Papers of Mary Ellen Taylor

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive originally consisted of correspondence and objects. At some date the correspondence between Mrs Taylor and her daughter Dr Dorothea Taylor c.1912, was moved to Autograph Letter Collection Volume 9/26. In 2000 the objects were catalogued as part of the artefacts cataloguing project by Catherine Marshall.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mrs Mary Ellen Taylor (fl 1910-1914) and her husband Captain Thomas Smithies Taylor were friends of the Pethick Lawrence family, Dr Elizabeth Wilkes (her sister) and her brother-in-law Mark Wilkes. By early 1912 Mrs Taylor was an active member of the Women's Social & Political Union which was then engaged in a campaign of militant action against government and private property. On 4 Mar 1912 she took part in a window smashing party with a Miss Roberts and a Miss Nellie Crocker, attacking a post office in Sloane Square. They were arrested and brought before a magistrate at Westminster Police Court, who referred their case to the Sessions. From the 5-22 Mar 1912 they were placed on remand at Holloway Prison until Taylor went before Newington Session and was given a three months sentence. While in prison, she went on hunger strike, though she was not forcibly fed, and was subsequently discharged and taken to her sister's house on the 27 Apr 1912. She was imprisoned a second time in Jul 1913 under the alias of Mary Wyan of Reading. Mrs Ellen Mary Taylor refused release under the Cat and Mouse [Temporary Discharge for Ill-health] Act of 1913. She claimed complete discharge and declined to give the prison governor any address. When she was conveyed to a nursing home she refused to enter until her full release was granted and continued her strike on a chair in the road outside. The police then removed her to the Kensington Infirmary where she eventually gave up her protest. Around this time, the Woodford assault case took place, touching the Taylor's immediate circle of friends.

Conditions Governing Access

Gift

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Readers must wear gloves to handle textiles.

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the Fawcett Library by Dr Dorothea Taylor c.1970. [A note in the accessions file c.1990 states 'Photographs mentioned in letter of Jan 1968 are stored in the photographs collection.' A later note indicate 'Absent at 9 Aug 2000.' it is not clear where the letter or the photographs are]

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds 9/26 Autograph Letter Collection: Taylor Collection and 10/03 Scrapbook [on women's suffrage and the Contagious Diseases Acts]. The Women's Library also holds the records of a number of militant, Women's Social & Political Union members, including Emily Wilding Davison (7EWD) and Louisa Garrett Anderson (7LGA). The records of the Women's Social & Political Union are held at The Museum of London. The Women's Library Printed Collections also holds a number of publications by the Women's Social & Political Union.