Emmeline Pankhurst Biography

(English Political Activist Who Organised the UK Suffragette Movement)

Birthday: July 15, 1858 (Cancer)

Born In: Moss Side, Manchester, United Kingdom

Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement. She was born into a family with a tradition of radical politics and married Richard Pankhurst, a lawyer and a firm believer in the social and political emancipation of women and his ideas did a lot to bolster her belief. She founded the Women's Franchise League, which fought to allow married women to vote in local elections. She helped found the more militant Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) - an organization that gained much notoriety for its activities and whose members were the first to be christened 'suffragettes’. Her daughters Christabel and Sylvia were both active in the cause. British politicians, press and public were astonished by the demonstrations, window smashing, arson and hunger strikes of the suffragettes. Like many suffragettes, she was arrested on numerous occasions and went on hunger strike herself, resulting in violent force-feeding. This period of militancy was ended abruptly with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. She turned her energies to supporting the war effort. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave voting rights to women over 30. She died shortly before women were granted equal voting rights with men.
Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Emmeline Goulden

Died At Age: 69


Spouse/Ex-: Richard Pankhurst (m. 1879–1898)

father: Robert Goulden

mother: Sophia Jane Craine

children: Adela Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Francis Henry Pankhurst, Henry Fransis Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst

Quotes By Emmeline Pankhurst Feminists

political ideology: Women's Party, Conservative Party

Died on: June 14, 1928

place of death: Hampstead, London, United Kingdom

City: Manchester, England

  • 1

    What impact did Emmeline Pankhurst have on the women's suffrage movement?

    Emmeline Pankhurst was a key figure in the women's suffrage movement in the UK. She co-founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), which used militant tactics to draw attention to the cause of women's voting rights.
  • 2

    How did Emmeline Pankhurst's activism contribute to the eventual granting of women's suffrage in the UK?

    Emmeline Pankhurst's activism and leadership were instrumental in raising awareness and pushing for women's suffrage in the UK. Her efforts, along with those of other suffragettes, eventually led to the Representation of the People Act 1918 which granted some women the right to vote.
  • 3

    What were some of the challenges faced by Emmeline Pankhurst in her fight for women's suffrage?

    Emmeline Pankhurst faced numerous challenges in her fight for women's suffrage, including opposition from the government, society, and even within the suffrage movement itself. She also endured imprisonment and hunger strikes as a result of her activism.
  • 4

    How did Emmeline Pankhurst's approach to activism differ from other suffragists of her time?

    Emmeline Pankhurst's approach to activism was more militant and confrontational compared to other suffragists of her time. She believed in direct action and civil disobedience as a means to draw attention to the cause of women's suffrage.
  • 5

    What role did Emmeline Pankhurst play in the broader women's rights movement beyond suffrage?

    Emmeline Pankhurst's advocacy extended beyond women's suffrage to other aspects of women's rights, including issues such as labor rights, education, and political representation. She was a prominent voice for gender equality and social justice.
Childhood & Early Life
Emmeline was born on 15 July 1858, in Manchester, England, to Robert Goulden, a successful businessman and Sophia Jane Craine, who were politically active folks. She was one of eleven siblings and the eldest amongst her sisters.
An avid reader, she read the Odyssey, The Pilgrim's Progress, Carlyle's The French Revolution: A History, and Stowe’ Uncle Tom's Cabin, and at 15, was admitted to the École Normale de Neuilly in Paris.
Her parents did not give importance to their daughters’ education, expecting them to marry young. Her mother received the Women's Suffrage Journal, and Pankhurst was full of admiration for its editor, Lydia Becker.
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She met and began a courtship with Richard Pankhurst, a 44 year old barrister who had supported women's suffrage, freedom of speech and education reform and they wed in 1879.
At her Russell Square home, she hosted a variety of guests including US abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, Indian MP Dadabhai Naoroji, socialist activists Herbert Burrows and Annie Besant, and French anarchist Louise Michel.
In 1888, when Britain's first nationwide coalition of groups advocating women's right to vote, the National Society for Women's Suffrage (NSWS), split, Pankhurst aligned herself with the group called" Parliament Street Society (PSS).
The PSS was reluctant to advocate on behalf of married women. Pankhurst and her husband helped organize the Women's Franchise League (WFL) dedicated to voting rights for all women – married and unmarried in1889.
The WFL was considered a radical organization, since apart from women's suffrage; it supported equal rights for women in the areas of divorce and inheritance, advocated trade unionism and sought alliances with socialist organizations.
She met Keir Hardie, a socialist from Scotland. He was elected to parliament in and in 1893 helped to create the Independent Labor Party (ILP). She resigned from the WLF and joined the ILP.
She distributed food to poor men and women through the Committee for the Relief of the Unemployed. In 1894, elected Poor Law Guardian in Chorlton-on-Medlock, she was appalled by the conditions in the Manchester workhouse.
Following the death of her husband in 1898, and left with a significant amount of debt, she resigned from the Board of Guardians and became a paid Registrar of Births and Deaths in Chorlton.
In 1900 she was elected to the Manchester School Board.
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In 1908, when she tried to enter Parliament to deliver a protest resolution to Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, she was charged with obstruction and sentenced to six weeks in prison.
The exclusive focus of the WSPU on votes for women was the hallmark of its militancy. The WSPU insisted on separating itself from parties which did not make women's suffrage a priority.
She led a protest march of 300 women in 1910 to meet PM Asquith who refused audience. The women marchers were treated brutally by the police. The incident became known as Black Friday.
Hunger strikes, window smashing, protest marches, courting arrests, and imprisonments became order of the day. In 1912, she was arrested, released and rearrested 12 times, serving a total of about 30 days jail
When the First World War broke out, she called off the suffrage campaign and the government released all suffragist prisoners. She established an adoption home at Campden Hill for babies of single mothers.
Pankhurst visited North America in 1916 and the United States and Canada, raising money and urging the US government to support Britain. She visited Russian and met with Alexander Kerensky, the Russian Prime Minister.
The 1918 Representation of the People Act removed property restrictions on men's suffrage and granted the vote to women over the age of 30 and the WSPU reinvented to become the Women's Party.
She joined the Conservative Party and in 1928 ran as a candidate for Parliament but her campaign was pre-empted by her ill- health.
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Major Works
Breaking away from the ILP, in 1903, she and several colleagues founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), open only to women and focused on direct action to win the vote.
The efforts of the WSPU bore fruit when The 1918 Representation of the People Act granted the vote to women over the age of 30 and the WSPU reinvented to become the Women's Party.
Personal Life & Legacy
Emmeline married Richard Pankhurst in 1878 and they had five - Christabel, Estelle Sylvia, Francis Henry, Adela and finally Henry Francis - named after his deceased brother. Richard died in 1898 leaving her in great debt.
Her daughters were active with the WSPU, but differences between her and her daughter Sylvia became apparent with the latter cultivating ties with socialists and becoming an unwed mother for which she was never forgiven.
She died on 14 June 1928 due to illness, at the age of 69.
Sylvia's 1931 book, The Suffrage Movement, criticizes her mother's for betraying the movement while Christabel’s book, Unshackled: The Story of How We Won the Vote, described her as selfless to a fault.
Facts About Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was known for her quick wit and sense of humor, often using satire and clever wordplay to make her points during speeches and rallies.
Despite being a prominent figure in the suffragette movement, Pankhurst also had a softer side and was known to be a loving mother and wife to her family.
Pankhurst had a love for fashion and was often seen wearing elaborate hats and stylish clothing, using her sense of style to stand out and draw attention to her cause.
In addition to her activism, Pankhurst was a talented writer and speaker, using her skills to effectively communicate her message and inspire others to join the fight for women's rights.
Pankhurst was known to have a fondness for animals, particularly her pet dog whom she adored and often mentioned in her personal writings.

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