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Mabel Tuke

Mabel Tuke

Mabel Lear, he eldest of three daughters, of Richard Lear (1834–1894), was born at Plumstead on 19th May 1871. Her father was clerk of works in the Royal Engineers Department.

The family moved to Lichfield and on 25th February 1895 she married James Quarton Braidwood, a gas engineer. As her biographer, Elizabeth Crawford, has pointed out: "Nothing can be traced of the fate of this marriage; it was presumably ended, possibly in South Africa, by the death of her husband. In 1901 she married, probably in South Africa, George Moxley Tuke, a captain in the South African constabulary." After her husband's early death she returned in 1905 to England. On the boat from South Africa she met Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, who told her about the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Mabel Tuke joined the WSPU and in 1906 she became the organisation's honorary secretary based at Clement's Inn. She was especially close to Christabel Pankhurst and Emmeline Pankhurst. As Elizabeth Crawford pointed out: "She was affectionately known as Pansy, a nickname obviously inspired by her luminous dark eyes. Beautiful, soft, and appealing, she represented the womanly image that the Pankhursts were keen to promote in order to counteract the popular conception of the suffragettes."

On 1st March 1912 she was arrested for breaking a window in 10 Downing Street. She was found guilty and received a three weeks sentence in Holloway Prison. While she was in prison she was charged with conspiracy. However, these charges were dropped.

After leaving prison Mabel Tuke was in such poor health she returned to South Africa. In the summer of 1913 she was living with Christabel Pankhurst in Paris.

According to Elizabeth Crawford, the author of The Suffragette Movement (1999): In 1925 Mabel Tuke took part with Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, in the ill-fated scheme to run a tea-shop at Jules-les-Pins on the French Riviera. Mrs Tuke provided most of the capital and did the baking." The venture was unsuccessful and they returned to England in the spring of 1926.

Mabel Tuke died of cerebral thrombosis in Ashbrooke Nursing Home, 12 St John's Road, Nevilles Cross, Durham, on 22 November 1962.

Posts Tagged Mabel Tuke

To celebrate the release on 12 October of the film ‘Suffragette’ (for which I was an historical consultant) I will post each day an image of a suffrage item that has passed through my hands.

For my current catalogue – No 189 – which contains a good deal of suffrage material – as well as general books and ephemera by and about women – see here.

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and Mrs Mabel Tuke photographed in Mrs Pankhurst’s office in Clements Inn – probably in 1910/11.

Mrs Pankhurst and Mrs Tuke are sitting at a paper-laden desk. Mabel Tuke was honorary secretary of the Women’s Social and Political Union. Very pretty – as we can see – her nickname was ‘Pansy’.

This photograph gives us an opportunity to deconstruct the surroundings. What pictures did Mrs P. have on the walls? Well there is a poster for a Suffrage Fair and above that a portrait sketch that looks very like that of Christabel Pankhurst by Richard Mathews that is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

There is at least one photograph and one sculptured bust of a child – probably by Desiderio da Settignano. And a small vase of flowers on the mantlepiece. A wonderful picture.

The publisher of the card was H. Sergeant, 159 Ladbroke Grove – who took many photographs for the WSPU.

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current11:54, 2 October 20165,074 × 3,256 (3.06 MB) Fæ (talk | contribs) LSE Library, Set 72157660822880401, ID 22910622782, Original title Frederick and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, Emmeline Pankhurst and [Mabel Tuke] in court, 1912.

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Suffragette white: Decoding the colour's 110-year-old history of being used as a protest tool by women

Suffragette white was first donned en masse in June 1908 on Women’s Sunday, the first “monster meeting” hosted by the WSPU in London’s Hyde Park. The 30,000 participants were encouraged to wear white, accessorised with touches of purple and green.

A silent protest parade in New York City against the East St. Louis riots in 1917. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress via The Conversation

By Michelle Staff

“Suffragette white” is proving to be a popular fashion choice for women who want to make a statement. Most recently, former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate donned a white jacket in her appearance before a Senate inquiry into her controversial departure from the organisation.

Her sartorial choice formed part of the “Wear White 2 Unite” campaign, which encouraged people to sport the colour in support of Holgate and call for an end to workplace bullying.

In doing this, Holgate, like Brittany Higgins last month at the Canberra March4Justice, is building on a trend in which women are wearing white clothing — and often referencing suffrage history — to draw attention to gender inequity today.

Deeds not words

The term “suffragette” is sometimes mistakenly used to refer to all those who campaigned for women’s voting rights. But it was actually a label applied to a specific group of women — initially in a derogatory sense.

The women’s suffrage movement in Britain took off during the 1860s. By the turn of the 20th century, women still did not have the vote.

Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Mabel Tuke and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, 17 June 1911, marching at the head of the Prisoners’ Pageant at the Coronation Procession. Digital image copyright Museum of London, via The Conversation

This led Emmeline Pankhurst to establish the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903. Her group of primarily white women believed militancy was the only way they could achieve change, living by the motto “deeds not words”.

The British press mockingly labelled these women “suffragettes”, adding the diminutive suffix “-ette” in an attempt to de-legitimise them. But Pankhurst’s group was not deterred. It reclaimed the term, eliminating the element of ridicule and rebranding it as “a name of highest honour”.

One of the WSPU teams that drew the carriage of released prisoners away from Holloway in 1908. Photo courtesy: Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science via The Conversation

Her group’s dramatic actions – from disrupting meetings to damaging public property – cemented their place in the history of women’s suffrage.

Purity, dignity and hope

Early 20th-century suffrage campaigns relied heavily on spectacle and pageantry, using striking visual imagery and mass gatherings to garner the attention of the press and the wider public.

Many suffrage organisations adopted colours to symbolise their agenda. In Britain, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies used red and white in their banners, later adding green. The WSPU chose white, purple and green: white for purity, purple for dignity and green for hope.

An original Women’s Social and Political Union postcard album, with the circular purple, white and green WSPU motif printed on the front. Photo courtesy: Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science via The Conversation

Suffragette white was first donned en masse in June 1908 on Women’s Sunday, the first “monster meeting” hosted by the WSPU in London’s Hyde Park. The 30,000 participants were encouraged to wear white, accessorised with touches of purple and green.

Ahead of the march, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence’s newspaper Votes for Women explained:

the effect will be a magnificent moving colour scheme never before seen in London’s streets.

White fabric was relatively affordable, which meant women of different backgrounds could participate. The colour’s association with purity also helped those involved present themselves as respectable, dignified women.

The Suffragette Coronation Procession through central London, 17 June, 1911. Digital image copyright Museum of London, via The Conversation

Suffragette white became a mainstay of the WSPU’s demonstrations. In 1911, women who had been imprisoned for militancy were among those who marched in white in the Women’s Coronation Procession.

The Australian suffragist Vida Goldstein, wearing a white dress, famously headed the Australian contingent.

Goldstein later brought the WSPU’s colours to Australia in her campaigns for a parliamentary seat.

Two years later in 1913, members of the WSPU wore white in a funeral procession for their colleague Emily Wilding Davison, who died under the hooves of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby.

American suffragists soon picked up this tactic, influenced by the British suffragettes as well as by the temperance movement’s use of white ribbons.

Cities like Washington D.C. witnessed similar scenes of women in white dresses marching through the streets, making striking material for photographers. Contemporary black women — who were excluded from the suffrage movement in many ways — used the colour in their protests against racial violence, too.

Fifty years after Black American women wore white in protest marches, white suits became a calling card of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress via The Conversation

Feminist solidarity

The modern trend towards white has had particular traction in the US.

In 2019, Donald Trump faced a sea of suffragette white at his State of the Union address. Last year, Kamala Harris wore a white pantsuit to deliver her remarks as vice president-elect.

Closer to home, at the March4Justice rally in Canberra, Brittany Higgins made a surprise appearance in a white outfit, standing in contrast to the funereal black worn by attendees.

By wearing white, these women — either consciously or not — are building connections with their feminist forebears across the Anglosphere. At times this can flatten the complex history of women’s suffrage. It is important to remember it was primarily white, middle-class women who led these suffrage movements, often to the exclusion of women of colour and others.

In drawing on their feminist genealogy, women today need to acknowledge the limitations of feminisms past and present — and not simply celebrate and reproduce the attitudes of over a hundred years ago.

I wore all-white today to honor the women who paved the path before me, and for all the women yet to come.

From suffragettes to Shirley Chisholm, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the mothers of the movement. ⬇️ https://t.co/GBfSSYxbek

&mdash Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 4, 2019

At the same time, wearing suffragette white is a powerful and highly symbolic gesture that reminds us just how long women have been fighting.

By establishing a sense of feminist solidarity across time and space, this move can also generate inspiration and energy and attract media attention. Women of colour’s choice to wear white can be read as a way of asserting their place within a movement from which they have historically been (and continue to be) excluded — and honouring women of colour who have come before them.

Like the suffragettes of the early 20th century, women today are showing the power of visual spectacle to grab the public’s attention. Whether this will, in turn, lead to real change remains to be seen.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The health of suffragette prisoners: force-feeding and vomiting

Few groups of political campaigners were cannier than the suffragettes when it came to using imprisonment to win attention. And, in Britain and Ireland during the years 1907 to 1914, the effect of imprisonment upon the health of jailed suffragettes was a particular focus of their campaigns. This was most obviously the case from 1909 when some suffragettes turned to the hunger strike. In adopting that tactic these women purposefully endangered their health. They did this in protest at not receiving a ‘political’ status, or in an effort to secure their release, but also to draw attention to their ultimate demand, the vote for women.

In turn in September 1909, the state, the prison system, and their employees – in practice the prison medical officers, assisted by other staff – began to force-feed the striking suffragettes. Collectively, the authorities presented this response as necessary to preserve health and, crucially, life, successfully defending their actions on these grounds in the courts. Of course, force-feeding also limited the effectiveness of the protest in that it allowed the authorities to sustain suffragette prisoners in a state of health that facilitated their continued incarceration, at least in the short term.

Despite the decision of the courts, the suffragettes gained some advantage from their force-feeding by presenting the process as cruel, as a form of assault. The state’s and doctors’ actions were the subject of considerable negative publicity and, as Ian Miller has shown in his recent book, the ethics of the force-feeding provoked a good deal of debate between those who viewed it as ‘therapeutic’ and those who argued that it was ‘torturous’.[1]

Vomiting: ‘I have a very strong suspicion that this was self produced’

What, however, if a suffragette began to vomit in the aftermath of force-feeding, mitigating the sustaining effects? How was this interpreted? Was the vomiting understood as a consequence of the force-feeding itself? If so, what did this say about the constitution of the prisoner and the immediate prospects for her safety? What did it say about the process or for the competence of the doctor? Alternatively, what if the vomiting was a deliberate response of the suffragette? How was this being achieved, could it be stopped, and by what means?

Mary Leigh, c.1910.
Photograph, printed, paper, monochrome studio portrait of Mary Leigh, head and shoulders, front profile, circular format, mounted on card manuscript inscriptions in different hands (on front) ‘Mary Leigh (?)’ (on reverse) ‘Mary Leigh’. Photographer’s impression on mount ‘Norman, 26 [Tacket] Street, Ipswich’. LSE, 7JCC/O/02/148. Mary Leigh, who was then among a group of suffragettes at Winson Green prison, Birmingham, began a hunger strike on 22 September 1909.[2] She had been released from Walton Gaol, Liverpool as recently as 26 August when her condition had become ‘critical’ during a strike. In the intervening month, however, the state’s policy had changed and, consequently, she was one of the first suffragettes to be force-fed. Ernest Hasler Helby, the medical officer at Winson Green, began to do this on 25 September. From 2 October, when Leigh resisted the use of a feeding-cup, Hasler Helby switched to the consistent use of a nasal tube. According to Leigh, ‘I was very sick on the first occasion after the tube was withdrawn,’[3] whereas Hasler Helby recorded that Leigh first retched during feeding by nasal tube on 7 October. Subsequently, Hasler Helby ascribed this turn of events to his having substituted olive oil for glycerine as a lubricant for the tube.[4]

An immediate return to glycerine appeared successful, but Hasler Helby reported a ‘slight sickness’ after a feeding on 10 October. Then, on 18 October, he noted that Leigh vomited after her morning meal, stating ‘I have a very strong suspicion that this was self produced’. Despite his suspicion, Hasler Helby responded by reducing the quantity given with each feeding. Four days later he was recording increased weight loss, emphasizing that he was not in a position to increase Leigh’s diet ‘owing to her liability to vomit’, and indicating that he ‘did not feel at all confident’ that ‘it will be possible for this prisoner to complete her sentence.’ It seems likely that Hasler Helby had become more sensitive to Leigh’s vomiting and weight loss, and increasingly anxious about his responsibility for her, because she had begun legal proceedings against him and the Home Secretary, Herbert Gladstone. On the day after this report, he would provide a legal affidavit in preparation for such a case.

A Failure to Sustain Health

On 24 October Hasler Helby noted that Leigh vomited half a pint after her morning feed, having vomited smaller amounts following the ‘three preceding meals.’ At this point the vomiting was undeniably persistent with Hasler Helby describing it as ‘a regular event after each meal’ in his report of 26 October. By the next day he was characterizing this as ‘a source of considerable embarrassment’. Force-feeding was not supposed to be like this, leading him to begin ‘trying to persuade her to take medicine for this [the vomiting]’. But he did not succeed and the pattern continued till three days later, on 30 October, the Secretary of State ordered Leigh’s discharge. She had ‘vomited all or nearly all the food administered to her during the preceding forty eight hours.’ [5] The vomiting had frustrated Hasler Helby. He had failed to sustain Leigh’s health and ensure that she served her sentence.

In December the courts would uphold his actions, ruling that Hasler Helby was obliged to act to save Leigh’s life, including the use of force-feeding. During the hearings, the likely cause of vomiting in cases of forcible feeding arose on several occasions with Sir Victor Horsley, a witness for Leigh, insisting that ‘retching’ was a likely consequence of the insertion and withdrawal of the feeding tube and also a likely symptom of a patient’s system becoming exhausted during prolonged force-feeding. Under cross-examination, Horsley acknowledged that a resisting patient could cause vomiting by passing ‘their fingers down their throat in order to vomit’. In court, Hasler Helby admitted that inserting the nasal tube had, on occasion, caused irritation and retching, but ascribed Leigh’s later, more regular, vomiting to the likelihood that her strike had weakened her constitution in the days before forcible feeding began. According to this logic, even if Leigh had not deliberately vomited, the vomiting was her responsibility for hunger striking, not Hasler Helby’s for force-feeding.[6]

Emetics and Responsibility for Health

Emmeline Pankhurst talking to Grace Roe, c.1912. Emmeline Pankhurst and Grace Roe talking in the street manuscript inscription on reverse in Olive Bartels’ writing ‘Mrs Pankhurst with Christabel’s little dog talking to Grace Roe in France (probably Paris)’. Part of the image has torn away. LSE, 7JCC/O/02/148

If, in 1909, there was some room for debate about the extent to which Leigh was responsible for her vomiting then, in 1914, the cases of Grace Roe and Nellie Hall[7] were somewhat more clear-cut. On 30 May, a wardress at Holloway prison supervising a visit to Roe from Arthur Barnett, the clerk of Arthur Marshall, the solicitor of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), observed Barnett passing a ‘small packet’ to Roe. When examined, the packet was found to contain six small tablets with instructions that she should take ‘three at a time and if this not effective four but on no account more.’ The author of the note went on to stress that Roe’s friends were acutely aware of her sufferings before continuing, ‘we must get you out’. Four days earlier, after an appearance at Marylebone Police Court of Roe and another suffragette, Nellie Hall, a small tube of similar tablets and another note had been found and retained by the authorities. It seems that some tablets made it through on that occasion because in the aftermath Roe, but especially Hall, began to vomit considerable amounts. As yet unaware that Hall may have had emetic tablets, on 27 May the medical officer at Holloway responsible for Hall’s treatment, Francis Forward, had stationed a supervising officer in Hall’s cell after force-feeding ‘to prevent her putting her hand in her throat to induce vomiting.’ When tested in the days that followed, both sets of tablets were found to contain ‘apomorphine hydrochloride’, leading the examining chemist to conclude that ‘the tablets are made expressly for the purpose of causing vomiting.’

This led to the immediate banning of visits by Marhsall and Barnett to the prisoners at Holloway and the prosecution and conviction of Barnett on 13 June 1914 (under the 1865 Prisons Act) for his attempts to smuggle in both the note and the drugs. The Home Office regarded that case, and the publicity surrounding it, as a propaganda blow against the suffragettes’ attempts to portray prison as a danger to their health. Instead, they believed, that it would show the public, once again, that it was the suffragettes who deliberately imperiled their own health. In particular, the prosecuting counsel Archibald Bodkin took advantage of the case to refute allegations in the WSPU newspaper, The Suffragette, that suffragette prisoners were being given hypnotic drugs so as to make them more amenable to force-feeding. Instead, he insisted, this case proved that it was the prisoners themselves who were taking drugs that might endanger their health.

From the point of view of the suffragettes and their friends, taking the emetic would have speeded up the prisoners’ release, an eventuality that might be arrived at much more quickly since the introduction of the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, more popularly known as the Cat and Mouse Act, of 1913. This would not alone have frustrated the authorities – a pleasing consequence from their point of view – but it would have hastened an end to the trauma and dangers of force-feeding for Roe and Hall. If the suffragettes believed they were being given hypnotic drugs, the emetics would have had the further effect, from their point of view, of expelling those drugs from their systems.[8]

Dedication by Nellie Hall in Mabel Cappers WSPU prisoners scrapbook, 28 July 1910. Public Domain.

Torture or Self-Endangerment?

In addition to the prosecution, the case led to a regime of more rigorous searching of suffragette prisoners. The reverberations were felt in Ireland where, on 11 July, S.H. Douglas, the secretary of the General Prisons Board of Ireland, issued an order that all suffragette prisoners were to be thoroughly searched on admission in order to prevent the smuggling in of emetic drugs.[9] Roe and Hall were released under a general amnesty, on 10 August, when the suffragettes suspended their campaign at the outbreak of war, but these incidents had one final consequence. The Prison Commissioners were prompted to introduce a new, and more detailed, rule on the smuggling of items into prison. This came into effect in April 1915.

As these cases illustrate, during suffragette hunger strikes the causes and meaning of the vomiting that sometimes followed force-feeding was a matter of concern and of vigorous contest. Exploring this, adds a further layer to our knowledge of the battles fought through these women’s bodies. If, as the suffragettes suggested, this vomiting was a direct consequence of the force-feeding then it re-enforced their case that their health was being damaged, that they were being tortured. If, on the other hand, as the authorities sought to demonstrate, the suffragettes were themselves responsible for the vomiting, then this not only absolved the authorities, it bolstered the case that the women were pursuing a perverse policy of self-endangerment.

Featured Image: A suffragette on hunger strike being forcibly fed with a nasal tub. The Suffragette by Sylvia Pankhurst. New York: Source Book Press, 1970. First published by Sturgis & Walton Company (New York), 1911. Facing p. 433. Public Domain.


[1] Ian Miller, A History of Force Feeding: Hunger Strikes, Prisons and Medical Ethics 1909-1974 (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), pp 35-66.

[2] For a short biography of Mary Leigh see Elizabeth Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (UCL Press, 1999), pp 338-340.

[3] Statement by Mary Leigh enclosed in a letter from Mabel Tuke, honorary secretary to the WSPU, to Herbert Gladstone, Home Secretary, 15 October 1909, HO 45/10417/183577 (Part One), TNA, London.

[4] MO Report by Ernest Hasler Helby, 8 October 1909, HO 45/10417/183577 (Part Two) and Affadavit by Ernest Hasler Helby, 23 October 1909, HO 45/10417/183577 (Part Three), TNA, London.

[5] MO Reports by Ernest Hasler Helby, 11, 18, 19, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30 October 1909, HO 45/10417/183577 (Part Three), TNA, London.

[6] Leigh v. Gladstone and Others: Medical Evidence, High Court of Justice, 9 Dec. 1909, in HO 144/1320/252950, TNA, London.

[7] For short biographies of Roe and Hall see Crawford, The Women’s Suffrage Movement, pp 258-9 and 604-6.

[8] See extensive correspondence concerning, and the transcript of, Barnett’s prosecution in HO 144/1320/252950, TNA, London.

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Tuke naît en 1871 à Plumstead, dans le Kent, troisième enfant d'une fratrie de six, fille de Richard Lear, alors employé dans le département de ingénieurs royaux de l'arsenal de Woolwich, et de son épouse, Emma Margaret [ 1 ] . La famille vit ensuite durant quelques années à Lichfield, dans le Staffordshire, puis se réinstalle à Plumstead, en 1891.

Elle épouse en 1895, John Quarton Braidwood, un ingénieur [ 1 ] , et le couple s'installe en Afrique du Sud. Le mariage finit probablement du fait de la mort de son premier mari, et elle se remarie en 1901 avec George Moxley Tuke, officier de police en Afrique du Sud, où vit le couple, jusqu'à la mort prématurée de son second époux, en 1905 [ 1 ] . Mabel Tukelle retourne alors en Angleterre la même année. Elle fait la connaissance durant le voyage sur le bateau de Frederick et Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence et se lie avec Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, qui lui raconte son action à Somers Town et lui fait connaître la Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) créée en 1903 par Emmeline Pankhurst à Manchester. Le siège de cette organisation est déplacé à Londres en 1906, et Mabel Tuke en devient la secrétaire honorifique [ 1 ] .

Emmeline Pankhurst a résisté aux efforts visant à éliminer son autorité absolue. En 1907, un groupe de membres dirigé par Teresa Billington-Greig a demandé plus de démocratie lors des réunions annuelles de la WSPU. Pankhurst a admis être autocratique. Elle annonce à une réunion du WSPU que la constitution est nulle et annule les réunions annuelles. Elle déclare qu'un petit comité élu par les membres présents en 1907 est autorisé à coordonner les activités de la WSPU. Emmeline et Christabel Pankhurst sont élues avec Tuke et Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. Plusieurs membres de la WSPU, dont Billington-Greig et Charlotte Despard, sont tellement bouleversés qu'elles font sécession et forment la Women's Freedom League [ 2 ] .

Tuke est avec les Pankhurst et les Pethick Lawrence en tête de la Procession du couronnement des femmes  (en) du 17 juin 1911 , suivant Marjery Bryce  (en) habillée en Jeanne d'Arc, montrant la gamme des groupes de suffrage féminin et des femmes historiques remarquables à travers Londres [ 3 ] , [ 4 ] . Après une campagne de lancers de pierres, une ordonnance a été faite pour l'arrestation d'Emmeline et Christabel Pankhurst, les Pethick-Lawrence et Mabel Tuke. Emmeline Pankhurst et Tuke étaient déjà arrêtés car elles et Kitty Marshall  (en) avaient jeté une pierre à travers une fenêtre de 10 Downing Street [ 5 ] . Christabel Pankhurst réussit à fuir en France, mais les Pethick Lawrence sont arrêtées au siège de la WSPU. Le 28 mars 1912 , Mabel Tuke, Christabel et Emmeline Pankhurst, et les Pethick Lawrence sont inculpés pour « conspiration » à Old Bailey [ 6 ] . Mabel Tuke est quant à elle est écartée du procès le 4 avril 1912 .

Le conflit suivant dans la WSPU entraîne la décision de Pankhurst d'augmenter la militance. Les Pethick-Lawrence divergent des Pankhursts qui décident de les expulser de la WSPU. Emmeline Pethick Lawrence avait été la personne qui avait introduit Tuke à la WSPU. Tuke a pris son congé et est allée effectuer un voyage de convalescence en Afrique du Sud. En 1925, Emmeline et Christabel Pankhurst, et Mabel Tuke ouvrent un salon de thé, The English Teashop of Good Hope (le salon de thé de Bonne Espérance), sur la Côte d'Azur, à Juan-les-Pins. Mabel Tuke fournit l'essentiel du capital, et fait les pâtisseries, mais le salon de thé ferme peu de temps après [ 5 ] .

Mabel Tuke Joint Honourary Secretary Of The Women's Social And Political Union (WSPU) circa 1908

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Mabel Tuke - History

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Frederick Mitchell-Hedges's letter to his brother about his new acquisition indicates from the outset that he was not above embellishing a story, even an already good story. It is impossible to know where Mitchell-Hedges got the "pre-1800 B.C." date, or his tale of five generations of polishers, but six years later, he was claiming to have discovered the crystal skull himself, and not in a London salesroom. On May 31, 1949, Echo, a local Bournemouth paper, reported the existence of a "Skull with an evil eye" in his collection:

In spinning his yarn, Mitchell-Hedges may here be relying on some information he's gathered from The Crystal Skull, a popular adventure story written by Jack McLaren in 1936. It features Lyndon Cromer, an ethnologist who supports his research with thievery, and a crystal skull that he steals. A local person in New Guinea sees it and exclaims, "It is the skull of air. The skull of air!" He then tells Cromer that, "He who holds the skull of air so that it looks at another man knows that other man's life. He knows all about that other man. That is the power that the skull of air gives to him who holds it." On his part, Cromer envisions the "tremendous interest that the arrival of this crystal skull in London would cause&mdashof the excitement of the British Museum experts, of the meticulous comparings between this newly-found skull of crystal and the one already there."

A novel about a larcenous ethnologist and a supernatural crystal skull might have inspired Frederick Mitchell-Hedges.

Five years after making these amazing claims, Mitchell-Hedges more or less repeated them in his fanciful memoir, Danger My Ally, although minus the part about his having found it in Central America. He writes (1954: p. 240),

Had he forgotten about Sotheby's?

When Mitchell-Hedges died in 1959, the crystal skull became the property of his adopted daughter, Anna. This was despite the fact that he may have had two sons, according to various sources. One was named John (aka Bumble) who is described in 1921 as a "crack shot" with pistol and rifle at age six (Times & Directory, April 23, 1921). The other was James, who was living with Mitchell-Hedges in Cape Hatteras in 1936, according to a newspaper account that described him as fighting off an attacking shark at the age of 13 (New York Times, August 26,1936).

Anna Mitchell-Hedges, née Anne Marie Le Guillon, claimed to have personally discovered the crystal skull, while accompanying her father on an expedition to Lubaantun. But the story of when and how she found the skull varies with the telling, and range from discovering it beneath the stones of a collapsed altar atop a pyramid to being lowered down into a cave, beneath or inside a pyramid, to retrieve it. These events are detailed in various sources as having taken place in 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1928, in contrast to her father's version of discovering it somewhere in Central America sometime in the 1930s.

I recently found a file of letters Anna Mitchell-Hedges wrote to Frederick Dockstader, then director of the Museum of the American Indian in New York City, between 1964 and 1973. This correspondence is housed in the Cultural Resource Center of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian. Dockstader initially contacted Anna on March 4, 1964, writing,

Continuing, he wrote that he had exhibited some of the artifacts donated by her father, and that "it would be a distinct honor not only to show you what we have done, but also the degree to which we have made use of the Mitchell-Hedges collection." Dockstader may have been courting Anna, whom he assumed to be heir to Mitchell-Hedges's estate, and as her father had donated collections, perhaps he thought the daughter might do the same.

Anna Mitchell-Hedges in 1980, holding the "Skull of Doom" above the British Museum's crystal skull (Courtesy Jane M. Walsh)

Anna responded quickly on March 10, 1964, writing, "I am Sammy of the book, and I together with Jane, father's secretary, used to accompany father when he came to the museum. Were you there then and do you remember us?" This first letter (OC 276, folder #11) is mostly a four-page typed description of a Russian icon called "The Black Virgin of Kazan," which was exhibited at the New York World's Fair. (According to Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic, it was a later copy of the original icon.) Anna noted that her father had begun negotiations with San Francisco art dealer Frank Dorland to promote and sell the icon, but "After father passed away Mr. Dorland and I commenced negotiations again and I eventually sent it to the States two years ago." In almost an afterthought, she adds:

The correspondence includes various typescripts of Anna's contracts with Dorland, the "Black Virgin of Kazan" promoter, who wrote Anna in November 1963:

In July 1964, Anna Mitchell-Hedges signed an agreement with Dorland to promote the skull for its eventual sale with an asking price of not less than $50,000.

Three months after the contract was signed, Anna sent Dockstader a typed statement, dated November 1, 1964, which was titled "Mitchell-Hedges Godshead [sic] Skull-Mayan Skull of Divine Mystery." The written description (OC 276, folder #11) avers that the skull is "estimated by the British Museum to be at least 3000 years old," and that it "was found by Anna Mitchell-Hedges in British Honduras in 1928 in the ruins of an abandoned Mayan complex." The document also claims the skull has special powers, including that it wards off "the evil eye and carries protection from heaven, being white crystal and highly polished, it defeats all evils of witchcraft and is a benevolent divine magic dealing with heaven and angelic forces." Apparently Dorland drew up this document as part of his promotional efforts. My research indicates that it is the first time Anna claims to have found the skull herself. The statement appears to have the intention of establishing a provenience (history and find spot) that could be verified solely by Anna Mitchell-Hedges, since all of the people involved in her adopted father's expeditions to Lubaantun were dead by then.

Dorland's estimate of age comes presumably from Frederick's newspaper descriptions, since no source indicates that the British Museum ever estimated the age of the skull. The British Museum's own crystal skull was previously thought to be Aztec, which if it had been true, would date it to around A.D. 1500, so 500 years old not 3,000.

Dorland distanced himself from the book Phrenology in a letter to Anna Mitchell-Hedges during a difficult time in their promoting of the crystal skull. (National Museum of American Indian Archives Collection)

By 1970, Anna Mitchell-Hedges, then 63, and Frank Dorland had a falling out, partly because of publications in which he clearly had a hand that detailed a variety of progressively outlandish claims for the skull and characterized him as its owner and keeper. The exaggerations and mythologies put out by Dorland and his surrogates seem less bothersome to Anna than the reports that the skull belonged to him, and that he still had not found a buyer. At this point Dorland proposed that he and Anna collaborate on a book of their own, to be written by novelist Richard Garvin:

Garvin's book, The Crystal Skull (1973), reports that "The skull, it is claimed, was discovered rather recently--in the Lubaantun Tomb, part of the abandoned ruins of an enormous Mayan citadel, in British Honduras. The year was 1927" (p. 13). As mentioned earlier, in correspondence and in published sources, the array of years given for the skull's discovery includes 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1928. "I am a little hazy about the exact date," Anna wrote in a note to Dockstader, "but we started the expedition in 1926 and left before the rainy season in 1927" (OC 276, folder #11 -9.20.1970).

Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, in the company of Lady Mable Richmond Brown, spent two very brief stays in Lubaantún, the first in 1924 and the second in 1925. They may possibly have had a third visit in 1926, but it is not entirely clear that they ever returned after 1925. In January 1927, Mitchell-Hedges was supposedly attacked and robbed in Bournemouth of a case with papers and five or six shrunken heads. But the much publicized assault was later proven to be a hoax. In 1928, Mr. Mitchell-Hedges was involved in a libel trial, the result of a suit he had brought against the Daily Express, the newspaper that had exposed the robbery hoax. He lost the suit. A New York Times article (February 15, 1928) noted that

Frederick Mitchell-Hedges was not at Lubaantun in 1928, nor was Anna. The British Museum archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson was at the site in 1927 and 1928. Thompson wrote about Mitchell-Hedges in Maya Archaeologist (1963), and his characterization was not flattering (p. 73):

Anna eventually settled on the year 1924 for her great find, and specifically on January 1, which was, coincidentally, her 17th birthday. It seems odd that she would initially have such a hazy memory of such a momentous birthday discovery. Her father never mentioned that Anna found the skull, and his 1954 book Danger My Ally was the first account in which he said she even accompanied Lady Richmond Brown and him to British Honduras. According to Mitchell-Hedges's hometown newspaper, the Daily Mail had received a cable toward the end of March 1924 from the "explorer" to announce, "that, with Dr. T.W.F. Gann, of Liverpool University, the eminent archaeologist and authority on Honduran antiquities, he [Mitchell-Hedges] had discovered the ruins of a vast Maya city in the heart of British Honduras" (March 31, 1924). The paper quotes Mitchell-Hedges's cable describing the astounding find of a "vast truncated pyramidal mound. The stone structure reared to a height of 300 feet above the valley." A January 24, 1931, letter to the New York Times quotes Mitchell-Hedges as having

According to the article, the British Museum sent T.A. Joyce with the expedition in 1926 and then took over the work.

In response to questions posed by Frank Dorland about the connection of Anna's father to the Museum of the American Indian, Dockstader wrote:

By 1971, Dockstader was thinking about exhibiting the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull at the Museum of the American Indian, but he was concerned about Phrenology (1970), a book with ties to Dorland, written by Sybil Leek, a British witch. Leek claimed that F.A. Mitchell-Hedges had brought the skull from London to Central America, and that it may originally have belonged to the Knights Templar, whose main temple was in central London. This upset Dockstader, who wrote Anna asking about the skull's origins. I found no response from her.

In March 1972, Dockstader wrote to Anna that the Crystal Skull would be the centerpiece of an exhibition called "The Skull in Indian Art," but he still had questions:

Notes in British Museum files indicate that archaeologists and curators there worried about the director of the Museum of the American Indian exhibiting the skull without knowing its actual history. Although there was a great deal of hesitancy, it would seem, about calling into question the veracity of the Mitchell-Hedges family, the BM's Eric Thompson apparently found a way to get this information to Dockstader.

Anna's "Statement of Fact" (National Museum of American Indian Archives Collection)

Anna responded with a "Statement of Fact" on official-looking typed letterhead, "Anna Mitchell-Hedges F.R.G.S., F.L.S." It reads:

According to Mitchell-Hedges himself, writing in his 1931 book Land of Wonder and Fear (p. 16), the party who "first discovered" Lubaantun "consisted of Lady Richmond Brown, the late Mr. H.S. Tuke, who came with us in order to depict on canvas the true atmosphere of the tropics, Dr. Thomas Gann, and myself."

Gann, who had actually published notes about the ruins in 1903, presumably led Mitchell-Hedges and his party there in 1924. In his book Mystery Cities Exploration and Adventure in Lubaantun, published the following year, Gann noted (pp. 128-129) that Frederick Mitchell-Hedges and Lady Brown had arrived a few days ahead of him, but

One would suppose that if Gann saw fit to mention Michael, the couple's pet monkey, that he would have noted the presence of Mitchell-Hedges's daughter, Anna, but neither he, nor Mitchell-Hedges, nor Lady Richmond Brown ever mention her in connection with this visit. That is, until Frederick Mitchell-Hedges' 1954 book Danger My Ally in which he wrote or, perhaps more accurately, rewrote the history of his Lubaantun expeditions.

The above statements are fabrications. Numerous newspaper accounts describe Lady Richmond Brown and Mitchell-Hedges on expeditions from the early 1920s until the early 1930s. She bankrolled nearly all of their travels, she purchased their yacht, Cara, and donated their finds to the Heye Foundation's Museum of the American Indian. A June 11, 1930, New York Times article noted that Lady Richmond Brown was sued for divorce by her husband, Sir Melville Richmond Brown, naming Mitchell-Hedges as co-respondent. Despite her companion's marriage to Lillian Agnes (Dolly) Clarke, Mitchell-Hedges and Lady Richmond-Brown traveled together for at least a decade. The final split with Midge, as she called him, seems to have occurred when Mabs discovered he'd bigamously married a dancer named Dorothy Copp in New York in 1938. Ms. Copp quickly "divorced" Midge in New Jersey in April 1938, after a life-threatening jungle honeymoon, luridly reported in the Hearst newspapers in May, and written in the same style as Land of Wonder and Fear and Danger My Ally.

Within two months of the very public "divorce," Lady Richmond Brown wrote George Heye, the founder of the Museum of the American Indian, requesting the return of the Cuna collections from Panama that she had donated to his museum. Heye, on a trip to Alaska, responded politely, saying

George Gustav Heye, founder of the Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

In December of that year, Heye wrote to Mitchell-Hedges,

Midge responded in a January 16, 1939, letter denouncing his former benefactor,

This may be why Mitchell-Hedges wrote Lady Richmond Brown out of his recollections of their expeditions after 1925 in Danger My Ally but since Mabs died in 1946, his version of events would not be contested.

Mitchell-Hedges not only recast Lady Richmond Brown's role in his memoir, but also sought to create more mystery about his Skull of Doom: "How it came into my possession, I have reason for not revealing" (Danger My Ally, p. 243). Anna's explanation of this statement to Dockstader was that her father bought the skull at Sotheby's because,

If Joyce introduced Mitchell-Hedges to Burney and if Midge had wanted to join Joyce's British Museum expedition to Lubaantun, then this would have taken place around 1927. If Burney had lent him the money, then why didn't Mitchell-Hedges return to Lubaantun? Perhaps this was because of his unsuccessful liable suit? But then, why would he leave the skull for years before reclaiming it by purchasing it at the auction house? Another inconsistency is Anna's statement that Joyce introduced her father to Burney, since the Official Mitchell-Hedges Website (accessed 11/08) quotes Anna as saying that Mr. Burney was an old school chum of her father's. If the story about her father buying back his very own (or Anna's very own) artifact were true, why wouldn't he mention this fact in the proud announcement to his own brother? He reports on the collection that "grows and grows and grows," and tells his brother that the newest acquisition is a crystal skull from the Sydney Burney collection. He mentions the skull's close relative in the British Museum, but says nothing about Lubaantun, nor that he thinks it is Maya.

Fonds TUKE - Tuke Family Collection

The Tuke family owned a tea and coffee business in York, and this is where the main branch of the family remained. However, branches of the family were spread across England and Ireland: Sarah Grubb (née Tuke) moved to Clonmel, Ireland, in 1787 where she died in 1790 and Elizabeth Wheeler (née Tuke) and her family lived at Hitchin, Hertfordshire. William Alexander, Ann Alexander (née Tuke)’s husband, was a trader in corn and flour in Suffolk, but in 1808 the Alexanders moved to York, initially running the Trinity Lane School and in 1812 setting up a printing and bookselling business, which was taken over by the Sessions family in 1826. The Copsie family, the family of Henry Tuke’s wife Mary Maria, hailed from Norfolk: John and Favilla Copsie were farmers in Wacton, but the family also seem to have inherited property in Whitwell from John Copsie’s sister. The Hipsley and Priestman families both lived in Hull, at properties named Bellefield and East Mount respectively. Samuel Tuke’s children lived in a York, Hitchin, Scarborough, Sunderland, Newcastle, Saffron Walden, London, Falmouth and Torquay.

In addition to their business concerns, the family were also members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), active in the York Monthly Meeting and regular attendees of Quarterly and Yearly Meetings. Esther Tuke (née Maud), Sarah Grubb (née Tuke), Henry Tuke, Elizabeth Wheeler (née Tuke), Ann Alexander (née Tuke), Esther Priestman (née Tuke) and Samuel Tuke were all ministers, and William Tuke, Mabel Hipsley (née Tuke) and Maria Tuke acted as elders. Esther Tuke (née Maud), Henry Tuke, Sarah Grubb (née Tuke) and Ann Alexander (née Tuke) were all given certificates by their Monthly Meeting to travel around the UK as itinerant ministers, with Sarah also travelling to continental Europe, Henry to Ireland and Ann to Ireland, America and Europe. Henry and Samuel Tuke were notable religious writers, and Samuel Tuke also acted as editor of the Annual Monitor, taking over from its founder, his aunt Ann Alexander (née Tuke), who had established the Quaker journal in 1808.

The Tukes were involved in a range of philanthropic work, some linked to their Quaker faith but also broader reforming campaigns. William Tuke founded The Retreat asylum for Quakers in York in the 1790s, and the Retreat’s moral and humane treatment of the mentally ill became a template for the wider reform of asylums. The family continued to be involved in the administration of The Retreat into the nineteenth century. William and Samuel Tuke were also involved in the campaign to reform the York County Asylum in 1813-1815, and their work at The Retreat led them to be consulted by other asylum reformers: Samuel Tuke was involved in the design for Wakefield Asylum and published ‘A Description of the Retreat’ in 1813. He also visited a number of asylums in Paris on a visit to the city with his sister Maria in August 1824.

The Tukes were also involved in the foundation and management of several schools in Yorkshire. William Tuke and Esther Tuke (née Maud) were involved in the establishment of Ackworth School, a Quaker school founded in 1779 by John Fothergill, and members of the family served as committee members, visitors and examiners there. Esther Tuke (née Maud) went on to found a school for Quaker girls in York, the Trinity Lane School, in 1785. The staff at Trinity Lane School included three of William and Esther’s daughters, Elizabeth, Ann and Mabel, and members of the family served as superintendents until the school’s closure in 1814. Lindley Murray, an American Quaker who had moved to England in 1784 with his wife Hannah, was a close friend of the Tukes and was asked to compile a grammar for the Trinity Lane School, which was published in 1795 and became widely popular, earning him the title of ‘father of English grammar’.

Sarah Tuke (née Grubb) established the Suir Island Girls’ School near her home in Ireland, and the Tukes were involved in the establishment and/or administration of a number of other schools in York, including the British Girls’ School for non-Quaker girls (1812-1896), Bootham Boys’ School (1829-) and its predecessor run by William Simpson in the Retreat’s Appendage on Lawrence Street (1823-1828), Hope Street Boys’ School (1827-), and the Mount School (1835-).

The Quakers were significant supporters of the anti-slavery campaign, and York Quakers, including William Tuke, Henry Tuke, Lindley Murray and Samuel Tuke, supported William Wilberforce’s candidacy for Yorkshire in the 1807 General Election against Henry Lascelles, son of the 1st Earl of Harewood who had extensive plantation holdings in the Caribbean. The Tukes were also members of the Anti-Slavery Society, with a York branch established in 1823, and were active in the Bible Society movement, with Henry Tuke founding the York Auxiliary branch of the Society in 1813. They shared the wider Quaker and Evangelical concern for prisoners, temperance and vice. Samuel and Maria Tuke both visited Newgate Prison and were active in York’s Penitentiary Committee. And in 1822 Samuel Tuke founded a Vagrancy Office in York.

The Tukes were also active in their local community in York through involvement in local and parish government, philanthropy and the provision of financial services and public utilities. In 1845 James Hack Tuke accompanied the Quaker minister and philanthropist William Forster on a tour of North America, and he travelled to Ireland in December 1846, September 1847 and February 1848 at the height of the Great Famine, publishing observations of what he had witnessed. His elder brother, Henry Tuke Jr., also acted as a companion to William Forster, accompanying him on missionary work in France in 1844. Their brother William Murray Tuke was particularly interested in family history, and many of the family history materials within the collection were accumulated by him: he contributed to Joseph Foster’s Pedigrees series.

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Watch the video: Mabel (January 2022).