Emmeline Pankhurst's arrest at Buckingham Palace

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Emmeline Pankhurst's arrest at Buckingham Palace

by Central Press
vintage print, 22 May 1914
8 in. x 6 in. (203 mm x 152 mm) image size
Purchased, 2013
Photographs Collection
NPG x137688

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  • Central Press, Photographers. Artist or producer associated with 104 portraits.

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On 21 May 1914, Emmeline Pankhurst led a deputation of 200 women to Buckingham Palace. Watched by large crowds, they were met by 2000 police officers, some on horseback. Amid violent scenes, over sixty people were arrested and numerous women were injured. This photograph was widely reproduced, and shows Pankhurst, weakened by hunger-strikes and force feeding, struggling in the arms of the police officer Inspector Rolfe (1868-1914). Outraged at their brutal treatment that day, suffragettes enacted reprisal attacks. In the years after the campaign, Pankhurst stood as a Conservative parliamentary candidate, and her statue was unveiled in Westminster in 1930.

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Current affairs

Following Germany's declaration of war on France and invasion of Belgium, Herbert Henry Asquith, the British Prime Minister, declares war on the German Empire on August 4, 1914. The popular belief that the conflict would be 'over by Christmas' was soon found to be a bitter underestimate of the scale of the war.

Art and science

The fist issue of the periodical Blast is published by Wyndham Lewis, announcing the advent of Vorticism. This movement, named by Ezra Pound and taking in art and poetry, combined the vitality and dynamism of Italian Futurism with the geometric structure of Cubism. Vorticism was a direct challenge to the perceived quaint and domestic style of the Bloomsbury group and Roger Fry's Omega Workshop.


On June 28th 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated in Sarajevo leading to Austria's declaration of war against Serbia and triggering the First World War. Germany declared war on Serbia's ally, Russia, and then marched on France via Belgium. Soon all of Europe and most of the world was embroiled in total war.

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