Angel Dorothy

By Jane Brown

A new biography of the woman behind Dartington Hall, American heiress Dorothy Elmhirst

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dorothy Whitney and Suffrage

Dorothy was 20 in 1907, she was 'out' and New York's No. 1 Marriageable Heiress, but unusual for her natural authority, the perfect Madme Chairman, she could hold a large meeting to order. 

She marched with the Women's Trade Union League, supported the emigrant settlements of New York's East Side, and was the elected Chairman of the National Junior Leagues, a focus for activist young women with social consciences popular in America, but having no parallel in Britain.   As National Chairman she represented 'America' at an Albert Hall gathering of the Women's Social and Political Union, sitting on the platform;  she found the women activists' descriptions of their treatment by the police painful, and possibly counter-productive, and she profoundly disliked the way Chrystabel Pankhurst and other leaders roused the audience to a frenzy!

After the meeting she met Sylvia Pankhurst, who also disagreed with her sister's violent militancy, and they worked together at Sylvia's East End Centre for Working Women.

Dorothy remained a Suffragist and worked for the cause politically in America.  Her independence of mind, her ability to think for herself - which she never abandoned - makes her a refreshing companion on her journey down the 20th century.

Jane Brown, 27th October.  

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