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Many heroic and valiant acts were carried out in the name of suffrage. Emily Davidson is perhaps lesser known than such names as Pankhurst, but her personal protest remains significant in the history of the struggle for equality.

A Tragic Event

The protest took place during the 1913 Derby Horse Race Meet. Fifteen horses were running for the potential prize of £6450, and one of them was King George Vs own horse, Anmer. Emily positioned herself inside the rails at Tattenham corner amongst other spectators. She waited until she could see Anmer and his jockey Herbert Jones. As they approached, she stepped out in front of the horse and tried to snatch at the reins. Some reports claim that she managed to hold on for a few seconds, but if you consider that the horse was moving at a fair speed and then imagine the impact of such a large animal at that velocity, it is not surprising that she was knocked to the ground. The jockey Jones was also thrown to the ground, and the injuries to him and to Emily were visible to spectators, they rushed on to the track...the race continued nevertheless. Both casualties were taken to hospital. Jones recovered soon after but Emily never regained conciousness and died four days later.

One newspaper reported the incident the following day as "Suffragette Outrage on King's Horse". Whether her sacrifice was intentional or not, Emily's commitment to the cause was clear to her fellow suffragettes, Sylvia Pankhurst recounts in her memoires how Emily had talked of dashing onto the course dressed in the suffragette colours and stopping the race to bring attention to their plight.

The inscription on her grave reads "Deeds, not words". It was not until five years after her death that women finally won the right to vote.

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