Holograph manuscript of a speech [opposing a motion in a debate] on women's suffrage
Manuscript by Mary Kingsley
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Mary Henrietta Kingsley (1862-1900) was the daughter of George Henry Kingsley (1827-1892) and Mary Bailey and the niece of Charles Kingsley (1819-1875). She is most famous as an explorer, ethnologist and travel writer. She lectured widely and wrote on her travels. Her most famous works include Travels in West Africa (1897), West African Studies (1899) and The Story of West Africa (1899). She worked as a nurse during the Boer War, departing for South Africa in March 1900 but dying in June of that year of a fever contracted whilst nursing Boer prisoners of war. Mary Kingsley is known to have deliberately distanced herself from the women's movement and to have adopted a conservative position with regard to questions of equality, opposing, for example, the admission of women to learned societies. On 27 February 1900, in one of her last public engagements before leaving the country, Mary Kingsley is known to have participated in a debate on women's suffrage. This is recorded in a letter which she wrote to Sir Matthew Nathan: 'I have been opposing women having the parliamentary vote this afternoon and have had a grand time of it and have been called an idealist and had poetry slung at me in chunks. Argument was impossible so I offered to fight the secretary in the back yard but she would not so you can all write me down impracticable.'
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Description prepared by Jennifer Haynes, Head of Special Collections, The Women's Library.
Alternative Form Available
A photocopy of the original mss and typed transcript were donated in July 1988.