Miss Muriel Matters: The Fearless Suffragist Who Fought for Equality

Written by Robert Wainwright
Review by Sallie Anderson

The history of the Woman’s Suffrage movement is dominated by a handful of well-known names. Wainwright’s excellent biography adds a new name to the list: Miss Muriel Matters. Born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1877, Matters witnessed dramatic social reforms including South Australia giving some women the vote. The first chapters describe Matters’ family background, training as a musician, and initial career as a celebrated elocutionist. Wainwright makes the case successfully that this early non-suffrage history lays the groundwork for Matters’ later success.

When she arrived in London in 1905, Matters became a suffrage spokeswoman and participated in ‘spectacular stunts’. She dropped leaflets from an airship, chained herself to the Ladies Grille in Parliament, led out striking waitresses and like many others, was imprisoned. Described by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland as a ‘charming militant’, she fought for change on the streets, in drawing rooms and on stage. In this anniversary year, Wainwright’s thoroughly-researched biography provides a fascinating insight into an overlooked history-maker and her role in the Women’s Suffrage movement.