Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography



Despite her prominent role in the women’s suffrage movement in Great Britain, Christabel Pankhurst has not received the same degree of attention from scholars that had been given to her mother Emmeline or her sister Sylvia. In Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography (Routledge, 2018), June Purvis offers a thorough accounting of her life, revealing the full extent of her contribution to the campaign to win for women in Britain the right to vote.

The eldest daughter of Emmeline and Richard Pankhurst, Christabel grew up in a household in which commitment to social reform was stressed as the highest value. Even before her graduation from university Christabel helped establish the Women’s Social and Political Union, which won national prominence through its pursuit of militant activism. Though Christabel’s activities forced her to move to France in 1912 in order to avoid arrest, she returned soon after the start of the First World War in order to support her nations war effort. Her belief that such support would earn women the vote partly validated in 1918 with a restricted extension of the franchise to women, yet her disillusionment with the conflict led Christabel to become a Second Adventist by the wars end. As Purvis details, the oratorical skills that made her such a successful campaigner for women’s suffrage were just as effective in her new role as a preacher, and she continued her efforts on behalf of her newfound faith to the end of her life.



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