Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel

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Sylvia Pankhurst died in Ethiopia in 1960, far from her roots. While the name ‘Pankhurst’ will likely ring a bell, ever-associated with the women’s suffrage movement, Sylvia took more and different paths.

She was born in 1882, in Manchester, a hive of England’s 19th-century industrial protest. Despite conforming to the pattern of goal and hunger, early on, her final years were spent in northeast Africa, an appropriate time and place to draw the curtains.

Motivated in part by intense personal grief at her father’s death, Sylvia took her future into capable hands, aspiring to further her gift as an artist into a career. Alongside Emmeline, her mother, sister Christabel, and a group of fiercely dedicated women in the suffrage years, she later wrote several important books as well publications including an enduring newspaper. She moved progressively leftward as an anti-fascist and anti-Imperialist activist and pro-Russian communist believer.

As well as her accomplishments on artistic, writing, and political fronts, Sylvia managed a remarkable personal life: Holmes shares the details with obvious enjoyment. She became the lover of Keir Hardie many years her senior, the founder of the British Labour Party. Subsequently, her partner for thirty years was Silvio Corio, the high profile Italian anti-fascist activist, and thus the Ethiopian connection. At forty six-years-old she bore a son. Her mother, so unconventional in youth, could not accept her daughter’s unmarried motherhood and never saw her grandson.

Rachel Holmes is a splendid biographer, delivering well over eight hundred with a graceful, engaging touch. Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel is undeniably lengthy but readers will turn the pages eagerly rather than close the book too soon, unintimidated by the ferocity of an exceptional, lifelong rebel.


Reviewed By:

Author Rachel Holmes
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 976 pages
Publisher Bloomsbury
Publish Date 2020-Dec-15
ISBN 9781408880418
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2021
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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