A NEW play celebrating the life of Nelson suffragette and Labour campaigner Selina Cooper is set to be premiered in the town early next month.

A ‘promenade performance’ of Hard-Faced Woman, by the Function Factory theatre company will tour her town over three nights.


Cooper was one of four women selected to lobby Prime Minister Herbert Asquith in 1910 over universal suffrage.

And the play’s title harks back to a newspaper headline, which noted that ‘Hard Faced Women Come To Demand The Vote’.

Audience members will tour some of the venues which would have been known to Cooper and her compadres, including the old Booth Street library.

Actor Shaun Hennessy, who has appeared in Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge, is leading the cast for the production, penned by Yvonne Pinnington.

The writer, who also has Cold Light Singing – The Pendle Witches Story on her CV, has enlisted the support of Nelson Brass Band for the run over three nights from September 8.

Yvonne said: “Selina Cooper has long been a heroine of mine, but her story has been much overshadowed by the more flamboyant style of the Pankhursts. It’s time she got the recognition she deserves.

“I want this to be a real experience for the audience. The performance will also feature live music from Nelson Brass as well as a vintage café for the interval break.”

Cornish-born Cooper moved first to Barnoldswick with her mother Jane, in 1876, after her father Charles Combe succumbed to typhoid fever, to secure work in the cotton mills.

Her mother died in 1889 and Selina later joined the Nelson branch of the Cotton Workers Union. Her self-education was triggered by classes at the town’s Women’s Co-operative Guild and within a few years she had joined the Independent Labour Party, where she met her husband, Robert Cooper.

She would later form the Nelson and District Suffrage Society, and was then elected as a councillor and served as a magistrate, before her death in 1946.

For tickets contact Nelson Library.