Cicely Hamilton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Cicely Mary Hamilton (née Hammill, 15 June 1872 – 6 December 1952), was an English actress, writer, journalist, suffragist and feminist, part of the struggle for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. She is now best known for the play How the Vote was Won, which sees all of England's female workers returning to their nearest male relative for financial support.[1]


Cicely Mary Hammill was born in Paddington, London and educated in Malvern, Worcestershire. After a short spell in teaching she acted in a touring company. Then she wrote drama, including feminist themes, and enjoyed a period of success in the commercial theatre.

In 1908 she and Bessie Hatton founded the Women Writers' Suffrage League. This grew to around 400 members, including Ivy Compton-Burnett, Sarah Grand, Violet Hunt, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Alice Meynell, Olive Schreiner, Evelyn Sharp, May Sinclair and Margaret L. Woods. It produced campaigning literature, written by Sinclair amongst others, and recruited many prominent male supporters.

Hamilton supplied the lyrics of "The March of the Women", the song which Ethel Smyth composed in 1910 for the Women's Social and Political Union.[2]

In the days before radio, one effective way to get a message out into society and to have it discussed was to produce short plays that could be performed around the country, and so suffrage drama was born. Elizabeth Robins's Votes for Women and Cicely Hamilton and Christopher St. John's How the Vote Was Won are two predominant examples of the genre.[3] Hamilton also wrote A Pageant of Great Women, a highly successful women's suffrage play based on the ideas of her friend, the theatre director Edith Craig. Hamilton played Woman while Craig played the painter Rosa Bonheur, one of the 50 or so great women in the play. It was produced all over the UK from 1909 until the First World War.[4] Hamilton was a member of Craig's theatre society, the Pioneer Players. Her play Jack and Jill and a Friend was one of the three plays in the Pioneer Players' first production in May 1911.[5]

During World War I Hamilton initially worked in the organisation of nursing care, and then joined the army as an auxiliary. Later she formed a repertory company to entertain the troops. After the war, she wrote as a freelance journalist, particularly on birth control, and as a playwright for the Birmingham Repertory Company. In 1938 she was given a Civil List pension.

Hamilton's Theodore Savage (1922, vt. Lest Ye Die 1928) is a science-fiction novel about a Britain devastated by a war.[6]


  • The Traveller Returns (1906) play
  • Diana of Dobson's (novel, play 1908)
  • Women's Votes (1908)
  • Marriage as a Trade (1909)
  • How the Vote was Won (1909) play
  • A Pageant of Great Women (1910) play
  • Just to Get Married (1911) play
  • Jack and Jill and a Friend (1911) play
  • William - an Englishman (1920) novel (Reprinted by Persephone Books in 1999)
  • The Child in Flanders: A Nativity Play (1922)
  • Theodore Savage: A Story of the Past or the Future (1922)
  • The Old Adam (1924) play
  • Non-Combatant (1924)
  • The Human Factor (1925)
  • The Old Vic (1926) with Lilian Baylis
  • Lest Ye Die (1928)
  • Modern Germanies as seen by an Englishwoman (1931)
  • Modern Italy as seen by an Englishwoman (1932)
  • Modern France as seen by an Englishwoman (1933)
  • Modern Russia, as seen by an Englishwoman (1934)
  • Modern Austria as seen by an Englishwoman (1935)
  • Life Errant (1935) autobiography
  • Modern Ireland as seen by an Englishwoman (1936)
  • Modern Scotland as seen by an Englishwoman (1937)
  • Modern England as seen by an Englishwoman (1938)
  • Modern Sweden. as seen by an Englishwoman (1939)
  • The Englishwoman (1940)
  • Lament for Democracy (1940)
  • The Beggar Prince (1944) play
  • Holland To-day (1950)


  1. ^ "Cicely Hamilton, Independent Feminist", Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies, Vol 11 No. 2/3 1990
  2. ^ Bennett, Jory (1987). Crichton, Ronald, ed. The Memoirs of Ethel Smyth: Abridged and Introduced by Ronald Crichton, with a list of works by Jory Bennett. Harmondsworth: Viking. p. 378. ISBN 0-670-80655-2. 
  3. ^ Maroula Joannou & June Purvis, The Women's Suffrage Movement: New Feminist Perspectives (Manchester University Press, 1998), 127
  4. ^ Cockin, Katharine. Edith Craig (1869–1947): Dramatic Lives, Cassell (1998).
  5. ^ Cockin, Katharine. Women and Theatre in the Age of Suffrage: The Pioneer Players 1911–25, Palgrave (2001)
  6. ^ E. F. Bleiler and Richard Bleiler. Science-Fiction: The Early Years. Kent State University Press, 1990. (p.331). ISBN 9780873384162.


  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 112. 
  • Lis Whitelaw (1990) The Life & Rebellious Times of Cicely Hamilton

External links[edit]