Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography (Paperback) book cover

Christabel Pankhurst

A Biography

By June Purvis

© 2018 – Routledge

568 pages | 28 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780815371496
pub: 2018-01-19
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9780415279475
pub: 2018-01-19
Available for pre-order

FREE Standard Shipping!
e–Inspection Copy


Together with her mother, Emmeline, Christabel Pankhurst co-led the single sex Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded in 1903 and soon regarded as the most notorious of the groupings campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women. A First Class Honours Graduate in Law, the determined and charismatic Christabel, a captivating orator, revitalised the women’s suffrage campaign by rousing thousands of women to become suffragettes, as WSPU members were called, and to demand rather than ask politely for their democratic citizenship rights. A supreme tactician, her advocacy of ‘militant’, unladylike tactics shocked many people, and the political establishment.

When an end to militancy was called on the outbreak of war in 1914, she encouraged women to engage in war work as a way to win their enfranchisement. Four years later, when enfranchisement was granted to certain categories of women aged thirty and over, she stood unsuccessfully for election to parliament, as a member of the Women’s Party.

In 1940 she moved to the USA, with her adopted daughter, and had a successful career there as a Second Adventist preacher and writer. However, she is mainly remembered for being the driving force behind the militant wing of the women’s suffrage movement.

This full-length biography, the first for forty years, draws upon feminist approaches to biography writing to place her within a network of supportive female friendships. It is based upon an unrivalled range of previously untapped primary sources.

Table of Contents


1 ‘Every struggling cause shall be ours …’ (1880-1888)

2 Growing up in an atmosphere of politics (1889-1891)

3 Sisterly rivalry (1892-1896)

4 Young womanhood (1897-1902)

5 Foundation and early years of the WSPU (1903-1904)

6 Christabel and Annie go to prison (1905)

7 To London as strategist of the WSPU (1906)

8 Rapid growth of WSPU and splits (1907)

9 Greatest living speaker of her day (1908)

10 ‘Remember the dignity of your womanhood’ (1909)

11 Personal sorrow and a truce (1910)

12 ‘Rise up women!’ (1911)

13 Escape to France (January 1912 – end of June 1912)

14 Break with the Lawrences (July 1912 – December 1912)

15 The arson campaign and moral crusade (January 1913- end of September 1913)

16 Troublesome sisters: ousting of Sylvia and a fresh start for Adela (October 1913 – end of August 1914)

17 War years abroad (October 1914- end of April 1917)

18 Co-leader of the Women’s Party (May 1917- October 1918)

19 Parliamentary candidate and single parent (November 1918- end of July 1921)

20 Second Adventist Ministry (August 1921 – end of June 1928)

21 Elizabeth/Betty/Aurea (July 1928 to summer 1940)

22 Resident in the United States (1941-56)

23 Final years (1957-1958)

24 Legacy

About the Author

June Purvis is Emeritus Professor of Women’s and Gender History, University of Portsmouth, UK. She has published extensively on the suffragette movement in Edwardian Britain, her Emmeline Pankhurst: a biography (Routledge, 2002) receiving critical acclaim. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Women’s History Review, the Editor for a Women’s and Gender Book Series with Routledge, the Chair of Women’s History Network and the Secretary and Treasurer of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History.

About the Series

Women's and Gender History

Recent years have witnessed a variety of challenges to the legitimacy of women's history, ranging from the deconstructions of French theory to the advent of 'gender' studies with its post-feminist implications. This series aims to re-establish women's history and to continue to challenge the assumptions of much mainstream history.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Reference