Between 1891 and 1893 Davison studied at Royal Holloway College. She later spent a term in 1895 at St Hugh's Hall, Oxford, and that summer achieved a first-class degree in English in the Oxford University examination for women.
From 1906 Davison worked as an organiser for the WSPU. In 1911 she came to public attention when, to avoid taking part in that year's census, she hid in a cupboard at the Houses of Parliament.
Davison was imprisoned eight times for her suffragette activism and suffered forced feeding. She is now remembered for her dramatic protest at the Epsom Derby in June 1913 when she ran in front of the king’s horse, Anmer.
Seriously injured in the collision, Davison died four days later. Her public funeral in central London was accompanied by a large procession, from Bloomsbury to King's Cross, in support of the suffrage cause.