Murderous Millinery: Fashion and the Fight for Suffrage
A decade before the suffragette movement, a campaign to stamp out the cruel fashion for feathers in hats captured the public imagination in both England and America. On one side was the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, led by the vehement anti-suffragette Etta Lemon.
In the opposite camp, suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst urged her followers to use fashionable plumage to further their cause. Behind this feather fight was a trade worth around £204 million, entirely supported by exploited labor. Historian and author Tessa Boase will weave together the inspiring stories of two passionate Edwardian women with opposite aims and convictions, both determined to start a revolution.
She will expose the workings of the predatory plumage trade and the devastation it wrought upon migratory birds around the world. And she will shine a light on the fascinating back story of Mrs. Pankhurst’s elegant purple hat feathers, linking such murderous millinery to the subsequent passage of the 1918 Migratory Bird Act Treaty in America—legislation that put a swift end to the hunting of birds for the feather trade.
Tessa’s lecture is based on her book Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism – Women’s Fight for Change.