Sunday, 14 October 2012

Quotation Station - Richard Pankhurst

"Life is nothing without enthusiasms."

Richard Pankhurst (Richard Marsden Pankhurst)

Pretty much my whole knowledge of the Pankhursts is derived from Barbara Castle`s book Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst, which I`ve owned for about twenty years and only read twice, so I can`t claim to be an authority on the subject.

The Pankhursts are chiefly associated in the public mind with the Suffragette movement, of course. On wider issues, their endless idealogical twistings and turnings can make unintentionally humorous reading.

Richard M Pankhurst began his political life as a Conservative, went on to become a radical Liberal and eventually began to associate himself with socialist causes of his day such as the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party. His wife Emmeline joined her husband in his campaigning for the Independent Labour Party but ended her days a Conservative.

Of their three daughters, Adela was a founding member of the Australian Communist Party but like her mother eventually moved to the right. Christabel evetually became a Second Adventist and disowned her Suffragette past, whilst Sylvia was at one point so far to the left she thought Lenin too moderate.

In fairness to Sylvia, in her post-Communist period she continued to apply herself tirelessly and indeed selflessly to a variety of causes, in some ways anticipating later developments in progressive thinking, for instance in her involvement with Africa. Her son, the younger Richard (Richard Keir Pethick Pankhurst) lives in Ethiopia and is a well-respected author/historian.

Perhaps for Sylvia another of Richard M Pankhurst`s sayings is also relevant ;  "Every struggling cause shall be ours."

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