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Emmeline Pankhurst and her fellow suffragettes were far and away the most militant feminists in Great Britain in the early 20th century. They smashed windows, spent months in jail, and endured such extreme hunger strikes that the government resorted to force feeding them. And their militancy worked. Under Pankhurst's leadership, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) won the parliamentary vote for women in Great Britain. Purvis, frustrated by previous historians' attempts to diminish Pankhurst's achievements, offers a detailed account of the WSPU leader's daring approach to militancy and argues that partial enfranchisement would not have been granted in 1918 without Pankhurst's leadership. "What is frequently overlooked," says Purvis, "is that Emmeline and her militants changed the way in which women were perceived by people generally, including politicians." The narrative occasionally gets bogged down in stiff prose and too much detail to maintain an easy forward momentum; nevertheless, the book offers a needed revisionist view of a bold and charismatic feminist leader. Suitable for academic libraries. Amy Strong, South Portland, ME Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'What Purvis does for Emmeline Pankhurst in her new biography is to provide a detailed, scrupulous, excellently researched retelling of the story, and thus offer a vindication of the woman.' - Michael Foot, The Guardian 'The product of careful and thorough research, offering in many respects an important corrective to established views ... Purvis has tracked down surviving letters in many scattered collections, as well as patiently trawling through newspaper reports of Emmeline's speeches, and gaining exclusive access to the late Jill Craigie's collection of suffrage material' - Mark Bostridge, Times Literary Supplement