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Sylvia Pankhurst Reviews

Sylvia Pankhurst by Rachel Holmes

Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel

Rachel Holmes

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 17 Sep 2020
ISBN: 9781408880418

On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the definitive biography of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst--political rebel, human rights champion, and radical feminist ahead of her time.

5 stars out of 5
Amanda Foreman
20 Sep 2020

"this fine biography shows just how remarkable the women’s rights activist was"

The genius of Holmes’s fascinating and important biography is that it approaches Sylvia’s life as if she were a man. The writing isn’t prettified or leavened by amusing anecdotes about Victorian manners, it’s dense and serious, as befits a woman who never wore make-up and didn’t care about clothes. To paraphrase the WSPU’s slogan, it is about deeds not domesticity. Rather than dwelling on moods and relationships, Holmes is interested in ideas and consequences. It’s wonderfully refreshing. Sylvia lived for her work; her literary output was astounding. In addition to publishing her own newspaper almost every week for over four decades, she wrote nonfiction, fiction, plays, poetry and investigative reports. 

Reviews

5 stars out of 5
Gerard DeGroot
5 Sep 2020

"there’s nothing linear about this wonderful book, but its direction is always clear"

It’s impossible to summarise adequately a book so magnificent. This biography is, granted, very long at almost 1,000 pages, but a life so large merits comprehensive treatment. Unlike so many excessively long books recently published, this is not simply a collection of facts carelessly assembled; it is instead a sophisticated symphony of intriguing and complex analysis, delivered in mellifluous harmony. It’s a feminist book, as is appropriate to the subject, but feminist theory is used as a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.