10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About The Suffragettes

Author Sally Nicholls

When I started writing Things a Bright Girl Can Do, a young adult novel about three teenage girls and the Suffragette movement, I knew little about the Suffragettes beyond what I was taught at school. These are some of the things I learnt as I researched . . .

  1. There was no such thing as a single ‘suffrage movement’. Like the environmental movement, it was made up of lots of smaller organisations. Some were local groups like the East London Federation of the Suffragettes, some religious like the Friends’ League for Women’s Suffrage, while others were organised by profession like the Actors Franchise League. More militant groups were generally members of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, while those who preferred peaceful methods generally joined Millicent Fawcett’s National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
  1. The colours of the WSPU were green, white and violet – which stood for Get Women Votes.
  1. Suffragettes weren’t all white and middle-class – although Emmeline Pankhurst preferred to recruit from the middle-classes as she thought educated women with time on their hands made better soldiers. East End women and Lancashire mill-girls were some of the most active Suffragettes, however, as were women like Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. In 1920, Sylvia Pankhurst hired Britain’s first black journalist, Claude McKay, to work for The Worker’s Dreadnought, (formerly the Suffragette newspaper The Women’s Dreadnought.)
  1. Suffrage campaigners weren’t all women either. There was even a Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage who participated in many marches and rallies. Famous male suffrage supporters include HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and the Labour MP Keir Hardy.
  1. Modern feminism tends to concentrate on the ways in which men and women are similar, but Edwardians saw men and women as very different creatures. Men were more rational, more brave, but also more impulsive and less morally steadfast – women were encouraged to forgive drunk husbands, for example, because they ‘couldn’t help it’. Women were more timid and weaker physically, but they were also angels of patience, virtue and negotiation. Men argued that it wasn’t fair to taint these saintly figures by allowing them into the rough-house world of politics. Women argued that if they really were so steadfast, virtuous and good at finding peaceful solutions to problems, why the hell wouldn’t you want them to have political power?
  1. You might have heard that women were given the vote as a ‘thank you’ for their war work. This, however, simply isn’t true. It was already clear in 1914 that women had won their battle – the only thing left was for the government to find a way to concede without looking weak. The war provided that. Under previous legislation, men had to be resident in Britain for the twelve months before an election in order to vote, a law which disenfranchised most of the armed forces. Since it was clear that the law would have to be changed, giving women the vote as a ‘thank you’ was simply a way of saving face.
  1. In fact, many Suffragettes were vehemently anti-war. Emmeline Pankhurst came out very early on in favour of the war, as, somewhat reluctantly, did Millicent Fawcett. However, one of the tenets of the movement was that once women got the vote there would be no more war, as women would never vote to send their sons to be slaughtered. Many suffrage campaigners felt betrayed by Pankhurst and particularly by Fawcett, and many resigned their membership in protest.
  1. The International Woman Suffrage Alliance did more than just campaign against the war. They organised a Women’s Peace Congress in 1915, with representatives from neutral countries and all countries involved in the war. Over 200 women from Britain were supposed to attend – but the British government cancelled all North Sea shipping to prevent it. The women who attended the conference arranged meetings with government representatives up to and including Woodrow Wilson. The warring nations agreed that – in principle – they would try to negotiate a peace if a neutral nation would facilitate and Sweden agreed – in principle – that they would. Sadly, however, nothing came of it.
  1. The Suffragettes had many grand ideas about what would happen when women began using their vote. Equal pay rights for men and women! Pensions for spinsters! Old age pensions for all! State orphanages! Financial support for carers and parents! Divorced women to have the right to see their child, and even retain custody! Reading it now, they sound like fantasists. Except . . .
  1. . . . In the hundred years since women gained the right to vote, every one of those predictions have come true.

Bill’s Blog – Come on Chelsea!!!

How well I recall my first visit to The Chelsea Flower Show. As I was leaving ,a young lady from local radio stuck a microphone in my face and asked me : “So was this your first time?” Yes, I replied. “And what did you think? Just a quick comment”. Not enough gnomes I said firmly. “Seriously? “ Yes, absolutely. I didn’t see a single gnome. At first I thought maybe Chelsea didn’t go in for bad taste and silliness, but I soon realized that wasn’t the case at all. For a start, if you want a good giggle just clock some of the ridiculous hats women wear. I presume they only get worn twice a year : Chelsea and Ascot , and a Royal Garden party if they are invited, as I assume most of them are. No doubt they would consider garden gnomes to be cheap and vulgar. Maybe traditional gnomes are banned ,from Chelsea, but this doesn’t mean that so are all manner of humanoid garden creatures. Some are inoffensive. Some are hideous. None of them are cheap.

Gnome corner. No vacancies

Bill Oddie with his pet owl

Dunnock perched on Purple Heron – a frequent sight in my [Bill’s] garden.

In recent years, gnomes have been usurped by woodland folk such as faeries- with an e to denote that they are magical- pixies, nymphs, goblins and sprites. The standard type wears tights, a Peter Pan jerkin, and a perky little cap with a feather , so twee that even Robin Hood would be embarrassed to be seen out in it. Most of them have an expression on their faces that I expect purports to be cheeky or mischievous, but is in fact more of a lascivious leer. Presumably their ardour is directed at females of their kind, though it seems that all pixies, goblins and sprites are male, whilst all the females seem to be faeries- or fairies if you prefer. Come to think of it ,I have never ever seen a lady gnome. Presumably it is all done by magic.

Actually ,it is all done by “craft” companies, who constantly wrack their brains to come up with this years hot ornamental garden creature.  They have of course taken a frightful bashing from Meercats. I am in fact a considerable aficionado of fake garden animals, but I have very strict rules. Principally, that they have to be realistic and really do look like they are supposed to. A rummage through my new book will reveal much much more about the menagerie I have accumulated.  There are some really accurate resin creatures, ranging from a  piglet to a gorilla (neither fully grown).  The best ones are almost exclusively made by a company called Vivid , who no doubt exhibit at all the big flower shows. Moreover, they are by no means exorbitantly pricey, which cannot be said about many of  the work on show, which would have to be carved from gold to justify their price tags. The amazing thing is that at Chelsea there will be people who can afford to buy them.

There are some people who would consider contorted creatures fashioned from copper, tin cans or scrap metal to be art. And some of it certainly is . However, surely no one could claim the same about the ‘comical captions’ section that delights those who have a sharp and eloquent sense of humour. Oscar Wilde would have been jealous. “ Never mind the dog, beware the husband.” “ Or beware of the wife.” “ It’s a bad day, piss off.”  (Wow that’s a clever one.) “ I am down the pub”. Why is that funny? “ Gone hunting” I am reporting that one to the League against cruel sports).At least they are cheap, in both senses.

But surely -you may be wondering – I do have a browse round the flowers? I do, but only outdoors. The massive marquees give me claustrophobia , and the flower displays look like a massive funeral parlour. I far prefer gazing at the “wildflower” gardens ,which happily seem to improve and multiply each year. Natural colours are delightful ,so why on earth is it becoming a fashion to spray blooms in your flower bed to change their colour!. My  wife recently came home with a large hydrangea and a spray can of flower paint to enhance its natural pink! Heathers and rushes seem to be popular targets in parks and flower shows. The natural purple of wild heather looks wonderful, spray it gold or silver and it looks ridiculous.

I don’t know if this little piece -or my book -is helpful or a  harangue . The fact is, the only rule about my gardens has been ‘anything goes ‘. My only advice is”Do your own thing.”

Bill Oddie OBE


Nature’s Party Starts Here – by Author Mark Ward

Mark Ward, author of Wildlife on Your Doorstep published by Reed New Holland this spring, reveals the wildlife delights you can find close to home this spring.

After a sluggish start in March, nature moves into top gear in the months of April and May. Spring has well and truly sprung and all manner of birds, bees, bugs and beasts, many fresh from hibernation, parade their finest colours and set about finding a mate. It is a riot of colour and activity and the great news is you don’t need to travel far to get in on the action.

Frogs are back in ponds in spring and looking for love (Image by Mark Ward)

You can find hundreds of different species within walking distance of your home. All you need to do is to get out there and get looking and listening!

Feel the buzz
Start in your garden where many insects are looking for nectar as flowers burst into bloom. Queen bumblebees are busy looking for places to set up a new colony after spending the winter months hibernating underground.

You could find half a dozen species of bumblebee in your borders in spring alongside marmalade hoverflies (image by Mark Ward).

It’s not just the bumblebees that are on the wing though – there are around 270 species of bee in the UK and dozens of species live in gardens.

Leafcutter bees reveal their presence by leaving perfect semicircles cut out of leaves and use the sections they carry off to seal their nest chambers.

Solitary bees excavate tunnels in soft ground at the edge of your paths, patio and flowerbeds. Look out for tiny holes suddenly appearing, fresh excavations and the inhabitants coming and going. Mini bumblebee-lookalikes include the Tawny Mining Bee and the wonderfully-named Hairy-footed Flower Bee.

The number of butterflies increases dramatically as April progresses. My favourite is the gorgeous male Orange-tip. It is a white butterfly and has the brightest orange tips to its forewings and a mossy-green pattern on its hindwings.

The Brimstone butterfly (below) might be your first of the year though. If ever a creature lived up to its name, this butterfly does it with its bright butter colours that leave you in no doubt that spring, and warmer weather, is here!

Will your first butterfly of the year be a beautiful brimstone? (image by Mark Ward)

Back from Africa
Garden birds have laid claim to any nestboxes you have and many migrants, fresh back from a winter in Africa. Watch for white-rumped House Martins from around mid-April, but the all black, screaming Swifts won’t appear until a month later.

The dawn chorus peaks in late April and early May when the voices of the Cuckoo, warblers including the Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, and many other African migrants join your resident songsters.

It’s also the time to start looking for baby animals with Fox cubs to be found from April and Badger cubs appearing above ground in May.

Wildlife on Your Doorstep by Mark Ward is published by New Holland Publishers and is available at Hive.

A Badger literally on my doorstep on a May evening (Image by Mark Ward).

This extract from Wildlife on Your Doorstep captures one of my most magical spring moments.

Diary Notes: 30th May – We have Badgers!

Nine in the evening and Springwatch had finished on TV, filling me with inspiration about the wildlife-watching season ahead. With a good hour’s daylight left, I went into the garden to gaze over the hedge into the field, hoping to see an owl. In one of the moments when you sense rather than see, I turned my head left to see a low-slung shape, blazing black and white stripes on its head, barrelling up the field edge, before scurrying into the hedge surrounding the garden next to ours. I wanted that garden to be ours more than anything at that moment. We have Badgers.

The next night I hopped over the fence to put out food on the track next to our hedge. I picked up a bag of dog biscuits from the supermarket, a bit worried that my choice of the cheapest range of biscuits might attract some disapproving glances from pet owners.

I eagerly waited, watching those biscuits, but nothing came. The following night, the sound of crunching as soon as I stepped outside saw me approaching the hedge with the lightest footsteps I think I’ve ever made. I’d done it – a Badger was feeding there. It immediately accepted me watching from eight feet away hidden behind the privet hedge and hardly daring to breathe. It stayed for 10 minutes, enough time to gobble the lot before turning and scurrying off back up the path.

Out of the Box – Getting Creative with Jemma Westing

9780241286906As I type this, I notice out of the corner of my eye the big bag of cardboard tubes that I am storing in the corner of my living room… I wonder what the tubes will become. The tubes are destined for the Oxford Story Museum, where my BrilliantBuilds workshop has been invited to run a short session there in the spring.

I put BrilliantBuilds together at the beginning of 2013 and the first event for the workshop was Latitude festival. Sharon Reuben (the lovely organiser of the kids’ field) took a massive chance on me and I am forever thankful to her. I go to Latitude every year and it is one of my favourite places.

BrilliantBuilds is simple: it’s a not-for-profit, drop-in style, cutting and sticking workshop designed to give young families the time and space to be creative together. I was inspired to set it up after having been involved with various widening participation initiatives over the years that support the creative arts and help to make art education programs accessible and inclusive. My opinion is that anyone can be creative and I set out to prove that every time I run BrilliantBuilds. When the workshop is underway you get to see families collaborating, solving problems together and sharing ideas. It’s great to see such variety in the makes when you set a simple theme like ‘car’ or ‘city’.

I am very lucky to have a pool of creative friends who come and volunteer their time to BrilliantBuilds. I could not run it without them, especially when there are instances where 40+ people are trying to visit my tent in one go!

Whenever there is a quiet moment during a workshop session, I try to take photos of the workshop makes and over the years I have compiled a large portfolio. I have photographs of hand-held makes, larger items that took collaborative efforts to finish, projects that move, and some great costume pieces.

When I’m not running the workshop, I’m a full time designer for DK. A big part of my role at DK is to help to visualise new book ideas and I do this by scamping up book jacket designs and spread layouts. One day I wondered whether I could come up with a books worth of recycled cardboard projects. I designed a book jacket and a few spreads for my publisher and that’s when discussions started. I am now sitting here knowing that on the 1st of March, a fun looking book called Out of the Box will be published which is almost totally inspired by BrilliantBuilds! I have seen an advance copy and the amazing DK knowledge team have done a super job! The steps for each project are really clear and I hope that everyone who buys the book will share photographs of their makes with me and the rest of the BrilliantBuilds crew. Photos of makes can be posted here: http://www.facebook.com/BrilliantBuilds


Buy Out of the Box at Hive.co.uk

A Day in the Life of Gabrielle Kent

As a full time computer games lecturer it’s difficult to find a whole day to write, so I tend to do this on weekends and holidays rather than weekday evenings. A typical day-job workday involves writing lectures on everything from games interfaces, to what makes a game fun to play. I usually teach a few classes per day and deliver a lecture to 200+ students. Between classes I organise elements of Animex, a large games and animation festival which I run at Teesside University.


A typical writing day, well, that’s quite a different story. At the start of a project I have to get out the house a lot and visit new places. All of this seems to help me develop my ideas and I’ll spend a few weeks scrawling ideas and story maps in lots of different colours on post-its and large sheets of paper. When this is finally complete, I create a chapter plan with a few sentences on what will happen in each individual chapter. Then I’m ready to begin the bulk of the work!

I mainly write at home and, because it is always during holidays from work, I have to do a lot of mental kicking to motivate myself to get on with it. I light a nice candle to help me focus, it has become a bit of a lucky ritual, then I put on some background music, nothing too exciting or I’d be up dancing and singing. I always start off writing at my desk in the spare bedroom, but being a huge fidget I move between the desk, the bed, and the floor at thirty minute intervals. I try to limit my access to the internet, but the fridge is a different matter, I make a lot of trips downstairs for tea and snacks.

I aim to write around 1500 words a day. Sometimes it’s a lot less, sometimes a lot more. I tend to follow my chapter plan at first, but the story usually takes on a life of its own at some point and carries me away with it. These deviations are always for the best, I love how my brain surprises me at regular intervals.

Now that I’m a bit more experienced as a writer I can trust myself more. When writing my first novel I tried to perfect everything straight away and it resulted in me getting stuck on a regular basis. Now I leave a little note in red for Future Gabrielle saying something like: ‘Write Alfie’s interaction with Artan here. Make it funny!’ It really speeds up the writing process, although when I do my first read through I do end up cursing Past Gabrielle on a regular basis.

I’m always more productive on rainy days. There’s something about rain pattering on the windows that makes me feel very creative. If I’m finding it difficult to focus, I go to a library and work there with good noise cancelling headphones. Parts of my books were written in libraries across the North East and North West. I actually typed the final pages of my third book in Stockton Central Library.

Towards publication a lot of my time is taken up with interviews and blog posts for magazines, bloggers and children’s book websites. I’ll also go on lots of trips to schools to talk about writing. This is great fun for me as I LOVE to meet my readers and to hear about what they think of my characters. Young readers are so full of ideas and so passionate about stories and characters, they inspire me to get straight back to my desk and start the whole process all over again.

You can get your copy of Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle and Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief by Gabrielle Kent at Hive.

Alfie Bloom 2 cover hex

Guest author blog: Melinda Salisbury on how she creates the world she writes.


One of the things I’m asked most often is how I went about building the world that The Sin Eater’s Daughter, and The Sleeping Prince, take place in.

And the answer is pretty simple: From the ground up. Somewhere near the beginning of the writing process, usually after I’ve decided on my characters, but before I’ve fleshed out the plot, I try to picture the physical setting of the story in my mind. I knew the world of the Sin Eater was a pseudo-European medieval kingdom, so society would be largely be based around the outdoors, and the land, for the most part.

So then I had to create an outdoors.

Was it a green place? Hilly? Flat? Rocky? Near the sea? I pictured the climate there, and the seasons. Thinking about these things helped me decide on what kind of plants and trees grew there. And those plants and trees determined what wildlife lived there, which impacted on the lives of the people. It decided whether they were farmers – and what they farmed – or fishermen, or hunters.

Of course, I write fantasy, so technically I could have palm trees in an arctic-style tundra, or polar bears in a rainforest. But what I wanted from my world was for it to feel like a real place, and the easiest way to do that was to ground it in a reality that my readers are familiar with.

I decided that if it were in our world, Lormere would be a very small country, around the size of Luxembourg. It would be roughly where Sweden is, high above sea level, in a mountainous region. Winters (though we don’t see them in Sin Eater) would be very harsh, summers comparatively mild and warm. The climate and landscape wouldn’t lend itself too well to most types of arable farming, and limited pastoral; game, goats and sheep would thrive, but cows and pigs wouldn’t. Because of this Lormere would have little primary industry, and little secondary too. Its money would mainly come from tithes owed by Tregellan, and taxes on citizens. And of course, it was ruled solely by a monarch, whose word was law, and who acted as the mouthpiece of the Gods of the land.

Tregellan, on the other hand, has thriving primary, secondary and tertiary industry, producing, creating and exporting grain, meat, fish and luxury goods to Lormere. Because Tregellan isn’t as high above sea-level as Lormere, it has more arable farmland and pasture for livestock, and also has accessible coastline for fishing. The climate is close to our maritime climate, making it warmer and wetter than Lormere, though still cold in winter.

Possibly most importantly, it’s also a democratic country, governed by an elected council, who came to power after the dethroning (and executing) of the former monarchy. In just one hundred years it’s gone from being a country like Lormere – ruled autocratically by non-elected officials – to being liberal and very concerned with learning and development. Whereas religion is hugely important in Lormere, and followed by all, Tregellan is secular, people who practice a faith are a rarity. Creating the religion in Lormere was really the crux of creating the world of the Sin Eater, because it’s the thing that ties the country to the people, and creates the conflict. But that’s an entirely different post, for another time.

It might seem like a lot of work, especially when, as in The Sin Eater’s Daughter, you see very little of the external world, but, in terms of continuing the series it’s been invaluable to know the terrain of the world I’m working in. And the differences between the two countries are very important in terms of how they both respond to the threat of the Sleeping Prince, and the ultimate outcome of the story.

Which will be revealed soon enough…

©Melinda Salisbury

You can purchase Melinda’s books at Hive here and collect from your local independent bookshop, or have delivery to your home with free standard UK delivery – whilst still supporting your local bookshop.

To see more about us and how your purchases on Hive benefit local independent bookshops, please click here.

Guest author blog: Crafting with Mason Jars by Hester van Overbeek


In the late summer of 2015 my publisher approached me about doing a book about Mason jars. To be honest initially I wasn’t very keen on the idea as how many interesting things can you do with a jar? But then I started my research and the ideas just kept coming, in the end I had a list of more then 50 things I could make!

I’ve always saved my glass jars once I’ve eaten all the food that’s inside them as they make great vases and tea light holders. I’m even known for buying my food depending on how pretty the jar is and that habit got even worse when working on this book. I scoured the supermarket aisles looking for unusually shaped jars, oversized ones and super small vessels not caring much about what was inside them. I must say I had some interesting meals while working on this book 😉

Page Spread 2.jpg

I’m a firm believer of using materials that you already have cause unless you live an amazing minimalistic lifestyle all of us have objects lying around that we don’t use anymore but they can look great after a little makeover. In my previous book Furniture Hacks I tackled the bigger objects like chairs, tables and wardrobes but for the new book I kept it a bit smaller by concentrating on the humble glass jar. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get my tools out though, there are still some woodworking projects in the book. One of my favourites is the reclaimed wooden solar light post for you garden, and I came up with a new version of the jam jar units your granddad might have had in his tools shed, mine is for storing your jewellery.

Before I started the Crafting with Mason Jars book I had never drilled holes in glass before, thinking it was too tricky to do but I can assure you after some experimenting it is super easy! Especially when you use the right tools. I used a rotary cutter, a great tool everybody should have in their DIY kit as it can do almost anything, with a diamond drill bit the rotary cutter makes drilling in glass super easy. The other thing is you have to work slow, not normally my forte but when working with glass being careful is the key. There are a lot of tips in the book on how to drill glass so you all can give it a try and turn your old milk bottles into lamps, a Mason jar into a bird feeder and I even show you how to make your own drink dispenser.

Page Spread 1.jpg

When you think of using Mason jars and jam jars in crafts you probably immediately think wedding but I wanted to show that the glass jar can be used in a more contemporary style as well. There are concrete projects in the book, a leather cuff to turn your jar into a coffee cup that wouldn’t look out of place at a campfire and Scandinavian style drawings for an etched jar and a paper vase cover. Every chapter also has a quick make, something you can put together without any tools and there are even some recipes in the book as the jar is a great vessel for food!

The book is photographed by James Gardiner and I had so much fun styling the shots with hand dyed linens, tree slabs and bright coloured flowers. The shoot days are definitely my favourite days in the whole book making process. We used my house as a back drop and shot in the amazing Little Stour Orchard that belongs to friends of mine. Being surrounded by apple trees, old barns and bright sunshine James and I almost thought we were on holiday! Keep a look out on my website for behind the scenes videos and for an exclusive tutorial of one of the books projects.

So pick up the Mason jars that are lining your pantry, the jams jars that are stashed away in your garage and the other glass containers that would normally go into the recycling bin and start crafting!

©Hester van Overbeek

You can purchase all of Hester’s books at Hive here and collect from your local independent bookshop, or have delivery to your home with free standard UK delivery – whilst still supporting your local bookshop.

To see more about us and how your purchases on Hive benefit local independent bookshops, please click here.