The Margaret Sanger Papers


Kenney, Annie (1879-1953)

British suffragette. Married James Taylor (1928), one son. Born the fifth of eleven children to working-class parents, Kenney labored part-time in a cotton mill-worker from the age of ten and left school at age 14 to work there full-time. When she grew older she became a union organizer for the Independent Labor Party. In 1905 met suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst and thereafter devoted most of efforts to fighting to gain the vote for women. Kenney became an enthusiastic member of the Pankhursts' Womens Social and Political Union (WPSU). A fiery speaker, she frequently went on speaking tours on behalf of the WPSU, organized working-class women in outer districts and participating in several of its militant actions. In October 1905, Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst interrupted a speech by Winston Churchill at a Liberal Party meeting for which she was arrested and imprisoned for three days. It was to be the first of many such arrests and imprisonments. Following the tactics of the WPSU, Kenney often went on hunger strikes and had to be forcibly fed. During the war, Kenney helped Emmeline Pankhurst in working for conscription. A theosophist, she retired from public life after women's suffrage in Britain was secured in 1928. Kenney published her autobiography Memories of a Militant in 1924.
References: E. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Suffrage Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals (1931); David Mitchell, The Fighting Pankhursts: A Study in Tenacity (1967);