The importance and coherence of Sylvia Pankhurst’s lifelong activism is revealed by Katherine Connelly’s grasp of her political commitments, making this book an important new account her life
Katherine Connelly, Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire (Pluto 2013), ix, 178pp.
From militant suffragette at the beginning of the twentieth century to campaigner against colonialism in Africa after the Second World War, Sylvia Pankhurst dedicated her life to fighting oppression and injustice.
In this vivid biography Katherine Connelly examines Pankhurst’s role at the forefront of significant developments in the history of radical politics. She guides us through Pankhurst's construction of a suffragette militancy which put working-class women at the heart of the struggle, her championing of the Bolshevik Revolution and her clandestine attempts to sabotage the actions of the British state, as well as her early identification of the dangers of Fascism.
The book explores the dilemmas, debates and often painful personal consequences faced by Pankhurst which were played out in her art, writings and activism. It argues that far from being an advocate of disparate causes, Pankhurst’s campaigns were united by an essential continuity which hold vital lessons for achieving social change. This lively and accessible biography presents Pankhurst as a courageous and inspiring campaigner, of huge relevance to those engaged in social movements today.
'Katherine Connelly has written an important work on my mother Sylvia Pankhurst. Packed with new historical information which makes her life and times come alive it is a fascinating and very readable biography which does much to explain my mother’s political evolution from Suffragette to Anti-Fascist.'(Professor Richard Pankhurst)
'Kate Connelly's book brings to life the politics and personality of one of the most important women in the history of the British left. She does so against a background of the socialist and feminist ideas of the early 20th century, in a way which makes those ideas and her subject relevant to a new generation fighting for their rights.'(Lindsey German, author of How a Century of War Change the Lives of Women)
Kate Connelly is a writer and historian. She led school student strikes in the British anti-war movement in 2003, co-ordinated the Emily Wilding Davison Memorial Campaign in 2013 and is a leading member of Counterfire. She wrote the acclaimed biography, 'Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire' and recently edited and introduced 'A Suffragette in America: Reflections on Prisoners, Pickets and Political Change'.
More articles from this author
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- Strikes, walkouts, and sickouts: how working-class Americans are organising in the time of Covid-19
- Jolly George, 1920: when British workers stood up for revolutionary Russia
- The history of May Day: an unfinished struggle
- Sir Keir Starmer’s deadly crusade: supporting big business and undermining unions - CounterBlast 15 April
- Centrism’s pyrrhic victory - CounterBlast 8 April