The Irish poet, suffragist, and social activist Eva
Gore-Booth was born on this day in 1870!
A young Eva is pictured in a painting done by her older sister Constance (x).
Eva was born in County Sligo, Ireland on May 22, 1870. Her
parents were Sir Henry and Lady Georgina Gore-Booth of Lissadell. She lived a
very privileged life as the third out of five children to be born to the Baron
and Baroness of Lissdale House, an estate which had been in her family for
generations. As a child she was somewhat of a globetrotter and accompanied her
father on trips to places such as Jamaica, Cuba, San Francisco, and Montreal.
While in Venice, Eva was struck with a sudden respiratory
illness and was sent to the countryside villa of a family friend to recuperate.
It was there, in Bordighera, Italy, where she met her life partner Esther
Roper. After their health was restored, Eva and Esther settled down in Manchester, England and began to rise to political prominence.
Despite coming from a very wealthy and notable family, Eva became active in
leftist political circles of northern England and many credit her and Esther’s
work with getting working class English women politically conscious and linking
them up with the suffragist scene. Eva was a member of the executive council of
the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and joined the Labour Party
later on in life.
Photos of Eva Gore-Booth and her partner Esther Roper are placed side by side. After Eva’s death in 1926, Esther followed suit not long after in 1939. (x)
In the midst of all her activism, Eva was also a gifted poet
and dramatist. She was most well-known for her evocative poetry that directly questioned
sexual and gender mores of the time; along with her fellow poet friends, Eva started
a journal called Urania. Many interpret the title to be a reference to the word
“Uranian,” which was a nineteenth century term psychologists and scientists
used to refer to gay people. Urania published poems and essays about women
loving women, about suffragists who had experienced the front lines of protests
and had come in contact with police brutality, and about how gender was a social
construct. Eva, in spite of being a demure and shy woman, was ahead of her
time. She passed away on June 30, 1926 in London. She is buried next to her
life long love and partner, Esther, and her tombstone reads “"Life that is
Love is God" – a quote from the poet Sappho.