Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928) was a leader of the British suffragette movement and an activist for women’s rights. Her 40-year campaign to secure equal voting rights for women became a reality just days after her death in 1928. Here you can find out more about this strong-willed and courageous woman who stood up for her beliefs and changed the lives of British women forever. Scroll down to read our short biography and find our collection of learning resources, colouring pages and worksheets.

A Short Biography of Emmeline Pankhurst

Fun Facts:

Emmeline’s birth certificate says she was born on 15th July 1858, but she always claimed her birthday was 14th July. Perhaps this was to mark Bastille Day in France, which celebrates a key moment in the French Revolution when the people of Paris stormed the Bastille (a fortress prison). Emmeline once said, “I have always thought that the fact that I was born on that day had some kind of influence over my life.”

Emmeline Pankhurt Quotes

“I would rather be a rebel than a slave.”
Emmeline Pankhurst

"We shall fight against the condition of affairs so long as life is in us.”
Emmeline Pankhurst

A Short Biography of Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst was born Emmeline Goulden in 1858 in Manchester, England, the eldest of ten children. Her parents, Robert and Sophia, were political activists who supported women’s suffrage (right to vote). Emmeline’s mother took her to a women’s suffrage meeting when she was just 14.

At 15, Emmeline went to a finishing school in Paris and on her return met Richard Pankhurst, a lawyer and supporter of women’s rights. Although he was 24 years older, they married in 1879, and had five children together: Christabel, Sylvia, Adela, Frank and Harry. Frank died in childhood.
    
Emmeline was a busy wife and mother, but she supported her husband’s work and involved herself in women’s rights movements. She campaigned for better working conditions in Manchester’s workhouses and supported the London Matchgirls Strike (when girls protested at their 14-hour working days). Then with Richard’s help, she founded the Women’s Franchise League (WFL), successfully campaigning for married women to vote in local elections.

In 1898, when Emmeline and Christabel were visiting Switzerland, Richard fell ill.  They returned at once, but it was too late: Emmeline read that Richard had died in a newspaper on the train from London to Manchester. She was now a single parent supporting four children. She moved to a smaller home and began working as a registrar for births and deaths.

Emmeline’s passion for women’s rights was still strong but she wasn’t keen on political groups of the time. So, in 1903, she helped to found the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and became their leader. The WSPU wanted to secure equal voting rights for women, using the slogan ‘Deeds Not Words’. Before long, the press named them ‘suffragettes’ (as opposed to the more moderate suffragists).

Emmeline’s daughters were involved in the movement, and in 1905, Christabel was arrested for interrupting a government meeting. Actions like these drew publicity as well as new members, and soon the group began harassing politicians, holding rallies, smashing windows, starting fires, sending letter bombs and chaining themselves to railings.

WSPU members, including Emmeline, were imprisoned many times, and they began hunger strikes for more publicity. Then in 1913, WSPU member Emily Davison threw herself under the king’s horse at the Derby in protest, and died.

Everything changed with the outbreak of war in 1914. Emmeline called off the campaign and encouraged women to take men’s jobs, so that men could fight for their country. The government freed all suffragettes from prison. The war was a defining moment in the suffragette movement, changing the government’s view of women completely. In 1918, women over 30 were given the right to vote. Although men could vote at 21, so many young men had died in the war that the age difference prevented men becoming a minority. Women over 21 could be elected to Parliament.

Emmeline went to live abroad for a time, returning to England in 1926. She became a member of the Conservative Party, but her health began to deteriorate and she died in 1928, aged 69. Just 18 days later, the Conservative government gave women equal voting rights with men (at 21). Emmeline’s life mission had finally become a reality.

Our Emmeline Pankhurst Resources

Emmeline Pankhurst Colouring Page

Emmeline Pankhurst Colouring Page

Help younger children become familiar with Emmeline Pankhurst by printing this colouring page and asking them to colour in her picture.

Emmeline Pankhurst Comprehension

Emmeline Pankhurst Comprehension

Are you learning about suffragettes and Emmeline Pankhurst at the moment? Our comprehension worksheet tells the kids a few facts and story of her life, then asks them to answer some questions at the end.

Emmeline Pankhurst Factsheet

Emmeline Pankhurst Factsheet

Our easy-to-read factsheet is a great introduction to the life and achievements of Emmeline Pankhurst - you can also use it as a learning tool alongside some of our Emmeline Pankhurst activities. 

Emmeline Pankhurst Interview Worksheet

Emmeline Pankhurst Interview Worksheet

This worksheet asks the kids to imagine they are interviewing the famous suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst - what would be some good questions to ask her, and what would the audience like to hear? 

Emmeline Pankhurst Notebooking Page

Emmeline Pankhurst Notebooking Page

This handy notebooking page has a photograph of Emmeline Pankhurst  - can the children find out about her interesting life and record it on this handy page, and maybe draw a picture in the space provided? We also have a version with just lines too.

Emmeline Pankhurst Poster

Emmeline Pankhurst Poster

Here's a cartoon-style poster of leading British women's rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst, to print and display at home or in the classroom. 

Emmeline Pankhurst Poster 2

Emmeline Pankhurst Poster 2

This photograph shows Emmeline Pankhurst, intrepid suffragette and campaigner for women's rights, taken in 1913 - when she was about 55 years old. She looks like she's made of stern stuff, doesn't she?

Emmeline Pankhurst Quote Poster

Emmeline Pankhurst Quote Poster

"I would rather be a rebel than a slave." This quote poster features a picture of Emmeline Pankhurst with her famous quote intended to inspire women to fight for the right to vote. 

Emmeline Pankhurst Quote Worksheet

Emmeline Pankhurst Quote Worksheet

"We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers." This simple worksheet asks the children to think about what this famous quote by Emmeline Pankhurst means and then write it in their own words too.&nb

Emmeline Pankhurst Story Paper

Emmeline Pankhurst Story Paper

Our story papers are perfect for younger children researching and writing about famous people. The pages come in lined or handwriting, each with a simple colouring picture. This story paper is about Emmeline Pankhurst, the famous suffragette who helped women gain the right to vote. 

Emmeline Pankhurst Story Paper 2

Emmeline Pankhurst Story Paper 2

This second story paper for Emmeline Pankhurst includes a well-known photo of her in her later years, aged 55. It's perfect for the kids to summarise what they have learned about this determined woman.

Emmeline Pankhurst Trial Worksheet

Emmeline Pankhurst Trial Worksheet

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst was sent to prison many times during the campaign for women's suffrage. This worksheet asks the children to research the crimes she was charged with, then write a speech for the prosecution and one for the defence.

Emmeline Pankhurst worksheet

Emmeline Pankhurst Worksheet

This simple worksheet encourages children to find out a little about Emmeline Pankhurst, and to think about what they would talk about with her, should they meet her!

Emmeline Pankhurst Writing Page

Emmeline Pankhurst Writing Page

Our writing pages are a great way to encourage children to research and write about famous people - in this case, suffragette and women's rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst. 

Another Campaigner for Women's Rights...

Millicent Fawcett
Millicent Fawcett

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