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Elsie Bowerman


John Simkin
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In 1908 Elsie Bowerman went to Girton College. The following year Bowerman and her mother joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). She established a branch in Girton and in October 1910 she invited Margery Corbett-Ashby to speak to the students. Later she arranged for Constance Lytton to speak at the college. She also sold copies of Votes for Women and gave away free copies to those who could not afford the.

On 22nd November, Elsie's mother, Edith Chibnall joined a WSPU deputation to the House of Commons. She was assaulted by a policeman. She explained in a letter to Elsie: "He caught me by the hair and flinging me aside he said, Die, then! I found afterwards that so much force had been used that my hairpins were bent double in my hair and my sealskin coat was torn to ribbons." Elsie replied: "So sorry you have had such a bad time. It is sickening that this endless fighting has to go on. I am frightfully sorry Mrs. Pankhurst & Mrs. Haverfield were arrested... It is a great pity to lose all our best people just before the Election. I hope you won't go on any more raids. I think you have done your share for this week."

In 1911 Bowerman graduated with a second-class degree in medieval and modern languages. She now moved to St Leonards where her mother had established a branch of the WSPU. Bowerman helped her mother run the WSPU shop on the Grand Parade at Hastings. Bowerman was also a paid full-time organizer for the organization.

Elsie Bowerman and her mother decided to take a holiday in the Ohio. On 15th April 1912 they were passengers on the Titanic when it sank. As they were both first-class passengers every effort was made to save them. Elsie later wrote: "The silence when the engines stopped was followed by a steward knocking on our door and telling us to go on deck. This we did and were lowered into life-boats, where we were told to get away from the liner as soon as we could in case of suction. This we did, and to pull an oar in the midst of the Atlantic in April with ice-bergs floating about, is a strange experience."In 1938, she joined forces with the Marchioness of Reading, to establish the Women's Voluntary Service, and from 1938 to 1940 edited its Monthly Bulletin. During the Second World War she worked for the Ministry of Information (1940–41) and was liaison officer with the North American Service of the BBC (1941–5).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wbowerman.htm

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