Writing suffragette history: the contending autobiographical narratives of the Pankhursts

June Purvis, M. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On 10th October 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Politica Union (WPSU), an organisation that was to become the most notorious of the groupings campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women in Edwardian England. Their militant campaign was led by Emmeline and her eldest daughter Christabel, the WPSU's Chief Organiser, the two younger Pankhurst Daughters, Sylvia and Adela, also becoming active in the movement. While all four women wrote accounts of the campaign, the focus here is on the published autobigraphical narratives of the three elder Pankhurst women - Emmeline's 'My own story' (1914), Sylvia's 'The suffragette movement' (1931), and Christabel's 'Unshackled' (1959). In particular, the ways in which these women presented themselves and each other, and how they related the story of their private family relationships as mother, daughters and sibling, is explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-433
Number of pages29
JournalWomen’s History Review
Issue number3/4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


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