Thu, 16 May 2019, 19:00
Bishopsgate Institute, London (UK), Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London
Launch event at Bishopsgate Institute
Bishopsgate Institute and Pluto Books present an evening in conversation with Katherine Connelly. Historian and biographer of Sylvia Pankhurst, Katherine Connelly will be discussing her edition of Sylvia Pankhurst’s previously unpublished writings on North America: A Suffragette in America: Reflections on Prisoners, Pickets and Political Change. Katherine Connelly will be in discussion with Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition and author of How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women.
Published for the first time, this is Sylvia Pankhurst’s text based on her experiences during two lecture tours of North America in 1911 and 1912. As an English militant suffragette who had twice been imprisoned, she sought to win transatlantic support for the campaign and was expected to appeal to progressive elites. Pankhurst identified instead with the marginalised in American society, and it was their stories she wanted to hear and record. The resulting manuscript was a powerful indictment of American capitalism, describing the huge fortunes of an elite few amassed by terrible levels of exploitation and oppression. Repulsed by the stark inequalities, Pankhurst was nevertheless profoundly inspired by the struggles for change. In writing that is vivid and experimental, Pankhurst recalls the courageous strike of laundry workers in New York, the appalling conditions in the prison cells of Chicago, and the horrific racism she witnessed in Tennessee. This exciting work testifies to Pankhurst’s efforts to link the women’s movement to wider struggles for democracy and emancipation. On her return to Britain, these efforts would change the course of suffrage history.
Copies of A Suffragette in America will be on sale at the event at a discounted price of £10 (normally £16.99), with cash, card and contactless payments accepted and a book signing will take place at the end.