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Harry Furniss: Miss Parliamentina

Harry Furniss (1854 – 1925) was a cartoonist whose work frequently featured in Punch magazine. He is perhaps best known for his satirical images depicting life in Parliament. A recurring character in these cartoons was Miss Parliamentina. A beautiful woman dressed in the robes and wig of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Miss Parliamentina was intended to be a physical manifestation of Parliament herself. In this sketch, Miss Parliamentina is depicted holding up Arthur James Balfour (1848 – 1938). Balfour entered Parliament in 1874, led the Conservative Party in the House of Commons from 1891 and was made Prime Minister in 1902. Balfour was not perceived well by some Members, particularly in the early years of his Parliamentary career. They felt that he was remaining in politics out of a sense of familial obligation, his uncle Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister, rather than out of any genuine interest. This perhaps explains why Miss Parliamentina is depicted holding him at arm's length.