Solidarity and commitment: Sylvia Pankhurst and Silvio Corio

Thursday 14 September at 18.30 organised by the Anglo-Ethiopian Society and at the Ethiopian Community in Britain, 2a Lithos Road, London NW3 6EF

Solidarity and commitment: Sylvia Pankhurst and Silvio Corio

Rachel Holmes and Alfio Bernabei

This talk will focus on the unique relationship that grew up between the Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst and her partner Silvio Corio. It was grounded in their mutual struggles against the rise of fascism in Europe and later its threats and actions against Ethiopia. Sylvia Pankhurst’s long career and fight for women’s rights also led to her various relationships with anti-colonial, anti-racist, and socialist movements, and these in turn led to her support of Emperor Haile Selassie and the war against Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia.

Sylvia first met Silvio in 1917, himself an exile living in London having fled persecution in Italy for an active and militant political career. Their relationship and activism developed in London whilst they were both working on the Communist newspaper Workers’ Dreadnought.

The speakers Rachel Holmes and Alfio Bernabei will walk us through key aspects of Sylvia and Silvio’s personal and political lives and the steps which eventually led to the establishment of a special focus on Ethiopia to which Sylvia devoted the rest of her life.

2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Anglo-Ethiopian Society, which itself grew out of the Abyssinia Association and the anti-fascist activism of the 1930s when Sylvia Pankhurst was influential in the founding and the launching of the newspaper New Times and Ethiopian News. This talk kick starts a new year-long season of lectures and events profiling different aspects of the histories and cultures of the peoples of Ethiopia. We look forward to you joining us to celebrate both the Anglo-Ethiopian Society and the lives of two committed activist individuals.

Unable to attend the event in person? Register for an online ticket to be sent a link to a Zoom broadcast of the live event.

Rachel Holmes is the author of several books including Sylvia Pankhurst – Natural Born Rebel (Bloomsbury, 2020); she has also edited the previously undiscovered play Between Two Fires by Sylvia Pankhurst (Methuen Drama, 2022). As an academic, Rachel held lectureships at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Sussex and was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa and Visiting Literary Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford. Rachel is currently writing a historical fiction series based on the life of Greek Admiral Laskarina Boubilina and her legacy.

Alfio Bernabei is an author, documentary film maker, and researcher of Italian history and politics. He has curated exhibitions on Silvio Corio and written several recent articles on Silvio Corio and Sylvia Pankhurst and on Italian radical exiles in London during the 1930s. The couple make an appearance in his recent novel set in 1922, L’estate prima di domani, published by Castelvecchi Editore, 2022, ISBN 9788832908275.

Megan Dobney from the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee will give an update on the progress of raising the statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on Clerkenwell Green, London.