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Jill Liddington

Vanishing for Vote

Book reviews and endorsements

'Liddington has a gift for innovation in history. Her best-know work, One Hand Tied Behind Us: the rise of the women's suffrage movement (1978, 2000), …describes how working women in Lancashire cotton towns made progress in women's suffrage by concentrating on grassroots issues… In keeping with this approach, Liddington here examines how suffrage history has …played down acts of civil disobedience that were less dramatic than painting-slashing and fire-setting. She redresses the balance to show… "elusive figures slipping along darkened streets of the night [who] proved daunting to pin down for enumerators then ~ and for suffrage historians now".'
Jad Adams, Times Literary Supplement.

'Liddington tells the story of the taking of the 1911 census, …and suffragette opposition to it, with great verve... The depiction of…the ingenuity suffragettes used to avoid enumeration, including setting up "safe houses", spending Census Night walking the streets, or even roller skating at the Aldwych, is a fascinating read…

Vanishing for the Vote is an extremely valuable addition to both the history of women's rights and the developing role of census-taking in Britain. Based on meticulous archival research, and with a broad vision, the book reinforces the view that the census is as much a great political event as an administrative process.'
Professor Edward Higgs, Family and Community History.

'Although a number of previous texts have made reference to the 1911 census boycott, none has considered it in the detail that Jill Liddington's highly readable book does… Liddington has weighed a host of new data about the boycott, thanks in large part to the decision of the National Archives to make the schedules of the 1911 census available to the public online…

The rich data discussed in Vanishing for the Vote are key to this fascinating work… The stories of the probable 3,000-4,000 boycotters… vividly evoke the spirit of the age.'
Professor June Purvis, Times Higher Education.

'A fascinating story, ingeniously told, meticulously researched, so as to illuminate both the women's suffrage movement and the social history of the period'.
Professor Linda Gordon, New York University.

'We thought we knew all about the dramatic campaigns of women for the vote. Until the original schedules became available of the 1911 census, carried out at the height of the suffragette hunger strikes. These reveals how many women resisted this official attempt to count them as full citizens. Jill Liddington has mined the census records to bring vividly to life this long-hidden, brave challenge to an anti-suffrage government.'
Professor Pat Thane, Kings College, London.





Vanishing for the Vote

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'In 2009 the National Archives released the 1911 census schedules and Liddington, who has been researching and writing about Votes for Women since the 1970s, set to work….

On many of the schedules were written the words "No Vote No Census" and often other statements were added. Elizabeth Thompson, headmistress of a small private girls' school in Ilkley …wrote eloquently: "If you expect women to fulfil duties, give them the rights to which, by performance of their duties, they are entitled".

Liddington's hugely engaging account presents several interesting examples such as the group who camped out overnight in caravans on Wimbledon Common or those who took part in organized entertainments like the one at Aldwych Skating Rink in London, attended by 500 women and 70 men' Yorkshire Post

'Until recently the 1911 census boycott was seen as another colourful suffragette tactic in the ongoing campaign for women's suffrage. But Vanishing for the Vote reveals it to have been an episode of high drama ~ personal and political, private and public… a near-perfect example of civil disobedience 'propaganda by deed…'  But the battle was not just on paper. For many women the questions about childbearing and child mortality, asked of disenfranchised people, made this a battle over women's bodies…

Academically credible but still highly readable, Vanishing for the Vote… [is] inspiring and thought-provoking, a must-read'.
Peace News