A Blue Plaque for Exeter Writer and Suffragist Mary Willcocks
On Friday 9 June 2923 - a very hot day! – Exeter Civic Society unveiled a blue plaque at 88 Pennsylvania Road, the home for over thirty years of Mary Willcocks, author, lecturer and feminist.
Mary Willcocks (1869-1952), was a novelist and suffrage activist who spent most of her life in Exeter. She was born on a farm close to Dartmoor, which provided the background for many of her novels, featuring strong women characters, often set in rural Devon. She moved to Exeter in 1907 when her early novels proved successful enough for her to risk abandoning teaching for life as a freelance writer and speaker. The publication of her seventh novel in 1913 prompted a feature in the Devonian Year Book with a portrait photograph showing her in her forties.
|Mary Willcocks in the Devonian Year Book|
During her first ten years in Exeter she campaigned for votes for women, organising campaigns across Devon and Cornwall for the
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, including the 1913 Suffrage Pilgrimage from Land’s End to Hyde Park. She retained an interest in political activism
after the vote was won, campaigning on issues such as employment
opportunities for women. In 1943 she was awarded a Civil List pension for
services to literature.
WESWWHN were pleased to make a grant of £150 to Exeter Civic Society towards the cost of the plaque. Local city councillors also made a grant, as one of the criteria for grant making has been to increase the awareness of women’s place in Exeter’s past.
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