The Pankhursts and the Great War

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Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU or Union) on 10 October 1903 as a women-only organisation that would campaign for the parliamentary vote for women in Edwardian Britain. Over the next eleven years, until the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, she was to become the most notorious of the suffrage leaders, renowned not only for her charisma, powerful oration, courage and determination but also for the fact that she was willing to endure 13 imprisonments in order to wring from an obdurate Liberal government women’s right to full citizenship. During the early years of the WSPU campaign, the suffragettes had engaged in mild militancy, such as the assertive questioning of leading Liberal MPs expected to form the next government, and marches and deputations to parliament. Gradually, however, these forms of protest had been extended to include the destruction of property, especially from 1912 when mass windowbreaking of shops in London’s East End took place, empty buildings and pillar boxes were set on fire and paintings in art galleries attacked.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Women's Movement in Wartime: International Perspectives 1914-1919
EditorsA. Fell, I. Sharp
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)0230019668
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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