Mother Was A Blackshirt

In 1914 Norah Elam was placed in a Holloway prison cell with Emmeline Pankhurst for her involvement with the Suffragette movement. In 1940 she returned to the same prison with Diana Mosley, but this time for her involvement with the fascist movement.

James Maw explores this story and how Norah Elam's fascist philosophy grew directly out of her involvement with the suffragettes, and how subsequently the British fascist movement became largely driven by women. James tells how the first British fascist movement was founded by a woman, and that it was the leading lights of the Suffragettes who, along with Oswald Mosley, founded the British Union of Fascists.

Blackshirts targeted young women from an early age; James begins with the story of his own mother, whom - at the time working in an ink factory - they attempted to recruit when she was 16 in 1937.

Francis Beckett recounts how his mother was recruited when she was sent by the Pitman's secretarial agency to work at Mosley's headquarters and how he has been vehemently anti-fascist all his life and has worked tirelessly to clear the family name of the stigma he feels.

Angela McPherson had no idea until recently the role her own grandmother played at the very centre of the fascist movement; she had subconsciously blocked out disturbing memories of the events and stories her grandmother told her as a child, which were to affect her family until the present day.

James learns how powerful fascist women became and what the long-term effects their right-wing beliefs had on their children and grandchildren.



James Maw tells the story of how women were crucial to the growth of fascism in the UK.