Conan Doyle and the 'militants'

In November of last year I wrote a short post on Arthur Conan Doyle's position towards women and how it could see him cast as both hero and villain.

In said post (see here) I remarked on his fight for the reform of divorce law and his horror at the actions of the suffragette movement.

In his time the term 'militants' was more often used. I've just been researching and writing about his early comments on the subject in America and how they were received. It has proved fascinating and hilarious in equal measure.

Some people think, largely based his opposition to suffragettes and, to an extent, on how some women were depicted in the Sherlock Holmes stories, that Conan Doyle thought women inferior. He most certainly did not think that and we have the word of his daughter Jean who, unlike us, knew him though other things than his writing.

His opinion on the actions of the suffragettes (and it was their actions, rather than their aim, which he had issues with) may strike us as misguided but he was not anti-women and it would be a mistake to judge him on his attitude to suffrage alone.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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