Edward Carpenter


Edward Carpenter was an English poet, social theorist and campaigner, and has been described as an early gay activist. As a proponent of an alternative, anti-industrial mode of life and an advocate of sexual freedom, he exercised a significant influence on progressive social thought at the turn of the century.

Born in Hove in 1844, he was educated at Brighton College before going up to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, the scene of his homosexual awakening accompanied by romantic rejection. After leaving university, he visited male prostitutes in libertine Paris before entering the Church of England as a Christian socialist curate. Heavily influenced by the poetry of Walt Whitman and increasingly wearied by the hypocrisy of Victorian society, he soon left the Church and travelled to Yorkshire with the intention of educating workingmen, settling in Sheffield in 1882. Here he became increasingly politically engaged, joining the Socialist League in 1884. Like Gandhi, with whom he later corresponded, he was moved by Ruskin to reject the system of industrial capitalism, and advocated the back-to-the-earth Communist society idealized in Morris’ News from Nowhere. Inheriting his father’s fortune, he purchased a home at Millthorpe, Derbyshire, in 1882 and there began his soon-to-be iconic life of market gardening, poetry and hand-crafting the footwear he is credited with introducing from India: sandals.

Drawn increasingly to Hindu philosophy, he travelled to India and Ceylon in 1890. He stayed at the home of a college friend Ponnambalam Arunachalam and climbed Adam’s Peak in the company of Kalua, a lascar whom he had met on the steamer to Colombo. Following conversations with the guru Ramaswamy (known as the Gnani), he developed the conviction that socialism would bring about a revolution in human consciousness as well as of economic conditions. After returning to England, a chance meeting in a railway carriage led to his lifelong romance with George Merrill, a Sheffield workingman who joined him at Millthorpe in 1898. Undeterred by Wilde’s conviction in 1895, Carpenter insisted that ‘Uranian’ relationships could bring about a social levelling, and a stay at Millthorpe in 1912 gave E. M. Forster the outline of Maurice. From the cottage, now a social hub for radicals, he campaigned for environmentalism, animal rights, sexual freedom, pacifism and the Women’s Movement, while in London he encountered a lifelong friend and influence in Rabindranath Tagore. Although he did not travel again to India, friends such as Charlotte Despard, James and Margaret Cousins, Sarojini Naidu, Romain Rolland and Henry Salt continued to connect him to the subcontinent and its freedom struggle. A significant figure in the Fabian Society, he was in 1893 a founder member of the Independent Labour Party. He died in 1929 and was buried with Merrill at Mount Cemetery in Guildford, Surrey.

Published works: 

‘Narcissus’ and Other Poems (1873)

Towards Democracy (1883)

Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure (1889)

From Adam's Peak to Elephanta: Sketches in Ceylon and India (1892)

Homogenic Love and its Place in a Free Society (1894)

Love's Coming of Age (1896)

Angels' Wings: Essays on Art and its Relation to Life (1898)

Iolaus - Anthology of Friendship (1908)

The Intermediate Sex (1912)

The Healing of Nations (1915)

My Days and Dreams (1916)

Towards Industrial Freedom (1917)

Pagan and Christian Creeds (1920)

Friends of Walt Whitman (1923)

Date of birth: 
29 Aug 1844

Annie Besant, Charlotte Despard, G. Lowes Dickinson, Havelock Ellis, E. M. Forster, M. K. Gandhi, Keir Hardie, Henry Hyndman, Frank Maurice, George Merrill, William Morris, Sarojini Naidu, Henry S. Salt, Olive Schreiner, G. B. Shaw, John Addington Symonds, Rabindranath Tagore, Walt Whitman.

Christian Socialists, Independent Labour Party, Social Democratic Federation, Socialist League.

Secondary works: 

Brown, Tony and Corns, Thomas N., Edward Carpenter and Late Victorian Radicalism (London: Routledge, 1990)

Ellis, Edith Mary, Three Modern Seers: James Hinton, Nietzsche and Edward Carpenter (London: 1910)

Lewis, Edward, Edward Carpenter: An Exposition And An Appreciation (London: Methuen, 1915)

Rowbotham, Sheila, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty of Love (London: Verso, 2009)

Tsuzuki, Chushichi, Edward Carpenter 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980)

Archive source: 

Carpenter Archive, Sheffield

Involved in events: 

Foundation of the Independent Labour Party, 1893

City of birth: 
Hove, Sussex
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
28 Jun 1929
Location of death: 
Guildford, Surrey
Tags for Making Britain: 

Indian Workers' Association


The Indian Workers’ Association had a dual aim: to raise consciousness of the struggle for Indian independence among working-class Indians in Britain, and to protect and enhance their welfare. While there was some overlap between the IWA and the India League, the former was a working-class organization whose membership was composed almost uniquely of Indians. The founders and protagonists of the organization were mainly Sikh and Muslim Punjabis who had turned to peddling on their arrival in Britain, later finding factory work or construction work at the aerodromes and militia camps that had sprung up in the Midlands during the Second World War. Meetings were conducted predominantly in Hindustani, which often excluded Bengali seamen and ex-seamen from participation, although there were also bi-monthly ‘open meetings’ conducted in English and with invited British speakers.

In the Indian Political Intelligence files, many of the Sikh pioneers of the IWA are described as having ‘Ghadr sympathies’, their main concern being to raise money for Ghadr Party initiatives such as the Desh Bhagat Parwar Sahaik Committee, which helped the dependents in India of ‘Sikh martyrs’, or the Udham Singh Defence Fund. Generally, the political activity and mobilization of working-class Indians was a source of grave concern to the India Office. IPI records reveal discussion of ways in which the organization’s leaders could be dispersed to different parts of the country where there were few Indians and less opportunity to stir up anti-British feeling among their fellow countrymen. Indeed, the IPI kept lists of IWA men who they considered particularly seditious and who should be interned in the event of an invasion during the war.

In terms of welfare work, the IWA leadership helped working-class Indians to avoid army conscription if they wished. It also provided a forum for discussion of employment grievances. Records of speeches at IWA meetings reveal the link between the oppression of Indians in Britain and their subjugation to the British in India; for example, Indian machinists in British factories are described as being reallocated to unskilled labouring jobs because of the fear that if they acquire the same skills as Englishmen they will return to India and teach their fellow countrymen the trade, thereby undermining the rationale for British rule.

Although it began as early as 1937, the IWA gained real momentum when Vellala Srikantaya Sastrya, an educated Madrassi, became secretary of the Birmingham branch in 1942. He gave the organization leadership and coherence. By 1944, however, signs of discord among the main players were evident, with Akbar Ali Khan relocating from Coventry to East London to open a rival IWA in the capital.

Published works: 

Indian Worker (bulletin in English and Hindustani, edited by Mohammed Fazal Hussein, published irregularly)

Azad Hind (bulletin in Urdu and Punjabi, edited by Vidya Parkash Hansrani and Kartar Singh Nagra, launched in 1945)

Mazdoor (‘Worker’) (bulletin in Urdu, edited by Chowdry Akbar Khan and Said Amir Shah and managed by Abdul Ghani, launched in1945)


Report on Indian Workers’ Union, 17 December 1942, L/PJ/12/645, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, p. 65

Other names: 

Indian Workers’ Union

Hindustani Mazdur Sabha

Secondary works: 

Desai, Rashmi, Indian Immigrants in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963)

Hiro, Dilip, Black British, White British (London: Paladin, 1992)

John, De Witt, Indian Workers’ Association in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969)

Josephides, Sasha, Towards a History of the Indian Workers’ Association (Warwick University: ESCR, Research Paper in Ethnic Relations, No. 18, 1991)

Ram, Anant and Tatla, Darshan Singh, ‘This is our Home Now: Reminiscences of a Panjabi Migrant in Coventry’ (An interview with Anant Ram), Oral History, 21. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp.68-74.

Virdee, Pippa, Coming to Coventry: Stories from the South Asian Pioneers (Coventry: The Herbert, 2006)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)


This Indian Political Intelligence file documents the activities of the Indian Workers’ Association in the early 1940s. It includes records of meetings and events held, with key post-holders named and the content of speeches described, as well as memos listing the names of members considered to be particularly threatening to national security.

Date began: 
01 Jan 1937

[The Indian rank and file] work long hours and have much less time for politics than their self-appointed leaders…If the latter could be removed from the scene of their activities by being compelled to take up employment in areas where few or no Indians congregate, not only would the movement collapse but the Indian worker would be relieved of the unwelcome necessity of subscribing under pressure sums of money for purposes which he often dimly comprehends. The attendance at meetings held at Birmingham and Coventry is never so large as to indicate that the Indian community is strongly influenced by political feeling, however much a particular audience may be worked up to temporary excitement by inflammatory speeches. There is, of course, always the possibility that some unbalanced person may be encouraged to emulate the example of Udham Singh and seek martyrdom by committing some isolated outrage.

Precise date began unknown: 
Key Individuals' Details: 

Muhammad Amin Aziz (original secretary), Thakur Singh Basra (‘unofficial secretary’ and one of leaders), Charan Singh Chima (founding member, vice-president of Coventry branch in 1945), Vidya Parkash Hansrani (vice-president of Coventry branch, co-edited Azad Hind), Mohammed Tufail Hussain (elected chairman of the Bradford branch in 1942), Mohammed Fazal Hussein (secretary then president of Bradford branch, edited Indian Worker), Akbar Ali Khan (chairman of the central organization from 1942 at least, and president from 1944 at least; lived with Thakur Singh Basra in Coventry), Kartar Singh Nagra (founding member, one-time secretary, co-edited Azad Hind), Muhammad Hussain Noor (assistant secretary of Bradford branch), Ajit Singh Rai (treasurer of Bradford branch), G. D. Ramaswamy (editor of news-bulletin, student at Sheffield University), V. S. Sastrya (secretary from October 1941), Sardar Shah (treasurer of Birmingham branch), Gurbaksh Singh (key figure in Bradford branch), Karm Singh (member of central committee), Natha Singh (president of Bradford branch in 1945), Ujjagar Singh (first treasurer of Coventry branch).


The above extract reveals the extent of the surveillance of key members of the IWA and that they were considered to be a potential source of threat to national stability. The attitude towards uneducated working-class Indians (the ‘Indian rank and file’), apparently coerced by their leaders into subversive activity whose purpose they ‘dimly comprehend’, is condescending, divesting them of agency by portraying them as manipulated pawns, and undermining the validity of the political position that they espouse. Generally, the file is of interest because it gives evidence that political activism on the part of South Asians in Britain was not confined to middle-class migrants and students and that the working classes often chose to mobilize independently of their more educated and privileged counterparts (who were more likely to be active in the India League), suggesting a considerable degree of agency on their part. Contrary to what is stated in the above extract and despite the economic and social hardship these peddlers and labourers experienced in Britain, many of them were in fact able to look beyond their immediate concerns to the struggle for Indian independence, as well as being pioneers in the struggle for minority rights in Britain.


Surat Alley, Amiya Nath Bose, Fenner Brockway, W. G. Cove, Dr Ganguly, Mrs Kallandar Khan, Fred Longden, V. K. Krishna Menon, Dr D. R. Prem, Pulin Behari Seal, Dr Diwan Singh, Udham Singh, Vic Yates.

Archive source: 

File IOR: L/PJ/12/645, African and Asian Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

File IOR: L/PJ/12/646, African and Asian Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras


Birmingham, B8 1EE
United Kingdom
Bradford, BD5 0DX
United Kingdom
Coventry, CV1 2LP
United Kingdom
Involved in events details: 

Numerous meetings held at different branches concentrated mainly in the Midlands but extending throughout Britain

Celebrations of Indian Independence Day, commemorations of the Amritsar Massacre, ‘Quit India’ demonstrations

Sylvia Pankhurst


Born in Old Trafford in 1882, Sylvia Pankhurst was influenced in her youth by the political activism of her parents, Emmeline and Richard Marsden Pankhurst, who were members of the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party and helped establish the Women’s Franchise League. Wanting to become an artist, she attended Manchester Art School and, from 1904, Chelsea’s Royal College of Art. Her work, which combined socialist realism and Pre-Raphaelite allegory, was influenced by her art teacher, Walter Crane. Following Pankhurst’s arrival in London, her parents’ friend, Keir Hardie, became an important figure in her life. On his return from visiting India in 1909, he discussed with her his findings and opinions. Increasingly involved with the Women’s Social and Political Union, Pankhurst devoted her energies from 1906 onward to fighting for women’s suffrage, becoming known for her militancy. Using journalism to fund her activism, she wrote a series of articles on women’s labour for the WSPU newspaper, Votes for Women, went to America on a lecture tour, and in 1911 published The Suffragette on the movement’s history.

A committed socialist, Pankhurst became involved with working women in London’s East End, and supported George Lansbury MP when he stood for re-election in Bromley-by-Bow on a women’s suffrage ticket. In 1913 she established the militant East London Federation of Suffragettes, which supported trade union struggles including the Dublin lock-out. Pankhurst founded the Woman’s Dreadnought in 1914, later renamed the Workers' Dreadnought, through which she came into contact with Rajani Palme Dutt, who contributed articles to the paper from 1917 until her split with the Communist Party in 1921.

During the First World War she led anti-war campaigns, continued her social welfare work, and began to support revolutionary movements. She met Lenin after the war and, in 1920, helped form the British Communist Party from which she was later expelled. In 1924 she moved to Red Cottage in Woodford Green, where she was joined by Silvio Erasmus Corio, an Italian exile who had briefly converted to Islam in the early 1920s. At this time she wrote India and the Earthly Paradise, a ‘romantic Communist’ contribution to Indian nationalism which ‘may have been the last result of her contacts with fringe elements of that movement’ and was published in Bombay in 1926 (Romero, p. 179). Pankhurst named R. N. Chaudry as a source for the book. It is possible that the seminars she organized with Nora Smythe while living at Red Cottage brought her into contact with ‘like-minded Indians’ (Romero, p. 179). Pankhurst’s path crossed with that of Dhanvanthi Rama Rau a little later, in 1929, when Rama Rau gave an impassioned speech disputing the right of British women ignorant of the realities of India to organize a Conference on Indian Social Evils (Rama Rau, pp. 168-172). Rama Rau recalls being ‘deeply touched’ by remarks Pankhurst made in response (Rama Rau, p. 172).

She gave birth to her only child, Richard Keir Pethick, in 1927. In the 1930s Pankhurst committed herself to promoting peace, fighting fascism, assisting Jewish refugees and supporting Spanish republicans. Ethiopian independence became a consuming concern following the Italian invasion. In 1935 she established the journal New Times and Ethiopian News, which publicized and supported Haile Selassie’s anti-colonial campaign. With her son, Pankhurst went to live in Ethiopia in 1956 and died in Addis Ababa in 1960.

Published works: 

The Suffragette: The History of the Women’s Militant Suffrage Movement, 1905-1910 (New York: Sturgis & Walton Co., 1911)

Housing & the Workers’ Revolution: Housing in Capitalist Britain and Bolshevik Russia (London: Workers’ Socialist Federation, 1919)

Rebel Ireland (London: Workers’ Socialist Federation, 1919)

Soviet Russia as I Saw it (London: Workers’ Dreadnought Publishers, 1921)

Communism and its Tactics, ed. by Mark A. S. Shipway (Edinburgh: Mark Shipway, [1921-2] 1983).

The Truth About the Oil War (London Dreadnought Publishers, 1922)

Writ on a Cold Slate (London: Dreadnought Publishers, 1922)

India and the Earthly Paradise (Bombay: ‘Bombay Chronicle’ Press, Sunshine Publishing House, 1926)

Delphos: The Future of International Language (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., nd (1928?))

Is an International Language Possible? A Lecture, etc. (London: Morland Press, 1928)

Save the Mothers: A Plea for Measures to Prevent the Annual Loss, etc. (London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930)

The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals (London: Longmans & Co., 1931)

The Home Front: A Mirror to Life in England During the First World War (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1932)

The Life of Emmeline Pankhurst: The Suffragette Struggle for Women’s Citizenship (London: Werner Laurie, 1935)

British Policy in Eastern Ethiopia: The Ogaden and the Reserved Area (Woodford Green, 1945)

British Policy in Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia (Woodford Green, 1945)

Education in Ethiopia (Woodford Green: ‘New Times & Ethiopia News’ Books, 1946)

The Ethiopian People: Their Rights and Progress (Woodford Green: ‘New Times and Ethiopia News’ Books, 1946)

Ex-Italian Somaliland (London: Watts & Co., 1951)

Eritrea on the Eve: The Past and Future of Italy’s ‘First-Born’ Colony, Ethiopia’s Ancient Sea Province (Woodford Green: ‘New Times & Ethiopia News’ Books, 1952)

Why Are We Destroying the Ethiopian Ports? With An Historical Retrospect, 1557-1952, etc. (Woodford Green ‘New Times and Ethiopia News’ Books, 1952)

(With Richard Pankhurst) Ethiopia and Eritrea: The Last Phase of the Reunion Struggle, 1941-1952, etc. (Woodford Green: Lalibela House, 1953)

Ethiopia: A Cultural History (Woodford Green: Lalibela House, 1955)


Pankhurst, Sylvia, India and the Earthly Paradise (Bombay: ‘Bombay Chronicle’ Press, Sunshine Publishing House, 1926), pp. 636-8

Date of birth: 
05 May 1882

Herbert Asquith, R. N. Chaudry, James Connolly, Silvio Erasmus Corio, Walter Crane, Clemens Palme Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt, Keir Hardie, C. L. R. James, George Lansbury, V. I. Lenin, Adela Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Dhanvanthi Rama Rau, F. M. Sayal, Haile Selassie, Norah Smythe.

Communist Party of Great Britain, East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELF, later renamed the Women’s Suffrage Federation, and then the Workers' Socialist Federation), Independent Labour Party, Women’s International League, Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), Women’s World Committee against War and Fascism.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Ethiopia Observer

New Times and Ethiopian News

Women’s Dreadnought (renamed Workers’ Dreadnought)


In the days to come peoples, differing as they do, in diet, costume and habits, in work and recreation, under the influence of climate and natural conditions, will serve each other, learn from each other, and enjoy each other’s variety free from the hatreds born of the present economic rivalries. When the Northman of the future confronts the people of the far East or South, he will feel, neither the mingled fear and contempt of the exploiter of a weaker and more numerous race, nor the jealous hatred of the worker who fears the lower paid competitor will steal his job.

And they who today, by reason of class or race are oppressed and exploited, will commingle as friends and comrades with the descendants of those who were once their conquerors and foes.

Whilst we must work for Swaraj as a necessary step in the evolution of the peoples of India, and one which leaves them more free than now to unravel their own problems, we must recognise that this is but one step on the road by which they and all peoples must travel. Before us all lies one hope and one goal: mutuality. Whilst competition and exploitation are the basis of the social organism, the expulsion of the foreign exploitation simply means the growth of the native exploitation.

Our goal is the end of all exploitation: the world-wide abundance, mutuality and fraternity of the Earthly Paradise.

Secondary works: 

Alem-Ayehu, G., ‘Reflections on the Life and Work of Sylvia Pankhurst: The Ethiopian dimension’ (priv. coll. and private information, 2004 [S. Ayling])

Banks, O., The Biographical Dictionary of British Feminists, Vol. 1. (Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1985)

Bullock, I and Pankhurst, R. (eds), Sylvia Pankhurst: From Artist to Anti-Fascist (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992)

Davis, M., Sylvia Pankhurst: A Life in Radical Politics (London: Pluto Press, 1999)

Dodd, K. (ed.), A Sylvia Pankhurst Reader (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993)

Hannam, J., ‘Pankhurst, (Estelle) Sylvia (1882-1960)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007), []

Harrison, S., Sylvia Pankhurst: Citizen of the World (London: Hornbeam Publishing, 2009)

Mitchell, D., The Fighting Pankhursts: A Study in Tenacity (London: Jonathan Cape, 1967)

Pankhurst, R., Sylvia Pankhurst: Artist and Crusader: An Intimate Portrait (London: Paddington Press, 1979)

Pankhurst, S., ‘Sylvia Pankhurst’, in Myself When Young, by Famous Women of To-day, ed. by E. A. M. Asquith, Countess of Oxford and Asquith (London: Frederick Muller, 1938), pp. 259-312

Rama Rau, Dhanvanthi, An Inheritance: The Memoirs of Dhanvanthi Rama Rau (London: Heinemann, 1977)

Romero, P. W., E. Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical (London: Yale University Press, 1987)

Schreuder, M. W. H., and Schrevel, Women, Suffrage, and Politics: The Papers of Sylvia Pankhurst, 1882-1960, from the Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam (Reading: Adam Matthew, 1991)

Tickner, L., The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign, 1907-1914 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1987)

Winslow, B., Sylvia Pankhurst: Sexual Politics and Political Activism (London: UCL Press, 1996)

Wright, P., ‘The Stone Bomb’, London Review of Books (23 August 2001)


The passage quoted above both articulates Sylvia Pankhurst’s anti-colonial and anti-racist endorsement of the Indian campaign for self-rule; and indicates the wider idealistic Communist and utopian contexts within which she situated the swaraj movement, and which inspired and informed her commitment to promoting this particular cause. 

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam

Correspondence, Women’s Library, London

Correspondence with Society of Authors, Add. MSS 56769-56771, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence with the Independent Labour Party, British Library of Political and Economic Science

Letters to David Lloyd George, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to the Manchester Guardian, John Rylands, University of Manchester

Correspondence with William Gillies, Labour History Archive and Study Centre, Manchester

Correspondence with Ada Lois James, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison

Correspondence with F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, Trinity College, Cambridge

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst

Date of death: 
27 Sep 1960
Location of death: 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Michael Foot


One of seven children of Isaac and Eva Foot, Michael Foot was born in Plymouth in 1913. He attended a Quaker school and there, shaped by the liberal politics of his family, became involved with the League of Nations and the peace movement. He went on to study politics, philosophy and economics at Wadham College, Oxford. He was an active member of the Lotus Club, an Anglo-Indian dining club comprising fifty English and fifty Indians, founded by G. K. Chettur to counter the impression that Indians did not participate in mainstream university life. He was President of the Liberal Club in 1932 and President of the Oxford Union in 1933. He also became friends with the Indian writer D. F. Karaka, who succeeded him as President of the Union.

Foot joined the Labour Party in 1935 while working in shipyards in Liverpool’s docks. In the same year he stood unsuccessfully as Labour candidate for Monmouth. His socialism was, from the start, ‘framed…in an international context’ and he had ‘a special affinity with India and the Indians’ (Morgan, p. 45). V. K. Krishna Menon was a significant influence on his political development. Foot contributed to Menon’s collection of essays by recent Oxford graduates titled Young Oxford and War, and admired Menon’s work as chairman of the St Pancras Education and Library Committee. He campaigned for the Socialist League with Menon, and joined his India League, heading, in the early 1940s, a campaign for the inclusion of India in the application of the principles of freedom set out in the Atlantic Charter, and speaking at numerous League meetings. He was, however, disturbed by the links between the India League and the Communist Party of Great Britain, forged by Menon, and opposed to the radical politics of Subhas Chandra Bose, advocating, rather, gradualism in the campaign for Indian independence and encouraging Indian nationalists to cooperate with authorities.

In the late 1930s, Foot began his career as a journalist, working on a range of magazines and newspapers, including, the New Statesman, the Evening Standard, the Daily Herald, and the Tribune. A ‘doer as much as a commentator’ (Morgan, p. 94), he was simultaneously involved in a range of protest movements and organizations in addition to the India League, including the League for the Rights of Man, the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Anglo-Palestine Committee, and remained close to the world of literary protest that revolved around the Left Book Club, Searchlight Books, and Horizon, among others.

In 1945, Foot stood as a candidate for the Labour Party for Devenport in Plymouth, and this time he was successfully returned. Throughout his career in the Labour Party, he was associated with its left wing, and at times his views made him unpopular with its leadership. He served as Secretary of State for Employment from 1974 to 1976, leader of the House of Commons from 1976 to 1979, and finally leader of the Labour Party from 1980 to 1983, when the party was heavily defeated in the General Election.

In 1949, Foot married Jill Craigie who died in 1999. He died on 3 March 2010.

Published works: 


Armistice, 1918-1939 (London: Harrap, 1940)

(as ‘Cato’, with Peter Howard and Frank Owen) Guilty Men (London: Gollancz, 1940)

(as ‘Cassius') The Trial of Mussolini (London: Gollancz, 1943)

Brendan and Beverley: An Extravaganza (London: Gollancz, 1944)

Un Inglese Difende Mussolini (Milan: Edizioni Riunite, 1946)

(with Donald Bruce) Who are the Patriots? (London: Gollancz, 1949)

Chapters in:

Menon, V. K. Krishna (ed.) Young Oxford at War (London: Selwyn & Blount, 1934)

Cripps, Stafford, et al., The Struggle for Peace (London: Gollancz: Left Book Club, 1936)

Crossman, R. H. S., A Palestine Munich (London: Gollancz, 1946)


(with R. H. S. Crossman et al.) Keep Left (New Statesman, 1947)

If the Tories had Won (Labour Party, 1947)

Still at Large (Tribune pamphlet, 1950)

Full Speed Ahead (Tribune pamphlet, 1950)


L/PJ/12/453, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, p. 11

Date of birth: 
23 Jul 1913

This Indian Political Intelligence file contains documents relating to the activities of V. K. Krishna Menon’s India League during the period 1940–1. The extract below is from a New Scotland Yard Report, dated 27 November 1940.


Mulk Raj Anand, Aneurin Bevan, Dr P. C. Bhandari, H. N. Brailsford, Ritchie Calder, Barbara Castle, Stafford Cripps, Rajani Palme Dutt, Victor Gollancz, Keir Hardie, Professor J. B. S. Haldane, D. F. Karaka, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, Kingsley Martin, V. K. Krishna Menon, Indira Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, J. B. Priestley, Reginald Sorensen, H. G. Wells, S. A. Wickremasinghe.

1941 Committee, Independent Labour Party, Labour Party, League of Nations, League for the Rights of Man, Liberal Party, National Council for Civil Liberties, Socialist League.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Art Quarterly

Daily Herald

Evening Standard


Hampstead and Highgate Express

Les Lettres Europeennes

Llafur (Journal for the Society for the Study of Welsh Labour History)

New Left Review

New Statesman


Tribune (sometimes under the name of ‘John Marullus’)


Michael Foot was in the chair and the speakers were: V. K. Krishna MENON, H. H. ELVIN (secretary, National Union of Clerks), Dr. Maude ROYDEN, S. S. SILVERMAN (Socialist MP for Nelson and Colne), H. N. BRAILSFORD, R. SORENSEN (Socialist MP for Leyton), Mrs Charlotte HALDANE, R. Palme DUTT and F. W. ADAMS (National Council for Civil Liberties).

Michael FOOT opened the meeting and said that it had been called to demand the release of NEHRU and others detained in India for making anti-war speeches and to obtain support for the Indian demand for independence and self-determination. He then read a resolution incorporating these terms. The speakers, he announced, represented all shades of political opinion and it was testimony to the large section of opinion in this country that was opposed to the Government’s policy in India. 

Secondary works: 

Karaka, D. F., Then Came Hazrat Ali (Delhi: Popular Press, 1972)

Morgan, Kenneth O., Michael Foot: A Life (London: HarperCollins, 2007)



This extract underlines Michael Foot’s commitment to the campaign to free India from colonial rule, and highlights the connections forged between Indians and the British Left in this key period of mobilization for independence.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/453, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

Numerous India League meetings

General Election, 1935

General Election, 1945

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
03 Mar 2010

George Bernard Shaw


George Bernard Shaw was an Anglo-Irish playwright and political activist. Born and schooled in Dublin, he came to England in 1876. He educated himself by reading in the British Museum, and started his writing career as a music and literary critic for several periodicals. After unsuccessful attempts at novel writing, Shaw turned to drama. He wrote over sixty plays in the course of his life, including Man and Superman (1903), Pygmalion (1912; posthumously adapted as a musical ‘My Fair Lady’) and Saint Joan (1923). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

Shaw, inspired by Henry George’s work, became a committed socialist in the 1880s. In 1884, he joined the newly formed Fabian Society, and gave lectures and wrote articles to further its causes. Shaw was also a vegetarian, and supported Henry Salt’s Humanitarian League and its commitment to animal rights. During the First World War, he indefatigably campaigned for international peace and negotiation.

Shaw was an outspoken supporter of the Indian independence movement and a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he met in 1931 in London. Gandhi was also an admirer of Shaw’s works. Shaw visited India in 1933, but the two could not meet as Gandhi was imprisoned at the time. Shaw also met Rabindranath Tagore in London in May 1913. Two of Shaw’s close female friends later went to India and devoted themselves to Indian causes: Annie Besant and the actress Florence Farr. Shaw met Besant in 1885; she asked him to introduce her to the Fabian Society, and serialized Shaw’s novels The Irrational Knot and Love among Artists in her magazine Our Corner. The actress Florence Farr was at one time Shaw’s mistress, and Shaw frequently met W. B. Yeats at Farr’s home in London. In 1937, Shaw’s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism was reissued by Krishna Menon’s Pelican Books, inaugurating Penguin’s paperback list.

Published works: 

A Manifesto, Fabian Tracts 2 (London: Standring, 1884)

Cashel Byron’s Profession (London: Modern Press, 1886)

An Unsocial Socialist (London: Sonnenschein, Lowrey, 1887)

The Quintessence of Ibsenism (London: Scott, 1891)

Widowers’ Houses (London: Henry, 1893)

Plays: Pleasant and Unpleasant, 2 vols (London: Grant Richards, 1898)

The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Ring of the Niblungs (London: Grant Richards, 1898)

Love among the Artists (unauthorized edition, Chicago: Stone, 1900; authorized, revised edition, London: Constable, 1914)

Three Plays for Puritans (London: Grant Richards, 1901)

Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (Westminster: Constable, 1903)

The Common Sense of Municipal Trading (Westminster: Constable, 1904)

Fabianism and the Fiscal Question: An Alternative Policy (London: Fabian Society, 1904)

The Irrational Knot (London: Constable, 1905)

Dramatic Opinions and Essays, 2 vols (London: Constable, 1907)

John Bull’s Other Island and Major Barbara, also includes How He Lied to Her Husband (London: Constable, 1907)

The Sanity of Art: An Exposure of the Current Nonsense about Artists Being Degenerate (London: New Age Press, 1908)

Press Cuttings (London: Constable, 1909)

The Doctor’s Dilemma, Getting Married, and The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet (London: Constable, 1911)

Misalliance, The Dark Lady of Sonnets, and Fanny’s First Play, with a Treatise on Parents and Children (London: Constable, 1914)

Common Sense about the War (London: Statesman, 1914)

Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, Pygmalion (London: Constable, 1916)

How to Settle the Irish Question (Dublin: Talbot Press, 1917; London: Constable, 1917)

Peace Conference Hints (London: Constable, 1919)

Heartbreak House, Great Catherine, and Playlets of the War (London: Constable, 1919)

Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (London: Constable, 1921)

Saint Joan (London: Constable, 1924)

(with Archibald Henderson) Table-Talk of G. B. S.: Conversations on Things in General between George Bernard Shaw and His Biographer (London: Chapman & Hall, 1925)

Translations and Tomfooleries (London: Constable, 1926)

The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (London: Constable, 1928); enlarged and republished as The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism, 2 vols (London: Penguin, 1937)

Immaturity (London: Constable, 1930)

The Apple Cart (London: Constable, 1930)

What I Really Wrote about the War (London: Constable, 1930)

Our Theatres in the Nineties (London: Constable, 1931)

Music in London, 1890-1894 (London: Constable, 1931)

The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God (London: Constable, 1932)

Too True to Be Good, Village Wooing & On the Rocks: Three Plays (London: Constable, 1934)

The Simpleton, The Six, and The Millionairess (London: Constable, 1936)

London Music in 1888-89 as Heard by Corno di Bassetto (Later Known as Bernard Shaw), with Some Further Autobiographical Particulars (London: Constable, 1937)

Geneva: A Fancied Page of History in Three Acts (London: Constable, 1939; enlarged, 1940)

Shaw Gives Himself Away: An Autobiographical Miscellany (Newtown, Montgomeryshire: Gregynog Press, 1939)

In Good King Charles’s Golden Days (London: Constable, 1939)

Everybody’s Political What’s What? (London: Constable, 1944)

Major Barbara: A Screen Version (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1946)

Geneva, Cymbeline Refinished, & Good King Charles (London: Constable, 1947)

Sixteen Self Sketches (London: Constable, 1949)

Buoyant Billions: A Comedy of No Manners in Prose (London: Constable, 1950)

An Unfinished Novel, ed. by Stanley Weintraub (London: Constable, 1958)

Shaw: An Autobiography, 1856-1898, compiled and ed. by Weintraub (New York: Weybright & Talley, 1969)

Shaw: An Autobiography, 1898-1950. The Playwright Years, compiled and ed. by Weintraub (London: Reinhardt, 1970)

Passion Play: A Dramatic Fragment, 1878, ed. by Jerald E. Bringle (Iowa City: University of Iowa at the Windhover Press, 1971)

The Road to Equality: Ten Unpublished Lectures and Essays, 1884-1918, ed. by Louis Crompton and Hilayne Cavanaugh (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971)

Flyleaves, ed. by Dan H. Laurence and Daniel J. Leary (Austin, Tex.: W. Thomas Taylor, 1977)

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897, 2 vols, ed. by Weintraub (University Park and London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1986)


New York Times, 9 January 1933, p. 12

Date of birth: 
26 Jul 1856

George Bernard Shaw arrived in Bombay in January 1933, and was greeted by a group of Indian journalists, to which he gave this speech. A longer version of this article appeared in the Daily Herald (9 January 1933), under the title ‘Mr Shaw May Visit Gandhi in Jail’. This reported Shaw’s wish to see Gandhi, who was being imprisoned in Poona.


Mulk Raj Anand, William Archer, Annie Besant, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Robert Bridges, Max Beerbohm, H. N. Brailsford, G. K. Chesterton, W. H. Davies, Bonamy Dobrée, Rajani Palme Dutt, E. M. Forster, M. K. Gandhi, Henry George, Lady Gregory, Frank Harris, C. E. M. Joad, Augustus John, Jiddu Krishnamurti, John Lane, Harold Laski, T. E. Lawrence, Raymond Marriott, Eleanor Marx, V. K. Krishna Menon, Naomi Mitchison, May Morris, William Morris, Gilbert Murray, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sydney Haldane Olivier, A. R. Orage, Paul Robeson, Shapurji Saklatvala, Henry Salt, W. T. Stead, The Sitwells, Rabindranath Tagore, Ellen Terry, W. B. Yeats, Ensor Walters, Avabai Wadia, Sidney Webb, Beatrice Potter Webb, H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Leonard Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Israel Zangwill.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Shaw wrote book reviews for Pall Mall Gazette (1885-8), art criticism for the World (1886-1894), and musical columns in the Star. From 1895 to 1898, he was a theatre critic for the Saturday Review. He was an art critic for Annie Besant’s Our Corner and later contributed to her Anglo-Indian weekly the Commonweal. Shaw also contributed to H. N. Brailsford’s New Leader, and to a large number of periodicals.

Commonweal (‘Indian Cowardice and Edinburgh Pluck’ I, 26 June 1914, pp. 3-4)

Theosophist (‘Mrs Besant as a Fabian Socialist’ 39, October 1917, pp. 9-19)

Current Thought, Madras (‘The Efficacy of Non-Violence’ I, October 1924, pp. 13-14)

New India, Madras (‘Real Disarmament is Impossible: An Interview with Bernard Shaw' 12, 29 May 1928, evening edition, pp. 1-3)

The Hindu, Madras (‘“Won’t Bear Talking About”: “G.B.S.” on Indian Situation: Reply to Dr. Tagore’s Message’, 19 January 1933, p. 7:5)

The Times (‘In Memory of Mrs. Annie Besant' 20 October 1933)

The Dominion, Wellington, and New Zealand Herald (‘Broadcast Ban on Krishnamurti’ 28 March 1934)

Daily Telegraph (‘Mr G. B. Shaw on the Moscow Lecture’, 17 July 1934, p. 12:7)

Madras Mail (‘How India can Serve the Mahatma: Bernard Shaw’s Advice’, 9, 2 October 1937, pp. 4-6)

Manchester Guardian (‘Light from Mr. Shaw on India’s Problems, 23 January 1939, p. 7)

New York Journal-American (‘Shaw Is Sorry, Not Surprised at India’s “No”’ 6, 12 April 1941, pp. 7-8)

Forward (‘G. B. S. on India’ 36, 12 September 1942, p. 4)

The Times (‘Mr. G. B. Shaw on Gandhi “Blunder”’ 27 February 1943, p. 2)

Daily Sketch (‘“G. B. S.” Gives These Views on India, 28 August 1943, p. 4)

Reynolds News (‘G. B. Shaw Gives Churchill a Tip about India’, 1 October 1944, p. 3)

Manchester Guardian (‘Mr Bernard Shaw & the Split Vote Against Mr Amery’, 30 June 1945, p. 6)

The Hindu, Madras (‘Shaw on India’s Demand’, 28 March 1946, p. 5)

New York World-Telegram (‘Shaw Solves India and Other Problems’, 11 May 1946, p. 9)

Times of Ceylon Sunday Illustrated (‘Shaw on New India’, 23 June 1946, p. 3)

Daily Worker (‘Shaw is Questioned on India’, 30 December 1946, p. 2)

New York Journal-American (‘Shaw Sees Little Indian Harmony’, 24 February 1947, p. 2)

Cavalcade (‘G. B. S. on India’, IX, 3 December 1947, p. 4)

The Freethinker (‘G.B.S. and Mrs. Besant’, 63, 11 January 1948, p. 19)


Cecil Chesterton, Temple Bar 8, August 1906, pp. 97-107

Harold J. Laski, The Rev. M. C. D’Arcy, A. L. Rowse and Kenneth Pickthorn, Criterion 8.31, December 1928, pp. 185-214 (Intelligent Woman’s Guide)

J. S. Collins, Aryan Path 4.3, March 1933, pp. 191-5 (The Adventure of the Black Girl in Her Search for God)


Shaw in Bombay Extols Gandhi  

BOMBAY, Jan. 8. George Bernard Shaw arrived in India for the first time today, confessing his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi as ‘a clear-headed man who occurs only once in several centuries’.

Bronzed by the Eastern sun, Mr. Shaw stood on the deck of the Empress of Britain, which is taking him on a world cruise, and gave Indian newspaper men rapid-fire opinions of the Mahatma and Indian affairs generally.

‘It is very hard for people to understand Gandhi, with the result that he gets tired of people and threatens a fast to kill himself’, Mr. Shaw said. ‘If I saw Gandhi I should say to him, “Give it up, it is not your job.”

‘The people who are the most admired are the people who kill the most. If Gandhi killed 6,000,000 people he would instantly become an important person. All this talk of disarmament is nonsense, for if people disarm they will fight with their fists.’

Referring to Mr. Gandhi’s present crusade against Untouchability, Mr. Shaw said that if an English labourer proposed to marry a duchess he would very soon find out that he was an Untouchable.

‘That gives me enough to think about without bothering to know anything about the Indian Untouchables’, said the author, with a grin.

Indian affairs, he continued, would henceforth have to be dealt with by Indians themselves.

‘In any future disputes between the Indians and British Governments India must not expect any support from other countries’, he declared. ‘From the viewpoint of population, India is the centre of the British Empire. It is quite possible that in the future, instead of India wanting to be separated from England, the time will come when England would make a desperate struggle to get separated from India.'

Secondary works: 

Bax, Clifford (ed.), Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw and W. B. Yeats (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1941)

Dutt, Rajani Palme, George Bernard Shaw: A Memoir, and ‘The Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, the famous 1921 article by George Bernard Shaw (London: Labour Monthly, 1951)

Joad, C. E. M. (ed.), Shaw and Society (London: Odhams Press, 1953)

Lawrence, Dan H., Bernard Shaw: A Bibliography, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983)

Rao, Valli, ‘Seeking the Unknowable: Shaw in India’, Shaw 5, special issue, ‘Shaw Abroad’, ed. by Rodelle Weintraub (1985), pp. 181-209

Shah, Hiralal Amritlal, ‘Bernard Shaw in Bombay’, Shaw Bulletin 1.10 (November 1956), pp. 8-10


The extract shows Shaw’s admiration for Gandhi; Shaw makes an insightful comment on India’s position within the British Empire, and describes the caste system as analogous with the English class system.

Archive source: 

George Bernard Shaw Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Fabian Society Archives and Bernard Shaw Collection, Archives Division, London School of Economics Library

Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Bernard F. Burgunder Collection of George Bernard Shaw, Department of Manuscripts and Archives, Cornell University Libraries, Ithaca, New York

1933-40 correspondence and papers related to ‘Political Science in America’ lecture, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries, New York

Manuscript Collections, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
02 Oct 1950
Location of death: 
Ayot Saint Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Apr 1876
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Shaw's Corner, Ayot Saint Lawrence, Hertfordshire

Leonard Woolf


Leonard Sidney Woolf was born in Kensington, London, to Sidney Woolf QC and Marie de Jongh. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he befriended Saxon Sydney-Turner, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, and Thoby Stephen (son of Sir Leslie Stephen, brother of Virginia and Vanessa). Out of these friendships of the so-called 'Apostles' the 'Bloomsbury Group' emerged.

In 1904, Woolf joined the Colonial Civil Service in Ceylon but resigned in 1912 because of his growing disillusionment with imperialism, but also because he had fallen in love with Virginia Stephen. Leonard and Virginia married in 1912 and Virginia took Leonard's family name. After Virginia's death in 1941, Woolf continued to oversee and publish her uncollected essays and a selection of her diaries.

Woolf was a member of the Fabian Society and in 1916 wrote two Fabian reports that were to become part of the basis of the League of Nations. His anti-imperialism, socialism, and internationalism found expression in a number of books and pamphlets, and from 1919 to 1945 he served as secretary to the Labour Party's advisory committees on international and imperial questions. Woolf also became involved in editing the Nation, the Political Quarterly and the New Statesman. More significantly, he and Virginia established the Hogarth Press in 1917. In 1942, he provided the Introduction to Mulk Raj Anand's Letters to India

Leonard Woolf suffered a stroke and died on 14 August 1969 at Monk's House, a cottage in Rodmell he and Virginia had bought in 1919.

Published works: 

The Village in the Jungle (London: Edward Arnold, 1913)

The Wise Virgins: A Story of Words, Opinions, and a Few Emotions (London: Edward Arnold, 1914)

Co-Operation and the Future of Industry (London: Allen & Unwin, 1918) 

Economic Imperialism (London and New York: Swarthmore, 1920)

Empire and Commerce in Africa: A Study in Economic Imperialism (London: Allen & Unwin, 1920)

Mandates and Empire (League of Nations Union, 1920)

International Co-Operative Trade (London: Fabian, 1922)

After the Deluge: A Study of Communal Psychology (London: Hogarth Press, 1931)

The Intelligent Man's Way to Prevent War (London: Gollancz, 1933)

(with Mary Adams) The Modern State (London: Allen & Unwin, 1933)

(with Virginia Woolf) Quack, Quack!: Essays on Unreason and Superstition in Poltics, Belief and Thought (London: Leonard and Virginia Woolf, 1935)

After the Deluge, Vol. 2 (London: Hogarth Press, 1939)

Barbarians at the Gate (London: Victor Gollancz, 1939)

The Hotel (London: Hogarth Press, 1939)

The War for Peace (London: Routledge, 1940)

Foreign Policy: The Labour Party's Dilemma (London: Fabian Publications, 1947)

Principia Politica: A Study of Communal Psychology (London: Hogarth Press, 1953)

Sowing: An Autobiography of the Years 1880-1904 (London: Hogarth Press, 1960)

Growing: An Autobiography of the Years 1904-1911 (London: Hogarth Press, 1961)

Diaries in Ceylon, 1908-1911. Records of a Colonial Administrator. Being the Official Diaries Maintained by Leonard Woolf While Assistant Government Agent of the Hambantota District, Ceylon, During the Period August 1908 to May 1911. Edited with a Preface by Leonard Woolf. And, Stories from the East: Three Short Stories on Ceylon by Leonard Woolf (Dehiwala, 1962)

Beginning Again: An Autobiography of the Years 1911-1918 (London: Hogarth Press, 1964)

A Calendar of Consolation: A Comforting Thought for Every Day in the Year (London: Hogarth Press, 1967)

Downhill All the Way: An Autobiography of the Years 1919-1939 (London: Hogarth Press, 1967)

The Journey Not the Arrival Matters: An Autobiography of the Years 1939-1969 (London: Hogarth Press, 1969)

In Savage Times: Leonard Woolf on Peace and War (Garland Publishing Inc, [1925-1944] 1973)

(with Frederic Spotts) Letters of Leonard Woolf (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989)

(with Trekkie Ritchie Parsons and Judith Adamson) Love Letters (London: Chatto & Windus, 2001)

A Tale Told by Moonlight (London: Hesperus, 2006)

Date of birth: 
25 Nov 1880

Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, Clive Bell, Vanessa Bell, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Robert Graves, Hsiao Ch'ien, Aldous Huxley, John Maynard Keynes, Harold Laski, Desmond MacCarthy, G. E. Moore, Herbert Read, Bertrand Russell, Nikhil Sen, Ranjee Shahani, Thoby Stephen, Lytton Strachey, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Virginia Woolf.

Contributions to periodicals: 


Nation and Athenaeum (literary editor, 1923-30)

New Statesman

Political Quarterly (co-founder)

Secondary works: 

Bell, Quentin, Virginia Woolf: A Biography (London: Hogarth, 1972)

Boehmer, Elleke, Empire, the Nation and the Postcolonial (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Coates, Irene, Who's Afraid of Leonard Woolf?: A Case for the Sanity of Virginia Woolf (New York: SoHo Press, 2000)

Cole, M., 'Woolf, Leonard Sidney', in Joyce M. Bellamy and John Saville (eds) Dictionary of Labour Biography, Vol. 5 (London: Macmillan, 1979)

Crick, Bernard R., Robson, William Alexander and Woolf, Leonard, Protest and Discontent (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970)

De Silva, M. C. W. Prabhath, Leonard Woolf, A British Civil Servant as a Judge in the Hambantora District of Colonial Sri Lanka, 1908-1911 (Kandy, Sri Lanka: M. C. W. P. de Silva, 1996)

Funke, Sarah, Virginia & Leonard Woolf (New York: Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, 2002)

Glendinning, Victoria, Leonard Woolf (London: Simon & Schuster, 2006)

Lee, Hermione, Virginia Woolf: A Biography (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996)

Luedeking, Leila, and Edmonds, Michael, Leonard Woolf: A Bibliography (Winchester: St Paul's Bibliographies, 1992)

Meyerowitz, Selma S., Leonard Woolf (Boston: Twayne, 1982)

Ondaatje, Christopher, Woolf in Ceylon: An Imperial Journey in the Shadow of Leonard Woolf, 1904-1911 (Toronto, Ont.: HarperCollins, 2005)

Rosenbaum, S. P., Edwardian Bloomsbury (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994)

Rosenbaum, S. P., Georgian Bloomsbury: The Early Literary History of the Bloomsbury Group, 1910-1914 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Rosenbaum, S. P., Victorian Bloomsbury: The Early Literary History of the Bloomsbury Group (London: Macmillan, 1987)

Rosenbaum, S. P., 'Woolf, Leonard Sidney (1880-1960)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Rosenfeld, Natania, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)

Seaburg, Alan, 52 Tavistock Square: Poems (Cambridge, MA: Anne Miniver Press, 1994)

Spater, George, and Parsons, Ian, A Marriage of True Minds: An Intimate Portrait of Leonard and Virginia Woolf (London: Hogarth Press, 1977)

Willis, J. H., Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: The Hogarth Press, 1917-41 (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1992)

Wilson, Duncan, and Eisenberg, J., Leonard Woolf: A Political Biography (London: Hogarth Press, 1978)

Wilson, Jean Moorcroft, Leonard Woolf: Pivot or Outsider of Bloomsbury (London: Cecil Woolf, 1994)

Wilson, Peter, The International Theory of Leonard Woolf (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Woolf, Virginia, The Letters of Virginia Woolf (London: Hogarth, 1980)

Woolf, Virginia, Bell, Anne Olivier and McNeillie, Andrew, The Diary of Virginia Woolf, 5 vols (London: Hogarth, 1977-1984)

Woolmer, J. Howard, and Gaither, Mary E., Checklist of the Hogarth Press, 1917-1946, new and revised edn (Winchester: St Paul's Bibliographies, 1986)

Archive source: 

Correspondence and literary papers, Berg Collection of the New York Public Library

Correspondence, family papers and literary Mss, University of Sussex Special Collections

University of Texas, Austin

Letters to John Lehmann, Add. MS 56234, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Saxon Sydney-Turner, Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Letters to Julian Bell, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to John Maynard Keynes and Lady Keynes, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to G. H. W. Rylands, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Charleston Papers, King's College, Cambridge

Letters to William Plomer, University of Durham Library

Letters to Norah Smallwood, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

Hogarth Press Archives, University of Reading

Monks House Papers, University of Sussex Special Collections

'Leonard Woolf', BBC Radio 3, 17 February 1970, P503R, National Sound Archive, British Library

Performance recordings, National Sound Archive, British Library

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Leonard Sidney Woolf

Date of death: 
14 Aug 1969
Location of death: 
Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex

Shah Abdul Majid Qureshi


Shah Abdul Majid Qureshi was born in a village in Sylhet, the eldest of three brothers and a sister. His father was forced to sell his land after spending much of his income on educating his sons, and the family lived in impoverished circumstances. To escape a life of hardship and help his family, Qureshi decided to follow the example of many of his fellow Sylhetis and try to get work on a ship with a view to migrating to America or Britain. With this in mind, he left for Calcutta in 1934. After various failed attempts, he finally managed to escape from a ship docked at Tilbury, making his way to east London where he found lodgings with other recently arrived Sylhetis.

Qureshi began his working life in Britain selling chocolates in pubs. He soon moved on to working in various Indian restaurants (including the Bengal Restaurant in Percy Street) and, in 1938, opened his first restaurant, Dilkush Delight, in Windmill Street, Soho. By 1944, he owned a different restaurant off Charlotte Street. This became known as the 'India Centre' because numerous politically active South Asians congregated there for meetings. During this period, Qureshi himself became involved in political and welfare activities concerning the South Asian community in London. He was an active member of the Hindustani Social Club and co-founder (with Ayub Ali) and President of the Indian Seamen's Welfare League. He also attended some India League meetings. A Muslim, Qureshi worshipped at the East London Mosque and helped form the London Muslim League with Abbas Ali.

Qureshi married on his first return trip to Sylhet in 1946 and eventually, in the 1970s, brought his wife and children to England where the family remained.


Adams, Caroline, Across Seven Seas and Thirteen Rivers (London: THAP, 1987), pp. 140–77

Date of birth: 
25 Sep 1915

This is a transcript of an oral narrative by Shah Abdul Majid Qureshi in which he recounts his reasons for migration to Britain and the conditions and events of his life after migration.


Abbas Ali, Ayub Ali, Mushraf Ali, Taslim Ali (early pioneer of facilities for Muslims in Britain), Surat Alley, Syed Tofussil Ally, Mulk Raj Anand (both attended inaugural meeting of East End branch of India League), B. B. Ray Chaudhuri (on the executive committee of the Indian Seamen's Welfare League), Abdul Hamid (barrister and involved with Indian Seamen's Welfare League), Kundan Lal Jalie, Krishna Menon, Narayana Menon (both attended inaugural meeting of East End branch of India League), Mr Nandev (helped him out with restaurant), Mr Rahim and Mr Yassim (original owners of Shafi’s Restaurant), Said Amir Shah (both attended inaugural meeting of East End branch of India League), Maharaja of Siraikullah (served him and his party at restaurant), Dr C. B. Vakil (on the executive committee of the Indian Seamen's Welfare League).


In 1938, I saved enough to open my own restaurant - in Windmill Street. I can claim that I was the first Sylhetti man to own a restaurant...At that time most of the customers were Indians...We used to get English customers too - those English people who had been in the Indian Civil Service and all that...Then the student community from Bengal, they started coming, because they knew that they wouldn't have any worry for shelter, and they could find work as waiters, and at the same time they used to take admission in the Law Institutes, or in any institution. Students from all Bengal - East and West, Hindu and Muslim. So all the credit goes to that fellow who started the restaurants.

Secondary works: 

Adams, Caroline, Across Seven Seas and Thirteen Rivers (London: THAP, 1987)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)



The above extract emphasizes the pioneering work of early working-class South Asian migrants and how they impacted on British culture through the establishment of South Asian restaurants which, even in this early period, were frequented by the British as well as by South Asians. It also hints at the cross-class interactions among South Asians (waiters and students) and at the role of Indian restaurants as community meeting places where people congregated to socialize and sometimes to mobilize politically. The fact that the two restaurants owned by Qureshi were in Soho indicates the presence of working-class South Asians in the very heart of London.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/455, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/630, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/646, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

 Attended Indian Seamen’s Welfare League meetings

 Attended Hindustani Social Club meetings and events

City of birth: 
Patli-Qureshbari, Jaganathpur, Sylhet
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Other names: 

Moina Meah


Percy Street
London, W1T 2DA
United Kingdom
51° 31' 6.006" N, 0° 8' 0.6072" W
Dilkush Delight
Windmill Street
London, W1T 2JU
United Kingdom
51° 31' 8.0904" N, 0° 8' 1.194" W
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1936
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1936-46, 19??-67, 1975/6-

Krishna Menon


V. K. Krishna Menon was an activist, councillor, diplomat, lawyer and editor. Born in Calicut, south India, he attended the Native High School there before studying for a BA at Presidency College, Madras, and attending Madras Law College. Encouraged by Annie Besant, he travelled to England in 1924, originally to take up a job at a Theosophists' school in Letchworth. In England, he continued studying law, and was called to the Bar in 1934. He also studied at the London School of Economics under Harold Laski, gaining a BSc and an MSc in politics as well as a teaching diploma.

Menon joined the Commonwealth of India League on his arrival in England, becoming joint secretary in 1928 and transforming the organization into the India League, with Indian self-rule as its stated goal. For the next two decades, he campaigned tirelessly for the India League alongside key British political figures such as Bertrand Russell, Harold Laski, Michael Foot and Fenner Brockway, as well as other Indians in Britain. Financing most of the activities himself, he held meetings, organized events, addressed groups, produced articles and pamphlets, and lobbied key Labour MPs. In 1932 he organized and, with Labour MPs, participated in a delegation to investigate social, economic and political conditions in India, publishing the findings one year later. The publication, Condition of India, with a preface by Russell and a cover by artist Eric Gill, was banned in India. Menon also enjoyed a close working relationship and friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru, helping to put forward Congress's position in Britain and coordinating Nehru's visit to England in 1935.

Krishna Menon edited the Twentieth Century Library series for the Bodley Head from 1932 to 1935, and became founding editor of Pelican Books, the non-fiction, educational imprint of Penguin Books, in 1935. A committed socialist, he was concerned with the plight of working-class Indians in Britain - supporting the lascar strikes of the late 1930s, for example - as well as that of their British counterparts. He was Labour councillor for the Borough of St Pancras from 1934 to 1939 and from 1944 to 1947, working alongside Barbara Castle, and an independent councillor from 1940 to 1944. In 1944 he established the St Pancras Arts and Civil Council, and in 1945 he was appointed chairman of the Education and Public Library Committee. In 1955, Menon was made a freeman of the Borough of St Pancras in recognition of his significant contribution. Menon came close to becoming a British Member of Parliament when he was pre-selected by the Labour Party for the safe seat of Dundee in 1939. His candidature was cancelled, however, because of his primary allegiance to India, and he resigned from the Labour Party in protest, rejoining again in 1944.

In 1947, Krishna Menon was appointed independent India's first High Commissioner in the UK. He held this post until 1952 when he returned to India to pursue his political and legal careers there. He died in Delhi in 1974.

Published works: 

Condition of India: Being the Report of the Delegation Sent to India by the India League in 1932 (London: Essential News, 1933)

Why Must India Fight? (London: India League, 1940)

Britain’s Prisoner (London: India League, 1941)

India, Britain and Freedom (London: India League, 1941)

The Situation in India (London, India League, 1943)

Unity with India against Fascism (London: India League, 1943)

Date of birth: 
03 May 1896
Contributions to periodicals: 

Daily Worker

Indian News

India Pictorial

Information Bulletin

Manchester Guardian

New Statesman

News India

Secondary works: 

Arora, K. C., V. K. Krishna Menon: A Biography (New Delhi: Sanchar Publishing House, 1998)

Chakravarty, Suhash, V. K. Krishna Menon and the India League, vols 1 and 2 (New Delhi: Har-Anand, 1997)

Chakravarty, Suhash, Crusader Extraordinary: Krishna Menon and the India League, 1932–6 (New Delhi: India Research Press, 2006)

George, T. G. S., Krishna Menon: A Biography (London: Jonathan Cape, 1964)

Lengyel, Emil, Krishna Menon (New York: Walker Books, 1962)

Ram, Janaki, Krishna Menon: A Personal Memoir (Delhi and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Silverman, Julius, ‘The India League’, in A Centenary History of the Indian National Congress, 1885–1985 (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1985)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/448-56, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Krisha Menon Papers, Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, New Delhi

‘India League Collection with Handbills, 1941-1960’, Serial No. 439, Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, New Delhi

‘Documents Relating to the India League’, Miscellaneous Microform Collections, Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge

Involved in events: 

Delegation to investigate conditions in India, 1932

World Peace Congress in Brussels, 1936 (as nominee of Congress)

Second World War (air warden in St Pancras)

Indian Independence, 1947 (appointed High Commissioner in the UK)

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon

V. K. Krishna Menon


57 Camden Square
London, NW1 9XA
United Kingdom
51° 30' 26.5428" N, 0° 7' 41.4768" W
Date of death: 
06 Oct 1974
Location of death: 
New Delhi, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jun 1924
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Attia Hosain


Attia Hosain was born into a wealthy landowning family in northern India. Her father was educated at Cambridge University, and her mother was the founder of an institute for women's education and welfare. Hosain attended the Isabella Thoburn College at the University of Lucknow, becoming the first woman from a landowning family to graduate in 1933. She also undertook private tuition in Urdu and Persian at home, where she was brought up according to the Muslim tradition. Influenced by the left-wing, nationalist politics of her Cambridge-educated brother and his friends, Hosain became involved with the All-India Progressive Writers’ Association, a group of socialist writers which included Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand and Sajjad Zaheer. Encouraged by the poet and political activist Sarojini Naidu, she attended the 1933 All-India Women’s Conference in Calcutta, reporting on it for Lucknow and Calcutta newspapers. In this period, she also began to write short stories.

In 1947, determined to avoid going to the newly created Pakistan, Hosain left India for Britain with her husband, Ali Bahadur Habibullah, who undertook war repatriation work. The couple had two children, and Hosain chose to remain in Britain. She continued to write and began work as a broadcaster, presenting a woman's programme for the Indian Section of the Eastern Service of the BBC from 1949. During her time at the BBC, she broadcast on a wide range of topics, from art to music to religion to cinema. As well as reading scripts, she participated in discussion programmes and acted as a roving reporter for the Weekend Review. In 1953 she published her first work of fiction, a collection of short stories titled Phoenix Fled. This was followed in 1961 by her only novel, Sunlight on a Broken Column.

Published works: 

'Of Meals and Memories', in Loaves and Wishes: Writers Writing on Food, ed. by Antonia Till (London: Virago, 1992), pp. 141-6

Phoenix Fled (London: Chatto & Windus, 1953)

Sunlight on a Broken Column (London: Chatto & Windus, 1961)

Date of birth: 
20 Oct 1913
Contributions to periodicals: 

The Pioneer (Calcutta)

The Statesman (Calcutta)


E. L. Sturch, Times Literary Supplement, 4 December 1953 (Phoenix Fled)

Secondary works: 

‘Attia Hosain’, SALIDAA: South Asia Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive []

Bharucha, Nilufer E., ‘I am a Universalist-Humanist’, Biblio 3.7-8 (July - August 1998)

Bondi, Laura, ‘An Image of India by an Indian Woman: Attia Hosain’s Life and Fiction’, unpublished MA thesis (University Degli Studio Venezia, 1993)

Burton, Antoinette, Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Desai, Anita, ‘Hosain, Attia Shahid’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography []

Holmstrom, Lakshmi, ‘Attia Hosain: Her Life and Work’, Indian Review of Books 8-9 (1991)

Archive source: 

Six radio scripts broadcast by Hosain, BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading

Involved in events: 

All-India Women’s Conference, Calcutta, 1933

Participant in the First All-India Progressive Writers’ Conference, Lucknow, 1936

Acted in Peter Mayne’s West End play The Bird of Time, London, 1961

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
23 Jan 1998
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1947
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1947 until death


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