The archive consists of articles and essays by Sylvia Pankhurst, her prison discharge notice of 1914, and her correspondence relating to the International Ethiopian Council. The archive also includes articles by her son, Richard Pankhurst, and the correspondence of her daughter-in-law, Rita Pankhurst, relating to Sylvia Pankhurst.
Papers of, and relating to, Sylvia Pankhurst
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960) was the second daughter of Richard Marsden Pankhurst (1835-1898) and Emmeline Pankhurst née Goulden (1858-1928). She was educated at Southport High School for Girls and Manchester High School for Girls and trained as an artist at the Manchester Municipal School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Sylvia, along with the rest of her family, was socially and politically active. Initially she became involved in the Independent Labour Party and in the militant activities of the Womens Social & Political Union (WSPU), which had been founded by her mother and her sister, Christabel. In 1912/1913 she founded the East London Federation of the Suffragettes (from 1916 The Workers Suffrage Federation and from 1918 the Workers Socialist Federation) and also became increasingly involved with social welfare work in the East End of London. As a pacifist, during the First World War Sylvia became a member of the Executive Committee of the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom. During and after the War she became progressively more occupied with revolutionary left-wing activities, briefly joined the Communist Party, and in 1921 formed the Communist Workers Party. Throughout this period she participated in international socialist networks and her political writings were published widely, including in leading foreign socialist journals. In 1924 she left the East End and moved to Woodford Green. In the inter-war period she also became involved in assisting Italian and Jewish refugees and in supporting the republican cause in Spain. In the 1930s Sylvia continued to write extensively and also became involved in anti-fascist campaigns, organising the Womens International Matteotti Committee. In the 1930s she also became interested in Ethiopia and took up the cause of Haile Selassie, founding the New Times and Ethiopia News in 1936. In 1939 she supported the Second World War on anti-fascist grounds. In 1956 Sylvia moved to Addis Ababa and continued to write and publish. She died in Sep 1960.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.
Donated by Sylvia Pankhurst's son, Richard, in August 2002 (2002/27). With additional deposits in 2003 ( 2003/53 and 2003/55).
Other Finding Aids
The Women's Library Catalogue