange with an anti-suffragist about her activities, and describes the hearing of her friend Chrystal Macmillan's Appeal to the House of Lords, claiming the right of women graduates of Scottish universities to vote. Eunice is introduced to socialism: in Jan 1909 she goes to a labour rally in Edinburgh: 'What struck me as I watched was that if I live I am likely to see some changes in the world, for these people seem in earnest in their determination to change the world and so are the suffragettes, so between two such driving forces this country cannot stand still … I don't like socialism as a system but I don't like the present conditions under which men and women live and I should like to see, if not the downing of the capitalist, a great redistribution of wealth.' She makes regular visits to London, to take part in the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) Conference, and for WFL meetings. In Jun 1910 she has three delegates to the Glasgow Temperance Conference to stay. In Jul 1910 she takes part in WSPU processions in London and Edinburgh, and in Oct 1910 she campaigns in Manchester. Dec 1911 sees her working again against Churchill in Dundee. The entries gradually become shorter. In Jun 1912 she goes to a Seniors' reunion at St Leonard's School and reflects on the influence that the headmistress Miss Dove had on her political development. In Feb 1913 she was speaking with Charlotte Despard at a meeting in Trafalgar Square which was broken up by police. Apr 1913, Eunice is deeply upset by the death of Edith Geils, her great friend, who has been mentioned frequently in the diaries. Jun 1913 she goes to Budapest for the IWSA meeting. In Dec 1913 she is arrested as a member of a women's deputation to Downing Street. 1914: speaking at meetings; comments on Mrs Humphrey Ward's anti-suffragist stand; discusses 'Jane Eyre' at length, 'the story of a woman fighting against injustice'. Outbreak of war, and entries relating to the first few months of hostilities.