Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst

Daughter to Emmeline, sister to Christabel, Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (English, 1882-1960) was perhaps the most reserved—though no less dedicated—member of the Women’s Social and Political Union’s founding family.  Pankhurst designed banners, posters, and other promotional materials for the militant WSPU, but eventually left, opting to provide practical help to women by instituting a daycare, a Montessori school, inexpensive restaurants, and a well-paying toy factory.  In 1927, Pankhurst had a son, Richard. As a single mother, she thereafter argued that the vast sums of money spent on “engines of destruction … [should] be diverted to the high service of life creation.”  In her book Save the Mothers, Pankhurst lamented the preventable deaths of women and their children, born and unborn, from her native England to imperialist-threatened Ethiopia.

“It is grievous indeed that the social collectivity should feel itself obliged to assist in so ugly an expedient as abortion in order to mitigate its crudest evils.  The true mission of Society is to provide the conditions, legal, moral, economic, and obstetric, which will assure happy and successful motherhood.”

—From “The True Mission of Society,” Save the Mothers, 1930

By Jen Hawkins