Born Emmeline Goulden, she was raised in Manchester by a family with a tradition of radical politics. Despite official records showing that Pankhurst was born on 15 July 1858, she always claimed to have been born on 14 July – coinciding with Bastille Day, marking the start of the French Revolution.
In 1879, she continued the theme of activism and married lawyer Richard Pankhurst, who was the author of the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882. The act allowed women to keep earnings or property gained before and after marriage.
Following her husband’s death in 1898, Pankhurst founded the Women’s Franchise League, fighting to allow married women to vote in local elections.
In 1903, Pankhurst helped to establish the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – an organisation that would adopt more militant tactics in the fight for female suffrage.
The union became known for its physical confrontations, through window breaking, assaulting police officers, arson and hunger strikes, alongside political protests.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Pankhurst halted her militant campaign and began concentrating on the war effort.
In 1918, some women were granted the vote under the Representation of the People Act – an act which Pankhurst is credited with helping to achieve.
Across the UK, 14 July has been adopted as Emmeline Pankhurst Day. Women’s rights groups such as the Women and Equalities Committee and people across social media are today paying tribute to the suffragette.
“I would rather be a rebel than a slave.”
“We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they an help to free the other half.”
“We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.”
“You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not show you under, if you are really going to get your reform realised.”
“Deeds not words.”
“Trust in God – she will provide.”
“You must make women count as much as men; you must have an equal standard of morals; and the only way to enforce that is through giving women political power so that you can get that equal moral standard registered in the laws of the country. It is the only way.”
“Justice and judgment lie often a world apart.”
“Men make the moral code and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.”
“Women had always fought for men, and for their children. Now they were ready to fight for their own human rights.”
“Once they are aroused, once they are determined, nothing on earth and nothing in heaven will make women give way, it is impossible.”
“We were willing to break laws that we might force men to give us the right to make laws.”