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A Fellow Prisoner (Miss Janie Allan)

1918: Representation of the People Act

Author: Anon [M M'P]

Publication: Holloway Jingles

Publisher: Glasgow Branch of the W.S.P.U (Women's Social and Political Union)

Published: 1912

Place of publication: Glasgow, Scotland

Publication type: Chapbook

Featured individuals:
Janie Allan (1868-1968)

A full copy of this poem is available.

Archive/Library: National Library of Scotland
Classmark(s): RBS.s.591
Pages(s): 12-13

This poem appears in Holloway Jingles, a collection of poems written in Holloway Prison during March and April, 1912, which were compiled by a Glaswegian inmate, Nancy A. John, and subsequently published by the Glasgow branch of the W.S.P.U. (the militarist Women's Social and Political Union). The poem is written by M M'P, most likely the Scottish suffragette Margaret McPhun who was also imprisoned in Holloway, who addresses Miss Janie Allan, a militant Glaswegian suffragette who was imprisoned in Holloway after participating in the Central London window smashings of March 1912, who would be force-fed.  She responded by starting a hunger strike (a strategy pioneered by a fellow Scot, Marion Dunlop, in 1909.  Over 10,000 Glaswegians signed a petition to have her released. The poem describes the 'tender sorrow' on Janie Allan's face and tries to explain it - the poem contemplates whether her sorrow is a reflection of 'the misery and the shame / Of these thy sisters - cast away'.  Upon release, Janie Allan would edit a regular column covering suffragette issues for Forward, the Glasgow Socialist paper.  Incidentally, the editors of Forward are believed to have printed the W.S.P.U.'s organ, The Suffragette, for a time.  Margaret McPhun's father, John McPhun, helped establish the People's Palace in Glasgow (The Glasgow Story website).