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The “Sordid Story” of an Unwanted Child: Militancy, Motherhood and Abortion in Elizabeth Robins’ Votes for Women! and Way Stations

Liggins, E (2018) The “Sordid Story” of an Unwanted Child: Militancy, Motherhood and Abortion in Elizabeth Robins’ Votes for Women! and Way Stations. Women's Writing, 25 (3). pp. 347-361. ISSN 0969-9082

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Abstract

© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This article reconsiders representations of the militant suffragette in two texts by the radical writer Elizabeth Robins: Votes for Women! (1907) and her collection of political speeches and articles, Way Stations (1913). Her plea for twentieth-century women writers to create new roles for women outside those of wives and sweethearts can be read in relation to the creation of her “exceptional” suffragette heroine, who thrives on her singleness in her 1907 play. Focusing particularly on the taboo issues of abortion and unmarried motherhood, the author considers the ways in which Robins developed the fallen woman on stage narrative in the early twentieth century, and how childlessness is shown to be both necessary and problematic for the suffragette heroine. The author also reassesses Robins’ complex commentaries on militancy and “quiet propaganda” in her suffrage speeches and pamphlets.

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