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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Christabel Pankhurst

b. 1880, Manchester, England; d. 1958, Los Angeles

Christabel Pankhurst was the eldest daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and Dr. Richard Pankhurst. In 1903, Christabel, her mother, and her sister Sylvia founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), through which they conducted a militant campaign to obtain the vote for women. Christabel was one of the ablest organizers of the campaign. In 1905, with Annie Kenney, she delivered the opening volley by disrupting a Liberty Party meeting in Manchester in 1905. Her subsequent jailing made news around the world. From then on, as secretary of the WSPU, she developed a variety of pressure tactics—hunger strikes, direct action, destruction of property—that kept the movement in the public eye for a decade. In 1908, she organized a rally in London’s Hyde Park that drew more than 500,000 supporters. During the war, the Pankhursts called a truce in the suffrage campaign and recruited for war service. Christabel and Emmeline formed the Women’s Party in 1917 with a twelve-point program that combined fervent nationalism with a demand for full women’s equality; by this time, both women had abandoned socialism. Partial franchise was achieved in 1918, full franchise in 1928. Christabel emigrated to the United States and became an evangelical Christian.