Anne Fernihough, Freewomen and Supermen: Edwardian Radicals and Literary Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Flicking through the suffragist journal Votes for Women (1907-1918) today, a striking feature is the amount of space dedicated to advertisements for suffragist merchandise. ‘Wonderful Bargains in Electioneering Gowns’, announces an advertisement from January 1910, listing dresses with such names as ‘The Mildred’, ‘La Russe’, and ‘The Moscow’. In later issues there are suffragist banners, items of jewellery, and, perhaps most delightfully, Christmas crackers in suffragist colours (one wonders at the gifts and jokes they may have contained). Such merchandise, of course, helped to raise valuable funds and broaden the profile of the cause; harder to explain are the advertisements for ‘yougourt agents’, with accompanying articles extolling the health benefits of this vegetarian food. At first glance these advertisements can appear rather anachronistic: yogurt is hardly a convenient snack to take on a march, and does not obviously signify one’s suffragist allegiance in the same way as a ‘Votes for Women!’ pendant in purple, white and green. Yet during the Edwardian era radical politics and a healthy diet were often part and parcel of the same thing: a desire to attain an apparently higher, more evolved and more humane state of being.
The relationship between progressive thinking and individual development is the subject of Anne Fernihough’s exciting new study, Freewomen and Supermen: Edwardian Radicals and Literary Modernism. Continue reading