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'CELEBRATING SYLVIA PANKHURST'

Talks given by Sylvia's biographer Shirley Harrison, as part of the project in the London Borough of Redbridge, 2008 West Hatch Students: Suffragettes

West Hatch Students: Suffragettes

Residents of Harts House nursing home enjoy a talk by Shirley Harrison, and students at West Hatch High School, Chigwell, ask Shirley about her memories of Sylvia

As part of the 'Celebrating Sylvia Pankhurst' project, Sylvia's biographer Shirley Harrison entertained young and old with her fascinating talks about Sylvia. She led workshops for four groups of primary school children from Churchfields Junior School in South Woodford, introduced Sylvia's story to 60 older students (and members of staff) from West Hatch and Oaks Park High Schools and reminisced about her with people in a retirement home. She also geve a talk in South Woodford Library as part of the Redbridge Book & Media Festival, and at Runwell Hospital in Wickford, Essex.

Born and brought up in Woodford herself, Shirley remembers Sylvia who, when Shirley was a child, lived just two roads away from her family home. Shirley's father warned her against having anything to do with Miss Pankhurst, advising his young daughter to cross to the other side of the road if she saw the woman. This, of course, only increased Shirley's curiosity.

Shirley became a journalist and a writer, and in adulthood moved away from Woodford. When, a few years ago, she learned that a descendant of Sylvia's was on the same university course as her daughter, Shirley asked to be introduced to the family. Soon afterwards, with the kind cooperation of Sylvia's son Dr Richard Pankhurst, Shirley started to research Sylvia and in 2004, her book Sylvia Pankhurst, A Crusading Life 1882–1960 was published by the Aurum Press.

Shirley has published two more books about Sylvia in 2009: an illustrated and very readable account of Sylvia's life called Sylvia Pankhurst, Citizen of the World, and a schools' book for use in the classroom, Sylvia Pankhurst, a Classroom Companion – both from Hornbeam Publishing Limited.

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