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Emmeline Pankhurst

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Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (July 14, 1858 - June 14, 1928) was one of the founders of the British suffragette movement. It is the name of "Mrs Pankhurst", more than any other, which is associated with the struggle for votes for women in the period immediately preceding World War I.

She was born Emmeline Goulden in Manchester, England to abolitionist parents, and married Richard Marsden Pankhurst, a barrister, in 1879. Dr Pankhurst was already a supporter of the women's suffrage movement, and had been the author of the Married Women's Property Acts of 1870 and 1882. In 1889, Mrs Pankhurst founded the Women's Franchise League, but her campaign was interrupted by her husband's death in 1898. In 1903 she founded the better-known Women's Social and Political Union, an organization most famous for its militancy which began in 1905. Its members included the notorious Annie Kenney, the suffragette "martyr", Emily Davison and the composer, Dame Ethel Smyth. She was joined in the movement by her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, both of whom would make a substantial contribution to the campaign in different ways.

Mrs Pankhurst's tactics for drawing attention to the movement succeeded in getting her imprisoned several times, but, because of her high profile, she did not endure the same privations as many of the imprisoned working-class suffragettes; however, she did experience force-feeding after going on hunger strike. Her approach to the campaign did not endear her to everyone, and there were splits within the movement as a result. Her autobiography, My Own Story, was published in 1914. She died ten years after seeing her most ardently pursued goal come to fruition: the right to vote for women in the United Kingdom.

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