The most recommended suffragette books

Who picked these books? Meet our 31 experts.

31 authors created a book list connected to suffragettes, and here are their favorite suffragette books.
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Book cover of Lucky Bet

Stephen W. Bartlett Author Of The Bridal Prospectus

From my list on romance without sappy character introspection.

Who am I?

I like to write more than I like to read, but when I do read, I want to learn about other places and times besides my own. Since my own novels are contemporary fiction, it makes sense that historical fiction is my favorite category to read. Likewise, my interest in romance isn’t from unrequited love, but rather, a desire to explore the difficulties of choosing a life partner in our complicated world. (Even my detective novels contain romance!) But I don’t like sappy introspective thought processes, a variation of teen angst, and most readers of historical romance have this same aversion. So none of my recommendations will be that way. 

Stephen's book list on romance without sappy character introspection

Stephen W. Bartlett Why did Stephen love this book?

Set at the end of the Georgian period in England (1790s), ‘Bet’ or Elizabeth is a reluctant rebel. Although she is fifty years before the suffragette movement, she resists the norms of her day, even disguising herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage. Although she is an anachronism, I found her character believable, a mixture of practicality and altruism. Her devoted friend, William, shows an understanding that many men of our day would do well to have. And it is no wonder they grow in affection for each other as she faces one hurdle after another in a “Man’s” world. This is a feel-good read. 

By Anna Reader,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lucky Bet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lady Elizabeth Randolph had always been a rebellious young woman, but when her scheming guardian threatens to marry her off to a grotesque stranger, she finds her gumption truly tested. Escaping to London disguised as a young man, Elizabeth discovers a new world of gambling, duels, cruelty and love. Railing against the limitations of her gender and with her best friend, William, by her side, Elizabeth sets out to win her freedom.


Book cover of Asunder

Christine Lai Author Of Landscapes

From my list on art and the ways of seeing.

Who am I?

In Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino writes that “we can distinguish between two types of imaginative processes, one that begins with words and ends with the visual image, and another that begins with the visual image and ends with its verbal expression.” All of my writing projects begin with the visual image. It is difficult for me to verbalize what precisely about art that captivates me. But when I stand in front of certain artworks, I feel a magnetic pull, and something in the piece—the brushstrokes, the colors, the materiality—compels me to write something in response to it.

Christine's book list on art and the ways of seeing

Christine Lai Why did Christine love this book?

Told from the perspective of a museum guard in London, Asunder is one of the most brilliant novels that engages with art.

The protagonist works in the National Gallery by day, and in the evening, she builds miniature dioramas. She also reflects on the destruction of a famous painting, goes on trips with friends, and eventually has a transformative encounter in a dilapidated castle. Asunder explores the meaning of art, decay, and preservation.

By Chloe Aridjis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Asunder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marie's job as a guard at the National Gallery in London offers her the life she always wanted, one of invisibility and quiet contemplation. But amid the hushed corridors of the Gallery surge currents of history and violence, paintings whose power belies their own fragility. There also lingers the legacy of her great-grandfather Ted, the museum guard who slipped and fell moments before reaching the suffragette Mary Richardson as she took a blade to one of the gallery's masterpieces on the eve of the First World War.

After nine years there, Marie begins to feel the tug of restlessness. A…


Book cover of The Life and Death of Emily Wilding Davison

Mary M Talbot Author Of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette

From my list on the lives of suffragettes.

Who am I?

I've written and taught about language and gender for many years and I've always been interested in gender politics more broadly. But I wanted to tell a story about suffragettes, something fun to read that would hold the attention and make people think. Because people forget, or just take for granted, what women went through. In the process of writing Sally Heathcote Suffragette, and since, I've accumulated masses of books dealing with women's suffrage. This is a small selection of some I enjoyed. I hope you do too!

Mary's book list on the lives of suffragettes

Mary M Talbot Why did Mary love this book?

That suffragette who 'threw herself' under the King's horse. Supposedly. Emily Wilding Davison was trampled on the Derby Day racecourse at Epsom on June 4th, 1913. Two WSPU flags were found pinned inside her coat. She died on July 8th, without having regained consciousness. When she was carried off the racecourse, she also had her pockets full. She had the return part of a rail ticket, notepaper, envelopes, and stamps, a race card marked with her fancies up to the fateful 3 pm race, and her helper’s pass card for the WSPU Summer Festival in Kensington, valid for 2.30 to 10.30 pm that day.

It isn’t clear that she was planning suicide. Indeed, she’d placed bets on horses and arranged to be an official at the festival later on. If this kind of detail fascinates you too, this book is a must-read.

Book cover of Ida B. Wells Marches for the Vote

Michelle Meadows Author Of Jimmy's Rhythm And Blues: The Extraordinary Life Of James Baldwin

From my list on children’s books about famous writers who made history.

Who am I?

I am the author of many acclaimed books for children. Connection, compassion, and family are common themes in my work. My books include Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: One Girl Can Make a Difference, Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles, and Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins. I also contributed research and writing to Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland. I studied journalism and literature at Syracuse University. 

Michelle's book list on children’s books about famous writers who made history

Michelle Meadows Why did Michelle love this book?

I love how this book describes what Ida B. Wells was like as a young child, as well as her parents. Ida learned about standing up for what’s right from them. Dinah Johnson effectively weaves this theme throughout the whole book.

I think kids can learn so much from this story of courage. Page by page, kids will see how Ida wasn’t afraid to write newspaper articles about Black people being lynched so that she could bring attention to racism and injustice. Kids will also see how she wasn’t afraid to step forward in the Women’s March of 1913.

I was especially drawn to the back matter of this book, which includes rare pictures of Ida with her family from the 1900s and a comprehensive timeline of her life.

By Dinah Johnson, Jerry Jordan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ida B. Wells Marches for the Vote as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A stunning picture book biography about the early life of Ida B. Wells, her incredible work as a suffragist, and her critical role in the Women's March of 1913.

Ida B. Wells grew up during a time when women did not have the right to vote. But Ida aspired for equality; she had learned from her parents to forge a life through hope and bravery, so she worked tirelessly to fight for an America that was fair to everyone regardless of race and gender. Her courageous activism made her one of the most influential civil rights leaders in American history.…


Book cover of Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Anna M. Lewis Author Of Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers

From my list on inspiring your inner artist.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning toy inventor and author/illustrator, with a lifelong love of art, learning, and creativity. I strive to inspire the future builders and creators of our world in my books, articles, and blog musings. Some of my favorite reads inspired my creative side.

Anna's book list on inspiring your inner artist

Anna M. Lewis Why did Anna love this book?

A few years ago, even though I had three books in my backpack to entertain me on a cross-country flight, I had to buy this book from the airport bookstore, which resulted in one of my favorite reading experiences.

I had never heard of Clara O’Driscoll, but the combination of her struggles as a young woman in the years during the suffragette movement plus her passion for creating art for Louis Comfort Tiffany at any cost was a blissful read.

I’m a huge fan of every Susan Vreeland novel, plus I’m a sucker for anything set in around 1900.

By Susan Vreeland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Clara and Mr. Tiffany as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows that he hopes will earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division, who conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which Tiffany will long be remembered. Never publicly acknowledged, Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman. She also…


Book cover of No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain's Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I

Emily Mayhew Author Of Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I

From my list on human casualties of World War One.

Who am I?

Dr. Emily Mayhew is the historian in residence in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Her primary research interest is the infliction, treatment, and long-term outcomes of complex casualty in contemporary warfare. She is the author of the Wounded trilogy. A Heavy Reckoning, The Guinea Pig Club, and Wounded: From Battlefield to Blighty which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize in 2014. She is Imperial College Internal Lead on the Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership and co-edited The Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual.

Emily's book list on human casualties of World War One

Emily Mayhew Why did Emily love this book?

So great was the demand for hospital beds for the wounded, that medical facilities were a feature of most of Britain's cities, part of daily civilian life. At the heart of London's Covent Garden was the Endell Street Hospital, run entirely by women whose medical expertise and skill was matched by their direct experience of the war itself. But their achievements and experience were wasted after the war by a medical profession that reverted all too easily to pre-war prejudice and discrimination. Much was lost, especially to their patients whose recovery prospects were damaged, never to be restored.

By Wendy Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Man's Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The "absorbing and powerful" (Wall Street Journal) story of two pioneering suffragette doctors who shattered social expectations and transformed modern medicine during World War I. A month after war broke out in 1914, doctors Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson set out for Paris, where they opened a hospital in a luxury hotel and treated hundreds of casualties plucked from France’s battlefields. Although prior to the First World War, female doctors were restricted to treating women and children, Murray and Anderson’s work was so successful that the British Army asked them to run a hospital in the heart of London.…


Book cover of Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer

From my list on the fight for American women’s suffrage.

Who am I?

History is my passion as well as my profession. I love a good story! Because understanding the past can be a powerful tool to improving the future, I have written dozens of op-eds and give public talks (some of which can be found in the C-SPAN online library as well as on YouTube). Most of my work focuses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1920) and includes two award-winning biographies, Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer, and Belle La Follette Progressive Era Reformer. I’m also the co-editor of A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and author of Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History.

Nancy's book list on the fight for American women’s suffrage

Nancy C. Unger Why did Nancy love this book?

Written to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, this lively, exciting book provides a fresh and comprehensive history of the fight for women’s suffrage. DuBois is a leading scholar who presents her expertise in prose that appeals to scholars and general readers alike. There are lots of books on the long history of women’s suffrage—this is the best.

By Ellen Carol DuBois,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Suffrage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, this "indispensable" book (Ellen Chesler, Ms. magazine) explores the full scope of the movement to win the vote for women through portraits of its bold leaders and devoted activists.

Distinguished historian Ellen Carol DuBois begins in the pre-Civil War years with foremothers Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojurner Truth as she "meticulously and vibrantly chronicles" (Booklist) the links of the woman suffrage movement to the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War, Congress granted freed African American men the right to vote but not white…


Book cover of Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and The Scandalous Victoria Woodhull

Theresa Kaminski Author Of Dr. Mary Walker's Civil War: One Woman's Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women's Rights

From my list on 19th-century women’s rights activists.

Who am I?

My expertise: I specialize in writing about scrappy women in American history. I started with a trilogy of nonfiction history books about American women in the Philippine Islands who lived through the Japanese occupation during World War II. Then I found a biographical subject that combined the fascinating topics of war and suffrage, so I wrote Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War: One Woman’s Journey to the Medal of Honor and the Fight for Women’s Rights. The next woman who grabbed my attention was a big name in Hollywood in the 20th century. Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans is due out in 2022. 

Theresa's book list on 19th-century women’s rights activists

Theresa Kaminski Why did Theresa love this book?

Goldsmith vividly recreates the life and times of Woodhull, a shrewd manipulator who traded on her physical beauty and her intellect to run a successful brokerage firm after the Civil War. Woodhull, along with her sister Tennessee Claflin, used some of her profits to publish a women’s rights newspaper that supported suffrage and other women’s rights causes. Stanton and Anthony, initially intrigued by her keen business sense and her suffrage commitment, soon shunned her for her radical views on sexuality. Woodhull pushed all sorts of boundaries designed to contain women, even political ones--she ran for president in 1872.

By Barbara Goldsmith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Other Powers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Barbara Goldsmith's portrait of suffragette Victoria Woodhull and her times was hailed by George Plimpton as "a beautifully written biography of a remarkable woman" and by Gloria Steinem as "more memorable than a dozen histories."

A highly readable combination of history and biography, Other Powers interviews the stories of some of the most colorful social, political, and religious figures of America's Victorian era with the courageous and notorious life of Victoria Woodhull--psychic, suffragette, publisher, presidential candidate, and self-confessed practitioner of free love. It is set amid the battle for women's suffrage, the Spiritualist movement that swept across the nation in…


Book cover of You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

Robert H. Mayer Author Of In the Name of Emmett Till: How the Children of the Mississippi Freedom Struggle Showed Us Tomorrow

From my list on history that engage and even excite young readers.

Who am I?

First a memory from my twelve years as a high school teacher: One day one of my ninth-grade history students remarked, “You are a nice guy Mr. Mayer. You can’t help it if you teach a boring subject.” That comment energized me, pushing me to show my students just how exciting the discipline of history was. I wanted my students to come to know historical actors, to hear their voices, and to feel their humanity. I then took that same project into my twenty-nine years as a teacher educator and finally into my life as a writer of historical non-fiction for young people. 

Robert's book list on history that engage and even excite young readers

Robert H. Mayer Why did Robert love this book?

When I taught, I hoped to engage students by making historical figures as human as possible. At the time I wish I had known the writing of Jean Fritz who brings the people of history to life. Magnificently.  

Peppering her books with oddball information about her subjects, she allows them to become more human. And in Jean Fritz books, people talk and act. These features are present in Fritz’s wonderful biography of the women’s rights activist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The reader comes to know Ms. Stanton intimately, her warm friendships with fellow activists, her tensions with her father, her overall independent spirit. And we get a wonderful history of the early American women’s movement. 

Jean Fritz delivers for younger readers and makes history engaging, human, and, yes, exciting.

By Jean Fritz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

This biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is as spirited as the women's rights pioneer herself.

Who says women shouldn't speak in public? And why can't they vote? These are questions Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up asking herself. Her father believed that girls didn't count as much as boys, and her own husband once got so embarrassed when she spoke at a convention that he left town. Luckily Lizzie wasn't one to let society stop her from fighting for equality for everyone. And though she didn't live long enough to see women get to vote, our entire country benefited from her…


Book cover of Women as Army Surgeons: Being The History Of The Women's Hospital Corps 1914-1919

Wendy Moore Author Of No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain's Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I

From my list on women’s experiences in WW1.

Who am I?

Wendy Moore is a journalist and author of five non-fiction books on medical and social history. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, Times, Observer and Lancet. Her new book is about Endell Street Military Hospital which was run and staffed by women in London in the First World War.

Wendy's book list on women’s experiences in WW1

Wendy Moore Why did Wendy love this book?

Murray’s book was the inspiration, guide and companion for my own. Flora Murray and her life-long partner Louisa Garrett Anderson were both doctors and suffragettes. Murray was honorary doctor to the suffragette movement and Anderson went to prison for four weeks for smashing a window. As women doctors they were confined to treating only women and children. They seized the war as a chance not only to do their bit but to prove women doctors were equal to their male counterparts. They ran two hospitals in France before setting up Endell Street in 1915. Murray wrote her book, first published in 1920, as testament to the achievements of all the women involved. Her account is bracing – in the manner of the wartime “Blighty spirit” – but packed with fascinating detail and heroic acts.

By Flora Murray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women as Army Surgeons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Flora Murray's book is a record of the Women's Hospital Corps in France and the Endell Street Military Hospital, London. Despite a lack of training in trauma and orthopaedics, and with no previous experience in military medicine, she met the challenge of treating often horrific wartime casualties and returning battle-injured men to society. She, along with her partner Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, redefined gender roles in military medicine.