Constance Bray, full name Mary Constance, was born in 1876 to Patrick, an architect, and Mary Auld whose maiden name was Bray. This explains why one official record notes her surname as Bray/Auld. A sister, Winifred, was born in 1879. Their father, Patrick, died in 1889. By 1901 Mary, Constance and Winifred are living in Queen Street in the City of London. Winifred worked as a soprano soloist and violinist who often performed in concerts. While Constance played the piano, both sisters were active supporters of the suffragette movement and lent their musical skills to raise awareness or funds, ‘by playing violin in the street.’
Winifred was the first to be arrested in 1907. She was sentenced to fourteen days in prison for her part in an attempt to gain access to St Stephen’s entrance at the Houses of Parliament. Following her release Winifred, as part of the Willesden and Kensal Rise branch of the WSPU which she, her sister and Louie Cullen founded, addressed a meeting accompanied by Minnie Baldock (see earlier blog). Winifred was heckled during her speech, which was described in the press as ‘amusing’, by shouts of, ‘Woman’s place is in the home’. Minnie interjected, pointing out that many women did not even have a home.
The following year Winifred was arrested for attempting again to enter the House of Commons. Votes for Women, 15 October 1908, included a report from the Evening Standard of a woman found in an underground passage near the House of Commons who, when detected, made a rush for the St Stephen’s entrance. The woman, Votes for Women reported, was Winifred. The initial hearing was adjourned and as Winifred, wearing a Votes for Women sash and a sailor-style hat with a band of suffragette colours left the courtroom she shouted out ‘You shall not have any of my money. I shall go to prison.’ At her trial, Winifred was sentenced to one month.
When Winifred and the twelve women sentenced alongside her were released from Holloway Prison, they were greeted by a large crowd who processed with the women to the Inns of Court, headquarters of the WSPU, for a celebratory breakfast. Winifred recounted to the assembled women a dream she had in prison. Rather than a clergyman in the pulpit, Winifred had dreamt that the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, Henry Curtis Bennett, who had sentenced her stood in the vicar’s sted reading from the 22nd Psalm ‘As for me, I am a woman and no man.’ All her fellow prisoners were in the congregation and responded ‘Hear, Hear.’ Finding that someone had inscribed the prison cutlery with ‘Votes for Women’ Winifred had added ‘Down with Asquith’ and ‘Long live Christabel’ referring to Christabel Pankhurst.
Constance was first arrested in July 1908 and charged with obstruction in connection with an attempt to enter the Houses of Parliament. She was one of twenty – eight women arrested. At court Constance shouted ‘The police arrested me in the execution of my duty. We demand justice, we demand votes for women.’ Constance was bound over to keep the peace or in the alternative one month in gaol.
When Constance was released along with fourteen other women, they were greeted by a reception committee and taken to Queen’s Hall accompanied by banners and flags for a celebratory breakfast. Each woman received a bouquet of purple and white sweet peas along with purple heather, the suffragette colours. Mrs Pethick Lawrence addressed the crowd expressing the Women’s Social and Political Unions gratitude for their service. Constance addressed the gathering. She reported that the prison chaplain had asked if she was paid to be in prison; a suggestion she ‘repudiated …but said it was an insult, and said so in plain language.’ She showed her notebook which she had used as a diary. At one point it had been removed for inspection. Forwarned Constance had spent several hours erasing her ‘individual impressions of prison life.’ Each cell had the Bible, a Prayer Book, a Hymn Book, and copy of A Healthy Home and How to Keep it which the prisoner wardresses insisted were always kept on the shelf provided and in a specific order. Other books from the library were brought round in a basket. Constance selected Shakespeare’s Plays; the Strand and the Cornhill magazines as well as several novels.
Mary Auld, their mother, who had moved to Willesden, noted on the 1911 census in red ink across the return ‘Taxation without representation is Robbery. If, in this great and glorious nation we do not count on Polling Day. It gives us pain and irritation to count when there is a tax to pay. For these, ‘twill somewhat recompense us not to be counted in the census. Bow Wow!’
Both sisters were arrested in 1912. Constance was charged with wilful damage alongside the Brackenburys. She was sentenced to be bound over or in the alternative one month imprisonment. Winifred was charged with maliciously damaging five windows, the property of the London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company in Regents Street valued at £50. She was sentenced to four months in Holloway Prison. Due to the numbers imprisoned Winifred was transferred to Birmingham Goal. On 27 May Winifred and seventeen other women refused food in protest against the allocation of Emmeline Pankhurst to the second division of prisoners and the denial of the rights of a political prisoner. An inquiry into the treatment of political prisoners, particularly in respect of force-feeding, was demanded. A request that the Home Secretary rebuffed.
In an internal memo it was noted ‘If prisoners refuse to take food so as to endanger health, compulsion becomes necessary.’ Winifred was fed by both gastric and nasal tube which she described as ‘much smaller … but it is fiendishly painful, and the back of the nose swells up from ear to ear, and becomes inflamed, and the pain even extends up the sides of the head to the brain.’ The following year a report was filed which noted that during 1912 102 women held in four prisons were force-fed. Winifred was released on 25 June following a diagnosis of a weak heart coupled with a history of rheumatic fever.
In 2012 the Guardian published an article about a suffragette autograph book which had come up for auction. One of the entries was written by Winifred whilst at Winson Green. Titled Holloway it reads:
The Suffragette who plays to win
Will break a window to get in
The hapless ‘Drunk’ with joy would shout
Could she, by breaking one, get out! (Guardian 6 December 2012)
In July 1914 Mary, their mother, passed away, an announcement was placed in the Suffragette. Constance died the following year and Winifred in 1932.
Emily Brandon was arrested and sentenced on 1 December 1911. She was charged with obstructing Parliament Square on 21 November by trying to force her way through the police cordon. The police stated they had repeatedly requested her to move when she refused; they arrested her. In court, Emily stated, “the Manhood Suffrage Bill is an insult to the women of England, and I did it as a protest.” She was fined five shillings or five days in prison. She elected imprisonment.
Emily was born Emily Charlotte Mcmahon Foyle in London in 1878. The family lived in Aldgate, London where her father was a warehouseman. When Emily left school, she worked in a hotel in Hanover Square in the West End of London as a clerk. On 16 June 1901 Emily married Albert Brandon, an upholsterer, from Tring, Buckinghamshire. The couple settled in Chesham, Buckinghamshire where Emily founded the Chesham branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union.
She died in 1968 in North London.
Stated on the arrest records as Mary Grace Branson her correct name is as recorded on the Suffragette Roll of Honour, Grace Mary Branson. Grace was born in 1870 in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire to John, an ironmaster and Margaret Jones. John and his brothers founded Jones Bros & Co, a company which built the Ayrton Rolling Mills comprised of furnaces and mills erected to manufacture sheets for shipbuilding. By the time of the 1891 census, John had moved into the manufacture of concrete and Grace had left home to attend the University of London. In 1898 Grace married Frederick George Reddy Branson, an attorney in the Judicial Department of the East India Company based in Madras. The couple had one daughter, Edith Rosa Grace, born on 26 May 1899 in Madras. Frederick died in 1903.
Mother and daughter returned to England. Edith attended the private school, Rodean in Brighton. Like many suffragettes, Grace seized the opportunity to officially record her opinions on the 1911 census return: “Until I am acknowledged to be a citizen of Great Britain I refuse to carry out the duties of citizens.” In residence with Grace on the night of the census were Edith, Mrs Harvey visitor and her three children daughter, son and son. Edith went onto to marry one of the anonymous sons of Mrs Harvey, Charles Donald Warren Harvey.
Grace was arrested twice, March 1912 and 10 February 1913. The first time was for breaking windows in the Haymarket belonging to John Dewar & Sons Ltd valued at £40 and H E Randall Ltd worth £30. She was sentenced to four months in Holloway Prison. However, she was one of the women transferred to Aylesbury gaol. Rule 243a stated that any prisoner whose character was previously good and who was not either awaiting trial or been sentenced for a crime involving dishonesty, cruelty, indecency or serious violence the prison authorities could ameliorate the rules in respect of wearing prison clothes; bathing; exercise; visitors or books. However, such relaxing of the rules was only allowed at the direction of the Home Secretary. On 9 April a report noted that it had just come to the attention of the prison staff that the women had been starving themselves for three or four days in protest that the lack of response to their petition requesting privileges within Rule 243A.
Reginald McKenna had been appointed Home Secretary the previous year. Initially, the suffragettes believed that the necessity for hunger-striking to highlight their lack of recognition as political prisoners was over even if the relaxation of the prison rules was not as extensive as that accorded to male political prisoners. However, those imprisoned along with Grace were only allowed to wear their own clothes and to converse when exercising, which fell far short of a relaxation of the rules in recognition of their status as political prisoners. When no further concessions were forthcoming, the women, including Grace, went on hunger strike.
The food disappeared. The prison wardresses presumed it had been eaten, but it became clear it was being hidden by the prisoners and disposed of down the toilet. The decision was taken to commence force-feeding. Nine were fed using a feeding cup, two by stomach tube and twelve by nasal tube. The process took three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. The second day it was decided to discontinue force feeding four of the women, one of which was Grace, as the medical officer felt it was inadvisable to continue and recommended immediate release. The Prison Commission dispatched Dr Smalley to Aylesbury and proposed that the two women considered to be the ringleaders should be moved to Manchester Prison. Smalley reported back that the four, including Grace who, in his view, was suffering from aortic disease, should be released. A recommendation which was followed; Grace was released having served twenty-four days of her sentence. Her condition on release was described as ‘very fair.’
A heated debate followed in the House of Commons. McKenna argued that the crimes were sufficiently serious to deny the privileges accorded by Rule 243a, and if the women would eat forcibly feeding would not have been necessary. Those opposed to their treatment pointed out that it was the lack of recognition as political prisoners that led to the hunger strike.
The following year Grace was charged with breaking three windows at the Junior Carlton Club valued at £4 10 shillings. Three other clubs were stated to have also been targeted together with the home of Prince Christian, Schomberg House which stood adjacent to the Oxford and Cambridge Club. The women used clay balls, iron nuts and stones. Only three women were arrested. At her trial, Grace said ‘I did it as a suffragette and as one who protests against the government of the country by men alone. Also the fact of prostitution existing is enough to justify any of these acts on our part. This standard of morality makes us women sick to death, and we are going to cleanse and abolish it. You men ought to be ashamed of letting women come here on charges of soliciting.’ Grace’s drawing attention to women being brought before the courts for prostitution highlighted the inequity that suffragettes and suffragists felt at the women facing charges, not the men who sought out prostitutes.
Found guilty she was sentenced to two months in prison. This time she was sent to Holloway. Alongside Sylvia Pankhurst and Edith Ball [see earlier blog] she was force-fed. Grace is mentioned in a letter that Sylvia wrote to her mother, Emmeline. She describes in graphic detail the process of being force-fed “They prise open my mouth with a steel gag…My gums are always bleeding.” She wrote that the authorities claimed they did not resist “Yet my shoulders are bruised with struggling...”. She mentions that Mrs Branson, Grace, has a heart defect and wonders whether anything can be done. Sylvia’s experiences were published in the press, which caused a furore.
A meeting was held at which the Bishop of London protested at the barbarity of force-feeding. In response, a debate took place in the House of Commons. Reginald Mackenna, the Home Secretary, stated that the women were prepared to die, which he did not intend to let them do, thus force-feeding was a necessity. The movement needed to be broken down using “patience, forbearance and humanity.” It is a shocking stretch to imply that keeping the women from starving themselves to death by force-feeding is a sign of humanity. He proposed, in response to the growing public disgust at the practice, that the women could be freed on licence if their health was in danger. This proposal would become the Cat and Mouse Act where women were released on licence and when they had physically recovered were taken back inside to serve the rest of their sentence. Early in April 1913, Grace was released. She spoke to the press describing how one suffragette had learnt how to contract her throat so that a finner tube had to be used, but this was not before she had had two teeth smashed. The treatment of Grace and many others forced the government into the release on licence of women whom it was felt could not endure the practice of force-feeding, but it did not alter their stance on the vote or the practice of force-feeding until it could be endured no longer.
Following a raid of the WSPU offices in 1913 Grace wrote to the authorities demanding the return of a medal belonging to her which had been removed from the premises. The response was a curt one-sentence letter from the Chief Inspector of Police denying that they had taken the medal. In the Autumn of 1917, Edith applied to study at Bedford College, part of the University of London. Grace’s occupation was noted as an oxy-acetylene welder, presumably as part of the war effort.
Grace and her daughter and son in law settled in Devon where she died in 1961.
Frank Brailsford, a commercial traveller, was arrested in December 1912 for breaking a pane of glass in a window at No 10 Downing Street valued at 2 shillings and 6d. One newspaper described Frank as ‘well-dressed’ man who lived in Canterbury Road, Brixton. On his arrest, he said: “I shall not run away, I did it for a purpose.” At his trial, Frank stated he had taken this course of action on purely political grounds due to Asquith’s attitude towards votes for women commenting: ‘Mr Asquith had strained at the Suffragist gnat and swallowed at the Home Rule camel.’ He was sentenced to pay forty shillings plus the money to pay for the pane or in the alternative a month’s hard labour. The newspapers do not record which he picked, but his presence on the suffragette roll of honour for those who went to prison indicates that was the option he took. No further information has been found.
Jane Esdon Brailsford nee Malloch was born in 1874 in Elderslie, Renfrewshire. Her father, John, was a cotton manufacturer employing over two hundred people. Intelligent, she studied Greek at Glasgow University falling in love with her married professor, Gilbert Murray; a love which appears to have been unrequited. Later, she studied philosophy at Sommerville College, Oxford University. A lecturer at Glasgow University, Henry Brailsford, heard Keir Hardie of the Independent Party speak. An event which inspired the founding of a branch of the Independent Labour Party at the university. This, in turn, spun into the founding of the University Fabian Society. One of the first members was Jane.
Henry Brailsford’s academic career was not successful, and he began to explore a career in journalism. His political activities brought him into continual contact with Jane with whom he fell in love. Jane, who was considered by many of his friends to be neurotic, rejected his first proposal of marriage prompted by her departure for Oxford University. Her rejection seems only to have served to make Henry more smitten. He wrote to her, continually ignoring the abruptness of her replies. When Jane returned to Glasgow for the holidays, Henry was contemplating volunteering if Greece went to war against Turkey. Jane encouraged him to go. Henry set off in a fervour of patriotism, only to return seven weeks later exhausted, wounded and disillusioned.
His experiences led him to write his only book, The Broom of the War God. Not widely well-received it opened the door to a commission from the Manchester Guardian to report on the situation in Crete. He proposed again to Jane, and she accepted. Her yes after two years of pursuit and the far from happy marriage it became has led to speculation as to why she finally capitulated. Possible explanations which have been put forward are the romanticism of a mission to Crete, the death of her father or the consequent sale of her childhood home. Jane did not appear, over the years to have much respect for Henry, and indeed many believe the marriage was not consummated.
The couple were married in 1898 in Glasgow, Jane refusing to wear a wedding ring as it symbolised bondage. Whilst in Crete, Jane wrote a novel which failed to find a publisher. She then explored an acting career. Henry wrote her a play, hired a hall but her performance was not met with critical acclaim and her acting career stalled before it had truly begun. In 1903 the couple travelled to Macedonia working as relief agents. Henry Nevinson, a journalist and founding member of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, in a letter dated 12 October 1909 to the Home Office relates Jane’s time in Macedonia which he described as ‘heroic’. Throughout the winter ‘in the wildest & most dangerous part of the country’ Jane remained tending ‘the wounded and the destitute.’ While visiting typhus cases in underground shelters, she contracted the disease and was dangerously ill.
Unhappy in her marriage Jane was a woman who yearned for acclaim and needed a cause which she found in the fight for votes for women. Initially, she joined the National Union of Suffrage Societies, but in 1906 she switched allegiance to the Women’s Social and Political Union. In line with his own political sentiments and ever supportive of Jane Henry often wrote about the campaign and was a founding member of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.
The Daily News, 4 October 1909, printed a letter from Jane to the editor of the paper in response to an article which argued that the forthcoming General Election ‘a decisive victory will be achieved for democratic and Progressive principles.’ Jane pointed out that the argument had no merit ‘in regard to a country where more than half the population is in a state of political slavery.’ Henry was a lead writer on the Daily News. The day after Jane’s letter was published Henry and, fellow journalist, Henry Nevinson, resigned in protest at the treatment of the suffragette prisoners in Birmingham. The Times published a letter from the two setting out their reasoning. The two Henrys argued that in William Gladstone and John Morley, both Liberals had ‘defined the attitude of the older Liberalism towards political offenders’ as one which did not meter out ‘humiliating punishments’ such as forcing the wearing of prison dress. However, Gladstone’s treatment of suffragette prisoners did not accord with this Liberal principal; the women were not accorded political status and were now being subjected to force-feeding.
A few days later on 9 October 1909, Jane was arrested in Newcastle during a protest intended to disrupt a visit to the city by Lloyd George. Among the other suffragettes arrested, alongside Jane, were Constance Lytton, Emily Davidson and Dorothy Pethick. According to the police report, in the days leading up to Lloyd George’s visit suffragette meetings were held across Newcastle. At one Violet Bryant reportedly said ‘they were prepared to go to any length to get their rights even to death itself.’ The city started to swell with suffragettes. Significant numbers of police were drafted in, venues searched, the glass roof of one venue was covered by a tarpaulin, and the suffragettes were placed under surveillance. When Lloyd George arrived in Newcastle a hundred policemen were on duty inside and outside the railway station. Decoy cars were deployed to confuse the suffragettes as to which route Lloyd George was taking. When he arrived at the Palace Theatre guarded by over a hundred police officers, the suffragettes threw stones, and Jane repeatedly smashed one of the barriers with, it was claimed, an axe.
The women were arrested and denied bail. While on remand, the police reported that the women were ‘allowed reasonable facilities for communicating with and interviewing their friends, and obtaining meals and bedding outside. The charge against Jane was disorderly behaviour and having an axe. Found guilty Jane was sentenced to one month in prison having refused to be bound over to keep the peace. The prison governor wrote a report in which he stated that he believed the women had reconnoitred the gaol in the days leading up to Lloyd George’s visit to ascertain how many prisoners could be processed and accommodated. The women had concluded that a group of them would be difficult for the staff to manage. Thus the number who engineered their arrest. The governor felt that the women now believed they had failed to subsume the staff but had indicated that next time an even larger number would gather and endeavour to be arrested whether in Newcastle or somewhere else. Sheer numbers would make, for example, force-feeding harder to administer.
On arriving at Newcastle Gaol, the women announced their intention to refuse food. Keir Hardie wrote to Gladstone enquiring if it was true that up to two pints of milk were force-fed to the women during each session. In turn, the Home Office wrote to the prison governors. One report in the official files includes a response which states ‘I think that is in every way desirable for obvious reasons to give as large a quantity at each ‘feeding’ as the patient is found able to digest.’ Jane was not force-fed. Dr Smalley, Medical Inspector of Prisons, wrote on 13 October 1909 following his attendance at Newcastle Gaol ‘We have had a worrying day,’ both Constance Lytton and Jane had ‘gone downhill.’ Smalley summoned a local doctor who thought Jane’s health ‘very doubtful,’ as she was anaemic and showed ‘signs of dilatation of the right ventricle with heart muscle weakness’—describing Jane as in an ‘extremely nervous state’ with a pulse of 120 the doctor advised against force-feeding. Despite his concern, Smalley felt that force-feeding was not a risk; it was the struggling against the process, which was more of a concern.
Smalley interviewed Jane, who informed him that if ‘the force-feeding did not kill her, she would kill herself after.’ He felt that Jane could well attempt to take her own life. When he asked her how she would do this, Jane replied she had the means. Smalley’s concern was that on admittance to the prison, the searching of the prisoners had not been particularly thorough, and Jane could be concealing drugs.
Charles Masterman, Liberal Member of Parliament for West Ham North, wrote a letter on Home Office notepaper to an unknown recipient, aligning Jane’s threat to commit suicide if executed to Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece resulting in ‘the popular support that we have hitherto received …immediately (in its stupid, unthinking way) turn from us.’ Such an event would mean force-feeding would no longer be an option, a fact Masterman believed Jane knew and ‘that is why she is determined …to kill herself: under the wild & frantic idea that by so doing she will save ‘her sisters’ from these ‘outrages’’.
Henry visited the Home Office. He pointed out that the aim of the women’s actions had been to be arrested, and they had deliberately ensured that the damage they did was minimal. Jane had only become ‘a strong supporter of women’s rights [when] she heard of the forcible feeding of women at Birmingham.’ The women had set out to be arrested to enter prison, refuse food and in turn be force-fed, a process which ‘produced a feeling of horror in their minds.’ Henry suggested the women should be released ‘when they had starved themselves long enough instead of being forcibly fed.’ He declined the opportunity to apply for the release of his wife.
Henry Nevinson weighed in writing to the Home Office. He stated that so keen was Jane to do as little damage as possible the axe with which the barrier was struck was wrapped in tissue paper. Nevinson described Jane as a ‘very remarkable woman, who has accomplished at least one most heroic action for humanity.’ Henry’s visit and Masterman’s letter led the authorities to decide that both Constance and Jane should be released as soon as possible.
It was decided to release Jane and Constance as they both showed ‘symptoms of cardiac trouble. Lady Betty Balfour, herself an ardent support of the suffrage movement and Constance’s sister, arrived in a cab to collect both women. Smalley persuaded them to drink a cup of milk each and noted that he had advised them ‘to be careful as to diet.’ In his opinion when it was decided to protest at Lloyd George’s meeting the women had ‘picked out all the ‘crocks’; if this was the plan it was, in his opinion, ‘a cute move.’ A telegram was sent ordering that if any questions were asked by the press, the only response was that any release was on medical grounds.
Shortly after her release, Jane joined Christabel Pankhurst and Dora Spong on the platform at a WSPU meeting in Hampstead. Henry wrote an article published in the Nation on 18 December describing force-feeding as ‘the horrors of warfare’, ‘a degradation which sears the spirit and breaks the will.’ In December Jane travelled to Lancashire to lend her support to the campaign there. On her return, she addressed a meeting of the WSPU Croydon branch. Jane explained that she had carried an axe as she had not wished to partake in stone throwing in case she accidentally hit someone. Dismissing the reports of a heart weakness due to starvation Jane observed that just before examination, she had walked around the prison yard for several hours without pause.
Throughout 1910 Jane continued campaigning and addressing meetings while Henry supported the cause through the Men’s League. In January Asquith had called a general election but the Liberals failed to gain a majority and were reliant on the support of Labour Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Henry approached Millicent Fawcett of the National Union of Woman’s Suffrage Societies proposing the formation of a Conciliation Committee for Women’s Suffrage. Both Millicent and Emmeline Pankhurst agreed, and all militant action stopped. A committee was formed with Henry acting as secretary and a Conciliation Bill drafted. It passed the first stage in the House of Commons, and it was sent to the Committee stage. Asquith then made it clear the Bill would be abandoned which led to the protests on 18 November 1910, known as Black Friday. The Conciliation Committee demanded a public enquiry into the events of Black Friday, but Churchill refused. Henry, along with Jessie Murray, set about gathering statements from the women, a total of 135 were collected.
Jane was arrested for a second time in November 1911 for her participation in an attempt to gain access to the House of Commons. A fellow participator reported seeing Jane repeatedly attempting to breakdown a cordon of police three deep. When this attempt failed, Jane climbed over the railings and ran across the grass towards the entrance to St Stephen’s. Jane was arrested and charged with obstruction. Refusing to be bound over she was sent to Holloway Prison for seven days. On her release, Jane sat on the platform at a WSPU meeting held at the London Pavilion. Chaired by Emmeline Pethick Lawrence Jane gave a short speech on her experience in Holloway Prison.
Various Members of Parliament horrified at the resumption of militant actions by suffragettes indicated their intention to withdraw their support for the Conciliation Bill. Henry wrote to the editor of the Westminster Gazette pointing out that such a withdrawal would only serve as ‘a complete vindication of [the WSPU] policy of ‘all or nothing’’. Jane continued to address meetings. In late April and early May 1912, she went on a tour organised by the Halifax and Huddersfield branch of the WSPU.
The Pankhursts desire to totally control the Women’s Social and Political Union angered Jane, and she resigned in October 1912. The Pethick Lawrences were expelled from the WSPU and from there on they published the Votes for Women newspaper independently under the auspices of the Votes for Women Fellowship which united suffragettes militant or not but who were, generally, frustrated at the actions of Emmeline Pankhurst. Jane took the stage alongside the Pethick Lawrences at a rally in Hyde Park in June 1913.
In 1913 Henry and Jane separated. A year later they reconciled although far from happily. Their respective stances on the First World War were poles apart. Henry who had lost his patriotic fervour many years before joined the Union of Democratic Control which advocated the taking of steps which would ensure such a conflict never occurred again. As the WSPU no longer had the newspaper, Votes for Women, within its control, it launched a new one called the Suffragette which following the agreement to support the war effort changed its name to the more patriotic Britannia with the slogan ‘For King’ For Country, for Freedom.’ Even before its name change the newspaper’s patriotic stance was clear. Despite Henry’s years of support for the suffrage movement, his membership of the Union of Democratic Control was lambasted; it was an organisation ‘which seeks by playing upon sympathies of the well-intentioned to conceal its insignificance and futility.’ Henry was described as ‘having a talent for taking the wrong political turning… This fatal talent … [is] at the expense of his country and the cause of civilisation.’ Jane was consumed by patriotic fervour.
Henry turned his attentions to writing books such as the Origin of the First World War published in 1914 and The War of Steel and Gold: A Study of the Armed Peace. The latter was initially published in 1914. A revised 1915 edition included a new chapter, A Postscript on Peace and Change, and an appendix with an outline for a Federal League of European Nations which influenced Woodrow Wilson’s speech to the American League to Enforce peace. Henry unsuccessfully stood as a Labour candidate in the 1918 General Election. He toured Europe writing two books shedding light on the consequences to the lives of the people of the defeated countries, pointing out that the Treaty of Versailles was flawed which could lead to Germany rearmament and war. Again this influenced the thinking of Wilson.
The couple split again in 1921 although Jane refused to agree to a divorce. By this time Henry was editor of the New Leader, the newspaper of the Independent Labour Party. He fell in love with Clare Leighton, an artist and author, with whom he lived for several years. Blighted by alcoholism, Jane died of its effects in 1937, which left Henry free to marry, but his emotional turmoil following Jane’s death destroyed his relationship with Clare, who emigrated to America in 1939.
Henry continued to combine political activism with writing. Several years after the breakdown of his relationship with Clare, he met and fell in love with Evamaria Perlmann who was much younger than him. They married in 1944, marriage which continued until he died in 1958.