Suffragette Collection set to spark interest in Surrey saleroom

A fascinating Suffragette collection that records one lady’s determined fight to gain suffrage for women, including periods in jail, is to go under the hammer at Catherine Southon Auctioneers and Valuers in Surrey.

Photograph of Suffragette Kate EvansThe archive of Welsh-born Kate Evans will be offered for sale next month with an estimate of £8,000 to £10,000.

Suffragette Collection

Included in the collection is a rare silver suffragette Hunger Strike medal and a fascinating archive of letters, books and ephemera relating to Evans, who was born in 1866 in Llansantffraid, Mongomeryshire.

Suffragette Hunger Strike Medal

The medal engraved Hunger Strike to the obverse and Kate Evans to the reverse, complete with the distinctive three coloured ribbon representing purple (dignity), green (hope) and white (purity) and two silver bars one engraved March 4th 1912.

Only 100 of these medals are known to exist and this one is contained within original velvet lined presentation box with printed inscription to the silk lined lid, sold together with an accompanying letter from The Women’s Social and Political Union stating that Miss Evans has been presented with a prison brooch.

Auctioneer Catherine Southon commented, “We are honoured to be offering such an important private and comprehensive Suffragette collection that once belonging to Women’s Right’s activist Kate Williams Evans at such a poignant time. The collection has been kept within the family and has been treasured, which would account for the condition of the hunger strike medal which is exceptional.”

The Suffragette collection in the sale includes a Hunger Strike MedalAlso included is a Metropolitan Police arrest warrant issued to Kate on 4th March 1912 for ‘Malicious damage’; ‘The Pocket R. L. S. from the works of Stevenson‘; a pocket book given to Kate by Meg – her sister, with hand-written pencil autographs from a number of suffragettes including Emily Wilding Davison, E. Pankhurst and Sarah Benett; as well as a copy of John, Nancy. A. ‘Holloway Jingles‘ a collection of poems written by the Suffragettes contained within a pictorial printed outer green covers with, images of the inside of the cells. This is possibly a first edition and includes two poems by Kate entitled ‘Who?‘ and ‘The cleaners of Holloway‘.

Another item signed by E. Pankurst is a framed and signed letter of Commendation to Kate Evans on behalf of the Women’s Social Political Union.

Elsewhere in the collection is a hand-written letter from fellow inmate and suffragette Sarah Benett to her maid Jane regarding the health of Kate Evans as the hunger strike began (Kate explained that she had this letter stitched to the hem of her skirt). The letter reads, ‘Miss Evans will be my guest till she is a little stronger. She has been starving so treat her as an invalid…’

A further interesting letter is from Dorothy (Evans), a fellow prison inmate of Kate’s who by that time had left prison. The letter reads: ‘Your flowers have been such a joy to me through a very strenuous time. Now I am getting some mental and spiritual peace, though my body is suffering – I find I am getting ill much sooner now I am not taking water either…The cells here are darker than any I have seen…We come up for trial on Tuesday if still alive and in captivity…’.

Suffragette collection of letters and medalAnother letter in the collection is from Mary Griffiths to Kate’s great aunt regarding her niece’s courage, which reads: ‘We can hardly realise at present what a debt of gratitude we owe the militant section of the suffragists, but I am quite sure that later on their heroism and devotion will be appreciated’.

About Kate Evans

Kate Williams Evans was born in 1866 in Llansantffraid, Mongomeryshire. Growing up, she was interested in politics and spent a considerable time in Paris. While there, she met with people interested in the Women’s Social and Political Union and in her early thirties she joined the Union and was an active member.

She became a suffragette to the dismay of her parents who thought the behaviour of the women was quite shocking. On 4th March 1912 she was arrested and imprisoned for 54 days in Holloway prison.

The collection is to be offered for auction by the family in the sale taking place on July 25.

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