To D. R. in Holloway
Author: Joan Lavender Baillie Guthrie (1889-1914)
[also known as Laura Grey]
Publication: Holloway Jingles
Publication type: Chapbook
Dorothea Rock (1881-1964)
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 by militant suffragettes serving sentences 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 'Laura Grey', the alias of Joan Lavendar Baillie Guthrie, an actress and suffragette who committed suicide by overdose of barbiturates in 1914 'during temporary insanity' (a report of her suicide appears in The Scotsman 12 June 1914, p. 8). 'Grey' is known to have participated in hunger strikes. The poem is addressed to 'D. R.', presumably Dorothea Rock, the sister of Madeline Caron Rock (M. C. R.), who published a poem in Holloway Jingles. The poem describes 'D. C.' walking across the prison yards and as she strokes her hair, pigeons rise from the ground. Her hands, 'Grey' writes, 'held a key / To set imprisoned spirits free' - a symbol for setting women (and the imprisoned suffragettes) free.