Katie Edith Gliddon

Probable portrait of Katie Edith Gliddon in ink and brush by Walter Sickert (c1912)

Katie Edith Gliddon (6 May 1883 – 1 September 1967) was a British watercolour artist and militant suffragette. She was a member of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU} for whom she campaigned for which she was imprisoned in Holloway Prison in 1912. Specialising in painting flowers, in her later years she was a teacher of painting and drawing.

Early years

Katie Gliddon was the model for In an Alcove (1902) by her relative and fellow-suffragette Helen Margaret Spanton

Gliddon was born in Twickenham in Middlesex in 1883, the daughter of Margaret Martha née Lelean (1860–1941) and Aurelius James Louis Gliddon (1857-1929), a minister for the United Reformed Church (1882-1884) and a homeopathist.[1] The 1911 Census lists him as a General Merchant and Investment Broker and Katie Edith as an artist, she having studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1900 to 1904 under Frederick Brown and Henry Tonks.[2] Her younger sister Gladys Evelyn Gliddon (1886-1969) was also listed as an artist.[3] Her younger brother Lt. Maurice Gliddon MC (1892-1917) was killed in action during World War I.[4][5]


Katie Gliddon's prison cell in Holloway Prison - drawn by her in 1912 in her copy of The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Gliddon joined the Croydon branch of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in about 1910 at about the same time that her brother Cuthbert Paul Gliddon was acting as an organiser of the Men's Political Union for Women's Enfranchisement. He campaigned under the name 'Charles Gray' to save his parents' embarrassment while Katie Edith went under the pseudonym 'Catherine Susan Gray' for the same reason. By 1911 she had published articles on women's suffrage in several newspapers. The New York-based Davis & Langdale Company lists an ink and brush painting titled ‘Gliddon’ by the artist Walter Sickert from about 1912 which almost certainly portrays Katie Gliddon as she knew Sickert's sister Helena Swanwick, who was also an activist for women's suffrage.[6] In addition, both Gliddon and Sickert were members of the New English Art Club.

In March 1912 she smashed the window of a Post Office in Wimpole Street and was arrested and sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour in Holloway Prison[7] which she served during March and April 1912.[8] Expecting to be imprisoned for her actions Gliddon had sewn pencils into the collar of her coat and used these to write and illustrate a secret prison diary in the margins of her copy of The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley.[2] Gliddon's sentence of hard labour was sewing and she wrote in her prison diary that she deliberately sewed badly.[9]

Later years

After World War I Gliddon became a successful watercolour artist specialising in painting flowers,[10] exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Arts, the New English Art Club, the Society of Women Artists and the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours among other galleries.[8][11] In 1927 she illustrated French Poetry for Children by Archibald Watson Bain.[12] In 1939 she was living in Woking in Surrey where she was listed as a Teacher of Drawing.[13]

After a career as an art teacher[8] she retired to 10 Southey Road in Worthing in West Sussex and died in Worthing in 1967 aged 84.[14] A friend and relative was the fellow-suffragette Helen Margaret Spanton. She never married. Her papers, drawings and original prison diary are in the Women's Library, having been donated by her nephews.[8][15]

In 2019 the Museum of Croydon held an exhibition to commemorate her life and her link with the town.[16]


  1. ^ History of Twickenham United Reformed Church - Twickenham United Reformed Church website
  2. ^ a b Anne Schwan, 'Bless the Gods for my pencils and paper’: Katie Gliddon's prison diary, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the suffragettes at Holloway' - Women's History Review, Volume 22, 2013 - Issue 1, Pages 148-167: Published online 07 December 2012
  3. ^ 1911 England Census for Katie Edith Gliddon: Surrey, Croydon, South Croydon - Ancestry.com (subscription required)
  4. ^ Maurice Gliddon MC - Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers - A Surrey Heritage (Surrey County Council) project
  5. ^ Lieutenant Maurice Gliddon, Royal Field Artillery - The National Archives
  6. ^ Portrait of 'Gliddon by Walter Sickert - Davis & Langdale Company, Inc
  7. ^ England, Suffragettes Arrested, 1906-1914 for Catherine Gray: HO 45/24665: Suffragettes: Amnesty of August 1914: Index of Women Arrested, 1906-1914 - Ancestry.com (subscription required)
  8. ^ a b c d Papers of Katie Edith Gliddon - Women's Library Archives
  9. ^ Elizabeth Chapman, "The Women’s Library Moves: Deeds Not Words", (2013). Proceedings of the Charleston Library Conference - Purdue University
  10. ^ Artwork of the Month - November 2007: Flowers by Miss Katie Edith Gliddon - Guernsey Museum at Candie - States of Guernsey: Culture and Heritage database
  11. ^ Johnson & Greutzner, Dictionary of British Artists; Royal Academy of Arts (1978) Royal Academy Exhibitors 1905–1970: a dictionary of artists and their work in the summer exhibitions of the Royal Academy of Arts, Vol. III (Wakefield: EP Publishing)
  12. ^ Archibald Watson Bain, (1927) French Poetry for Children, illustrated by Katie Gliddon (London: Macmillan)
  13. ^ 1939 England and Wales Register for Katie E Gliddon: Surrey, Woking UD - Ancestry.com (subscription required)
  14. ^ England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 for Katie Edith Gliddon 1967- Ancestry.com (subscription required)
  15. ^ The Papers of Katie Edith Gliddon - Women's Library Archive - London School of Economics website
  16. ^ 'New exhibition celebrates legacy of inspirational Croydon suffragette' - Your Croydon: Newsletter of Croydon Council - 10 January 2019

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