Cycling to Suffrage

Project Overview, “Cycling to Suffrage: The Bicycle and Women’s Rights, 1890-1914″

“Cycling to Suffrage: The Bicycle and Women’s Rights 1890-1914,” began as a Vera Douie Fellow research project at The Women’s Library, London Metropolitan University now LSE. The project, spearheaded by Dr Sheila Hanlon, looks at the politics and history of women’s cycling in suffrage era Britain.

The main objective of “Cycling to Suffrage” is to investigate how the bicycle was integrated into the campaign tactics used by the organised suffrage movement. The research findings from this study formed the basis of the”Cycling to Suffrage” exhibit held at The Women’s Library, Mar-Sept 2012 as well as platform of academic and public works. They also build on my earlier PhD work, which investigated women’s cycling culture and politics in 1890s London.

The exhibit is now closed, but my research continues with the goal of producing a monograph on women’s cycling, 1890-1914. I also regularly lecture on women’s cycling history and contribute to print and online publications. You can read more about the 2012 exhibit below.

The Cycling to Suffrage Exhibit, The Women’s Library, March-Sept 2012

Cycling has long been associated with the emancipation of women, from the fashionable lady cyclists of the 1890s to the more politically motivated Suffragette Scouts of Edwardian times. This foyer display, curated by Vera Douie Fellow Sheila Hanlon, uses artefacts from The Women’s Library to explore the politics of women’s cycling in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain, with a focus on the suffrage campaign and some surprising revelations along the way.

The exhibit runs until Sept 8, 2012 and is open Tuesday-Friday 9:30-5:30 with late hours until 8:00 Thursday Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm

For more information about the “Cycling to Suffrage” exhibit, please see The Women’s Library website.

The exhibit is now closed, but please read the reviews below for further information and responses.


Press and Radio

Interview on The Bike Show

Article and Interview in Feminist Perspektiv

“The Cyclist” in Walking with Women: unlocking female stories from Cambridge´s past


Exbibition Reviews and Responses

There was a great response to the now closed Cycling to Suffrage exhibit. You can read what some of our visitors thought below.

Borough Belles Lecture and Field Trip

Climate Rush

What Glass Ceiling?


One Stop Arts

Feminist Memory

CTC Cycle Clips


Exhibition Events

Curator’s Talk, Cycling to Suffrage Exhibit:

Dr. Sheila Hanlon discusses her research for the display and highlights some major issues in the gender politics of cycling past and present. Illustrated with materials from The Women’s Library collection, this talk considers the place of the bicycle in women’s lives for leisure, transportation, sport and activism with a focus on suffrage era Britain.

June 14, 2012 The Women’s Library, 7pm, £8/£6 concessions
*Sold Out!*

Exhibit dates: “Cycling to Suffrage: The Bicycle and Women’s Rights, 1890-1914″ opened 21 March 2012 with a launch night 22 March 2012. The exhibit ran at The Women’s Library until 8 Sept 2012, Tues-Sat with late hour Thurs until 8pm.

Family Event: “Get Off Your Bike!” Saturday 30 June, 2012 12:30-2:00 A fun, free family day to make customised accessories for your bike, scooters or skateboards.


Conference Talks and Public Events

“Cycling to Suffrage: The Bicycle and the British Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1900-1914,” International Cycling History Conference, Paris, May, 2011

“Cycles of History: The Bicycle and New Interpretations of Women’s Suffrage History,” The Women’s History Network Annual Conference, London, Sept 2011

“A Spanner of One’s Own: Bicycle Mechanics and Women’s Liberation in Maria Ward’s Bicycling for Ladies, 1896,” Lecture for WAG Night at the London Bike Kitchen, 26 Nov 2012

“The Cyclist,” Walking with Women exhibit, Shape East Michaelhouse Cafe, Cambridge, Jan 2013

“A Spanner of One’s Own: Bicycle Mechanics and Women’s Liberation in Maria Ward’s Bicycling for Ladies, 1896,” International Women’s Week Lecture, University of Sheffield March 2013

Lectures for the Emily Inspires Emily Wilding Davison Memorial, Newcastle Longhorsely and Morpeth May-June 2013

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