Ethel Moorhead

Born 1869, died1955

Ethel Moorhead’s father was an army surgeon, and the family lived in India, Mauritius and South Africa before settling in Dundee. Three brothers and her sister, Alice, all became doctors. Moorhead trained as an artist in Paris at Whistler’s studio, returning to Dundee keep house for her ageing parents. Her own studio, shared with a Miss Oliphant, was in the King Street Arcade, Dundee (now demolished). She exhibited her paintings widely, including in Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Dublin. She was a strong supporter of the campaign for women’s suffrage, joining the Dundee branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and taking part in direct action in Scotland and London. She smashed windows and a showcase at the Wallace Monument in Stirling, threw an egg at Winston Churchill and pepper at the police, and was involved in several arson attempts. After she was arrested and imprisoned, she went on hunger strike and became the first suffragette to be forcibly fed in Scotland. In the 1920s, Moorhead travelled in Europe and started an arts magazine, This Quarter, with a young poet named Ernest Walsh. Writers and artists of note including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Brancusi contributed to the journal. She died in Dublin in 1955.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Entry by Mary Henderson
Dundee Women's Trail
Mary Henderson and the Dundee Women's Trail