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Author Talk: Tessa Boase -‘Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather’

Join author Tessa Boase for an illustrated talk about the pioneering female founders of the RSPB – including rare images, a cast of invincible characters, and a surprising political secret.

Tessa will be giving a free talk at the House, and signing copies of her book about these redoubtable women, including Manchester’s very own female fighters for justice –  suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and Didsbury’s Emily Williamson, who began a whole new women’s campaign.



Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women’s campaign caught the public imagination. Its aim was simple: to stamp out the fashion for feathers in hats.

Step forward Emily Williamson of Didsbury, co-founder of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The year was 1889.

The ‘feather fight’ – fought on both sides of the Atlantic – was bitter, vicious and un-sisterly. Wearers of the bird hat were attacked as narcissists and slaughterers. Edwardian fashion victims hit back, calling their critics ‘plumage cranks’ and ‘feather faddists’. Why shouldn’t emancipated women wear what they wanted? The elegant Mrs Pankhurst and her suffragettes enraged the bird protection ladies – and not just because of their magnificently plumed hats…


After the talk Tessa will sign copies of her new book, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism – Women’s Fight for Change, available at the special price of £16 (RRP £20).


28th Nov 2018

2pm - 2.45pm


a whispering of leaves and perfume of flowers always pervaded the rooms

Charlotte Brontë, on visiting 84 Plymouth Grove