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Summary

Previously titled Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather.

A heroine for our times, Etta Lemon campaigned for 50 years against the worldwide slaughter of birds for extravagantly feathered hats. Her legacy is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (the RSPB), grown from an all-female pressure group of 1889 with the splendidly simple pledge: Wear No Feathers.

Etta’s long battle against ‘murderous millinery’ triumphed with the Plumage Act of 1921 - but her legacy has been eclipsed by the more glamorous campaign for the vote, led by the elegantly plumed Emmeline Pankhurst. 

This gripping narrative explores two formidable heroines and their rival overlapping campaigns. Moving from the feather workers’ slums to high society, from the first female political rally to the rise of the eco feminist, it restores Etta Lemon to her rightful place in history - the extraordinary woman who saved the birds.

©2018 Tessa Boase (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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Surprising, gripping and unexpectedly moving

This is the story of the women who set up the RSPB, campaigning against the fashion for feathered hats - an unusual, entertaining and, at times, shocking journey through high Victorian and Edwardian society. This was a world where every women had a hat, and some had hundreds of hats. A world where birds were thought to make pretty trimmings for these hats, and were slaughtered by the thousand for the milinery trade. I'll never look at another picture of a suffragette rally again through the same eyes, now that I know so many of them are wearing 'murderous millinery'. It starts with the feather industry, the poor girls slaving away making plumed ornaments to go on the hats of more fortunate women. Then come the bird-loving women behind the RSPB - I love the name and the character Etta Lemon, why haven't we heard of her before? Moving to the suffrage movement, which was an overlapping women's campaign, sharing methods and many members with the RSPB. Finally, the perplexing contradictions of women fighting each other - over fashion, over the vote, over a woman's place in the world. This is a rich, surprising and gripping story, beautifully delivered. I now want to see the pictures, so will probably get the book.

8 people found this helpful

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Etta Lemon

This was rather a wild card choice for me, but one that shined a light on a forgotten woman. What a shame that Etta Lemon is not more widely known or honoured for her work in the beginnings of animal conservation . Well narrated by the author.

2 people found this helpful

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The perfect audiobook

Wonderfully researched and written and beautifully narrated by the author - this audiobook is a real treat. It’s a fascinating look into the history and characters behind the RSPB and how they interlink with the women’s suffrage movement. I particularly enjoyed the narration by the author. One could argue that the author is the person who knows their work best and is therefore best placed to read the book but this only works if someone is a gifted narrator as well as a wonderful writer as Tessa Boase is. It must have been a fascinating experience to do the research on this book. There are so many interesting little details included that round out the characters. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Listen

I knew a lot about the fight for women’s suffrage already but nothing about the history of the RSPB or the prolific feather industry of the late Victorian era. The book gives a fascinating insight into other political struggles of the time and juxtaposes them against a backdrop of female emancipation. It encourages the reader to consider all sides of the various arguments and leaves us to make up our minds about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, both in relation to the fight for the vote and the fight to prohibit ‘murderous millenary’. Highly recommend this to anyone who thinks they knows about the suffragettes or the origins of the RSPB!

2 people found this helpful

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Mrs Pankhurst

So much I didn’t know before listening to this. It was excellent. Highly recommend to all

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Unsung hero’s

Well written and performed by Tessa Boase. We rarely hear about women’s history and thus book is an absolute treat.

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So good, I listened twice

Prior to hearing this biography, I was completely ignorant of Etta Lemon & her (many) accomplishments. That educational discrepancy has, thankfully, been corrected by listening to this amazing story - so intricately researched & completely without bias.
The ONLY audiobook i've listened to, in entirety, immediately after finishing!

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Brilliant

Really well written, so you switch between the two intertwined stories. It's captivating, entertaining and informative. I loved it and will listen again.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 17-12-20

Brilliant

Tessa Boase has crafted a riveting exploration of two important women, each driven by her own single issue. Whether you are interested in birds or women’s movements, this is a fascinating work of creative nonfiction. What’s more, the author does a fantastic job with the narration.