Red Ellen

Red Ellen

The Life of Ellen Wilkinson Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist

Book - 2016
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Harvard University Press

In 1908 Ellen Wilkinson, a fiery adolescent from a working-class family in Manchester, was “the only girl who talks in school debates.” By midcentury, Wilkinson had helped found Britain’s Communist Party, earned a seat in Parliament, and become a renowned advocate for the poor and dispossessed at home and abroad. She was one of the first female delegates to the United Nations, and she played a central role in Britain’s postwar Labour government. In Laura Beers’s account of Wilkinson’s remarkable life, we have a richly detailed portrait of a time when Left-leaning British men and women from a range of backgrounds sought to reshape domestic, imperial, and international affairs.

Wilkinson is best remembered as the leader of the Jarrow Crusade, the 300-mile march of two hundred unemployed shipwrights and steelworkers to petition the British government for assistance. But this was just one small part of Red Ellen’s larger transnational fight for social justice. She was involved in a range of campaigns, from the quest for official recognition of the Spanish Republican government, to the fight for Indian independence, to the effort to smuggle Jewish refugees out of Germany.

During Wilkinson’s lifetime, many British radicals viewed themselves as members of an international socialist community, and some, like her, became involved in socialist, feminist, and pacifist movements that spanned the globe. By focusing on the extent to which Wilkinson’s activism transcended Britain’s borders, Red Ellen adjusts our perception of the British Left in the early twentieth century.


Ellen Wilkinson viewed herself as part of an international radical community and became involved in socialist, feminist, and pacifist movements that spanned the globe. By focusing on the extent to which Wilkinson’s activism transcended Britain’s borders, Laura Beers adjusts our perception of the British Left in the early twentieth century.

Baker & Taylor
In 1908 Ellen Wilkinson, a fiery adolescent from a working-class family in Manchester, was "the only girl who talks in school debates." By midcentury, Wilkinson had helped found Britain's Communist Party, earned a seat in Parliament, and become a renowned advocate for the poor and dispossessed at home and abroad. She was one of the first female delegates to the United Nations, and she played a central role in Britain's postwar Labour government. In Laura Beers's account of Wilkinson's remarkable life, wehave a richly detailed portrait of a time when Left-leaning British men and women from a range of backgrounds sought to reshape domestic, imperial, and international affairs. Wilkinson is best remembered as the leader of the Jarrow Crusade, the 300-mile march of two hundred unemployed shipwrights and steel workers to petition the British government for assistance. But this was just one small part of Red Ellen's larger transnational fight for social justice. She was involved in a range of campaigns, from the quest for official recognition of the Spanish Republican government, to the fight for Indian independence, to the effort to smuggle Jewish refugees out of Germany. During Wilkinson's lifetime, many British radicals viewed themselves as members of an international socialist community, and some, like her, became involved in socialist, feminist, and pacifist movements that spanned the globe. By focusing on the extent to which Wilkinson's activism transcended Britain's borders, Red Ellen adjusts our perception of the British Left in the early twentieth century.--

Book News
Beers traces the life of Ellen Wilkinson, a woman who helped found the British Communist Party and served as the tenth woman to gain a seat in parliament. While providing Wilkinson's biography, Red Ellen also conveys a period in British and international history when more women began participating in international politics. The book is based on research that came from Wilkinson's correspondence, newspaper articles, and Wilkinson's involvement in activist and political organizations. Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2016
ISBN: 9780674971523
0674971523
Branch Call Number: 328.41 WILKINSO BEERS
Characteristics: viii, 532 pages, 26 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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