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Portsmouth Professor Advises on New Suffragette Feature Film

The new feature film, Suffragette, has had input by one of the University of Portsmouth’s professors as a historical director.

As well as advising on the film, June Purvis, emeritus professor of women’s and gender history, also appears as an extra. She has published extensively on the suffragette movement, including a critically acclaimed biography of suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst.

The film focuses on the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement in Edwardian Britain. It is told through the eyes of working-class activists who risked their lives for equality.

Professor Purvis said: “Suffragette is a moving and inspiring film that must be seen. Directed, scripted and produced by British women, it tells the story of an important episode in British women’s history – a time when thousands of women of all social classes fought valiantly for their democratic rights. It is hoped that it will be watched particularly by all those today who say: ‘what’s the point of voting?’ Suffragette tells you forcefully why it matters.”

In an article published by The Guardian, Professor Purvis argues the importance of remembering the Suffragettes. “Women’s history is not just about finding women hidden in the past but about changing the way they have been traditionally represented, about letting their voices be heard.

The suffragettes contributed to the making of our modern democracy by bringing about a cultural change in the way in which women were seen.”

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After watching the final edit of the film, Professor Purvis felt moved.  “Seeing the final film was a moving – and stimulating – experience since it tells the story from the woman’s point of view.

Bruised and battered after years of peaceful protest in a just cause, betrayed by the false promises of Herbert Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister, the suffragettes were prepared to go that extra mile.

“Barred from attending Liberal Party meetings, barred from renting premises to hold their own gatherings, they were forced underground like a guerrilla army.

Their bravery, courage and determination to challenge the secondary status of women In Edwardian society is a lesson to us all.”

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