Christabel Pankhurst was a lawyer and co-founder of the W.S.P.U., which was also known as the Women’s Social Political Union. Christabel was the daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, and born on September 22, 1880, in Manchester, England. Christabel is most known for the militant tactics that essentially gave the suffragettes their name. As a suffragette, she would usually rely on a more aggressive stance to spread her opinions on women’s right to vote. Along with her mother Emmeline, she had a younger sister named Sylvia. All three were powerful suffragettes.
Christabel helped her mother establish the W.S.P.U. This union battled for the women’s right to vote. Christabel’s first main movement against the unjust rights for women was in 1905 with her friend Annie Kenney when they interrupted a Liberal Party meeting holding up a banner that said, “Votes for Women.” Annie Kenney was a former W.S.P.U member. The two were forced to leave, but that did not stop them. They then tried to make a speech outside the Free Trade Hall where that meeting was being held. Unfortunately, they were both arrested shortly after, and Christabel was given the nickname “Queen of the Mob” from the press. After they were released, however, Christabel spoke in that same building at a meeting of the Independent Labour party. With her law degree, Christabel was a very powerful spokesperson for the W.S.P.U. At her most famous speech in June of 1908, at London’s Hyde Park, 500,000 people rallied together to hear her. Later that October, Christabel was cross-examining government officials in court.
Christabel and her mother Emmeline were then imprisoned for two and a half months for encouraging the suffragists to storm Parliament. In 1912, the W.S.P.U started to use more aggressive tactics. Christabel was once again under threat of arrest, but this time for conspiracy. She would then escape to Paris, France in 1913. In France, she edited the newspaper called The Suffragette. Along with her job as an editor, Christabel also conducted the organization’s militant actions all the way from her safe place in Paris. The next year, in 1914, she also supported the war versus Germany. Two years after her exile, Christabel would then move back to England. At the end of WWI, women were given the right to vote in England. In 1918, she went into the election as a Women’s Party Candidate. However, she lost to a candidate of the Labour Party named John Davison. Following WWI and the W.S.P.U’s disbanding, she became an evangelist, preaching about the second coming of Jesus Christ. In 1936, Christabel was honored by King George the Fifth, being named, “Dame of the British Empire.” Four years later she moved to the United States of America. Christabel then died in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 1958. Throughout Christabel Pankhurst’s inspiring life, she paved the way for many female lawyers, speakers, and activists to follow their dreams and make a difference in the world today.