1. We can tell a lot from source A an account written by Emily Davison about her attempts to kill herself, while she was an inmate in Holloway prison. Miss Davison gives us her own personal account of her attempt to kill herself and gives a blow by blow detail of how she tries to do it. This account is bound to be a very accurate source as she wrote it shortly after the incidents occurred. She writes exactly what she did what she felt and also what she saw. Davison says “As soon as I got onto the corridor, I climbed the railing and threw myself out onto the wire netting”.
This quote clearly shows that she was more than willing to kill herself with no hesitation whatsoever, she was willing to die for the suffragette movement. The extract shows clearly that she was very determined to kill herself as shown by the fact that when she fails the first time that she kept looking for other ways to inflict damage on herself. When she failed one attempt she would wait for the guards to relax their watch and then she would try to kill herself again when this attempt failed after she was caught by the netting she decided to try to hurl herself from the netting onto the stairs.
I feel that she was very determined to die and perhaps become the first martyr for the radical suffragettes. She puts tremendous effort into trying to end her own life. “I threw myself forward with all my might”, This quote from the source clearly shows that even when she must have been hurt from the fall onto the netting she looked for another way to die and when she did she putt all her effort into trying to make it a successful attempt.
As I have shown from this source we learn a lot about Emily Davison’s attempts to kill herself. We learn that she was very determined to die for the suffragette cause and become a martyr for women and their long fight. She was single minded and did not care how her suicide might effect others around her. Once she had decided to kill herself she was always looking for ways to do it even if the attempt failed she would be very badly hurt. She felt pain yet did not give up and tried again to kill herself only resulting in more serious injury
2. Both sources show us Derby Day and the vast crowds that lined the race track. Both sources show us how easy it would be to slip under the rails and onto the track. Both show us how the race continued after the incident. Source B gives us a close up view just after the incident, we see the horse as it rolls over Davison and we see the jockey also on the ground. Source B also shows how on that far side of the track Davison could have stayed hidden from view in the large crowd, unnoticed as she slipped under the rail and onto the track. Source B gives an indication there was a bend in the track, many in the crowd could not see her and still have there heads turned following the race.
Source C a picture taken further around the bend indicated the severity of the bend. It is a total blind spot for the Jockey and horse. There was no way that the incident could have been avoided the jockey did not have time to manuver the horse out the way. Of the two sources I find source C indicating the severity of the bend the more useful, source C gives a fuller picture.
3.The two accounts one written by Mrs Pankhurst and the other by a Journalist for the Times differs in their view of the event and the reason why Davison did what she did on Derby Day 1913. Emmeline Pankhurst who had known Emily Davison personally, felt that what Davison did was a noble thing, and that she was a martyr for the emancipation of women. Whereas the writer for the Times seems to want Davison’s death to come across as basically the actions of a silly mad woman, who ruined a good race and proved nothing to the people against votes for women.
The question is why do these two sources differ in their opinion of what Davison did and why she did it. I think that Pankhurst praises Davison obviously because she was a friend and part of the same movement they were both radicals who believed in “Deeds not words”. They both did radical things for the suffragette movement so I think that Pankhurst identified with Davison and even admired what she did. If you believe in “Deeds” as Pankhurst and Davison did then it is impossible to think that any action for the cause was pointless or stupid it has to be heroic and noble. In source D Pankhurst speaks of Davison’s efforts in a noble way making it sound very good, it almost has a biblical feel. Pankhurst felt that Davison acted the way she did to finalise the feelings on women’s voting. Davison felt that giving her life would get women the vote.
The Times newspaper was a conservative paper this journalist most probably a man, and from his biased tone anti votes for women. This journalist was writing for a readership that were also male and mainly anti votes for women. As a result he would have written an article making the incident look bad for Miss Davison and would have downgraded it in importance. He obviously thought that it was a pointless act that ruined the race and could have injured the horse. It would cause the public to not focus on the race and how good it was but would rather focus on the events surrounding Davison. He felt that the fact she was hit by the kings horse was an accident rather than skill on her part and continues on feeling sorrier for the horse and rider than for the woman who would soon be dead.
Pankhurst feels that Davison did what she did for the fight for the emancipation of women while the author of the article in the Times feels that she was either reckless or wanting to commit suicide. He even suggested according to other sources she might just have been trying to cross the racecourse though he suggests this was highly unlikely. The Times writer takes the typical male attitude of the time that the suffragettes were just silly women that would never get what they want. While Pankhurst as the leader of the suffragettes will of course take the opposite position, that what Davison did was a heroic and brave thing to do for the cause of women’s rights.
4. Source F is a first hand account from a reliable source that was close to where the incident took place. This source is accurate as it matches other account given at the time and reported in the press. Though this account differs slightly in that the author was so close she is able to detail the emotion that Davison felt in the run up to the incident. Is the source reliable? There are several points, I think I will need to address when assessing this: These points are
* The author
* The time the extract was written
* Any bias
I will first address the author. The author was a known suffragette. She was at the races so the account is a first hand source she had met Davison and so was able to identify her on the day. The information while slightly romantic in its tone has all the basic facts.
The extract was written sometime after the incident and not published until some forty years after the event. It could be said that she might have embellished what she did or did not see. Though I think that if such an important and shocking event in history happened in front of your eyes it would be something you could not forget.
There is however an issue with this source – bias. As the author was a suffragette, she had met and spoken to Davison and this meeting had left an impression on the author of the type of person she felt Davison was ‘she was a very serious minded person’. Therefore the author might be making Davison seem more than she is. Davison could have been scared stiff before the incident occurred; while Richardson makes her out to be brave and fearless as she runs in front of a horse in full gallop.
5. Source G is a conversation with someone including Davison the day before she jumped in front of the horse. Source H is a list of items found on Davison’s body when she was injured at the track.
In source G she seems happy and was enjoying the festival staying late. She seems to be looking forward to the day ahead this is strange as it is thought that she went to commit suicide. “Her eyes smiling” she seemed to be optimistic about the next day, hopeful that her plan would come together. If she was intending to kill herself the next day she would definitely not be smiling. The evidence that was found on her body a return ticket would seem to support the fact that I think she did not go to the races intending to die, that the horse striking her down was an accident. She had a return train ticket back to London why would she buy a return if she was not intending to come back. She had flags in the back of her coat and she had been practicing stopping horses at her house in the country so she might have just wanted to stop the Kings horse and pin a flag to it embarrassing the King.
Tattenham corner was almost a blind corner and Davison would have had a poor view of the on coming horse until they were right on top of her. She had a “helpers pass” found on her for the suffragette meeting on the 4th June Derby Day so she must have been intending to return to the festival that day and help out. This is not supported in source G, where it is said she says she will not be at the festival the next day. She seemed to indicate in what she says, her tone of voice and general manor in source G that she she would be up to something at the Derby but she would return for the rest of the festival. This is supported by the items found on her by the police in source H.
6. The two ideas presented could both be true and there are the sources to support both arguments. Point A says that Davison went to the Derby to kill herself. I think this is supported by source A and partially by source E. Source A shows Davison to be capable of committing suicide and that through her constant attempts to kill herself while in prison she was determined to become the first suffragette martyr. It proves that she was more than willing to die for the cause and that she had no fear when it came to her giving up her own life. This was confirmed by her repeated suicide attempts in prison through the pain she was willing to kill herself for the cause. In the Times report source E we see that it was impossible to have missed her thus she wished to kill herself.
Point B indicated that Davison did not intend to kill herself but only meant to disrupt the race. This belief is backed up by source H and partially by source G. In source H we have a return ticket to London and a helpers pass for the festival. Source G has a conversation where Davison indicated she will return for the rest of the festival and picking up two flags. She is seen in source G as calm and joking was this because all she planned to do was stop the horse and pin suffragette colors onto the horse. Source G indicates she thought her plan was well planned and that she would live through the event. Her demena could also be taken to mean she had tried to take her life before and that she didn’t worry about it any more, that she was prepared for it to go either way as long as it was reported in the papers and so it supports point A.
Mrs Pankhurst in source D views Davison actions as an unselfish act for the cause of Women votes, but never used the word suicide, rather she preferred the more dramatic ‘threw herself in front of the Kings horse’. Mrs Pankhurst believed Davison was prepared to die for the cause and that she was proud to become the first suffragette martyr. But also in source D Mrs Pankhurst mentions Davison grabbed the reins of the horse. Why would she want to do this if all she wanted to do was to die?
Source C and B pictures showing Tattenham corner could back up either point A or B. It could be viewed as suicide to jump out into the path of a galloping horse on a blind bend. Or it could indicate Davison made a mistake in her planning and hadn’t pick the right spot to disrupt the race.