‘Red Ellen’ Wilkinson

Her ideas, movements and world
Perry, Matt
Date published: 
June 2014

Unearthing new evidence to provide a richer understanding of her life, this study delves beyond the familiar image of Ellen Wilkinson on the Jarrow Crusade. From a humble background, she ascended to the rank of Minister in the 1945 Labour government. Yet she was much more than a conventional Labour politician. She wrote journalism, political theory and novels. She was both a socialist and a feminist; at times, she described herself as a revolutionary. She visited Soviet Russia, the Indian civil disobedience campaign, the Spanish Civil War and the Third Reich. This study deploys transnational and social movement theory perspectives to grapple with the complex itinerary of her ideas. Interest in Wilkinson remains strong among academic and non-academic audiences alike. This is in part because her principal concerns – working-class representation, the status of women, capitalist crisis, war, anti-fascism – remain central to contentious politics today.