2009-2015: News & Background Information

TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE – News & Background Information

By Kate Willoughby

TO FREEDOM'S CAUSE by Kate Willoughby



We’ll be updating this page with new developments about the play.






The #Emilymatters campaign team presented two performances as part of the first Woman Up! London event over the August Bank Holiday weekend. They included scenes from TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE as well as new material inspired by our #‎Votingmatters campaign.


This new more interactive piece is part of the future plans for the #Emilymatters campaign, to which TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE remains an important part of.



Kate represented the #Emilymatters campaign team and gave the first performance of the new Emily Davison speech from TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE at the inaugural meeting of the York branch of the Women’s Equality Party.

Here’s a short extract from the finale of the speech, which was inspired by Emily Davison’s writings – from the bravery of the suffragettes to the battles ahead.

See Kate’s blog for more information about this performance and the accompanying storify.



On Thursday 13th February 2014, an historic event took place in the House of Commons when TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE, Kate Willoughby’s play about suffragette Emily Davison was performed to a packed audience as part of a special event in support of Emily Thornberry MP‘s Emily Davison Statue in Parliament Campaign. The production was directed by Brian Astbury.


TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE should be seen by every woman and teenage girl.
And by anyone who couldn’t be bothered to vote. Moving, stirring & passionate.
–  Jane Garvey, BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour presenter 


Emily Davison was a pioneer in using modern media to promote direct political action. She believed that women and men had the right to be equal citizens.


To Freedoms Cause_Final sc_Jubilee Room_Parliament_13Feb2014_LOGO

‘To Freedom’s Cause’ by Kate Willoughby – historic performance in the House of Commons.
Cast: Kyra Williams, Fiona Geddes, Kate Willoughby, Eleanor Dennison, Darren Godbold.
Photo: Rachel Cochrane, 2014


Therefore as part of the special House of Commons event Kate created the highly successful #Emilymatters social media campaign, which continues to highlight gender equality issues, using the right to vote as well as support organisations who work to redress the balance.

There are exciting developments in the pipeline for the play as part of the #Emilymatters initiative, so please keep in touch.

Powerful legacy: the bravery of Emily Davison & her sister suffragettes in campaigning for the right to vote still resonates today.

Voting is just the start. We’re busy planning future creative projects that will encourage young people and women, not only to vote, but to step up and lead.

You can find our more about #Emilymatters and TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE on:


Background Information:

On 4th June 1913 suffragette Emily Wilding Davison made her final brave protest at the Epsom Derby and it’s been a privilege to have toured TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE as part of an important series of Emily-related events in 2013. However, I strongly believe that Emily Davison’s legacy stretches far beyond this historic year and that TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE has a part to play in bringing her story to a new generation.

At the heart of TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE is the strong bond between a mother and her daughter. It was reading Margaret Davison’s moving last letter to her daughter that first inspired me to write the play:


I cannot believe
that you could have done such a dreadful act.
Even for the Cause, which I know you have
given up your whole heart & soul to & it
has done so little in return for you.


Two years after I came across Margaret’s letter at the Women’s Library the play first took to the stage for performances at Bolton Castle and The Friar’s Head pub, Akebar in North Yorkshire. The director, Chris Wheatley, with whom I have worked on all my plays to date, continues to be a fantastic supporter of TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE.



Onwards to victory! TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE Cast shot at Finghall station.
The play premiered at Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire in the summer of 2009.
Photo: Chris Wheatley, 2009


Since 2009 audiences across Yorkshire, the North East, Epsom and London have been an integral part of the play’s development.

In the latter stages of development Emily’s close family ties with Northumberland returned to the fore. I had always sensed that there was much more to Emily than her rather dour faced Public image and so through continued research and conversations with relatives (of both Emily and Herbert Jones, the King’s Jockey, who also features in the play) I discovered even more about the North East’s ‘Lawless Lassie’.

Music and song remain an important element in the play. The suffragettes were known for their singing. It helped to keep their spirits up during the long spells of imprisonment. In addition to some of the more familiar suffragette songs, traditional Northumbrian songs offered an insight into Emily’s strong family ties with the North East.


 TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE – in rehearsal for the 2014 House of Commons performance.
With Eleanor Dennison (Flora ‘General’ Drummond), Fiona Geddes (Miss Smith)
& Rhona Finch (Musical Director).


Although born in London, it was Emily’s Northumbrian grit that saw her through the difficult times she would face during her adult life, from having to leave university after her father’s death to the 49 times she was forcibly fed in prison. Fondly remembered as a bright sunbeam and generous in nature; people warmed to her.

The brutalities of the State may have battered and bruised her, made her stumble, but her belief in equality and women’s suffrage drove her to push the boundaries even further in order to attain her goal.

However, the intense nature of the Votes for Women campaign had many unforeseen consequences.


TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE is the powerful story of some of the people who came into contact with
Emily, who changed her life and whose lives she changed. 


Emily’s final, iconic act involved the King’s jockey, Herbert Jones. A celebrated sportsman at the peak of his career, Herbert’s life would decades afterwards end in tragedy. However, Herbert’s later life has often been misrepresented and so in TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE I seek to redress this.

Over the years there has been a great deal of speculation about Emily’s motivation for stopping Anmer, the King’s horse: Was it suicide?  Was it naïve?  Or was it just an accident?  TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE offers some insight into the exact truth of the situation.

Working on TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE has been a labour of love and I would like to thank everyone who has helped me develop this fresh retelling of Emily Wilding Davison’s story. A fun-loving, vivacious woman, whose courage, in the face of adversity, can inspire us all.


2FC_aud_Dickie James2_13Feb14



At a time when voting apathy is commonplace, TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE provides a timely reminder of the sacrifices made by an earlier generation, so that we can live in a modern democracy.


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TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE schools workshops in Northumberland
Photo: Peter McCartney, The Morpeth Herald, 2013


There are exciting times ahead so please do get in touch!

You can find more about TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE and its accompanying social media campaign #Emilymatters on:


 Kate Willoughby
Actor & Writer of Emily Wilding Davison play TO FREEDOM’S CAUSE