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People’s History Museum presents first UK stage production of ‘Red’ Ellen Wilkinson’s story

24 October 2019

Left to right Hayley Doherty performing the role of Ellen in Ellen's Longest Night, People's History Museum and Ellen Wilkinson © Deana Halsall

On Sunday 10 November the first professional performance of Ellen’s Longest Night, telling the incredible story and legacy of politician Ellen Wilkinson, will take place in her home city of Manchester at People’s History Museum (PHM), where she is heralded as one of its Radicals.

Known as ‘Red’ Ellen Wilkinson for her flame coloured hair, her achievements were just as bold, and yet not widely acknowledged.  Ellen’s Longest Night invites you to discover the extraordinary life of a woman who was born into poverty, but went on to leave a legacy that helped children, workers, women’s rights and so much more.  Free school meals and milk for children, the Jarrow March of 1936, equal pay and women’s representation, the founding of UNESCO to promote international peace; these are just some of the chapters that form Ellen’s fascinating story.

Michael Powell, Programme Officer at People’s History Museum, says, “We are passionate about Ellen Wilkinson, whose achievements embody the ideas worth fighting for that are at the heart of People’s History Museum.  We are therefore delighted that Ellen’s Longest Night will be inspiring audiences here at PHM, where more details about Ellen’s story, including the Jarrow March can be discovered in our galleries.”

 Written by playwright and actor Nakib Narat, who has previously worked with Royal Exchange Theatre, HOME, BBC Radio 4 and Granada Television, Ellen’s Longest Night stars Hayley Doherty performing the role of Ellen.  Like Ellen, Hayley is from Manchester and also shares the link that she attended Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which was opened by Ellen when she was Britain’s first woman Minister for Education.  As well as performing on stage, television and in film, Hayley was the winner of the BBC Manchester Monologue Competition in 2018, which marked 100 years since the Representation of the People Act, which gave the vote to all men and some women in Britain, for her poem Emmeline’s Army.

 Tickets for Ellen’s Longest Night on Sunday 10 November (3.00pm to 4.30pm) are priced at £10.  For further information and to book visit:’s Longest Night is supported by Arts Council England, following the performance at PHM it will go on an extended theatre tour around the North East, Liverpool and Manchester to reflect Ellen’s constituencies.

Ellen Wilkinson is named as one of People’s History Museum’s Radicals.  The Join the Radicals membership scheme celebrates the people whose big ideas have shaped our society, with the opportunity for individuals and organisations to sponsor the Radical of their choice to raise valuable funds to support the work of the national museum of democracy.  For further information visit:

During 2019 People’s History Museum is exploring the past, present and future of protest throughout its galleries, exhibitions and events programme.  The museum’s public programme, its community exhibitions and its current display of banners all illuminate these themes for visitors

People’s History Museum is open seven days a week, from 10.00am to 5.00pm, Radical Lates are on the second Thursday each month, open until 8.00pm.  The museum and its exhibitions are free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its full exhibition and events programme visit

November sees the launch of a new book that will tell the story of 20 radical trailblazing women of Manchester, including Ellen Wilkinson.  The First in the Fight stories of the 20 women are written by historian Helen Antrobus, with each individually illustrated by some of the north’s most talented designers who are all part of the Women in Print collective.  Copies of First in the Fight are available to pre-order or purchase (from 14 November) from PHM shop.



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About People’s History Museum (PHM)

People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for all people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.  PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since the first women and all men won the right to vote in Britain, 2019 sees a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, and the programme for 2020 will be on the theme of migration.  2017 winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.

About Arts Council England (ACE)

PHM is an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).  The work of PHM is supported using public funding by ACE, the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives.  ACE support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections.  Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us.  In short, it makes life better.  Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from The National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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