Leeds Mercury (29/Mar/1907) - Dora Thewlis Ill

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


Trials of Prison Life have Affected Her Health.



Dora Thewlis is ill at her Huddersfield home.

Her exciting experiences in London and the rigours of her prison treatment have proved too much for her. She has broken down, and her parents have been compelled to summon medical assistance.

Her father and mother are indignant at what they consider their young daughter’s harsh treatment. They are determined that the matter shall not be allowed to rest where it is, but are arranging to bring Dora’s sufferings to the notice of the Home Secretary.

A representative of the "London Evening News" says: From the lips of Dora herself I learned the full story of her life in Holloway prison.

"When I arrived at Holloway," she said, "I was taken in my ordinary dress, together with other prisoners, to a special room.

"At the time I thought I was a prisoner, and not merely on remand, for I was separated from the other women, and told to undress. Everything was removed down to the locket round my neck, which had not been unfastened for years, and the chain of which had to be broken for the purpose.

"I asked the wardress if I could not keep some of my clothes, but the reply was, 'No, you must take them off.' After I had a bath they gave me prison clothes, with a number, to wear. I again objected, but the only response was, 'Perhaps you won't come here again if you wear these.'"


"Then, again, why was I treated so unfairly in chapel every day? Why did they put me behind a wooden barrier right at the back of everybody, so that I could see none of my friends?

"They tortured me, I can see it all now. They tried to break my spirit, and they succeeded. They held me up to ridicule as a 'baby' and a 'child,' and treated me like a criminal rather than a girl under remand.

"The taunts that I was a child made me see the uselessness of continuing the agitation at present, so I gave in, but, mark my words, which I speak in the presence of my mother and with her full sanction, I shall continue to fight as long as I can.

"I was surprised at not being allowed to see any of the members of the W.S.P.U. That was another attempt to break down my resolve."

Dora’s face flushed as she spoke of the police-court proceedings. "Why," she asked, "did they pay my fare home out of the poor-box? That is an insult," she added indignantly, "and my parents intend sending the money back to the magistrate."

Then in altered, mood Dora said, "Don't call me the 'Baby Suffragette.' I am not a baby really. In May next year I shall be eighteen years of age. Surely for a girl that is a good age?"

Mrs. Thewlis here interposed. "Yes, all this talk about 'little Dora' is nonsense. Of course, she is a baby compared with the others. I am determined, and so is Dora, to fight for the cause.


"When she is eighteen my daughter will again go to London to assist in the raids on the House of Commons, and so will I. If necessary she will go to prison, but next time as a woman, not a child. She may be a child in years, perhaps, hut she is not in sense or determination."

"I have brought up all my family to Socialistic and Progressive ideas," added Mrs. Thewlis, "and I am very proud of it. We will all go to prison with pleasure for the cause of women should the necessity arise, but I insist upon just and fair treatment.

"My husband is going to take every possible step to get an explanation from the Government for Dora's treatment at Holloway."

These militant phrases sounded somewhat incongruous amid the simple surroundings of the home. The family live in a small house in an unpretentious part of Huddersfield, and it seemed strange to hear Mrs. Thewlis and her daughter uttering threats of war under such circumstances.

Before I left the house, adds the correspondent, little Dora gave me this message:— "I say more women arise. Votes for women."

But with a deep sigh of relief, she added, "I am glad though to be home again from horrid London, and still more from Holloway Gaol."