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The Pankhursts and the Great War

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Abstract

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.1 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 window-breaking of shops in London’s East End took place, empty buildings and pillar boxes were set on fire and paintings in art galleries attacked.2

Keywords

  • Labour Party
  • Hunger Strike
  • Home Front
  • Woman Suffrage
  • Parliamentary Vote

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© 2007 June Purvis

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Purvis, J. (2007). The Pankhursts and the Great War. In: Fell, A.S., Sharp, I. (eds) The Women’s Movement in Wartime. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230210790_9

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

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