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Ethel Mary Smyth Letters

Identifier: MSS 0119

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters between Dame Ethel Smyth, Lady Ponsonby, Emmeline Pankhurst, Empress Eugenie and members of the Empress's circle; an anonymous typescript describing the months preceding Empress Eugenie's death; and a suffragette broadside about Emmeline Pankhurst.

The largest group of letters, dated 1910-1914, are from Ethel Smyth to Emmeline Pankhurst. Most of them are written from Helouan, Egypt, about events concerning the women's suffrage movement in England, and a wide variety of other topics.

The broadside issued by the Women's Social and Political Union [1913] entitled, "The Case of Mrs. Pankhurst; a Victim of the 'Cat and Mouse Act'", is an appeal for the repeal of the force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes who had gone on hunger-strikes to dramatize their position on women's rights. It describes the activities of Mrs. Pankhurst and mentions her attendance at the funeral of Emily Wilding Davison, the suffragette who threw herself in front of the King's horse in view of the King and Queen on the Derby course and was killed in June 1913.


  • 1894 - 1937


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information. Please see our Sensitive Materials Statement.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dame Ethel Mary Smyth (1858-1944) was a music composer, author, and feminist. Born in Sidcup, England, she showed early musical talent and waged a successful battle with her father for permission to study at the Conservatorium in Leipzig. She composed numerous works including chamber music, oratorios, and operas. A number of her compositions were performed in concert in England as well as in Germany. She was the first woman to compose music in the largest forms of opera, oratorio and concerto, making an important breakthrough for women in the field of music.

Smyth's interest in women's rights in the music world drew her into the larger movement for women's suffrage. She became a militant suffragette and feminist, served a term in prison and became a close friend of Emmeline Pankhurst. Her literary works include several autobiographies.


0.20 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Dame Ethel Mary Smyth (1858-1944) was an English music composer, author, and feminist. The Ethel Mary Smyth Letters date from 1894 to1937, include correspondents such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Lady Ponsonby, Empress Eugenie and Lord Stamfordham, and cover a broad range of topics, including suffragism, society families, and literature.

Method of Acquisition

Purchased from London bookseller.

Offensive Language Statement

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Processing Information

Processed by Archives staff.


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Repository Details

Part of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Repository

P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US