Rise up Women! by Diane Atkinson review – Arson, arrest, escape, and the right to vote

Factory girls and Fabians go to war in a dramatic chronicle of the brutal fight for female suffrage

On 21 June 1908, half a million people gathered in Hyde Park to celebrate “Women’s Sunday”. There were 30 brass bands, bugles and 20 platforms with speakers wearing the purple, white and green colours of the votes for women campaigners. It was, for the most part, a good-humoured event, but it did not persuade the government to extend the franchise to women. Since peaceful protest had clearly failed, Christabel Pankhurst warned the prime minister, Herbert Asquith, “militant methods must once more be resorted to”.

What we remember today of the suffragette movement is the image, captured on grainy film, of Emily Davison, the former governess and journalist, throwing herself under the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1913, and dying four days later of a fractured skull. But ...