Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Constance Lytton

signature image

Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Constance Lytton
b. 1869, Vienna; d. 1923, location unknown

Constance Lytton's childhood was spent in India, where her father, Lord Lytton, served as viceroy. In 1908, a meeting with Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Annie Kenney converted her to the suffrage cause. She joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and shortly became one of its most militant members. Imprisoned in 1909, she was released on the basis of her social position. Angry over the preferential treatment, in future actions she adopted a false identity, that of Jane Wharton, London seamstress, experiencing first-hand the appalling treatment accorded her working-class sisters. Her exposé, published in the London Times in 1910, generated a good deal of public discussion and by 1911 prison conditions had improved. However, repeated jailings and hunger strikes took a toll on her health, and Lytton suffered a stroke. Until her death in 1923, she continued to write pamphlets; her Prisons and Prisoners (1914) influenced prison reform.

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