Diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray: volume 1

Scope and Content

Manuscript diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray, covering 27 Nov 1895-20 Jun 1906. Summary of the diary:

Eunice is 17 when her diary starts in 1895. She has left school and is living at home with her parents. The entries are sporadic and records social activities at home, and the many visits Eunice made with members of her family visiting friends around Scotland and in England - including a trip to see her sister Sylvia, at Girton. Her first comment on women's issues is in Mar 1896, after attending a prize giving at Glasgow University: 'I like to see the women to do well. They do better every year and please God we'll live to see them taking their part in every department of life.' In May 1897 she is trying to get names for a petition for women's suffrage. She reads a wide variety of books, including 'Decline and Fall', 'The French Revolution', 'Moll Flanders', 'Humphry Clinker', 'Froissart's Chronicles', 'The Foundations of Belief', 'Fair Maid of Perth', 'Wuthering Heights', 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', and records her impressions of them. While she continues to document family doings, Eunice's entries increasingly demonstrate a lively interest in external affairs such as the South African War, the Irish question ('I see now that Ireland should have Home Rule, the Boers should have been left alone, and women should have a say in all these burning questions'), and politics at home. She occasionally attends suffrage meetings in Edinburgh, but her interests extend beyond votes for women, and she is particularly concerned about the plight of the poor and the evils of alcohol: 'I want better houses, no whisky, women's rights, these I want first and last, and a hundred other things'. She does some voluntary work teaching in a settlement in Glasgow. Scattered comments about her mother suggest that she was an independent thinker, and an important influence on Eunice. Several entries indicate that none of the neighbours in Scotland sympathise with her views, especially the women. Eunice's comments are often extremely amusing: after reading the speech of an anti-suffragist in the House of Commons in 1904, she writes 'one wonders at the mentality of such a man and wonders if he isn't flattering himself when he thinks that he has progressed from a worm to an intelligent person.' In Jul 1904 she goes on a trip to Norway with her brother Anthony, with whom she gets on well; the relationship with her sister Dorothy is less good, and Eunice is pleased when at the end of 1904 Dorothy goes off to India to marry. The political situation in the Congo and the exploitation of natives by the Belgians occupies her in Sep 1905. In entires for the last two years of this volume Eunice follows the activities of the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU), and is both excited and outraged by the arrest of Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kennie for obstruction at a meeting in Manchester on 15 Oct 1905 ('I hereby vow to take my stand beside the women who mean to act not to ask men to grant justice. I cannot understand what people c