Entry into politics
In September 1910 Ellen Wilkinson was awarded the Jones history entrance scholarship to Manchester University. During her period of study at the university she learned strong research skills, which she would later apply during her time on committees at the House of Commons. Her socialist roots and politics developed during this time, when she helped found the University Socialist Federation. She joined a local branch of the Women's Labour League. In 1912 Wilkinson joined the Independent Labour Party.
Early career as an organiser and campaigner
As a young woman, Ellen Wilkinson became an active organiser and campaigner through her involvement in a number of pressure groups and reform organisations. In 1913 she became an organiser with the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies in Manchester. Through the NUWSS, she became an active public speaker, regularly speaking at open-air meetings in Manchester. The NUWSS also brought her into more regular contact with the Labour Party, allowing her socialist and feminist politics to mix.
In 1915 Wilkinson became the first national women's organiser for the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employees (later the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers). She was also active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In the early 1920s she was a member of a number of competing political groups, including the Communist Party, the Independent Labour Party, the Fabians and the Labour Party.