‘Red Ellen’ and her famous friends

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n Ellen Wilkinson was born in 1891 in Ardwick, Manchester.

n She developed an interest in socialism after reading Merrie England by Robert Blatchford.

n At 16, she joined the Independent Labour Party.

n She was elected MP for Middlesbrough East in the 1924, losing her seat in 1931.

n She was elected MP for Jarrow in 1935.

n In 1936, she organised the Jarrow March, accompanying 200 unemployed workers to London, where she presented a petition for jobs to Parliament.

n She later wrote The Town That Was Murdered, an account of Jarrow in the 1930s.

n She was a parliamentary secretary in Churchill’s wartime coalition government.

n Later, she joined Herbert Morrison at the Home Office. She was responsible for air raid shelters and the introduction of Morrison Shelters in 1941.

n She was Minister for Education after Labour’s victory at the 1945 general election.

n As minister, she oversaw the implementation of the 1944 Education Act.

n She was linked romantically to Labour MPs John Jagger and Morrison, who was estranged from his wife.

n She took an overdose of barbiturates and died at St Mary’s Hospital, London, in February 1947.