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    This Suffragette Kept A Record Of All Her Badass Activism In A Scrapbook Made Public For The First Time

    Kitty Marion, campaigner for the vote in Britain and birth control in the US, compiled some astonishing accounts of her rebellious escapades.

    This is Kitty Marion: actor, birth control campaigner, and militant suffragette. She kept a record of her badass deeds in a scrapbook, and now – for the first time – it's been made public.

    Museum of London

    Marion's scrapbook, containing newspaper clippings about arson attacks, arrests, hunger strikes, and prison escapes, will go on display at the Museum of London on Thursday, as part of an exhibition celebrating 100 years since some women got the vote.

    But it's also been made available in full online, digitised with Google Arts and Culture.

    What's inside is pretty relevant to women today. For some historians, her story was the "original #MeToo".

    Museum of London

    Marion, who was born in Westphalia, Germany, in 1871, moved to England to live with an aunt when she was 15 to escape her abusive father. Four years later, she took to the stage as a music hall actor.

    But on signing her first contract with an agent, she was knocked unconscious and sexually assaulted — an experience that Fern Riddell, who used the scrapbook as a basis for her book Death in Ten Minutes, says spurred her into campaigning for women's rights.

    "This is an actress who fought back against sexual harassment in her industry for 20 years. No one would listen to her," Riddell told BuzzFeed News.

    "In end, being so frustrated and so angry, and so upset and damaged by what was [being done] to women in that industry by men, she turned to the bomb and the arson campaign of the suffragettes."

    She went on not only to carry out arson attacks, but to coordinate them across the country and train other militants at the request of the Pankhursts, who led the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

    Museum of London

    The scrapbook is full of images of arson attacks she clipped from newspapers, including some for which police never found a culprit.

    "[There is] this glorious moment when we realise that she’s taking responsibility for all of these [attacks]: the ones that she admits to publicly and is arrested for, and then the ones she talks about in more coded language," said Riddell.

    Other experts say Marion's acting days gave her the key contacts she needed to organise the campaign on such a large scale.

    Museum of London

    Diane Atkinson, an expert on the women's suffrage movement who is editing Marion's unpublished autobiography, told BuzzFeed News it gave her the charisma, confidence, and network of contacts that the suffragettes desperately needed.

    "Her years hoofing about on the stage, going from engagement to engagement, and travelling around the country was perfect training for her suffragette career," she said. "She had contacts all around the country, she knew of landladies ... where she could go and stay, because she performed there."

    A lot of actresses became assets to the suffrage movement not only because of their contacts, but also because of their clothes, she added. They lent wigs, outfits, and makeup as diguises for suffragettes on the run from police.

    Marion was forced to flee Britain altogether in 1915, as anti-German sentiment during the First World War made life too dangerous for her. With the help of her fellow suffragettes, she bought a ticket to the US and joined the campaign for birth control.

    Museum of London

    While the scrapbook itself does not cover her time in the US, the various clippings, such as this letter she received, paint a picture of how she became determined to fight for women's autonomy.

    When Marion joined Margaret Sanger's campaign for birth control, Atkinson said, her reputation for having led arson attacks and undergone more than 200 force feedings in one prison stint gained her a lot of respect.

    "Kitty arrived in America in those circles as a celebrity, in a way," she said. "She was a woman with a very interesting past with a great deal of speaking experience, and as an actor she’s not shy about getting up and talking and stirring up a crowd."

    Her commitment to fighting for women's autonomy, not only physically, but in all aspects, is clear throughout her scrapbook.

    Museum of London

    In this clipping from an interview with her and other suffragettes about police brutality, she is quoted as saying that a woman pulled out her hair during one confrontation. "Never said that," she wrote underneath.

    "You can see her passionate personality... and also her absolute choice that she is going to be right: 'You are not going to misquote me. If you are going to make me someone that people are looking at, you are going to listen to what I say and you are going to get it right,'" said Riddell.

    "That’s something that women are still struggling with today... [and] it’s something that we see was happening then, that women were struggling to be heard as they want to be heard, not as letting people pass their judgment and trying to sanitise what they’re trying to say."

    The page that will go on display at the Museum of London on Thursday shows a newspaper clipping from her first arrest in July 1909 — with a handwritten note marking the occasion.

    Museum of London

    For Beverley Cook, a curator of social and working history at the museum, it is a defining page in the book.

    "I think anyone’s first arrest is a very pivotal moment in their road to militancy," she said. "Some of the more sensational news cuttings that reflect on arson and things like that ... are not necessarily as personal to her. But I think this page is a very personal page."

    Marion's scrapbook will go on show alongside those of fellow suffragettes Ada Flatman (standing second from the right in the group picture below) and Minnie Baldock (pictured right).

    Museum of London

    The scrapbooks compiled by Flatman and Baldock are also available in full online. All three will go on display together for the first time, which, Cook hopes, will give visitors the opportunity to see how the women conceived of themselves as part of a historic movement.

    "They were collectors, preservers, and curators of their own history," she said. "They were the first public historians of the suffragette campaign, and the scrapbooks themselves are a perfect example of that."

    Contact Hazel Shearing at hazel.shearing@buzzfeed.com.

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