Emily Davison (Suffragette) killed by King’s Horse at Derby (1913)



The Observer – Vanessa Thorpe – First published on Sun 26 May 2013 00.00 BST

Truth behind the death of suffragette Emily Davison is finally revealed
Hi-tech film analysis suggests Emily Davison’s motives when she collided with the king’s horse in 1913 were misunderstood.

Emily Davison

Emily Davison, left, and jockey Herbert Jones fall to the ground after her collision with the King’s horse, Anmer. Photograph: Hulton Archive

As an emblem of women’s emancipation Emily Wilding Davison has always been controversial. The suffragette who was fatally injured at the Epsom racecourse during the Derby 100 years ago under the hooves of the king’s horse has been saluted by some as a brave martyr and attacked by others as an irresponsible anarchist. Now detailed analysis of film footage of the incident has shed new light on the contentious moments on 4 June 1913 that were to go down in the history of political protest.

Despite the fact that film technology was in its early days, the incident was captured on three newsreel cameras and a new study of the images has shown that the 40-year-old campaigner was not, as assumed, attempting to pull down Anmer, the royal racehorse, but in fact reaching up to attach a scarf to its bridle.

The analysis, carried out by a team of investigators for a television documentary to be screened tonight on Channel 4, also indicates that the position of Davison before she stepped out on to the track would have given her a clear view of the oncoming race, contrary to the argument that she ran out recklessly to kill herself.

Presenter Clare Balding and investigators Stephen Cole and Mike Dixon returned to the original nitrate film stocks taken on the day and transferred them to a digital format. This was done so that they could be cleaned and so that new software could cross-reference the three different camera angles.

“It has been such an extraordinary adventure to discover more about her, about what she stood for, about the suffragette movement,” said Balding this weekend on her work with the team making Secrets of a Suffragette.

“It is hugely significant as a moment in history, a moment that absolutely sums up the desperation of women in this country who wanted the vote.”

Historians have suggested that Davison was trying to attach a flag to King George V’s horse and police reports suggested two flags were found on her body. Some witnesses believed she was trying to cross the track, thinking the horses had passed by, others believed she had tried to pull down Anmer. The fact that she was carrying a return train ticket from Epsom and had holiday plans with her sister in the near future have also caused some historians to claim that she had no intention of killing herself.

In 2011 the horse-racing historian Michael Tanner argued that as Davison was standing in crowds on the inside of the bend at Tattenham Corner it would have been impossible for her to see the king’s horse.

But new cross-referencing between the cameras has revealed, say the C4 programme makers, that Davison was closer to the start of Tattenham Corner than thought and so had a better line of sight. In this position she could have seen and singled out Anmer.

Historians have suggested that Davison and other suffragettes were seen “practising” at grabbing horses in the park near her mother’s house and that they then drew lots to determine who should go to the Derby.

After colliding with Anmer, Davison collapsed unconscious on the track. The horse went over, but then rose, completing the race without a jockey. Davison died of her injuries four days later in Epsom Cottage Hospital.

At the funeral of the leading suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in 1928, the jockey who had ridden Anmer that day, Herbert Jones, laid a wreath “to do honour to the memory of Mrs Pankhurst and Miss Emily Davison”. Jones had suffered a mild concussion in the 1913 collision, but afterwards claimed he was “haunted by that poor woman’s face”.

In 1951, his son found Jones dead in a gas-filled kitchen. The jockey had killed himself.


Gabriel Fauré – silent film footage taken in 1913

Gabriel Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs “Après un rêve” and “Clair de lune”.



Faure plays Faure

Gabriel Faure plays Pavane, Op. 50, 1913 Welte Mignon recording

The Night Before Christmas 1913


Critical reaction

From the journal “Kino-theatre and life”

“The Night Before Christmas” (after Gogol) is a very well written and acted cinema piece; however, not without some deficiencies in the scenes of crowds. Of all artists, who by-and-large performed well, it is impossible not to distinguish the makeup and acting of Mr. Mozzhukhin in the role of the demon. The fantastic sections of Soloha’s flight on a broom and Vakula’s on the demon are not carried off well, but the spectacular trick of the demon’s shrinking was skillfully done. This picture will have success in Russia as a live illustration to the work of literature well- known to all the Russian public.

From the journal “Cinematography news”

Some scenes – such as, e.g., the scene at Soloha’s, meeting the Stanitsa Head fetched out of the bag by Chub (a Cossack), Patsyuk’s dinner and many others – shine with distinctively Gogolian humour and play over the incessant laughter of the public… The film is made excellently, including the minute details which create the reality of the Ukrainian life.


The Night Before Xmas 1913

Noch pered Rozhdestvom (original title)

Based on Gogol’s story: It’s Christmas Eve, and everyone in the village has plans. The devil and the witch Solokha are looking for ways of causing mischief. Chub the Cossack just wants some vodka. Solokha’s son, Vakula the smith, wants to court Chub’s charming daughter Oksana, who sets him on a quest: if Vakula will bring her the tsaritsa’s shoes, Oksana will marry him. Meanwhile, the popular Solokha has a series of male visitors to contend with. When Vakula interrupts her, it sets off a chain of events that leads to a busy night for everyone.
– Written by Snow Leopard

Director: Wladyslaw Starewicz
Writers: Nikolai Gogol (story), Wladyslaw Starewicz
Stars: Ivan Mozzhukhin, Olga Obolenskaya, Lidiya Tridenskaya



The Life of the Jews in Palestine 1913


The life of the jews in Palestine


An invaluable historical document, Russian-made 1913 documentary “The Life of the Jews in Palestine” was assumed lost for decades until a print was discovered in 1997 in France’s National Film Archives. Now restored to excellent condition, the feature provides a fascinating, if highly selective, travelogue-style tour of Jewish settlements, historic sites and the surrounding landscapes nearly a century ago. Fests worldwide, particularly those centering on Jewish, human rights and silent material, will find this a compelling artifact; educational outlets can avail themselves of the Jerusalem Cinematheque’s vid release, which features additional background info (researched and scripted by Ya’Kov Gross) as well as a musical score (by Eli Aharon).
By Dennis Harvey
Director: Noah Sokolovsky

The Telephone Girl and the Lady 1913

the telephone_girl_and_the_lady_s-187095245-large

A telephone operator hears a robbery in progress over the Phone and goes in search for help.

Director: D. W. Griffith
Production company: Biograph Company
Cinematography: Billy Bitzer
Screenplay: Anita Loos, Edward Acker

Stars: Mae Marsh, Claire McDowell, Alfred Paget

Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life 1913

race for life

Virtuous Mabel rejects the improper advances of a villainous cad. The furious villain and his henchmen then seize Mabel and chain her to a railroad track. Mabel’s anxious boyfriend turns for help to the great Barney Oldfield, who jumps in his racing car and speeds to the rescue.

—Snow Leopard

Director: Mack Sennett

Producer: Mack Sennett
Production company: Keystone Studios
Stars: Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett, Ford Sterling

That Ragtime Band 1913

That Ragtime band

Professor Smelts the band leader gets into a romantic rivalry with one of his musicians over the affections of a pretty girl.
Director: Mack Sennett

Produced by Mack Sennett

Stars: Ford Sterling, Mabel Normand, Nick Cogley