|Ellen Wilkinson (1891 – 1947) Beyond the Nation State and Beyond the Grave|
|This paper will consider Ellen Wilkinson’s biography from the perspective of challenging national and chronological boundaries. It will consider her political travels to the USSR, Germany, USA, France, Bulgaria, India, Ireland, Spain, Belgium. These trips took a variety of forms: pilgrimage, journalism, conference attendance, witness to injustice, solidarity. These journeys relied upon a variety of overlapping networks to which Ellen Wilkinson belonged: the unions, the peace movement, the women’s movement, the Labour and Socialist International, the Comintern, especially the Muenzenberg-Katz circle. These activities were constitutive of her politics and were incorporated through journalism and campaigning into her domestic political persona and activity. Without serious attention to this global dimension of her politics, our understanding of Ellen Wilkinson is attenuated and distorted. Ellen Wilkinson tested the boundaries of the state with solidarity for refugees, advocating entry visas for those in her campaigning networks and drew the attention of security services of the states to which she travelled.
After her death, Ellen Wilkinson became part of the Labour Party’s memory of its Golden Age of the 1945 government, within which she was Minister of Education. She is also remembered for her participation in the Jarrow Crusade of 1936 and therefore has a special place in the systems of representations related to unemployment, the 1930s and protest. Ellen Wilkinson has entered the pantheon of heroes for certain circumscribed audiences: the post-1960s women’s movement has also claimed Ellen Wilkinson as a feminist pioneer, and both the North East and the North West have honoured her as a celebrated daughter.|