404 Hampstead Garden Suburb Virtual Museum : Document : Bessie Drysdale [SUFL10]
Bessie Drysdale
Bessie Drysdale

Overview of Bessie Drysdale

She lived at 49 Rotherwick Road

Bessie Drysdale and her mother-in-law were both actively involved in the suffrage movement. Less commonly, Mr Drysdale was also actively involved.

Born Bessie Ingman Edwards in 1871 in Hereford and originally trained as a teacher.

Initially a member of the WSPU. She was arrested in February 1907 when delegates from the Women’s Parliament in Caxton Hall marched on the Houses of Parliament, shouting ‘Deeds not Words’. She was imprisoned in Holloway for 21 days.

Like Edith How Martyn, she was a founder member of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL) and was on its first National Executive Committee. Frequent speaker for the Women’s Freedom League, especially on topics such as women’s health and contraception.

After WW1, undertook considerable campaigning and educational work across the country on contraception and women’s health. Assisted her husband Charles in establishing the Walworth Women’s Welfare Centre.

Census form for the household was returned blank Bessie. She wrote:
“As the Government refuses me a vote, and as I am not recognized as a citizen, I refuse to perform the duties of one, in giving the information required by the Government”.
She signed herself as a member of the Women’s Freedom League.

A reduced return was completed by the enumerator.

Although she called herself Mrs Drysdale, the couple did not marry until January 1929. This reflected the lead of Charles’ parents who took each other’s names but were never formally married.

Like her husband, she wrote for ‘The Freewoman’. This was a short-lived radical feminist magazine published in 1911-12. A key area of discussion was women’s enfranchisement, but areas discussed were much broader including concepts of marriage, motherhood, sexuality, women's rights, and the domestic man. The graphic descriptions of sex led to WH Smith (the main retail and wholesale newsagent of the time) refusing to stock it and contributed to its failure.

Return to Suffragists and Suffragettes here

Document, SUFL10