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Born in 1889, Gertrude Harding spent a boistrous childhood on a Welsford, New Brunswick, farm. She travelled to Hawaii to live with her sister, and, when her sister moved to London in 1912, Harding went with her. One day, from the top of a London bus, she saw a parade of women carrying large white posters. Attended by a policeman, they walked in single file on the street close to the curb as passersby stared and shouted rude remarks. It was a poster-parade of Militant Suffragettes demanding votes for women; after more than two decades of mild action, the Suffragettes were on the warpath.
Gertrude Harding couldn't wait to join them. After a short initiation, Harding and a comrade-in-arms hit conservative Englishmen in a very tender spot: they smashed up the orchid house at Kew Gardens. Then, to counter government violence, Harding organized a cadre of women who learned jujitsu and wore Indian clubs on their belts. This bodyguard had two jobs: to deter the policemen who tried to haul Suffragettes off to prison, and to arrange escapes for Suffragettes on the run. When the politicians changed tactics and the bodyguard's work decreased, Harding served as a private secretary to Christabel Pankhurst, the movement's strategist. Then, as World War I intensified, Harding became the publisher of the Suffragette newspaper, again staying one jump ahead of the police. During the War, Harding found her second career: she became a social worker among women labourers in a munitions plant. Afterwards, she did social work in industrial New Jersey.
When she retired, she gardened and sold jam, and she also wrote her memoirs, which she illustrated with sketches and snapshots. Finally, old and ill, she returned to Rothesay, New Brunswick, where she died in 1977.
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For two years, Gertrude Harding lived an outlaw's life as a Militant Suffragette. Harding grew up in rural New Brunswick and spent a comfortable sojourn in Hawaii without a thought of voting. Then, in 1912, she arrived in London and saw the Militant Suffragettes in action. Harding began her Suffragette career by wrecking an orchid house at Kew Gardens. In 1913, she led Emmeline Pankhurst's bodyguard, a cadre armed with Indian clubs who defended Mrs. Pankhurst against the police. When government violence diminished, Harding turned to journalism, working in secret to publish The Suffragette. She even served as Christabel Pankhurst's private secretary in Christabel's Paris sanctuary.
When the Suffragettes disbanded, Harding became a social worker, first in a munitions factory in England and later in Bound Brook, New Jersey.About the Author:
Gertrude Harding was Saint John writer Gretchen Wilson's great-aunt. In With All Her Might, Wilson tells the story of the murderous battle for women's suffrage and a Canadian woman's role in it.
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Book Description Goose Lane Editions, 1996. Paperback. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0864921845