ART & LIFE; POSTCARD BIOGRAPHIES FROM THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) on Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928)
Sunday 02 February 1997
Of Lancastrian and Manx liberationist descent; married a reformer; almost perished hunger striking. The Suffrage won, worked for the Empire; became Canadian State Lecturer on Hygiene etc; died Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Whitechapel. Dignified, graceful, with lovely eyes and exquisite voice, her passionate eloquence was irresistible. Women worshipped her; men bore her terrific onslaughts without resentment; accepting service as nothing, waverers were dismissed ruthlessly and unthanked. Modest, disinterested, incorrigibly hopeful, she remains like Joan of Arc a human miracle. Ethel Smyth
The composer and former suffragette Ethel Smyth found her task a difficult one, and on 23 Feb 1940 she wrote to the National Portrait Gallery's director:
"Here's the best I can do - 80 words. It seems to me as characterless as one of my dogs' towels - & rather resembles them. Forgive me, for never in my life have I tried so hard to pull off anything. But honestly I think it is an almost impossible job unless you have a particular sort of literary knack which I haven't got.
Betty B thinks I am a little hysterical about it - I hope you will! Anyhow don't scruple to tear it up and give the job to someone else."
! Portraits, drawings and letters from the "postcard biography" archives are on display at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2. Free.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East