In September 1909 Prime Minister Herbert Asquith came under attack during an event at Birmingham's Bingley Hall. Members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) - or `suffragettes' as the papers had named them - prevented from attending the meeting by a heavy police presence, threw roof slates at Asquith's car to register their frustration. Ten women were arrested and imprisoned for their actions that day.
This incident was one of many that marked the campaign for women's suffrage in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Often overlooked compared to London or Manchester, the region was nonetheless an important hub of the suffrage movement, at the heart of both the constitutional campaign for reform and militant action by the suffragettes. It witnessed explosions, vandalism and arson, as well as university debates, rallies, and vigorous newspaper campaigns. It also had the tragic honour of being the first place where the policy of force-feeding hunger-striking suffragettes in prison was implemented.
The part the city played in the fight for universal suffrage has been forgotten for too long. This book examines the suffrage campaign in Birmingham from its beginnings in the 19th century to the First World War, from both militant and constitutional perspectives, exploring the significant incidents that took place in the city and telling the stories of the women who campaigned relentlessly for their democratic right to vote.