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In Search of “Red Ellen” Wilkinson Beyond Frontiers and Beyond the Nation State

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matt Perry


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This article reconsiders the life of Ellen Wilkinson (1891–1947) – British Minister of Education from 1945 to 1947 and leader of the Jarrow Crusade of 1936 – by exploring the transnational aspect of her politics. It seeks to establish the significance of her transnational orientation and how this can allow us to complement and deepen existing understandings of her. Drawing on the literature on transnational activist networks, it outlines the complexity of transnational networks and her repertoire of transnational political practice. Without serious attention to this global dimension of her politics, our understanding of Wilkinson is attenuated and distorted. Crucially, the heroic construction of “Red Ellen” in both labourist and socialist-feminist narratives has obscured her second radicalization (1932–1936) and the sharpness of her metamorphosis into a mainstream Labour Party figure in 1939–1940.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Perry M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Review of Social History

Year: 2013

Volume: 58

Issue: 2

Pages: 219-246

Print publication date: 11/04/2013

ISSN (print): 0020-8590

ISSN (electronic): 1469-512X

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0020859013000151


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