Mystery of British protester killed by the king's horse

Women's voting activist stepped in front of race horse, later died from injuries


Emily Davison is a name not many Americans recognize because her shocking act of defiance, that ultimately resulted in her death, happened in the age before internet and 24-hour cable news.

On June 4, 1913, Davison, a militant activist for women's right to vote, stepped out from the crowd at the historic Epsom Derby horse race, her intent unclear, and was trampled by the horse of England's King George V.

Davison died four days later from her injuries.

According to the Guardian, Davison has been hailed by some as a brave martyr and attacked by others as an irresponsible anarchist. Thousands of suffragettes accompanied the coffin and tens of thousands of people lined the streets of London for her funeral. According to Wikipedia, after a service in Bloomsbury, her coffin was taken by train to the family grave in Morpeth, Northumberland.

A British television station recently analyzed the 100-year-old video and the Guardian reported "Despite the fact that film technology was in its early days, the incident was captured on three newsreel cameras and a new study of the images has shown that the 40-year-old campaigner was not, as assumed, attempting to pull down Anmer, the royal racehorse, but in fact reaching up to attach a scarf to its bridle."

Over the years many people have suggested that Davison wanted to commit suicide, pointing to her militant activism in the past. That contention can not be proved, and, indeed, the video analysis tends to show otherwise, but many still point to Davison as a pioneer in activism.

Diane Atkinson writes in The New Statesman: "Davison may not have shared the religious conviction of today's suicide bombers, but she had an equal disregard for her individual status within the struggle. She threw iron balls (labeled) "Bomb" through windows, regularly set fire to (mail boxes), barricaded herself in her prison cell and had to be flushed out by water cannon, and was a committed hunger striker.

Women above the age of 30 gained the right to vote in the United Kingdom in 1918 and were granted the same voting rights as men in 1928. In the United States, some states and territories allowed women to vote as far back as 1869, but the 19th Amendment guaranteeing a woman's right to vote didn't pass until 1920. 

"Deeds not words" - the suffragette battle cry - is inscribed on her gravestone.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Georgia State soccer player withdraws from school after backlash over racial epithet
Georgia State soccer player withdraws from school after backlash over racial epithet

A Georgia State University soccer player who was suspended from the team after she used a racial epithet on social media has withdrawn from the school, officials said. Some students had called for the expulsion of 18-year-old freshman defender Natalia Martinez after the epithet appeared on her Finsta page, a secret version of Instagram that...
Chance for rain, snow showers today with gusty winds
Chance for rain, snow showers today with gusty winds

More showers arrive this morning Dry and warming up to end week More rain for weekend TODAY: Another batch of light showers off to the west will move in early this morning, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Showers today will mainly fall as rain, but at times a mix with wet snow flakes can occur. An accumulation isn’t expected...
Heath Ledger's sister remembers him 10 years after his death
Heath Ledger's sister remembers him 10 years after his death

Heath Ledger’s sister, Kate Ledger, is opening up about how his family is honoring his memory 10 years after his death. Kate opened up for a rare interview with WHO last week before the 10th anniversary of her brother’s Jan. 22, 2008, death. She told the publication that keeping Ledger’s memory alive in her home has...
Florida woman, 81, smashes car into McDonald's: 'Glass flew everywhere'
Florida woman, 81, smashes car into McDonald's: 'Glass flew everywhere'

An 81-year-old woman suffered minor injuries after she lost control of her Toyota Solara and backed into the glass windows of a McDonald’s west of Boynton Beach, Florida, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. >> Read more Floridoh! stories The woman will be charged with careless driving, PBSO spokesperson Teri...
Clark County Pet of the Week
Clark County Pet of the Week

Meet Dolly. She is an adorable Pit mix whose personality is the size of Texas. Dolly is playful and loving and lives for a good gossip. She enjoys her walks and playtime so much. Dolly has a favorite blanket and definitely cannot have enough toys. She does okay with most dogs, but really, is looking for a home to be pampered in by herself. Dolly is...
More Stories