Welcome to Forgotten Women, the podcast that brings history to life. Working alongside Bishopsgate Institute we are striking up a conversation with the past. Finding women who have fought and campaigned so that people of the future can have better lives. This episode explores the life of Sophia Duleep Singh, an active campaigner in the Suffragette movement. Sophia was written by Beverly Andrews and recorded live in June 2018 at South Hill Park Arts Centre. Played by..more info. Directed and produced by Rebecca Alloway. This podcast is funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Please rate, review and subscribe to help other people find the podcast.
I found out about Sophia Duleep Singh through a conversation I had with a fellow playwright. We both commented on the fact that there must have been other women of colour involved in the fight for women’s suffrage and yet we often do not hear their stories. So I became intrigued with finding out about at least one of those stories. Once I started researching Sophia’s life it very quickly became apparent to me why at least her story has to some extent been recorded.
She was famous, being the god-daughter of Queen Victoria. So even though it is possible that there were other women of colour who were involved in the suffragette movement, because of Sophia’s royal connection her activism would not have gone unnoticed while theirs quite probably did. I found Anita Anand’s biography of Sophia’s life particularly insightful since she was able to speak with those who knew Sophia during her life-time. l also discovered that there is some archive material on her at the British Library. I discovered through my research that Sophia’s life spanned two extremely important events in history, the granting of female suffrage and India achieving its independence. A cause she of course, being of Indian descent, fought for. In the course of writing about her life, I feel that her life and her political activism does highlight a very important point and it is that of the intersectionality, how disenfranchisement of any group interconnect to create greater inequality. Be that those who lived in the UK’s former colonies, or women and particularly women of colour. When we disenfranchise any sector of society, we in the end ultimately harm ourselves. In the process of researching her story, it also highlighted to me the need for writers to discover and write about the stories of men and women of colour whose lives can often remain unknown to the general public. I strongly feel that in the process of highlighting their stories we give a much more balanced view of the society we live in. A society, which was developed by waves of migration. Once I researched Sophia’s life I set about finding a way to connect her story to that of ordinary young women living during her time. I therefore created three fictional characters who encounter Sophia while she sold the publication The Suffragette at the entrance of Hampton Court. I wanted to show how in the process of simply meeting her, their lives were changed