TBR Challenge: Emmeline Pankhurst by Paula Bartley

Genre: Biography, History, Women’s Rights

Narrative Style: Third person, academic

Rating: 3/5

Published: 2002

Format: Paperback

Synopsis: Bartley’s biography takes us from Emmeline’s childhood, through her early years in Manchester, her move into militancy and her work on sexual health after the fight for suffrage was won.

Reading Challenges – TBR Challenge 

Time on shelf: Not entirely sure but my mam bought it for me and she died six years ago so at least that long.

I guess I suspected that this might be hard going as I left it until last to read for this challenge. While I am interested in the fight for the vote and Emmeline herself seemed to be quite a character, this was a bit of a drag to read. I don’t read much in the way of political biographies (or even biographies at all, if truth be told) so I don’t know if the style is typical but I did find it a bit dry.

Obviously, the most interesting part was Pankhurst’s years of militancy in the run up to the first world war and that is undoubtedly her main legacy. The rest of her story paled in comparison to those years. The main thing that kept the interest through the rest of the biography was the sheer force of Pankhurst’s personality and her inability to deal with people who did not completely agree with her. This let to many splits with members of the WSPU, not to mention her father and her daughter, Sylvia. Emmeline expected total and utter loyalty to her and her ideas and if that couldn’t be managed then she had no problem with cutting all ties.

I’m glad to have read the biography and have a little more knowledge of a very important woman but I’d be lying if I said I’d 100% enjoyed it. If you have a more academic interest than no doubt this would be a useful resource but for the more causal reader, not so much.

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