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.

chapter |10 pages


chapter 1|11 pages

‘Every Struggling cause shall be Ours . . .’


chapter 2|13 pages

Growing Up in an Atmosphere of Politics


chapter 3|15 pages

Sisterly Rivalry


chapter 4|15 pages

Young Womanhood


chapter 5|19 pages

Foundation and early years of the WSPU


chapter 6|19 pages

Christabel and Annie go to prison


chapter 7|21 pages

To London as strategist of the WSPU


chapter 8|26 pages

Rapid growth of the WSPU and splits


chapter 9|29 pages

Greatest living speaker of her day


chapter 10|31 pages

‘Remember the dignity of your womanhood’


chapter 11|26 pages

Personal sorrow and a truce


chapter 12|30 pages

‘Rise up women!’


chapter 13|22 pages

Escape to France

January 1912–end of June 1912

chapter 14|27 pages

Break with the Lawrences

July 1912–end of December 1912

chapter 15|25 pages

The arson campaign and moral crusade

January 1913–end of September 1913

chapter 16|30 pages

Troublesome sisters

Ousting of Sylvia and a fresh start for Adela: October 1913–end of August 1914

chapter 17|30 pages

War years abroad

October 1914–end of April 1917

chapter 18|15 pages

Co-leader of the Women’s Party

May 1917–end of October 1918

chapter 19|22 pages

Parliamentary candidate and single parent

November 1918–end of July 1921

chapter 20|28 pages

Second Adventist ministry

August 1921–end of June 1928

chapter 21|20 pages


July 1928–end of June 1940

chapter 22|22 pages

Living in the United States

July 1940–December 1956

chapter 23|14 pages

Final years


chapter 24|12 pages