Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds

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Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds

Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds

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These men of science then sacked Etta Lemon from the society she’d given her life to, purging her achievement from the records. There is a lot of shocking detail uncovered about the trade in birds as decorative elements for Edwardian hats, so in that regard, Etta was absolutely on point.

The suffragettes got the vote; the conservationists got their ban and founded the largest conservation charity in Europe, the RSPB. I didn’t know who Etta Lemon was, but I settled in for a good read about suffragettes and their fancy outfits.

Few, today, are aware that Britain’s biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, was born through the determined efforts of a handful of women, led by the indomitable Mrs Lemon. Support our vendors this winter and beyond If you can't visit your local vendor on a regular basis, then the next best way to support them is with a subscription to the Big Issue. Ada Nield is a kind-of local celebrity where I live and I'm working on a campaign to commemorate her in statue form, so this bit felt very relevant to me. Instead of following only one person, Boase explores the life of several women affected by the movements of the time. In 1913, Lemon arranged for lighthouses be fitted with perches for migrating birds to rest on, and established a system of "watchers" to monitor vulnerable bird breeding sites.

No natural history of a bird is complete without recording where the last specimen was shot; and should a rare bird visit our shores, the hospitality which we accord to the foreign refugee is denied, and it is bound to be the victim of powder and shot. In the United Kingdom, Etta Lemon campaigned for 50 years against the slaughter of birds for elaborate fashion. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in women’s lived experiences of the past – there’s plenty of diversity here instead of the usual (white, affluent, revolutionary) narrative about suffragettes.Look at Greta Thunberg, the young climate change activist whose unflinching focus has inspired a love-hate following. But the fact remains, these were women in a world of men—and were not spared slights or derision but still persisted with their campaign. This was the long-term home of Etta and her barrister husband Frank Lemon, moving here from Blackheath as newlyweds in 1893. Her previous position was taken up by Frank Lemon, and the couple remained in their posts for the next 31 years. And the wholesale slaughter of migratory birds flying over countries like Malta or the Iberian peninsula has been carrying on apace for many years though I believe the practice is gradually being curtailed.

Together with the wildlife activist Eliza Phillips, [d] in 1889 she founded the all-women Fur, Fin and Feather Folk at Phillips's home in Croydon to campaign against the plume trade.To distill such a vivid story into something as dull as a feather in a hat is a travesty, one that Boase unwinds with her transportive writing. As a narrative non-fiction author, her interests lie in uncovering stories of invisible women, from the 19th and early 20th-centuries.

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