Rosa May Billinghurst: Suffragette on Three Wheels by Sheila Hanlon

Rosa May Billinghurst used her disability to inspire her to work for the rights of all women, as a suffragist. Her inspiring story is profiled in this article as part of the Disability Visibility Project.

Disability Visibility Project

Historian Dr. Sheila Hanlon’s research interests include Victorian and Edwardian cycling history and the WWI and WWII Women’s Land Army, both in Canada and Britain. She is also curator of Cycling to Suffrage at The Women’s Library, London.

Her blog recently posted an awesome photo of suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst at a protest sitting on a large tricycle surrounded by police. From Dr. Hanlon’s blog post:

Rosa May Billinghurst (1873-1953) was born and raised in Lewisham, London. As a child, she contracted an illness which left her paralyzed from the waist down. Her condition did not, however, deter her from joining the WSPU in 1907 or becoming one of its best known militants.

Billinghurst was a regular participant in the WSPU’s public processions. She attracted public attention by appearing dressed in white and wheeling along with her machine decked out in coloured WSPU ribbons and “Votes for Women” banners…

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