The forthcoming royal wedding is a boon to the chronic insomniac. What better way to sooth the sleep-deprived psyche than with endless detail on the air-brushed lives of Kate Middleton and Prince William? Documentaries on the subject of this couple usually turn up in the small hours of the night on one of the more obscure cable stations. If not, one can always consult the Royal Channel (the official channel of the British Monarchy) available via YouTube for a 2 a.m. update.

 

Even without insomnia, I confess to having an unquenchable appetite for royal pabulum. I am drawn, for mysterious reasons, to that Grand Guignol cast: Princess Diana, beautiful but overexposed (not to mention dead); Prince Charles, every day more like a cartoon courtier from Beauty and the Beast; his disheveled and vaguely menacing second… More…

We are here to claim our rights as women, not only to be free, but to fight for freedom. It is our privilege, as well as our pride and our joy, to take some part in this militant movement, which, as we believe, means the regeneration of all humanity.

So said Christabel Pankhurst in a speech about suffragist rights in Britain, 100 years ago. Pankhurst, dubbed “Queen of the Mob,” was arrested time and again at the beginning of the 20th century, fighting for voting rights for women.

A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working Class Women 1890-1940 by Elizabeth Roberts. 256 pages. Wiley-Blackwell. $43.95.

The Women’s Social and Political Union was in many ways a livelier counterpart to their American sisters fighting for the same rights in the States. The Americans mostly believed in nonviolent protest and… More…