When suffragette Emily Wilding Davison hid overnight in the Houses of Parliament in 1911 to have her name recorded in the census there, she may not have known that there were sixty-seven other women also resident in Parliament that night: housekeepers, kitchen maids, domestic servants, and wives and daughters living in households. This book is their story.
Women have touched just about every aspect of life in Parliament. From ‘Jane’, dispenser of beer, pies and chops in Bellamy’s legendary refreshment rooms; to Eliza Arscot, who went from reigning as Principal Housemaid at the House of Lords to Hanwell Asylum; to May Ashworth, Official Typist to Parliament for thirty years through marriage, war and divorce; and Jean Winder, the first female Hansard reporter, who fought for years to be paid the same as her male counterparts; the lives of these women have been largely unacknowledged – until now.
Drawing on new research from the Parliamentary Archives, government records and family history sources, historians and parliamentary insiders Mari Takayanagi and Elizabeth Hallam Smith bring these unsung heroes to life. They chart the changing context for working women within and beyond the Palace of Westminster, uncovering women left out of the history books – including Mary Jane Anderson, a previously unknown suffragette.