Lady Constance Lytton, Suffragette
First Posted On The Herts Hidden Heroines Website: 2nd November 2015
Lady Constance Georgina Bulwer-Lytton, usually known as Constance Lytton (born 12 January 1869, Vienna, died 2 May 1923, London) was an influential British suffragette activist, writer, speaker and campaigner for prison reform, votes for women, and birth control. She sometimes used the name Jane Warton.
Although born and raised in the privileged ruling class of British society, Lytton rejected this background to join the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the most militant group of Suffragette activists, campaigning for “Votes for Women”.
She was subsequently imprisoned four times, including once in Walton gaol in Liverpool under the nom de guerre of Jane Warton, where she was force fed while on hunger strike. She chose the alias and disguise of Jane Warton, an ‘ugly London seamstress’, to avoid receiving special treatment and privileges because of her family connections: she was the daughter of a viceroy and the sister of a member of the House of Lords. her brother was especially supportive of her cause. She wrote pamphlets on women’s rights, articles in The Times newspaper, and a book on her experiences Prisons and Prisoners which was published in 1914 and which was thought to have been idely influential to the cause of women’s suffrage.
While imprisoned in Holloway during March 1909, Lytton used a piece of broken enamel from a hairpin to carve the letter “V” into the flesh of her breast, placed exactly over the heart. “V” for Votes for Women.
Her heart attack, stroke, and early death at the age of 54 have been attributed in part to the trauma of her hunger strike and force feeding by the prison authorities.
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