Emmeline Pankhurst: a biographical interpretation

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This article examines a dominant narrative about, Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the most notorious of the groupings campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women in Edwardian Britain. It is claimed that this narrative is to be found in the influential book, The Suffragette Movement (1931), written by one of Emmeline's daughters, Sylvia. In this book, Sylvia portrays her mother as a traitor to the socialist cause, a leader who deliberately encouraged wealthy Conservative women to join the WSPU and who failed to mobilise the working classes, a misguided autocrat who supported a single-issue campaign, a weak woman easily swayed by her eldest daughter, Christabel, and a failed mother who neglected her less favoured children, Harry, Adela and Sylvia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-102
JournalWomen’s History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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