In 1909, a young Australian actress made headlines around the world when she took to the sky over London in an airship emblazoned with the slogan ‘Votes for Women’ and dropped leaflets over the city. Muriel Matters was dubbed ‘that daring Australian girl’, and the American media declared it to be the world’s first aerial protest.
Just months earlier, Muriel had become the first woman to make a speech in the British House of Commons, after chaining herself to a brass grille to protest against the segregation of women in the Parliament. She went on to become one of the most famous suffragists of her day, her skill as an orator drawing crowds in their thousands.
Muriel addresses a crowd in the Welsh town of Caernarfon in late 1909
A newspaper photograph of Muriel’s airship as it set sail from Hendon towards Westminster
The Women’s Freedom League badge
Muriel Matters, with her trained voice and engaging presence, quickly became one of the best-known faces of the suffrage movement. She appears here in a promotional postcard produced by the WFL.
So why is the remarkable Muriel Matters a relative unknown in both Britain and her home country?
In Miss Muriel Matters, bestselling writer Robert Wainwright discovers an extraordinary woman full of intelligence, passion and bravery who fought for women’s rights in a world far from equal.
Discover more about Miss Muriel Matters today >
Robert Wainwright’s previous books include the international bestseller, Sheila: the Australian ingenue who bewitched British society. He has written about Rose Porteous, Ian Thorpe, Martin Bryant and about the murder of Caroline Byrne. Robert is fascinated by characters – good or flawed – and in what drives them. Robert was born in WA but now lives in London with his wife, journalist Paola Totaro, and their family.
Posted on March 27, 2017 by Bianca Carnevale