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Jane Austen lived from 1801-4 at 4 Sydney Place. It was on the outskirts of Bath, looking out onto the open countryside. Here is a website that gives details about her time there.

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In some ways The Sack of Bath is a slightly left-field book for Persephone to have published. But we think it is a central part of our list. Obviously it is not a novel by a mid twentieth-century woman writer. But it is about the domestic and how to live in a town, and in this respect is a sequel to Middlemarch when Dorothea is so pitied by her sister because she is going to live in a street and, as George Eliot tells us, she will lead ‘a hidden life’. But this was not an unimportant life. It was a domestic life, in a townhouse, with neighbours through the wall and other people all around. And the ‘hidden’ of course refers to the domesticity, crucial but undervalued. For anyone interested in novels by women writers, Bath is an important place to visit, even for the day. This week on the Post: five streets where writers lived or with which they were connected. First of all Widcombe Terrace (photograph from the English Heritage Listing site here) where Virginia Woolf’s great-grandfather stayed, and wrote about, for a few weeks in 1812.

Charlotte when old

Emily Blathwayt, the mother of WSPU member Mary Blathwayt,wrote in her diary in 1911 after Charlotte visited them (quoted on Spartacus here): ‘Miss Marsh planted her tree. She greatly dislikes her first name Charlotte and all her friends call her Charlie. Her label will be C. A. L. Marsh. (She also goes by the name of Calm). We liked very much what we saw of her. She is very fair with light hair and a pretty face. She is very tall … She has a wonderful constitution and seems very well after all she has gone through. She has begun the late custom of not taking meat or chicken. She seems a very nice quiet girl.’ Charlotte, or Charlie, died in 1961, here she is not long before her death: she never lost any of her spirit.’

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Charlotte wrote to Selina about the force-feeding she so bravely endured, on this page torn from a book. It’s now on display in Manchester.

2144‘Charlotte Marsh joined the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1907, at the age of 20. She did not, however, become active in the movement until 1908 when she finished her training as a sanitary inspector’ (Museum of London website here). What a wonderful detail – a sanitary inspector! Then a suffragette organiser. (And a motor mechanic and driver during the war.) Charlotte was photographed by Christina Broom on 18 June 1908 when she was the Grand Marshall for this Women’s Sunday Procession in Hyde Park.

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And this is Charlotte Marsh; she and Selina Martin were arrested and force-fed in November 1909. Charlotte wrote to Selina: ‘Matron comes every day to try and get me to eat but no – she can chase me around my cell! No surrender!’

 

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Every time one thinks, as a fresh realisation, about force-feeding and the suffragettes, one is stunned: that Englishmen should care so much about depriving women of the vote that they would subject them to that! When women had had the vote in New Zealand for twenty-five years! It seems, looking back, totally barmy. But then no barmier in some ways than politics nowadays. This week on the post, a tribute to the suffragettes Selina Martin (seen here) and Charlotte Marsh, details here about the display at the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

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And the absolute star of the show/sale: a portrait of Laura Knight by her husband Harold. It’s called Books and was painted in 1926. See you at Sotheby’s in December! (Joke. But let’s go and at least gaze  and admire.)

ThursdayA watercolour with charcoal and pencil of two Circus Ponies which yet could only have been done by Laura Knight. The estimate is ten to fifteen thousand pounds but it must have been a fairly normal price once because its original purchaser sounds reassuringly ordinary: Mrs Rogers, 10 Cervantes Court, Green Lane, Northwood, not someone who would spend thousands and thousands. Lovely to think of it sitting snugly on a wall in Northwood.

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On the Trapeze would be a stimulating picture to have hanging on the wall and in fact if we were the curator of a small museum we would be seriously tempted: the estimate is £8-£12,000. This too haas been in a private collection in America until now. ‘Following an introduction by her friend Alfred Munnings to the famous circus impresario Bertram Mills, Knight was given access to all backstage areas of the circus and became as much a member of the troupe as the performers’ (Catalogue).

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