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Red Ellen

Red Ellen

An illustrated talk on the life of Ellen Wilkinson, socialist, feminist, internationalist

30 October 2016

30 October 2016, Red Ellen @ People's History Museum

Time 13:00 - 15:00

Duration 2 hours

Cost In order to keep our events programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation.  Suggested donation £3

The fiery, red-headed Mancunian Ellen Wilkinson began her political career as a Labour councillor in 1923.  She quickly made the leap from local to parliamentary politics, ultimately becoming Britain’s second female cabinet minister in 1945.  Laura Beers’s new biography tells Wilkinson’s story, including her leadership of the Jarrow Crusade and her fearless campaign against fascism.

This illustrated talk offers a new perspective on the Manchester born politician best known for her leadership of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade of 200 unemployed shipwrights and steel workers from the Tyneside to the House of Commons to petition for aid for the region.

Drawing on the extensive research behind her new book Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist, Beers illuminates Wilkinson’s decades long commitment to pursuing social justice both in Britain and abroad, through her support for the unemployed and underpaid workers at home, to her outspoken opposition to continental fascism and to British colonialism, to her work expanding Britain’s education system after World War II and helping frame the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Minister of Education from 1945 to 1947.

Wilkinson was a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920, but left the party four years later, when she became convinced that the Labour Party was the only force capable of effectively taking on the Conservative Party.  Throughout her career, she remained a member of Labour’s leftwing.  Yet, despite her vocal opposition to many of the leadership’s policies, she never went as far as some of her colleagues in the ILP or the Socialist League in splitting from the party.  Her loyalty to the leadership offers insights for those concerned about the current divisions between the centre and the left within the modern Labour Party.

Wilkinson’s lifelong internationalism was another key aspect of her socialism.  Beers’s talk will explore the changing relationship between the British left and Europe from the early 20th through the 21st centuries, and its impact on British politics.

Finally, Beers will discuss Wilkinson’s position as a pioneering female politician and a committed feminist, and how her feminism both encouraged and came into conflict with her socialism.

Suitable for adults and young people

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Booking Requirements:

  • Please note event attendees must arrive at least ten minutes before the start time of the event, otherwise their booked space will be given to someone on the reserve list
  • Please contact the museum as soon as possible if you wish to cancel your reservation so your place can be given to another visitor
  • Please note all donations are non refundable
  • For further information please contact the museum on 0161 838 9190 or email events@phm.org.uk