MRS PANKHURST'S PURPLE FEATHER
A SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE RSPB AND THE WOMEN WHO MADE IT HAPPEN
When social historian Tessa Boase
told the RSPB she wanted to write their early story, they refused to let her revisit their archives. To a former investigative journalist, this was a challenge she could not resist . . .
For half a century, from the 1870s to the 1920s, women were gripped by a fashion craze that decreed all hats should be laden with feathers. Not just feathers, but wings, bird and whole bodies of birds – often several birds at a time. Species the world over were slowly brought to the brink of extinction, and all for the sake of millinery. Campaigning on behalf of the birds was a small band of angry woman with a splendidly simple goal. They were going to stamp out the fashion for feathers in hats.
Leading the battle in Britain was a fearsome Hythe woman who has not been remembered by history. Her name was Etta Lemon, and for 50 years she was the driving force behind the RSPB, Britain’s biggest conservation charity.
Join her to hear the intriguing untold story of women, birds, hats – and votes.