Keir Hardie


James Keir Hardie, originally James Kerr, was the son of Mary Kerr, a Scottish farm servant. His father was probably William Aitken, a miner from Holytown, but Mary Kerr brought up her son alone before meeting David Hardie, a former ship’s carpenter, who she married in 1859. Hardie is said to have raised his wife’s first son as his own, and he became known as James Keir Hardie. The family moved between Glasgow and the nearby countryside, suffering periods of poverty caused by unemployment. Keir Hardie received no formal education and started work as a miner at the age of 10. His early experiences of poverty were formative to his politicization. At the age of 17, he joined the Temperance Movement, and soon afterwards he became involved in miners’ associations becoming secretary of the Hamilton District Branch of the Lanarkshire Miners’ Union at the age of 21. At a similar time, he became a committed Christian, joining the Evangelical Union, a branch of the United Secession Church, in 1877. It was through the church that he met his future wife, Lillias Balfour Wilson, who he married in 1879. The couple had four children.

Hardie left the mines for trade union work in 1879, eventually becoming secretary of the Ayrshire Miners’ Union. He then progressed to party politics, rejecting liberalism for socialism, and launching his own monthly paper, the Labour Leader. Having moved to London in 1891, Hardie was returned for West Ham South as an ‘independent Labour’ candidate in the General Election of 1892. Described by his biographer Kenneth O. Morgan as the ‘prophet and evangelist’ of the Labour Party, Hardie played a key role in the major events of its early history, including the founding of the Independent Labour Party in 1893 and that of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 - which became the Labour Party in 1906. Defeated in 1896, he was elected MP to Merthyr Tudful in 1900. In 1906, he was elected first chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party but resigned from the post in 1907. Both within and outwith Parliament, he campaigned tirelessly for the unemployed, free schooling, pensions, Indian self-rule and, perhaps most of all, women’s rights. He had a close friendship with the Pankhurst family, particularly Sylvia who was probably his lover. Hardie was also a pacifist and outspoken in his criticism of the First World War.

Hardie was an internationalist and vociferous critic of the British Government in India, frequently calling for Indian self-rule in Parliament. On 20 July 1906, he made a particularly harsh denunciation of conditions in India, including death rates, low wages and the exclusion of Indians from local government, receiving support from many of his fellow Labour MPs. The following year, he toured India. He gave numerous speeches there, exposing the corruption of the Raj, speaking out in favour of Indian self-determination and against racism, advocating non-violent agitation, and encouraging the Congress Party. He was accompanied on his tours by the revolutionary Indian Nationalist B. G. Tilak as well as leaders of the swadeshi movement J. Chowdhury and Surendranath Banerjea, and is said to have peppered his speeches with the slogan ‘Bande Mataram’, even though he advocated a gradual extension of self-government rather than immediate withdrawal. Hardie’s tour of India alarmed the British authorities, and was stirred up by the press. There were calls for him to be deported and accusations of sedition. On his return, he continued speaking out for Indian self-rule in the House of Commons, campaigning (unsuccessfully) for the release from prison of Tilak, and publishing in 1909 India: Impressions and Suggestions which was formative to the Labour Party’s position on India for the next fifty years.

Published works: 


From Serfdom to Socialism (London: The Labour Ideal, 1907)

India: Impressions and Suggestions (London: Indendent Labour Party, 1909)

Several pamphlets including:

The Mines Nationalization Bill (1893)

The Unemployed Problem and Some Suggestions for Solving it (1904)

The Citizenship of Women: A Plea for Women’s Suffrage (1906)

Indian Budget Speech, Delivered in the House of Commons on July 22nd, 1908 (1908)

Socialism and Civilisation (1910)

Labour and Christianity (1910)

Killing No Murder! The Government and the Railway Strike (1911)

Radicals and Reform (1912)

Date of birth: 
15 Aug 1856

Surendranath Banerjea, Fenner Brockway (disciple), John Burns, J. Chowdhury, Charlotte Despard, Friedrich Engels, Michael Foot, S. K. Gokhale, Emrys Hughes (son-in-law), Ramsay MacDonald, John Morley, Christabel Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst (friend and lover), George Bernard Shaw, B. J. Tilak, Beatrice Webb.

Independent Labour Party, Labour Party.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Wrote articles for several periodicals including:

International Socialist Review

Labour Prophet

New Liberal Review

Nineteenth Century

Socialist Review

Hardie also wrote weeky columns for the Labour Leader and the Merthyr Pioneer

Secondary works: 

Benn, Caroline, Keir Hardie (London: Hutchinson, 1992)

Cole, G. D. H., Keir Hardie (London: Victor Gollancz and the Fabian Society, 1941)

Hughes, Emrys (ed.), Keir Hardie’s Writings and Speeches, from 1888 to 1915, preface by Nan Hardie (Glasgow: Forward Publishing Company, 1928)

Hughes, Emrys, Keir Hardie (London: Allen & Unwin, 1956)

Morgan, Kenneth O., Keir Hardie: Radical and Socialist (London: Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1975)

Morgan, Kenneth O., ‘Keir Hardie’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33696]

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Baird Institute History Centre and Museum, Cumnock

Correspondence, diary and papers, Labour History Archive and Study Centre, Manchester

Correspondence and papers (including Indian travel notes), National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Correspondence with John Burns, Add. MS 46287, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence with Lord Gladstone, Add. Mss 46062–46068, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to George Bernard Shaw, Add. MS 50538, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to the Fabian Society, British Library of Political and Economic Science

Independent Labour Party National Administrative Council Mss, British Library of Political and Economic Science

Correspondence with Sylvia Pankhurst, Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam

Correspondence with G. W. Balfour, National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh

Letters to George Saunders Jacobs, Newham Archive and Local Studies Library, London

Emrys Hughes Mss, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Letters to niece Agnes, National Register of Archives, private collection

Hedley Dennis Mss, National Register of Archives, private collection

City of birth: 
Laigbrannock, near Glasgow
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

James Kerr

James Keir Hardie

Date of death: 
26 Sep 1915
Location of death: 

Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland

Neville’s Court, off Fleet Street, London

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), [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37833]

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

Virginia Woolf


Born in 1882 to Julia and Leslie Stephen, Adeline Virginia Stephen would become a prominent modernist and feminist writer and a central figure of the 'Bloomsbury Group'. From her early childhood, her parents had encouraged her to write. The deaths of her mother, Julia, in 1895 and her step-sister, Stella, in 1897 were followed by those of her father, Leslie, in 1904 and her brother, Thoby, in 1906. This decade of family deaths had a profound effect on Virginia. She was survived by an older sister, Vanessa, who would also become part of the Bloomsbury Group, and aher brother, Adrian.

Virginia spent part of her childhood in Talland House near St Ives, Cornwall, and the rest in Kensington, London. Her memories of St Ives and of sexual abuse by her half-brother, George Duckworth, are prominent in her writing about her childhood. In the years following the deaths of her father and brother, Virginia’s mental health began to decline and she sank into depression and attempted suicide in 1913.

After her father’s death, Virginia and her siblings moved from Kensington to Bloomsbury. In Bloomsbury, Thoby introduced his two sisters to a group of men he had met in Cambridge: Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, E. M. Forster and John Maynard Keynes. In 1912, Virginia married Leonard Woolf. The couple embarked on a life of writing and publishing. Virginia published her first novel, The Voyage Out, in 1915. In 1917, she and Leonard set up the Hogarth Press which published their own work as well as work by T. S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, E. M. Forster, Maynard Keynes and Freud, among others, and that of Indian writers Ahmed Ali and Rajani Palme Dutt. Virginia went on to publish a string of modernist novels.

After the Woolf’s Bloomsbury home was bombed in 1940, they retreated to their country home, Monk’s House, in Sussex. There, Virginia once again slipped into depression, and on 28 March 1941 she drowned herself in the nearby River Ouse.

Published works: 

The Voyage Out (London: Duckworth, 1915)

Night and Day (London: Duckworth, 1919)

Jacob's Room (London: L. & V. Woolf, 1922)

The Common Reader (London: Hogarth, 1925)

Mrs Dalloway (London: L. & V. Woolf, 1925) 

To the Lighthouse (London: Hogarth, 1927)

Orlando: A Biography (London: L. & V. Woolf, 1928)

A Room of One's Own (London: Hogarth, 1929)

On Being III (London: Hogarth, 1930)

The Waves (London: Hogarth, 1931)

The London Scene: Five Essays (London: Hogarth, [1931-2] 1982)

The Common Reader: Second Series (London: Hogarth, 1932

(with Leonard Woolf) The Hogarth Letters (London: Hogarth, 1933)

The Years (London: Hogarth, 1937)

Three Guineas (London: Hogarth, 1938)

Between the Acts (London: Hogarth, 1941)

The Death of the Moth, and Other Essays (London: Hogarth, 1942)

The Moment, and Other Essays (London: Hogarth, 1947)

The Captain's Death Bed, and Other Essays (London: Hogarth, 1950)

Collected Essays, 4 vols (London: Hogarth, 1966-7)

Moments of Being: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings (London: Chatto & Windus, 1976) 

Books and Portraits: Some Further Selections from the Literary and Biographical Writings of Virginia Woolf (London: Hogarth, 1977)

The Letters of Virginia Woolf, 6 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1975-80)

The Diary of Virginia Woolf, 5 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1977-84)

A Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897-1909 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1990)

Date of birth: 
25 Jan 1882

Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, Clive Bell, Vanessa Bell, Robert Bridges, George Duckworth, Rajani Palme Dutt, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, John Maynard Keynes, Leslie Stephen, Lytton Strachey, Vita Sackville-West, Leonard Sidney Woolf.

Secondary works: 

Abel, Elizabeth, Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis: Women in Culture and Society (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1989) 

Albright, Daniel, Personality and Impersonality: Lawrence, Woolf and Mann (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1978) 

Apter, T. E., Virginia Woolf: A Study of Her Novels (London: Macmillan, 1979) 

Asbee, Sue, Virginia Woolf, Life and Works (Hove: Wayland, 1989) 

Bazin, Nancy Topping, Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1973) 

Bell, Quentin, Virginia Woolf: A Biography, 2 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1972) 

Berman, Jessica Schiff, and Goldman, Jane, Virginia Woolf out of Bounds: Selected Papers on the Tenth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, University of Maryland, Baltimore Country, June 8-11, 2000 (New York: Pace University Press, 2001) 

Bishop, Edward, A Virginia Woolf Chronology (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989)

Blackstone, Bernard, Virginia Woolf: A Commentary (London: Hogarth Press, 1972)

Bowlby, Rachel, Virginia Woolf: Feminist Destinations, Rereading Literature (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988)

Clements, Patricia, and Grundy, Isobel, Virginia Woolf: New Critical Essays (London: Vision, 1983)

Daugherty, Beth Rigel, and Barrett, Eileen, Virginia Woolf: Texts and Contexts (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996)

Davies, Stevie, Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1989)

DeSalvo, Louise A., Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work (London: Women's Press, 1989)

DeSalvo, Louise A., Virginia Woolf's First Voyage: A Novel in the Making (London: Macmillan, 1980) 

DiBattista, Maria, Virginia Woolf's Major Novels: The Fables of Anon (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980)

Dick, Susan, Virginia Woolf: Modern Fiction (London: Edward Arnold, 1989)

Donahue, Delia, The Novels of Virginia Woolf (Roma: Bulzoni Editore, 1977)

Dowling, David, Bloomsbury Aesthetics and the Novels of Forster (London: Macmillan, 1985)

Dunn, Jane, A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf (London: Cape, 1990)

Ferrer, Daniel, Virginia Woolf and the Madness of Language (London: Routledge, 1990)

Fleishman, Avrom, Virginia Woolf: A Critical Reading (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975)

Fox, Alice, Virginia Woolf and the Literature of the English Renaissance (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990)

Freedman, Ralph, Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity: A Collection of Essays (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1980)

Goldman, Mark, The Reader's Art: Virginia Woolf as Literary Critic (The Hague: Mouton, 1976)

Gordon, Lyndall, Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984)

Gordon, Lyndall, 'Woolf, (Adeline) Virginia (1882-1941)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37018]

Gorsky, Susan Rubinow, Virginia Woolf (Boston, MA: Twayne, 1978)

Harper, Howard, Between Language and Silence: The Novels of Virginia Woolf (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1982)

Hawthorn, Jeremy, Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs Dalloway': A Study in Alienation, Text and Context (London: Chatto & Windus for Sussex University Press, 1975)

Johnson, Manly, Virginia Woolf (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1973)

Kelley, Alice van Buren, The Novels of Virginia Woolf: Fact and Vision (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1973)

Kennedy, Richard, A Boy at the Hogarth Press (London: The Whitington Press, 1972)

Kiely, Robert, Beyond Egotism: The Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D. H. Lawrence (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 1980)

Kirkpatrick, B. J., A Bibliography of Virginia Woolf, 4th edn (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997)

Kumar, Shiv K., Virginia Woolf and Intuition (Folcroft, PA: Folcroft Library Editions, 1977)

Leaska, Mitchell A., The Novels of Virginia Woolf: From Beginning to End (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979)

Lee, Hermione, The Novels of Virginia Woolf (London: Methuen, 1977)

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

Lehmann, John, Virginia Woolf and Her World (London: Thames & Hudson, 1975)

Lewis, Thomas S. W., Virginia Woolf: A Collection of Criticism, Contemporary Studies in Literature (New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1975)

Love, Jean O., Virginia Woolf: Sources of Madness and Art (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1977)

Majumdar, Robin, and MacLaurin, Allen, Virginia Woolf: The Critical Heritage (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975)

Marcus, Jane, New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf (London: Macmillan, 1981)

Marcus, Jane, Virginia Woolf: A Feminist Slant (Lincoln, NB, and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1983)

Marcus, Jane, Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury: A Centenary Celebration (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1987)

McLaurin, Allen, Virginia Woolf: The Echoes Enslaved (London: Cambridge University Press, 1973)

McNichol, Stella, Virginia Woolf and the Poetry of Fiction (London: Routledge, 1990)

Meisel, Perry, The Absent Father: Virginia Woolf and Walter Pater (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980)

Miller, C. Ruth, Virginia Woolf: The Frames of Art and Life (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988)

Minow-Pinkney, Makiko, Virginia Woolf and the Problem of the Subject (Brighton: Harvester, 1987)

Mittal, S. P., The Aesthetic Venture (Delhi: Ajanta, 1985)

Moore, Madeline, The Short Season between Two Silences: The Mystical and the Political in the Novels of Virginia Woolf (Boston, MA, and London: Allen & Unwin, 1984)

Naremore, James, The World without a Self: Virginia Woolf and the Novel (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1973)

Nicolson, Nigel, Vita and Harold: The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992)

Noble, Joan Russell, Recollections of Virginia Woolf (London: Peter Owen, 1972)

Novak, Jane, The Razor Edge of Balance: A Study of Virginia Woolf (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1975)

Panken, Shirley, Virginia Woolf and The 'Lust of Creation': A Psychoanalytic Exploration (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987)

Parasuram, Laxmi, Virginia Woolf: The Emerging Reality (Burdwan: University of Burdwan, 1978)

Poole, Roger, The Unknown Virginia Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978)

Poresky, Louise A., The Elusive Self: Psyche and Spirit in Virginia Woolf's Novels (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 1981)

Radin, Grace, Virginia Woolf's 'The Years': The Evoluton of a Novel (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981)

Rice, Thomas Jackson, Virginia Woolf: A Guide to Research (New York and London: Garland, 1984)

Roe, Sue, Writing and Gender: Virginia Woolf's Writing Practice (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990)

Rose, Phyllis, Woman of Letters: A Life of Virginia Woolf (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978)

Rosenbaum, Stanford Patrick, The Bloomsbury Group: A Collection of Memoirs, Commentary and Criticism (London: Croom Helm, 1975)

Rosenthal, Michael, Virginia Woolf (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979)

Schlack, Beverly Ann, Continuing Presences: Virginia Woolf's Use of Literary Allusion (University Park and London: Pennsylvannia State University Press, 1979) 

Schug, Charles, The Romantic Genesis of the Modern Novel: Critical Essays in Modern Literature (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979; London: Feffer & Simons, 1979)

Sharma, K. K., Modern Fictional Theorists: Virginia Woolf & D. H. Lawrence (Ghaziabad: Vimal Prakashan, 1981)

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

Spilka, Mark, Virginia Woolf's Quarrel with Grieving (Lincoln, NB, and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1980)

Sprague, Claire, Virginia Woolf: A Collection of Critical Essays: Twentieth Century Views (Englewood Cliffs and Hemel Hempstead: Prentice-Hall, 1971)

Steele, Elizabeth, Virginia Woolf's Literary Sources and Allusions: A Guide to the Essays (New York and London: Garland, 1983)

Steele, Elizabeth, Virginia Woolf's Rediscovered Essays: Sources and Allusions (New York and London: Garland, 1987)

Sugiyama, Yoko, Rainbow and Granite: A Study of Virginia Woolf (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1973)

Transue, Pamela J., Virginia Woolf and the Politics of Style (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986)

Trombley, Stephen, All That Summer She Was Mad: Virginia Woolf: Female Victim of Male Medicine (New York: Continuum, 1982)

Warner, Eric, Virginia Woolf: A Centenary Perspective (London: Macmillan, 1984)

Wheare, Jane, Virginia Woolf: Dramatic Novelist (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1989)

Zwerdling, Alex, Virginia Woolf and the Real World (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1986)

Archive source: 

Notebook, Add. MS 61837, British Library, St Pancras

Memoir of her father, British Library, St Pancras

Papers, Girton College, Cambridge

Correspondence and literary papers, Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives

Literary MSS and notebooks, Berg Collection, New York Public Library

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

Letters to S. S. Koteliansky, Add. MS 48974, British Library, St Pancras

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

Correspondence with Society of Authors, Add. MS 63351, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence with Theodora Bosanquet, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Correspondence with Roger Fry, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

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

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

Letters to W. J. H. Sprott, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to Thoby Stephen, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to Gladys Easdale, London University Library

Letters from T. S. Eliot, Berg Collection, New York Public Library

Letters to Arnold Bennett, University College, London

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Adeline Virginia Stephen

Date of death: 
28 Mar 1941
Location of death: 
River Ouse, Sussex

22 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, London

46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London

29 Fitzroy Square, Bloomsbury, London

Hogarth House, Richmond

Asheham House, Sussex

52 Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, London

37 Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, London

Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex

Avabai Wadia


Of an elite Parsee background, Avabai Wadia arrived in Britain aged 14, accompanied by her mother and to join her brother. She attended Brondesbury and Kilburn High School in London where she was the only South Asian pupil. She excelled at school and went on to train as a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn, becoming the first Ceylonese woman to pass the Bar exams. As a direct consequence of her success, the Law College in Colombo opened its doors to women. She was called to the Bar in 1934 and eventually found a chambers willing to take on a South Asian woman. Committed to women’s rights, Wadia was an active member of a number of women’s organizations in Britain. She was also involved with the Labour Party and the Indian nationalist movement in Britain. On her return to India, she pioneered the family planning movement.

Published works: 

The Light is Ours: Memoirs and Movements (International Planned Parenthood Federation, 2001)


Wadia, Avabai, The Light is Ours: Memoirs and Movements (International Planned Parenthood Federation, 2001), pp. 31, 34-5

Date of birth: 
18 Sep 1913

In The Light is Ours, Wadia documents her stay in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. Her account includes description of her experience of being the only South Asian pupil at a London school, her life as a law student, and her involvement in a number of women’s and Indian nationalist organizations where she encountered a wide range of socially and politically active men and women, both South Asian and Britain.


Annie Besant, Spitam Cama, Charlotte Despard, Pearl Fernando, M. K. Gandhi, Agatha Harrison, Elizabeth Knight, J. Krishnamurthi, Emily Lutyens, K. P. Mehta, Krishna Menon, Herbert Morrison, Sarojini Naidu, Rameshwari Nehru, H. S. L. Polak, Dhanvanthi Rama Rau, Devika Rani, Uday Shankar, George Bernard Shaw, Dorab Tata, Meherbai Tata, Florence Underwood, Monica Whately.


Indians in England in the 1920s and 1930s lived in a totally different milieu from that of today. They were a tiny minority, and were in England as professional or business people, with or without families, or as students, and all faced overt and covert discrimination. We were singular, and singled out – favourably occasionally, but usually as the inferior subjects of a grand empire. This did not mean that we could not lead good lives and have friends for, in spite of an imperial consciousness and ineradicable colour bar, on a personal basis people were friendly and helpful. They were seldom rough, but a barrier between white and brown skins was maintained and caused harm at times. The discrimination was a given, not to be questioned.


My mother, as a good psychologist, decided I would wear sarees to school. This gave me an advantage as my difference from the other girls was then not merely in skin colour but in totality, and to be an individual won a kind of respect…Comments such as “How is it your finger nails are pink just like ours?” showed racial ignorance or prejudice, but there was never unkindness. I was the only Indian among hundreds of girls, although there was one other whose father was Indian, but she had been born and bred in London and counted as English. I had a small distinction all my own, for I spoke and wrote English like the best of the others, and my French teacher said I had the best French accent!

Secondary works: 

Fisher, Michael H., Lahiri, Shompa and Thandi, Shinder S., A South-Asian History of Britain: Four Centuries of Peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent (Oxford and Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood World Publishing, 2007)


Wadia’s memoirs are of interest for the account they give of the reception and treatment of South Asians in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. It is important, however, to bear in mind that she is of an elite background and was probably treated comparatively well by the British as a consequence. The second extract gives evidence of an interesting assertion of cultural difference on the part of Wadia’s mother, as well as of a migrant attempting to compensate for their minority status through academic achievement in this early period.

Involved in events: 

All-India Women’s Conference

British Commonwealth League conferences

Celebration of Gandhi’s 62nd birthday (Women’s Indian Association)

Concerts at the Albert Hall, the Queen’s Hall and the Covent Garden Opera House

Dinner held at the Minerva Club to celebrate 89th birthday of Charlotte Despard, 1933

League of Nations, 1935

Meetings and festivities at Zoroastrian House, Kensington

Performances by the dancer Uday Shankar at the Arts Theatre Club

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
05 May 1928
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Dhanvanthi Rama Rau


Dhanvanthi Rama Rau was born into a Kashmiri Brahmin family in the south-west of India. She attended Presidency College in Madras, graduating in 1917 with an honours degree and the Griggs Gold Medal in English, and progressing to an Assistant Professorship at Queen Mary’s College, Madras. She first arrived in England in 1929, when her husband Benegal Rama Rau, Financial Advisor to the Simon Commission, was asked to travel to England with the other members of the Commission for the writing of their report. Their daughters, Premila and Santha, then aged 9 and 6, travelled with them and became the first Indians to attend the Hall School in Weybridge. Initially the family lived at Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge, before moving to a flat in London when their daughters started to board at school. In her memoirs, Rama Rau describes the racism she experienced in 1930s England, and their struggles to secure a flat for this reason. The family were, however, in part protected by their social status and wealth which allowed them to travel throughout Europe when based in Britain.

In her memoirs, Rama Rau describes her work for organizations campaigning for Indian independence, which took her throughout Britain, as well as for a variety of women’s organizations. In 1932, with a group of Indian women based in London at the time, including Sarojini Naidu, she attended the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship in Berlin, leading the Indian delegation at the behest of Naidu. She continued to work for the Alliance and writes in her memoirs that the meetings gave her her ‘first experience of dealing with international work for women’s rights’ (p. 180). She also founded the Women’s Indian Association, an organization that aimed to provide links between Indian women in Britain and British women interested in India with Indian women in India. She was awarded the Kaisir-i-Hind gold medal by the British Government for her work with women’s associations.

In 1938, Rama Rau’s husband, by then Deputy High Commissioner for India, was called to South Africa by the High Commission. She followed him there, leaving her daughters in the care of a Jewish lodger, Lilian Ulanowsky. War broke out while all of the family were in South Africa the following year, and it was this that triggered their return to India.

Finally settled in Bombay in 1941, Rama Rau immersed herself again in social welfare activities, joining several women’s organizations, including the All-India Women’s Conference of which she was elected President in 1946. The squalid conditions of the Bombay slums led Rama Rau to establish the Family Planning Association of India of which she became President. She also served as President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Published works: 

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


An Inheritance: The Memoirs of Dhanvanthi Rama Rau (London: Heinemann, 1977), pp. 170-1

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1893

This is Dhanvanthi Rama Rau’s autobiography in which she describes her stay in England.


Annie Besant, Sarojini Naidu, Motilal Nehru, Sylvia Pankhurst, Mrs Pethick-Lawrence, Santha Rama Rau, Eleanor Rathbone.

All-India Women’s Conference, British Commonwealth League, Family Planning Association of India, International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Townswomen’s Guilds, Women Citizens Associations, Women’s Indian Association.

Precise DOB unknown: 

I was comparatively young, excitable when slighted, somewhat rash and certainly courageous enough to face so important a person as Eleanor Rathbone in the chair, and women in the audience like Sylvia Pankhurst and Mrs Pethick-Lawrence, stalwarts of the exceedingly controversial suffragette movement. I asked for permission to speak, and was graciously allowed five minutes. I did not speak on any of the subjects on the agenda, but merely disputed the right of British women to arrange a conference on Indian social evils in London, when all the speakers were British and many of them had never even visited India. Not one of them had even asked if there were any Indian women’s organizations that were dealing with the problems on the spot, the same problems that British women were exploring from the great and deceptive distance of fifteen thousand miles. I added that, even though we had offered to help with the conference when arrangements were being made, our offer had been ignored. I told them that educated Indian women were working in every province of their country to eradicate social evils and outmoded customs and prejudices, and we refused to accept the assertion that the removal of social evils in Indian society was the responsibility of the British. We were already assuming the responsibility ourselves, and we were sure we could be more successful than outsiders, especially those who were ignorant of the cultural patterns of our social groups and therefore could not be as effective as our own social reformers.

Secondary works: 

Burton, Antoinette, The Postcolonial Careers of Santha Rama Rau (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007)


Here, Dhanvanthi Rama Rau describes her uninvited participation in a ‘Conference on Indian Social Evils’ called by the MP Eleanor Rathbone. The passage provides a fascinating historical example of western ‘feminist’ constructions of South Asian women as passive and in need of ‘saving’ from cultural and patriarchal constraints. Rama Rau’s intervention here can be read as an act of political resistance against colonialist forms of feminism. Her assertive behaviour offers a glimpse of the ways in which female South Asian subjects might have impacted on British cultural and political life in this early period of migration.

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


Oatlands Park Hotel
Oatlands Drive Surrey
Weybridge, KT13 9HB
United Kingdom
51° 22' 39.4608" N, 0° 26' 6.0576" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1987
Precise date of death unknown: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1929
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1929-30, 1930-4

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