Deeds Not Words

June Purvis explores the career of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Emmeline Pankhurst is remembered as the heroine of  the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU or the Union), the most notorious of the groups campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women on equal terms with men in Edwardian Britain. She founded the WSPU in 1903 as a women-only organisation and under her leadership the deeds of her followers grabbed the imagination of the public.

The popularity of the suffragette movement was evident when Midge Mackenzie’s television series, Shoulder to Shoulder, was shown in 1974. Twenty-five years later, Emmeline Pankhurst topped the polls among Observer and Daily Mirror readers as the woman of the twentieth century. However, most historians have presented her in a negative manner.

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