Emmeline Pankhurst


Emmeline Pankhurst was the oldest of ten and raised by politically active parents. They were abolitionists and supporters of female suffrage, introducing Goulden to her first women's suffrage meeting at just 14 years old. She became Emmeline Pankhurst in 1879 when she married Dr. Richard Pankhurst who supported a number of radical causes, including women's suffrage. He was significantly older than Emmeline and passed away in 1898, leaving her grieving with five children.

Pankhurst continued to dedicate her life to politics and in 1903 created the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) whose slogan was "Deeds Not Words." They were the first group to approach women's suffrage using militant methods which, in the beginning, consisted of buttonholing politicians and holding rallies. Just over ten years later after numerous failed conciliation bills and little progress, WSPU members began breaking windows, vandalizing public areas, and committing arson.

The *Daily Mail*, a British national newspaper, nicknamed these women "suffragettes" as a play on the word "suffragists." Suffragists desired the same cause but followed less confrontational channels. Pankhurst was arrested numerous times and spent a significant time in prison. By the time World War I came about, Pankhurst was focused on protecting the country first. She called for a halt to militant protests and the government released all WSPU prisoners.

Pankhurst encouraged women to take on factory jobs to enable men to go to war. These efforts helped convince the British government which eventually granted them limited voting rights. Pankhurst died on June 14, 1928, just 18 days before Parliament gave women the same voting rights as men.

Formal portrait of Emmeline Pankhurst taken in November 1913.


"We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.”



Emmeline Pankhurst (left) with her daughters Christabel (center) and Sylvia (right) at Waterloo Station, London on October 4, 1911.
Pankhurst being arrested outside Buckingham Palace, London, whilst trying to present a petition to King George V in May 1914.



Learn More

Read through Garrison’s Bartley, Paula. Emmeline Pankhurst. Routledge, 2002. , available digitally from Accessible Archives through the library. Find them in the Mckay Library McKay Library Call No. JN979.P28(ONLINE) library catalog.


Works Cited

Emmeline Pankhurst Biography (2018), from Biography Newsletter, available at "https://www.biography.com/activist/emmeline-pankhurst"v=jFGW5kMu5pA

125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage,” available from "https://officeforwomen.sa.gov.au/womens-policy/125th-anniversary-of-suffrage"