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No Surrender: by Scarlett and Sophie Rickard

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The story of the lives of the people who feature in the novel are well described and contrasted. Jenny works in the mill, partly to help support her family, in which her demanding father is never satisfied, her downtrodden mother scrapes to find enough food, and Peter, her brother is still recovering from work related illness. A sister has been ill treated by her husband and deprived of her children. Jenny’s focus has become the fight for the vote for women which she sees is the route to equality before the law and genuine hope for women. A male advocate of the socialist cause is interested in Jenny, but she knows that their paths lie in different directions, and that her solidarity with the cause and other women may well end in her imprisonment. Meanwhile wealthy women are being criticised by their acquaintances and even their families for wanting to stand with the women’s cause, and indeed witness the formation of anti-suffragist groups. Not that men are excluded – they are often opposed to the fight but some clear sighted men are sympathetic and supportive. There are crises throughout the book – as arrests are made and protests occur in prisons which test everyone’s beliefs. A young woman is arrested for her desperate acts, and it takes extreme events to bring about life changing decisions. It was read as a call to arms, told through the story of mill worker Jenny Clegg, who lives in a northern industrial town.

No Surrender - Rickard Sisters No Surrender - Rickard Sisters

No Surrender is sometimes funny, sometimes violent, but always exciting and authentic. It is highly regarded as an important document of the arguments for and against extending votes to women, for its witty storytelling and for an unflinching depiction of the rapid escalation of violence encountered by the women involved. This sumptuous and faithful graphic novel of the 1911 suffrage classic brings to life the exciting story of gender, class, the ethics of civil disobedience and the right to be equal before the law – offering an accessible, entertaining and rewarding read to a new generation.Jenny Clegg is a Lancashire mill-hand with dreams of equality and freedom. Along with friends from every walk of life, she brings the fight to the Prime Minister’s door – and suffers for her cause. Written by a Suffragette from the heat of the battle, this novel is a vivid social record of a tumultuous era, told through the lives of a broad cast of powerful characters.

SelfMadeHero | No Surrender

No Surrender was first published in 1911, the year women across the country boycotted the British census by spoiling forms with the words “I don’t count so I won’t be counted” and “no persons here, only women.” Pioneering Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison loved it, pronouncing that it “breathes the very spirit of our women’s movement” – a spirit that lives on in this new graphic novel edition. The sisters scored a publishing sensation in 2020, when their graphic novel adaptation of Robert Tressell’s seminal socialist novel, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, illustrated the thirst for this type of story.

The pair are recent arrivals in the graphic novel world and are planning a third political tome from the same era. Constance Maud was at the heart of the British campaign for women’s votes. Her novel No Surrender was published at the height of that struggle and used as a persuasive tool by suffragists. Hailed by Emily Wilding-Davison as “a book which breathes the very spirit of our Women’s Movement”, the fast-paced story interweaves the lives of women from all classes working together to bring about change. Our hero Jenny is a small but fierce Lancashire textile mill worker who puts principle before everything.

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