Research notes of Betty Vernon regarding Ellen Wilkinson

Scope and Content

Predominantly handwritten and typed notes of Betty D. Vernon on Ellen Wilkinson for her book 'Ellen Wilkinson, 1891-1947', as well as newspaper clippings and transcriptions relating to Ellen Wilkinson, personal accounts of Ellen Wilkinson, correspondence with those who knew Ellen Wilkinson and works, and transcriptions of works, by Ellen Wilkinson herself.

Administrative / Biographical History

Research notes of Betty D. Vernon for her book 'Ellen Wilkinson, 1891-1947' published in 1982.

Ellen Cicely Wilkinson (8 Oct 1891-6 Feb 1947) was a 20th century British politician, born to Richard Wilkinson and Ellen Wood in Manchester. She joined the Independent Labour Party at the age of sixteen and was a founding member of the British Communist Party in 1920.

Ellen Wilkinson attended The University of Manchester between 1910 and 1913 gaining an upper second class history degree, before completing an MA in 1914. During her time at the University of Manchester she was a member of the Fabian Society, the Debating Society and the National Union of Women's Suffrage. In the General Election of 1924, Ellen Wilkinson was elected as the MP for Middlesbrough East, and gained the nickname 'Red Ellen' because of her fiery coloured hair and her strong left political views, although she lost the seat in 1931.

In November 1935 she became the MP for Jarrow in Tyneside, a small and economically depressed town in the North East of England. In October 1936 Ellen Wilkinson was involved in organising the Jarrow March (sometimes known as the Jarrow Crusade), in which 207 unemployed men marched from Jarrow to London to lobby Parliament about the unemployment and the extreme poverty suffered in the North East of England during the Great Depression. Ellen Wilkinson walked much of the 300 miles with them.

Ellen Wilkinson was heavily involved in the Hire Purchase Bill of 1938. In Clement Atlee's government in 1945, Ellen Wilkinson became Minister for Education, (1945-1947), the first female to hold the post, and only the second female British Minister. One of her most memorable achievements was the raising of the school leaving age, which she did not live to see. She died in 1947.

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Conditions Governing Use

Betty D. Vernon

Custodial History

Donated by Betty Vernon in Sep 1995