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Adela Pankhurst

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adela Walsh
Adela Walsh (taken before 1921)
Personal details
Born Adela Constantia Mary Pankhurst
(1885-06-19)19 June 1885
Chorlton upon Medlock, Lancashire
Died 23 May 1961(1961-05-23) (aged 75)
Wahroonga, Sydney, Australia
Citizenship Australian
Nationality British
Political party Independent Labour Party
Communist Party of Australia
Australia First Movement
Spouse(s) Thomas Walsh
Children 6
Parents Richard Pankhurst
Emmeline Goulden
Relatives Christabel Pankhurst (sister)
Sylvia Pankhurst (sister)
Richard Pankhurst (nephew)
Helen Pankhurst (great-niece)
Alula Pankhurst (great-nephew)

Adela Constantia Mary Pankhurst Walsh (19 June 1885 – 23 May 1961) was a British-Australian suffragette, political organiser, and co-founder of both the Communist Party of Australia and the Australia First Movement.

Early life

Pankhurst was born on 19 June 1885 in Manchester, England, into a politicised family: her father, Richard Pankhurst was a socialist and candidate for Parliament, and her mother Emmeline Pankhurst and sisters Sylvia and Christabel were leaders of the British suffragette movement. Her mother was of Manx descent.[1] Adela attended the all-woman Studley Horticultural College in Warwickshire, and Manchester High School for Girls.


As a teenager, Adela became involved in the militant Women's Social and Political Union founded by her mother and sisters. In November 1909 she joined a protest that disturbed a talk by Winston Churchill at his constituency in Dundee. She was arrested along with Helen Archdale and Maud Joachim.[2] Adela had slapped a policeman who was trying to evict her from the building.

Suffragettes Adela Pankhurst, Jessie and Annie Kenney at Eagle House in 1910
Suffragettes Adela Pankhurst, Jessie and Annie Kenney at Eagle House in 1910

Eagle House near Bath in Somerset had became an important refuge for suffragettes who had been released from prison. Mary Blathwayt's parents planted trees there between April 1909 and July 1911 to commemorate the achievements of suffragettes including Adela's mother and sister, Christabel as well as Annie Kenney, Charlotte Despard, Millicent Fawcett and Lady Lytton.[3] The trees were known as "Annie's Arboreatum" after Annie Kenney.[4][5] There was also a "Pankhurst Pond" within the grounds.[6]

Adela was invited to Eagle House in 1909 and 1910. She planted a Himalayan Cedar on 3 July 1910. A plaque was made and her photograph was recorded again by Colonel Linley Blathwayt.[7]

Her mother's favourite was Christabel and the two of them took the Women's Social and Political Union as their own organisation. They fell out with many of their leading volunteers and supporters and this included Sylvia Pankhurst and Adela. Both of them believed in socialism whereas Emmeline and Chistabel were pushing for the vote for middle class women. Sylvia was ejected from the party and she set up her own splinter group in East London. Christabel is reported to have said to Sylvia "“I would not care if you were multiplied by a hundred, but one of Adela is too many.” Adela was given £20, a ticket to Australia and a letter introducing her to Vida Goldstein.[8]


Following estrangement from her family, Adela emigrated to Australia in 1914. (Her sister Sylvia created a new life for herself in Ethiopia.) Adela's experience of activism enabled her to be recruited during World War I as an organiser for the Women's Peace Army in Melbourne by Vida Goldstein.[9] Pankhurst wrote a book called Put Up the Sword, penned a number of anti-war pamphlets[8] and addressed public meetings on her opposition to the war and conscription. In August 1917, Pankhurst was arrested during a march against rising food prices in Melbourne, which had been part of a series of sometimes violent demonstrations, unusual for the time in that they were spearheaded by women.[10] In September 1917, she married Tom Walsh of the Federated Seamen's Union of Australasia, with whom she had a son and five daughters. In 1920, Pankhurst became a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia, from which she was later expelled.

She became disillusioned with communism and founded the anti-communist Australian Women's Guild of Empire in 1927.[11] In 1941 Pankhurst became one of the founding members of the right wing and nationalistic Australia First Movement. She visited Japan in 1939, and was arrested and interned in 1942 for her advocacy of peace with Japan.[9]

Posthumous recognition

Her name and picture (and those of 58 other women's suffrage supporters) are on the plinth of the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London, unveiled in 2018.[12][13][14]

See also


  1. ^ Bartley, p. 16; Liddington and Norris, p. 74.
  2. ^ "Maud Joachim". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  3. ^ "Eagle House". Images of England. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2008.
  4. ^ Hammond, Cynthia Imogen (2017). Architects, Angels, Activists and the City of Bath, 1765-1965 ": Engaging with Women's Spatial Interventions in Buildings and Landscape. Routledge. ISBN 9781351576123.
  5. ^ Hannam, June (Winter 2002). "Suffragette Photographs" (PDF). Regional Historian (8).
  6. ^ "Book of the Week: A Nest of Suffragettes in Somerset". Woman and her Sphere. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Suffragettes Adela Pankhurst, Jessie and Annie Kenney 1910, Blathwayt, Col Linley". Bath in Time, Images of Bath online. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  8. ^ a b Sparrow, Jeff (December 24, 2015). "'Wayward suffragette' Adela Pankhurst and her remarkable Australian Life". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b Hogan, Susan. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  10. ^ Smart, Judith (May 1986). "Feminists, food and the cost of living demonstrations in Melbourne August-September 1917". Labour History (50): 113–131. doi:10.2307/27508786.
  11. ^ Sparrow, Jeff (December 24, 2015). "'Wayward suffragette' Adela Pankhurst and her remarkable Australian Life". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Historic statue of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett unveiled in Parliament Square". 24 April 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  13. ^ Topping, Alexandra (24 April 2018). "First statue of a woman in Parliament Square unveiled". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Millicent Fawcett statue unveiling: the women and men whose names will be on the plinth". iNews. Retrieved 2018-04-25.

Further reading

  • Verna Coleman Adela Pankhurst: The Wayward Suffragette 1885-1961 Melbourne University Press, 1996
  • Joy Damousi, "The Enthusiasms of Adela Pankhurst Walsh", Australian Historical Studies, April 1993, pp. 442–436
  • Anne Summers, "The Unwritten History of Adela Pankhurst Walsh", in Elizabeth Windschuttle (editor), Women, Class and History, Fontana / Collins, 1980, pp. 388–402

External links

This page was last edited on 20 August 2018, at 09:21
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