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15 February 2017

The Returning Officer: Mary Pickford

By Stephen Brasher

Mary Pickford, a Conservative, was elected as the MP for Hammersmith North in London in 1931, having fought Farnworth, Lancashire, in 1929.

Born in 1884 (eight years before the film star of the same name), she was a factory inspector during the First World War. In 1928 she took part in a meeting in Burnley aimed at newly enfranchised female voters. The local paper noted: “There was no doubt that some . . . were under the impression they were to have a close-up view of the celebrated film star.” The meeting was followed by a dance, and “many had put on their dancing slippers prior to arrival”.

Taken ill in March 1934, she died of pneumonia a few days later. The resulting by-election was won by Labour’s Fielding West, who died of cancer less than two years later.

Stephen Brasher

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This article appears in the 08 Feb 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The May Doctrine