Will makers of film Suffragette starring Meryl Streep portray Emily Davison’s death as suicide?

Campaigners have expressed concern about how women’s rights activist Emily Wilding Davison might be portrayed in a forthcoming blockbuster movie.

The film called Suffragette is due to be released in September and boasts an all star cast including Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst, Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan.

It also features Natalie Press as Davison, who is buried in Morpeth, Northumberland, following her death after being hit by the King’s horse during the 1913 Derby.

The ‘Emily Inspires’ group, which is based in Northumberland and has the backing of Davison’s descendants, became concerned after a website revealed details of a film about Emily which appeared to suggest she had committed suicide that day.

Emily Wilding Davison who is buried at St. Mary's Church in Morpeth.
Emily Wilding Davison who is buried at St. Mary’s Church in Morpeth.

Its Chair, Andrew Tebbutt, explained:

“We’re concerned because we understand there has been blurb for it talking of her throwing herself in front of the horse.

“A letter has been sent to the makers about this but we’ve heard nothing back yet as far as I’m aware.”

We tried to contact award winning writer Abi Morgan who penned Suffragette to clear up the matter.

However, on her behalf, we received a statement from Pathe, which is co-producing the film with Film4 productions, which said:

“Abi Morgan won’t be doing any interviews about the film until much closer to the release in the Autumn.

“Unfortunately I must ask you to wait to see the film before commenting on how Emily Davison is portrayed. The one thing I can tell you now is that she is a supporting character in the film, so is not the focus of the story.”

For many years it had been said that Davison did, in effect, commit suicide by steeping in the front of the horse, Anmer.

Recently, however, modern historians have ruled out the suicide theory. In 2013 analysis of newsreel has supported the idea that Davison was reaching up to attach a scarf to the bridle of the King’s horse.

Analysis of the newsreel also indicated that her position before she stepped out onto the track would have given her a clear view of the oncoming race, further countering the belief that she ran out in a haphazard way to kill herself.

1913 Suffragette derby
1913 Suffragette derby

Mr Tebbutt said: “If you re going to some sort of historical documentary, do it properly and tell the truth.

“She was quite happy to die for the cause of getting women the vote, but that is not what she intended to do that day.

“She was preparing to go see her nephew and niece in France afterwards – she had a return ticket. So her intention was not to die that day.”

Emily Inspires said another movie called Emily: Deeds Not Words had spoken of her as a “terrorist” and a “martyr”.

They said it was possible this film had been confused with Suffragette.

Davison was born in London the daughter of Northumberland parents. She was a militant activist who fought for women to be given the vote in Britain and was jailed on nine occasions and force-fed 49 times.

Davison died four days after the Derby incident from the injuries she suffered.

Her funeral was organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union and thousands of suffragettes accompanied the coffin while tens of thousands of people lined the streets of London.

After a service in Bloomsbury her coffin was taken by train to the family grave in the church yard of St. Mary the Virgin, Morpeth.

Source –  Sunday Sun, 29 Mar 2015

> The events were captured by newsreel –

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