Letter from Annie Kenney to Jill Craigie, 1944
Text Item Type Metadata
Transcript – KP/AK/5/1
1, Campers Road,
July 14th 1944.
Dear Miss Craigie,
The longer I reflect on your proposed idea of a Film portraying the Women’s movement [Note: transcriber has added apostrophes to this and similar phrases throughout], firmer becomes my opposition to the scheme. I am absolutely certain that this is not the time for a film of that period to be written. To ensure a box office success a film on the Woman’s movement should have been written long before this war. Who cares to-day, or who is likely to care for many a day to come, what women did 30 years ago.
A film produced to-day on the Woman’s movement would bring neither a tear, sigh or a laugh.
Why should we expect the Cinema public to sigh at the small tragedies or laugh at the lighter side of that struggle, when they are witnessing a tragedy which envelopes [envelops] the whole earth, and before our very eyes we see a modern “Slaughter of the Innocents”. Mothers’ sons are giving their fresh young lives and shedding their clean blood so that mankind can breathe and live as free men in a free world.
What an epic of real heroes, how very small and insignificent [insignificant] was the Woman struggle to become citizens!
I wonder if you have any idea of the tremendous
and important part the two founders of the movement played in the last War, and we who had perfect faith in them not only gave of our best for woman’s suffrage, but when war broke out in 1914 we served our country as loyally as we served the movement.
It was not until 1914 that we came in close contact with the owners and editors of the leading newspapers. We not only met the leading men of our wonderful clean press but we were in close touch with the leading statesmen and literary men and women in the Allied countries. How could a film be of any historic interest without that period being enacted.
Mr Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions, admitted in an interview with Mrs Pankhurst and myself, that we were the only group of organised women to whom he could appeal for help in his war effort.
What knowledge have you of those missions that sent a few of us to all parts of the world. Women did far more than wave flags, hold meetings, raise tremendous sums of money, be arrested and suffer imprisonment. There was something profound and sublime underneath all this surface work; there were the romantic characters of its two founders.
I write this to make you understand that it is
futile to expect to create an atmosphere round these two vivid personalities and unique crusaders when neither are here to guide and inspire a Film of this nature; and we who loved them best and who were with them all through the struggle, are too busy and far too occupied with War work to enable us to meet and discuss the outlines of a Film. Christabel Pankhurst who is at the present time in America was the central figure, who for years, charmed, converted and won the allegiance of the women of Britain.
During the imprisonment of Mrs Pankhurst and Mrs and Mr Pethick Lawrence, Christabel Pankhurst placed upon my shoulders the heavy mantle of full responsibility for the movement; I who hated publicity, and still do, but in me she placed perfect confidence in my good sense and keen sensitiveness [note: handwritten change from original typewritten ‘sensibility’]. In her absence to-day I again feel the same responsibility [note: handwritten correction of ‘responsibility’ to ‘responsibleness’(?) which is then crossed out]. That is why I am writing so fully, stating why I object and distrust the wisdom of what seems to me a mistaken idea.
In conclusion I would rather that you did not use my name [note: handwritten correction of original typewritten ‘I must ask you not to use my name’] or make me one of the characters in any way, and I am certain that Cristabel Pankhurst will feel the same as I do on this matter. [Handwritten addition, written below original typed letter, here is indicated by arrow – ‘Christabel Pankhurst has ^already chosen the writer of a Film on this subject.’] We value the dignity and the fine reputation that was ours, and until happier and more peaceful
days return, we must do the duty that lies nearest to our hand and put on one side all retrospection of the past, keeping our eyes fixed on the present, looking forward to a brighter future, for in this way we serve the highest and the best.
Annie Kenney. [Handwritten signature]