3 April 1974
In 1895 the progressive Labour candidate Richard Pankhurst fails to be elected as the MP for Gorton in Manchester but assures his wife Emmeline and elder daughters Christabel and Sylvia that one day socialism will triumph. Three years later he has died of stomach ulcers with art student Sylvia, who kept a vigil by his bed, feeling guilty. Emmeline opens a shop but maintains strong links with the Labour movement through its leader Keir Hardie and, whilst Sylvia is more interested in social work, Christabel becomes a fierce spokesperson for female suffrage due to her friendship with feminist Eva Gore-Booth. After Sylvia has encountered sexism at the local Labour club Emmeline decides to form her own party the Women's Social and Political Union.
10 April 1974
Northern mill worker Annie Kenney, fifth of eleven children, is inspired by a speech given by Christabel, with whom she demands votes for women at a Liberal meeting, resulting in them both being imprisoned. Annie travels to London with the Pankhursts, meeting Keir Hardie, who introduces her to Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, an enlightened couple whom she persuades to assist the union with funds and facilities. Not only is Annie extremely good at getting donations from sympathizers but proves herself to be an outstanding orator at the union's first public meeting at the Caxton Hall.
17 April 1974
Through patronage of an arts movement for working class girls high-born Lady Constance Lytton meets members of the W.S.P.U. and, whilst sympathetic to the cause, opposes militant action. However, as she discovers government bigotry and intransigence and realizes that her family name has no influence in helping the movement her attitude changes. She is arrested and imprisoned after a demonstration but finds that her title gives her privileges denied other convicts and consequently adopts the name Jane Warton for further campaigns. As a result she is subjected to the barbarities of force-feeding and, whilst she survives long enough to see female enfranchisement, her prison experiences exacerbate her heart condition, subjecting her to life as an invalid.
24 April 1974
In 1910 composer Ethel Smythe joins the union, writing its anthem The March of the Women though the Pankhursts are more concerned with Asquith's rejection of the Conciliation Bill, which would offer limited female suffrage. As a result they embark upon a more aggressive campaign of window smashing and sabotage. Mrs Pankhurst and the Pethick-Lawrences are jailed and Christabel escapes to France, from where she plans a greater degree of militancy, to the dismay of the more moderate Sylvia and Mr and Mrs Pethick-Lawrence.
Season 1, Episode 5: Outrage1 May 1974
Disturbed by Christabel's militancy and aggressive attitude Sylvia moves to the East end of London to start the East London Federation of Suffragettes, aiming to improve the lives of working women. Meanwhile the government enforces harsher measures against the union members, leading to more extreme acts of defiance such as Mary Richardson's destruction of Velazquez's painting the Rokeby Venus and the demonstration by Emily Davison at the Derby, leading to her death.
8 May 1974
Weakened by another spell in prison Sylvia Pankhurst joins her mother on a visit to Christabel in Paris but the sisters clash over Sylvia's support for Irish Home Rule. Indeed Christabel's elitism and disregard for the role of working class women in the W.S.P.U. leads Sylvia to form a breakaway group, causing a rift with her mother. Militarism is put aside on the outbreak of war and Mrs Pankhurst insists that women can be instrumental in the war effort though again Sylvia's pacifist view puts her odds with her family. Ironically it is the role of women in helping win the conflict that would appear to contribute to their enfranchisement in 1918, rather than their militarism or suffering.
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