1 IT WAS the night of March 1, 1912, and 148 people were arrested in London for smashing shop windows. Amongst them were Glasgow suffragists Margaret McPhun and her sister Frances, members of the Women’s Social and Politican Union who used the slogan ‘deeds, not words’. The Glasgow Times’ sister newspaper The Herald, ran a snippy column from its London correspondent describing the actions of the women and their fellow campaigners. “The militant suffragists have smashed dozens of windows in the west end,” it said. “A more stupid exhibition of hysteria we have seldom seen.”

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2 Margaret, born in 1876, and Frances, born in 1880, were the daughters of Bailie John McPhun, a timber merchant and a councillor in the city’s East End, who helped found the People’s Palace. Both women attended the University of Glasgow, Margaret studying psychology and Frances studying political economy. The sisters were both members of the University’s suffrage union and they joined the WSPU in 1910. Frances was involved in organising The Pageant of Famous Scottish Women in Edinburgh in 1909,

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3 To gain publicity for their cause, dismissed by many men (like the arrogant Herald columnist) as ‘hysteria’, the sisters joined other Scottish suffragettes in London, and were subsequently arrested and sent to Holloway Prison, where they went on hunger strike. The WSPU presented them both with hunger strike medals after their release.

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4 During their spell in prison, like many other women, Margaret and Frances were force fed with a ‘feeding cup’. Some women were subjected to force feeding through a nasal tube.

5 Margaret wrote a poem entitled To a Fellow Prisoner, to her friend Janie Allan, which was included in a book compiled by Glasgow WSPU members while in Holloway. Margaret also contributed to socialist journal Forward, Votes for Women and The Suffragette.