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Emily Davison

Emily Davison is remembered as the woman who lost her own life on behalf of the British suffragette movement by "throwing herself" under the hooves of Anmer, King George V's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby. The known facts and newsreel footage do not support the popular belief that she intended to kill herself. Although some say she was trying to pin the suffragette colours on to the horse!

Emily Davison was born in 1872 in London and had a university education, obtaining a first-class degree at Oxford. She joined the Women's Social and Political Union[?] in 1906, and immediately involved herself in their more militant activities. She was arrested and imprisoned for various offences, including a violent attack on a man she mistook for the government minister, David Lloyd George. She went on hunger strike and was force-fed in Holloway prison, where she attempted suicide as a protest against the practice. (clarity needed ?what practice?)

Davison's purpose in attending the Derby of 1913 is unclear. Much has been made of the fact that she purchased a return rail ticket, suggesting that suicide was not, on this occasion, her intention. Film of the incident shows her stepping out in front of the horse, Anmer, carrying the banner of the WSPU, but she appears to expect the horse to stop or swerve around her, rather than to trample her as it inevitably did. She died several days later, in hospital, of her injuries. Her reckless action did little to further the political cause, but she was hailed by her friends in the suffragette movement as a heroine.

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