Estelle Sylvia Pankhurt was born to Dr Richard Pankhurst and his wife Emmeline (Goulden) Pankhurst.
Along with her sisters, she attended Manchester High School for Girls followed by the Manchester School of Art. She won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art.
From 1906 Sylvia worked with the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) with her sister and mother.
Displeased with the route the WSPU was taking she set up the East london Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS). ELFS was renamed the Women's Suffrage Federation and later the Workers' Socialist Federation as it evolved to tackle wider issues than womens suffrage.
She founded the newspaper Women's Dreadnought.
Unlike her mother and Christabel, Sylvia was opposed to the First World War. ELFS attempted to aid women in the poorer parts of London by establishing a toy factory to help women who had become unemployed due to the war to find work. They set up cost-price restaurants to help feed hungry families who did not want to accept charity.
She never married, but lived with Italian anarchist Silvio Corio for over thirty years. They had one son, Richard. Her refusal to marry her child's father led to her being estranged from her mother.
Sylvia died in Addis Ababa in 1960. She is buried in front of Holy Trinity Cathedral.
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