Back around the beginning of the 20th century, author/illustrator Kathleen Ainslie produced a popular series of children’s books based on a doll called Catharine Susan and her doll friend Maria, who narrates the stories. Catharine Susan and Maria are jointed Dutch peg dolls who engage on adventures and shenanigans over 25 delightful books, now collected largely for their whimsical and lovely illustrations.
One book in the series, though, has earned a special place in history: Votes for Catharine Susan and Me, a later volume in the series, has been called (by no less than the British Library) “the only book about suffragettes written for children during the ‘Votes for Women’ campaign.” Published circa 1910, this amazing book shows the two dolls joining the suffragette movement, fighting with police, using a flying machine to distribute their leaflets, landing in jail, and engaging in a hunger strike, even turning down chocolates.
Although the book (disappointingly) ends with the two dolls assuring authorities that they’ll return home quietly, it’s nonetheless a surprising book and one that possibly turned a few young heads.
We recently acquired a significant collection of children’s books, which contained a few of Ainslie’s little gems…including a copy of Votes for Catharine Susan and Me, now a very scarce and highly sought-after title. Our copy is in very nice shape – a good-plus copy with light sunning and wear to wraps, one small pencil note on the rear cover, corners slightly bent, and minor foxing and staining. It’s priced at $450.