Emmeline and Her Daughters Critical Essays

Iris Noble


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

The publisher’s note prior to the title page suggests that the modern women’s liberation movement is descended from the struggle led by the Pankhursts. Noble views the Pankhursts’ fight for the vote as a story of personal courage that should continue to inspire young women. Although generally accurate, Emmeline and Her Daughters is less a dispassionate objective study than a moving account of an important reform campaign as seen through the eyes of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Noble’s study works well for young readers in part because of her emphasis on the personal qualities of the main characters. At the beginning of the biography, Emmeline Pankhurst is portrayed as a quiet housewife, content to allow her husband to speak for the family. When she first attempts to speak in public, she is terrified. She perseveres, however, and through her involvement in the women’s suffrage movement she gains confidence in herself. In personal terms, the book reaches a climax with the courage displayed by Pankhurst when she is imprisoned for committing acts of violence in an attempt to force the government to concede women’s suffrage.

The author explains the suffragette resort to violent methods in terms that are easily understood by the young adult reader. In the opening chapter, Noble quotes Emmeline’s husband, Richard, frustrated at the lack of progress toward women’s suffrage using peaceful methods, as demanding to know why women did not...

(The entire section is 539 words.)