Iris Woodmore is strongly influenced by her suffragette mother, Violet.
Violet Woodmore first encounters Emmeline Pankhurst in Hyde Park in 1911 when she listens to the suffragette leader delivering a speech. At the time, Violet is living in the small market town of Walden in Hampshire with her young daughter Iris and her journalist husband. She feels her world is a small one compared to her husband’s and that she’s gone from being a daughter to a wife to a mother without considering what she wants from life.
Violet is determined her daughter will have more opportunities than she had and moves the family to London. She hopes to find work as a writer. Instead, she joins the Pankhursts’ militant Women’s Social and Political Union, whose motto is ‘Deeds not Words’, and carries out campaigns of vandalism.
Iris is thirteen years old when her mother is first sent to Holloway Prison for acts of civil disobedience. Like her fellow suffragettes, Violet goes on hunger strike in protest against being classified as a criminal prisoner instead of a political prisoner.
Despite two spells in prison, Violet’s dedication to the cause never wavers. She believes women should have the vote at any cost.
On 21st May 1914, Emmeline Pankhurst organises a march to Buckingham Palace to deliver a petition to the King. Aware that the police have all been sent to patrol the march, Violet breaks into the Ladies’ Gallery of the House of Commons to vandalise the metal grilles that have become a symbol of women's exclusion from Parliament.
When Violet leaves the House of Commons something happens that causes her to fall into the River Thames, and she later dies in hospital.
Death at Crookham Hall is set in 1920 when a twenty-one-year-old Iris investigates the cause of her mother’s death in 1914. Although she feels anger towards the suffragettes for her loss, she uses her position as a journalist to continue their fight for equality.
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