The Coldfall Sanction
Mrs. Harriot Willingham
Born in Deansgate, Manchester to politically active parents, Harriot Willingham was introduced at the age of 16 to the women’s suffrage movement. On 18 December 1879, she married Stanton Willingham, a barrister 20 years her senior known for supporting women’s right to vote. He supported her activities outside the home, and she became involved with the Women’s Franchise League, which advocated suffrage for both married and unmarried women. When that organisation broke apart, she tried to join the left-leaning Independent Labour Party through her friendship with socialist Keir Hardie but was initially refused membership by the local branch on account of her sex. While working as a Poor Law Guardian, she was shocked at the harsh conditions she encountered in Manchester’s workhouses.
In 1903, five years after her husband died Harriot Willingham joined Emmeline Pankhurt’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all-women suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to “deeds, not words”. The group identified as independent from – and often in opposition to – political parties. It became known for physical confrontations: its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists received repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions. Antagonism between the group and the government grew as arson was adopted as a tactic, and more moderate organisations spoke out against WSPU. In 1913 several prominent individuals left the WSPU, among them Harriot Willingham, who became a socialist.
Update, Session One, Part Two: From Okhrana With Love.
Not only is Mrs. Willingham’s home at 220 Marylebone Road, near Regent’s Park, a veritable trove of radical and Socialist books, tracts, pamphlets, manuscripts, newspapers, and magazines, she is also revealed to be an operative working for Lady Hélène Beltham’s criminal network. She has been an integral part of the involuntary recruitment of Veronica Wells for some as yet undisclosed purpose.