Emily Wilding Davison’s diary was kept whilst she was imprisoned in Holloway and includes a graphic description of her hunger strike and her experience of force-feeding in 1912. In the early twentieth century, frustrated by the lack of progress many women joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, founded 1903, and began to embrace direct action to draw attention to the issue. From 1909, imprisoned suffragettes demanding to be treated as political prisoners began to refuse food. The State’s response was force-feeding. As described by Emily, a prison doctor would insert a tube into the woman’s mouth, force it down her oesophagus and pour liquidised food into the woman. It was a physically demanding and invasive process and individual women were subjugated to the process on multiple occasions.
Reproduced with permission from The Women's Library.