I seem to have a very informal research strand developing this year uncovering archaeologists suffrage activities – see my post on Jessie Mothersole at the 1911 Christmas Bazaar, and my short piece for the Imperial War Museum's WomensWork100 project on Agnes Conway's interests in suffrage. The British Newspaper Archive has come up trumps again. This time, it's Margaret Murray.
Just weeks before war would be declared, suffrage newspaper The Vote noted that Margaret Murray would be one of a number of women participating in a "Costume Dinner and Pageant" to be held in the Hotel Cecil on 29 June 1914.
The event was co-organised by the Women Writers' Suffrage League and the Actresses' Franchise League. Now, unless Murray had a stage career that I'm unaware of (unlikely), it seems highly probable that she was affiliated with the Women Writers' Suffrage League. By this point, she had published several archaeological articles and books, including her popular volume of (translated) Ancient Egyptian Legends in the intriguing "Wisdom of the East" series. That April, Ella Hapworth Dixon's article "The Woman's Progress" in the Ladies Supplement to the Illustrated London News had named Murray as "An Antiquary of Note", partly on the strength of her published work.
For the dinner, women (and some men) of the day who supported women's suffrage campaigns were asked to don fancy dress to represent famous celebrities from history, stationed at various tables throughout the event space. Each figure was introduced by Cicely Hamilton, founder of the Women Writers' Suffrage League.
These historical celebrities weren't just British, though British historical celebrities far outnumbered those of other nations and regions. Egypt, "Asia" (including China, Japan and the Middle East), France, Italy, Finland, the United States were all represented. Murray was the person in charge of the Ancient Egypt table. A review of the event published days afterwards in Vote noted that "Queen Ta-usert" (Twosret), who ruled Egypt in the 12th century BC (and whose jewellery had been discovered in 1908) made an appearance. Whether Murray was actually in costume as Ta-usert/Twosret is unfortunately not stated. But I'd like to think so.
In reviewing the event the "Special Costume Diner" of Votes for Women described the memorable fancy dress dinner, which attracted hundreds of attendees, as a "sensation" of mingling with "people who mattered in bygone days impersonated by people who matter today." Of which Margaret Murray was one.
Dixon, E. 1914. "The Woman's Progress". Ladies Supplement to the Illustrated London News[British Newspaper Archive] 18 April.
Park, S. 1997. The First Professional: The Women Writers' Suffrage League. Modern Language Quarterly 57 (2): 185-200.
Sheppard, K. 2012. The Life of Margaret Alice Murray: A Woman's Work in Archaeology. Plymouth: Lexington Books.
Thornton, A. 2018. Archaeologists in Print: Publishing for the People. London: UCL Press.
The Vote. 1914. "Costume Dinner and Pageant" [British Newspaper Archive] 12 June: 121.
The Vote. 1914. "Women of All the Ages" [British Newspaper Archive] 3 July: 181-2.
Votes for Women. 1914. "A Pageant of Famous Men and Women" [British Newspaper Archive] 3 July: 618.