A Fellow Prisoner (Miss Janie Allan)
Author: Anon [M M'P]
Publication: Holloway Jingles
Publication type: Chapbook
Janie Allan (1868-1968)
A full copy of this poem is available.
Archive/Library: National Library of Scotland
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).