Friday, 2 March 2012

Two Chartist women lecturers

Susanna Inge and Mary Ann Walker were, briefly, prominent speakers on the London Chartist lecture circuit.
Yet almost nothing is known of the "she Chartists", as they were disparagingly dubbed by The Times, beyond a few speeches that they made over a 12-month period from July 1842 to the summer of 1843.
The story of their rise to heady mix of popular acclaim and newspaper condemnation – and of their equally rapid disappearance from public view – has now been added to Chartist Ancestors.
I personally enjoyed the newspapers' account of the previously unknown Mary Ann Walker's unscripted demolition of a male speaker who suggested that women were unfit for public office since they might be unduly influenced by a male suitor of opposing views.
It is interesting to speculate on what might have been had the Chartist movement taken the political rights of women more seriously (and been less inclined to dismiss women who had the audacity to challenge its leaders).
I would also love to know more about what happened to Susanna Inge and Mary Ann Walker when they dropped out of the Chartist movement. If you can fill in any of the gaps, please do get in touch.
Meanwhile, I also plan to publish more about women Chartists on the website in the coming months.