Diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray: volume 3

Archive Unit
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 7EGM/1/3
  • Dates of Creation
      1915-1918
  • Physical Description
      1 volume

Scope and Content

Manuscript diary of Eunice Guthrie Murray, covering 3 Jan 1915 - Sep 1918. Summary of the diary:

Throughout the volume Eunice comments on national and local events. She travels around the country and regularly visits London, where she meets with friends such as Mrs Despard, Mrs Cobden Sanderson and others. At the start of 1915 she is more pessimistic than others, feeling that hostilities are unlikely to be over by the spring, and may well last for years. She herself is busy with work of all kinds, and foresees the need for more women to enter the workforce as the men are drafted into the forces. In Apr 1915 she is impressed by hearing Lloyd George speak in the Commons on munitions production; she comments on a speech by Asquith appealing for more munitions and more men, pointing out that it was a pity he did not value women as he will have increasingly to count on them as the war progresses. In Jun 1915, she wonders in passing what happened to all the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) funds when the organisation dissolved, and praises the 'brave little WFL [Women's Freedom League]' for continuing its suffrage campaign at the same time as doing 'much useful war work'. The topics discussed in the first half of 1915 include the inadequacies of Sir John French, Chief of Staff of the army in France; the sinking of the Lusitania; the Americans attitude to the war. Eunice's mother is very outspoken in her opposition to the war, and tends to be branded as a sympathiser with Germany. Eunice comments often on political figures, rarely favourably. Jul 1915: talks about Mrs Humphry Ward's anti-suffrage stance, and how the events of the war have rapidly made her ideas out of date. Several passages describe her visits to underprivileged families at Renton, near Dumbarton, and recount conversations with them. Jan 1916: back from a visit to London, Eunice comments sarcastically on changing attitudes towards women ('Oh, how glad we must be to earn all this masculine toleration and approval.') Mar 1916: news from the Front is as bad as ever, and talk of compulsory service is rife. 9 May 1916: says how strange it is that so many former WSPU members have become pacifist, instead of supporting the military; says it is difficult to forgive Mrs Pankhurst her betrayal of women at the outbreak of war, and again wonders what happened to WSPU funds. Jun 1916: news of the Battle of Jutland and of the death of Kitchener reach Scotland. 9 Oct 1916: has been to a meeting about the Registration Bill at which Mrs Pankhurst was speaking. Eunice describes the Pankhursts as having deserted and betrayed the movement, and being 'out entirely for their own selves'. The women's movement, once so solid, is now split, and the militants have become pacifists, with 'the apparently most determined feminists … running after men'. 15 Oct 1916: now working as a weekend worker in Beardmore's munitions factory in Glasgow. Several more disparaging comments about Mrs Pankhurst, and the attempts Eunice is making to frustrate her plans to bring French munitions workers as guests of the defunct WSPU to Glasgow. 19 Nov 1916: discusses the idea of compulsory war service for women, which she opposes. 1917: continues to comment on current affairs including events of the Russian Revolution, likely entry of America into the war, and the Commons vote in favour of extending the franchise to women. Eunice's neighbours now seem converted to the idea of women's rights, and their attitude towards her has changed. 1 Apr 1917: she has just discovered that the Government paid the WSPU £4,174 towards expenses for a demonstration in London in 1915, even though the organisation was disbanded in 1914, and that receipts were given. Eunice is determined to get questions asked in the House of Commons about this. Speaks at various meetings around the country, on subjects such as war savings. Nov 1917: records the advent of women's suffrage in four states of the United States of America. Jan - Feb 1918: Representation of the People Act becomes law. Her former opponents all congratulate her on gaining the vote, saying that women have deserved it. Eunice comments that women have the vote not because they deserved it but because they demanded it, and that it is 'the first instalment of a long overdue act of justice'. Attempts by Eunice and others not to let a private member's Bill to permit women to enter law fail through lack of Government support. May 1918: intends to stand as a candidate for Bridgeton in the forthcoming election, and hopes for help from suffragists in her campaign. Still speaking regularly at meetings for the government, on munitions and war savings. Last entry in Sep 1918.