Fiction books about women's suffrage

This being Women's History Month, I have been musing about children's fiction books about women's suffrage. It was not a long muse, because I could only think of one-- Miss Rivers and Miss Bridges, by Geraldine Symons (MacMillan, 1971). We are the only library in Rhode Island that still has a copy, which is a shame as it is a great book (I was the first person to check it out in 15 years, saving it from the discard pile by a hair). 13 year old Pansy sets of for London at the beginning of last century, little knowing that her friend Atalanta is going to get them arrested for their enthusiastic participation in the Suffragette movement. There are several books about Pansy and Atalanta, all good reads.

Even when I tried to widen my mental book search to "good fiction directly about women's rights" (not including the "women have careers" or "go to college" genres) I came up with very little. There's The Mills Down Below, by Mabel Esther Allan, which is also dated, out-of-print, and English. Sure, there are lots of books with references -- one I like is Jean Thesman's The Ornament Tree (in print and American)--but I couldn't even find much on line. Maybe my heart just wasn't in the googling, or maybe America has been satisfied with those dry sort-of-dull-cereal type biographies that children across the country seem forced to check out of the library when they are in third grade or thereabouts -- "I Am Susan B. Anthony" etc. Or maybe there are really good fiction books out there that I don't know about or have forgotten.


  1. I think you may be on to something. Off the top of my head, it is difficult to think of any suffragette fiction for kids. Lyddie by Katherine Paterson is a wonderful story about a young factory worker. It is the only other title I can think of that comes close.

  2. There's an old one called Never Jam Today, by Carole Bolton. I've never read it, but my partner remembers loving it and it's in my school's library still! It never checks out but I can't bring myself to weed it.

    There's also a Dear America book called A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen. It's by Kathryn Lasky, who's written lots of other good books, but the Dear America books vary wildly in quality so I can't vouch for it for sure.

  3. They are out of print, but Norma Johnston's Tish Sterling books dealt with this; in the last 2 books, set during WWI, one of the main character's mother is involved in the suffragette movement. Titles: A Nice Girl Like You, and Me, Myself & I.

  4. I have to do a Speech and i have choosen to do a speech on Women's Rights. I also was meant to read a book on it. But how wants to read a non-fiction book - boring. So I think it's great to see that i'm able to get ideas off other people. If i find a book i'll let you know!

  5. I have been looking for the historical fiction book about Mrs. Pankhurst the the force-feeding for some time. Since the fiction books where not given subject headings it is hard to find them. I knew I would recognize the title when I saw it. I thought it might have been Mrs. SoAndSo and Mrs. somebody else. It was Miss Rivers and Miss Bridges. I hope I can find the book now that I know the title.
    Thanks for the help.

  6. Thank you for this list! I was looking for The Ornament Tree -- had forgotten both the title and the name of the author and tried a search for fiction and suffragettes. And so I got your recommendations as well. Great!
    Lyddie is wonderful, of course. And even if Bernice Thurman Hunter's Booky books don't really deal with these issues, I think they have a lot of this spirit in them (but she's Canadian, isn't she?). Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, too, especially the one where she studies to become a teacher.

    1. I like the Ornament Tree lots! The sequel was a bit disappointing--I wanted more Bonnie.... But I'm very glad my blog helped you find it!

  7. Never Jam Tody, mentioned above, is a wonderful book - I just finished my own internet search trying to find it. It is available to borrow for free online on Open Library. It avoidedis very readable, probably best for early teens and up, and covers the movement well. The heroine, who comes from a well-to-do family, is convincingly sketched, and my memory is that issues of class are not avoided. I just downloaded the book and I'm looking forwarding to reading it today!


Free Blog Counter

Button styles