This study delves beyond the familiar image of Ellen Wilkinson as the leader of the Jarrow Crusade. It has unearthed new evidence to provide a richer understanding of her remarkable achievements, her acquaintances and her witnessing of history's great turning points. From a humble background, she ascended to the rank of Minister in the 1945 Labour government. Yet she was much more than a conventional Labour politician. She wrote journalism, political theory and novels. She was both a socialist and a feminist; at times, she described herself as a revolutionary. She met Lenin, Trotsky and Gandhi. She experienced first-hand Soviet Russia, the GM sit-down strikes, the Indian civil disobedience campaign, the Spanish Civil War and the Third Reich. While viewed in the collective imagination as 'Red Ellen', whose politics were as red as her hair, her ideas were not static and present a series of puzzles. This study deploys transnational and social movement theory perspectives to grapple with the complexity of her ideas and her relationship with the movements for social transformation. Interest in Wilkinson remains strong among academic and non-academic audiences alike. This is in part because her principal concerns - working-class representation, the status of women, capitalist crisis, war, anti-fascism - remain central to contentious politics today.