Ethel Mannin, women and the revolution

Issue: 173

John Newsinger

In the closing pages of her Women and the Revolution, published in 1938, Ethel Mannin insisted that women faced a stark choice:

The women of today must either ally themselves with freedom and life, or with oppression and death; either work for a brave new world, or surrender themselves, and their children, to the doomed old world… For make no mistake about it, if the revolution does not come, or is defeated by the powers of reaction, this civilisation must be engulfed in a new world war of the capitalist-imperialist powers, and this country must be caught by the wave of fascist oppression sweeping Europe—and fascism by any other name is the same oppression, the same death of freedom and progress, especially for women.

Mannin goes on to list some of the “fearless, active revolutionary women” whose lives she had chronicled earlier in her book. In particular, there is Louise Michel, who “shouldered a rifle at the barricades for the defence of the Paris Commune”, and Constance Markiewicz, who “was a soldier at the Dublin barricades for the defence of the Irish Republic”. Just in case her readers dismissed these as irrelevant past events, she reminded them of “an epic still wet upon the pages of history…the story of the militia women in the Spanish Revolution of 1936”. She goes on to insist that the urgent need today is for the “Everywoman” to be awakened “to the meaning of social revolution, and how it can serve her and her children…and awakened to the realisation that revolution is not exclusively man’s business, no mere affair of politics, but her business…an affair of life itself—a choice between life and death”.1 This powerful call to arms comes at the end of a book that has been altogether forgotten, hidden from history, written by a woman who, although well known, indeed notorious, at the time as a writer and activist, has also been forgotten and hidden from history.2

“My flag was the red flag”

Who then was Ethel Mannin? She was born in October 1900, the child of working-class parents. Her father, Bob, had worked at Covent Garden as a porter before becoming a post office sorter at the Mount Pleasant mail centre. Bob Mannin was a life-long socialist. When still in his teens, he had been a member of William Morris’s Socialist League, which had been established towards the end of 1884, and he attended meetings at Morris’s home in Hammersmith. Bob had taken part, alongside an older friend, John Burns, in an infamous November 1887 demonstration in Trafalgar Square, “Bloody Sunday”. The demonstration was attacked by the police, including mounted officers, with many people injured in the fighting. Burns himself was badly beaten by the police, arrested and eventually jailed for six weeks. As Ethel Mannin later recorded, John Burns went on to become a Labour MP and then a Liberal MP and government minister, selling his beliefs and principles so that he “died a rich man”; her father, on the other hand, “died with his ideals intact, his loyalty to the class from which he sprang as steadfast as in 1887”. Bob never joined any other political party and certainly “had no illusions about the ‘socialism’ of the Labour Party”, although he had a long-standing admiration for James Maxton of the Independent Labour Party. Their home had a library of socialist books—The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, The Iron Heel, No 5 John Street and many others—and Ethel always insisted that she had got her “rebel” spirit from her father.3

Mannin later remembered that her own first act of rebellion happened at school when she took a stand against patriotism in an essay after the First World War had just begun. She was lectured by the headmistress “on the wickedness and stupidity of my attitude, and caused to kneel for a whole morning in the school hall”. The intention was to shame her, but she recalled that she “felt rather heroic”. Indeed, the following year, on Empire Day 1915, when the whole school saluted the flag, “the revolutionary in me emerged once more. I would not salute the flag. My flag was the red flag.” She was threatened with expulsion and once again made to kneel while the rest of the school “marched through the playground and saluted the flag”. She left school soon afterwards. Aged 15, she went to work at the Charles Higham advertising agency as a stenographer, but found herself an unwitting beneficiary of the war. The agency was short-staffed because so many of its writers had joined the army. The now 16 year old Ethel Mannin found herself writing copy and was soon actually put in charge of getting out a number of the company’s magazines. She had one good friend at Higham’s, an artist and anarchist from New Zealand, “J S”, who converted her to vegetarianism. They went to hear prominent trade unionist and revolutionary Tom Mann speak at Finsbury Park and to the Albert Hall for a rally where they “sang the Red Flag together”. J S introduced her to “the activities of the Industrial Workers of the World and Eugene Debs” and they talked of “strikes and lockouts and something that we referred to vaguely as ‘the revolution’.” She hero-worshipped him, but he returned to New Zealand to avoid being “dragged into the war”. The war years saw both her socialist education continuing and opportunities opening up for her as a writer, but then her life was overtaken at age 19 by marriage and a baby daughter. At this point, her socialist politics seem to have gone into hibernation, but she continued to write in order to make money, publishing her first novel, Martha, in 1923. It was her third novel, Sounding Brass, published in 1925, that brought her financial success and enabled her “to begin to satisfy my hunger to travel”.4

This was the beginning of a literary career that saw her become a prolific and successful popular novelist. Looking back on this time in her life, some 50 years later, she remembers how proud she was when she could afford a maid. She admitted to actually disliking “the memory of myself”. Success and a certain amount of celebrity turned her into “a shocking young snob…giving myself absurd airs, which I am embarrassed to remember now”. Having a maid was “class distinction; it was exploitation.” However, socialism and the class struggle were never entirely forgotten. Even while she was enjoying her success and the material benefits that it brought, she was still aware that beneath the “surface gaity” of the “jazz age” that she was enjoying so much, there was a “gathering storm”. This storm first broke with the 1926 General Strike. She was “still sufficiently socialistic at heart to feel indignation at the uprush of middle class patriotism opposing the strikers…and bitterness against the Trade Union Congress leaders when, after nine days of what seemed like near-revolution, the strike collapsed and the workers went back on the bosses’s terms—everyone but the miners…who, after their betrayal, stayed out for six months in steadily mounting misery”. Even among her set of people in London, the strike, she sarcastically observed, caused “a good deal of inconvenience”. She puts her “political detestation” of Winston Churchill down to his role in the General Strike. She also remembers that 1926 was the year “I changed my hairstyle to the severe centre parting one by which I was to become known”. During these years, however, her rebellion really only consisted in support for sexual liberation and progressive education, and opposition to censorship, particularly the banning of books by such authors as James Joyce, Radclyffe Hall and D H Lawrence. She was “nothing if not progressive”. Indeed, in 1931, she published the first of her books advocating progressive education, Commonsense and the Child, with an introduction by A S Neill. The book was translated into Danish, Swedish and Dutch. Her fiction was earning her “money to burn”, and Mannin enjoyed a life of “cocktail parties, dancing, night life” and the “exciting novelty” of sexual emancipation. Meanwhile, however, there was another England—“industrial England”—that she could no longer ignore.5

What began the resurrection of her revolutionary socialist commitment was the onset of the Great Depression, the disaster of the 1929-31 Labour government, the Soviet Union’s apparent successes in building socialism and the rise of Nazism. Of course, fascism was not new, but Hitler seemed much more threatening than Mussolini ever had; “already those Jews who could do so were beginning to leave” Germany.6 By 1933, Mannin was a member of the Relief Committee for the Victims of German Fascism.

“Have you been to prison yet? If not, why not?”

Mannin never seriously entertained the idea of the Labour Party having anything to do with working-class struggle and the fight for socialism. Instead, she was attracted by the breakaway Independent Labour Party (ILP), attending meetings, joining its discussions of politics and literature, and contributing to its newspaper, The New Leader. In an article that appeared in January 1932, she described herself as “an extreme left socialist”.7 Nonetheless, it was not until 1933, at the invitation of ILP leader Fenner Brockway, that she finally joined the party. She describes this as “my personal sobering-up”. She was already trying to give her fiction a socialist turn, urged on by James Maxton, and had encouraged a number of working-class writers such as Walter Greenwood, the author of Love on the Dole, in their own efforts. She later remembered introducing Greenwood to “some of London’s revolutionary left”.8 What were, however, the politics that she had embraced when she joined the ILP?

The ILP was a socialist organisation that was committed to winning a socialist majority in the House of Commons and then legislating for the dispossession of the capitalist class and the great landowners. It would also break up the British Empire and hand power to the colonised peoples. It was strongly opposed to militarism and called for closing down the arms industry. A corollary of all this was support for working-class struggle at home and for national liberation movements abroad. As far as the ILP was concerned the working class would take over the country through parliamentary action, but this would be backed up by a militant and determined mass movement in the workplace and on the streets. The expected capitalist resistance would be put down forcibly. The ILP had broken with the Labour Party in 1932 after its shameful performance in office between 1929 and 1931. This was not just because it had danced to the bankers’ tune and attacked the unemployed, but also due to its savage repression of Mohandas Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement in India. The ILP had a membership of just over 11,000 when Mannin joined, and she was seen as an important recruit to the party’s propaganda effort. Her local party branch regularly met at her house in Wimbledon, Oak Cottage, where, in her words, they “passed resolutions, planned meetings and generally plotted the revolution”.9 She was meeting party activists, “real workers for a cause in which they believed not merely intellectually, but with a profound personal passion”. Part of what attracted her was the fact that at the ILP summer school you might see, as she did, a poster on the wall that read: “Have you been to prison yet? If not, why not?10 A good indication of how far to the left the ILP leadership moved in this period is provided by Brockway’s Workers’ Front, published in 1938. Here, Brockway called for a “workers’ front” led by revolutionary socialists as opposed to the Popular Front recommended by Stalin’s Soviet Union, which aimed at compromise with the working class’s enemies. He made absolutely clear that the ILP was a revolutionary socialist party. He was, unfortunately, to rejoin the Labour Party in 1946, ending up in the House of Lords in 1964.11

“A new privileged class arising, a new bourgeoisie”

As part of her embrace of revolutionary politics, Mannin decided to visit the Soviet Union and see the construction of the new socialist order at first hand. She incorporated an account of this visit into a book, Forever Wandering, that was published in 1935. It chronicled not just her visit to Russia, but to Nazi Germany, Austria and France as well as Ireland, which became her second home. In Germany, she found “the endless brownshirts, swastikas and pictures of Hitler…constant reminders of the existence of a regime alien to everything one believed in”. Much later, she was to recall that one of the few pleasures to be had in Berlin was buying the chocolate figures of Hitler that were on sale in order “to bite his head off”. In Austria, she visited “socialist Vienna”, where the Social Democratic Party of Austria (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs) administration had recently been overthrown by the “austrofascist” government of Engelbert Dollfuss. Dollfuss had sent troops to shell the working-class districts of Vienna in February 1934. While in Austria, she was shocked by the level of inequality on display, which the social-democratic administration had failed to address, but she still acknowledged that they had put up a “valiant fight” against Dollfuss. The only other city where she had seen so many “starved-looking people” was New York. The conclusion she drew from the bloody events of 1934 is interesting:

Reformist methods have been tried and found lamentably wanting; the big struggle has yet to come, and its methods will not be reformist but revolutionary. Socialist Vienna was a failure insofar as the achievement of socialism in our time was concerned, but it was an illuminative failure. In 1921, the unemployed marched on the city, invaded the luxury hotels and flung the furniture out of the windows. After the brutal treatment dealt out to them by Dollfuss in 1934, the Socialists have probably learned by now to throw more than furniture overboard; and when reformism goes out the window, revolution comes in by the door.

The contrast with Communist Russia was stark. There, a revolution had successfully taken place and, as far as Mannin and most of the British left were concerned at that time, socialism was being built: “The Russian workers are not working to pile up profits for employers; they are working for themselves; their country belongs to them.” She found Moscow “a city completely devoid of any atmosphere of exploitation, and in which there are no rich exploiting the poor”. Indeed, there were times in Moscow when she “could have cried aloud for sheer joy”. One highpoint of her visit was meeting playwright Ernst Toller, whose memoir, I Was a German, she much admired. He had fought in the trenches in the First World War and afterwards played a leading role in the 1919 Bavarian Revolution, which got him five years in prison. Mannin later observed, “As a Jew and a revolutionary, there was no place for Toller in Nazi Germany.” Indeed, his books were among those publicly burned by the Nazis. She dedicated her first revolutionary novel, Cactus, which was published in 1935, to him. However, her support for the Soviet Union was not unconditional. When she was being shown around the Museum of Revolution in Moscow, she found it impossible to resist drawing attention to every time Leon Trotsky appeared in a photograph. She took a “sadistic pleasure in exclaiming, ‘Isn’t that Trotsky’”, to the immense discomfort of her guide. More generally, she concluded: “Russia is still a very long way from being Utopia”, and “Russia has a long way to go; but she is travelling fast.” Indeed, she called her visit to Russia “the most worthwhile journey I ever made”. There was one nagging worry, however: “The danger of a new privileged class arising, a new bourgeoisie… From my own observation this does seem to be a real danger”.12

Mannin was to visit Russia one more time, a visit she chronicled in her South to Samarkand, published in 1936. She was adamant that she went “with the political prejudice in favour of the abolition of the capitalist system and the establishment of a workers’ state, and this is what the Soviet Union has achieved.” By now, the Popular Front turn was getting underway, with Stalin desperately trying for an alliance with Britain and France against Nazi Germany, and she makes clear she “politically opposed” this. Moreover, although she supported the Communist regime for what she still believed was its efforts to build socialism, there was room for criticism. In Tiflis, Georgia, “Stalin’s home town, you may see, as I have, families living in cellars. In spite of the blocks of modern flats in Baku, Azerbaijan—which photograph so well for pro-Soviet propaganda purposes—a great number of oil workers are still living on the oilfields under the most appalling conditions.” Nevertheless, this did not mean “the revolution has been a failure”. Socialism was still being built. She acknowledges collectivisation was followed by “the horrors of the famines”, but this might be justified if socialism were the result. She did admit, however, that there were times when the poverty and suffering she saw made her wonder whether revolution is “futile”. Indeed, there were times when she was positively revolted by the “jam tomorrow” response that criticism elicited. Yet, in the end, for her, if Russia failed, it would be “the greatest tragedy”.13

Once she was back home, before the book came out, she published her thoughts on her visit in the New Leader. Her article, “Whither Russia”, appeared on the 17 January 1936 and made clear that conditions in Russia were still terrible for many workers; Russia was not “the promised land”, but was rather “the promising land”. She supported what she still considered to be the building of socialism in Russia. Yet, how could it be justifiable for a commissar to have a flat in Moscow “with large rooms, servants, every comfort…and a charming palatial summer home”, while workers are forced to “live four to a squalid room”? There was a “new bourgeoisie” emerging, and therefore “it is impossible not to see Russia today as a gigantic question mark”.

The article plunged her into controversy. It was celebrated by the British fascists in their newspaper, The Blackshirt, as showing Mannin’s disillusion with socialism. She asked the Communist Party’s newspaper, the Daily Worker, to give her space to reply to this and they agreed, publishing her response with considerable fanfare on 15 February. She did not retract any of her criticisms of the Soviet Union, but she did make clear that she still supported the attempt, as she saw it, to build socialism there. One of the Daily Worker’s editorial staff actually thanked her for her contribution and hoped for many more. However, overnight the line changed, and the 16 February issue carried a fierce editorial denunciation of her as having “the outlook of a petty-bourgeois ‘socialist’ of 100 years ago”. Just in case she missed the point, Moscow Radio condemned her as well. No criticism, not even friendly criticism, was to be tolerated as the Stalin regime began unleashing the Great Terror.14 There was, however, one appreciative reader of the article: Leon Trotsky. He wrote to Canadian revolutionary Earle Birney to ask who this Ethel Mannin was, commenting that, although her discussion had theoretical weaknesses, she had a better understanding of what was going on in Russia than many others. He praised her courage, sincerity, intelligence and powers of observation.15

Before moving on it is worth briefly considering Mannin’s 1935 novel, Cactus. As we have seen it was dedicated to Toller, but a good case can also be made that his impact informs the whole book. It concerns the love between Elspeth Rodney and Kurt Muller, a German prisoner-of-war, who dies in captivity. At the end of the book, Elspeth is in Spain and Kurt’s ghost speaks to her, warning of war and the need for revolution. He is the “Unknown Soldier” and she is “Everywoman”. Kurt tells her that “all over the world there are people like you, carrying within themselves the spirit of revolt”:

They are hidden in suburbs and villages, little towns and great cities, factories and workshops, and they refuse to be spoon-fed by the popular press…they refuse to accept the lies of the rich and those in the pay of the rich; they know that politics, big business and the press go hand in hand.

Kurt goes on to insist that even in “capitalist and imperialist England…the workers will one day grow up… Every now and then the spirit of revolt breaks out; there was Russia in 1917, Germany in 1919, England in 1926, Austria in this year of revolt, 1934. And the end is not yet.” Indeed, he prophesies that, “Soon out of the rich warm soil of Spain will come revolt, from the Basque country and Catalonia.” He warns that troops might fire on the workers, “But soldiers and workers have been in council for their common good before, and will again, for that is the history of mankind, which is the history of revolt.” Cactus, it is worth remembering, was written in 1934 and published the following year. The Spanish Revolution began in 1936.16 As far as she was concerned, Cactus was “one of my best novels”.17

“Come now—not enough yet for one machine gun”

With the outbreak of the Spanish Revolution, Mannin threw herself into the solidarity campaign that the ILP launched, working closely with the anarchists. She absolutely insisted that what was taking place in Spain was a revolution, but this was denied by most of the British left, which portrayed the struggle as a defence of “democracy”. The only people who organised meetings to support the revolution were “the anarchists and the Independent Labour Party”. The Labour Party and the Communist Party alike were only concerned with an anti-fascist front against General Francisco Franco, and were, in fact, “the enemies of the revolution”.18 Far from seeking to carry the revolution forward, the Communist Party line was that the revolution had to be rolled back so as not to endanger the prospect of an alliance between the Soviet Union, Britain and France. The Communists gained enormous credit from the raising of the International Brigades; however, they dealt with supporters for the revolution through a campaign of lies, smears and intimidation in Britain, and imprisonment, torture and summary execution in Spain. As for the ILP, it was allied with the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM; Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista), sending volunteers, including George Orwell, to fight on the Catalan front. Mannin considered Orwell’s account of the Spanish Revolution, Homage to Catalonia, a “brilliant book”. Meanwhile, she chaired and spoke at meeting after meeting in support of the POUM and of the anarchist National Confederation of Labour (CNT; Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) and Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI; Federación Anarquista Ibérica). She recalled “relentlessly coaxing five-pound notes out of the audience: “Come now—not enough yet for even one machine gun!19 If the audience was made up of pacifists, she never mentioned buying machine guns, instead emphasising the provision of medical supplies. In one piece, contributed to Spain and Us, a pamphlet published by the Holburn and West Central Committee for Spanish Medical Aid, she condemned the British arms embargo as an “intervention in favour of Franco’s rebels”.20 She was a member of the committee that organised the showing of CNT films in Britain. In January 1937, she chaired the meeting setting up the CNT-FAI London Bureau, flanked on the platform by famed United States anarchist Emma Goldman and Jack White. White had helped establish the Irish Citizen Army in Dublin in 1913 and had just returned from Spain.21

It was at this time that Mannin really got to know Emma Goldman, who spoke at many of the meetings she chaired.22 Goldman was to have a considerable impact over Mannin’s thinking, pulling her away from Marxism and towards anarchism. This influence, as we shall see, was already apparent when she was working on her book Women and the Revolution in 1937. Mannin’s original intention had been “a sort of enlarged pamphlet”, but as she researched the subject, it grew and grew. Writing it was “an exhausting job of work”, and she often “regretted ever having tackled it”, worried that it was “beyond my literary and political strength”. That year she worked “harder than I have ever worked in my life”.23 As well as Women and the Revolution, she also wrote another book about progressive education, Commonsense and the Adolescent, once again with an introduction by A S Neill. She was working on two new novels. Darkness My Bride, published in 1938, engaged with events in Spain. One of her characters, Robert Harrison, complains that Soviet policy since 1934 has been “to try and live down the October Revolution” and that the Cheka was shooting people in Spain for trying to do what the Russian workers had accomplished in 1917. His friend, Franz Weigl, still finds it hard to get his head around the fact that it is the Communists in Spain who are “crushing the revolution and disarming the workers… Think of Communists helping to smash a revolution of the workers!24

As well as her commitment to the Spanish Revolution, Mannin became heavily involved with the anti-imperialist cause through her new partner, Reg Reynolds. Reynolds had worked with Gandhi in India; when Gandhi had launched his civil disobedience campaign in March 1930, it was Reynolds who personally delivered his ultimatum to the British viceroy. Reynolds was also a strong supporter of the Palestinian struggle against both the British and the Zionists, and Mannin took up this cause as well. In 1937, the Great Palestinian Revolt was getting underway and much of the country was to fall into rebel hands. It had to effectively be reconquered by the British with Zionist assistance at the cost of over 5,000 Palestinian lives. All the while, the British left either remained silent or criticised the British government for failing to be repressive enough. Oak Cottage became a meeting place for Arabs campaigning in support of the Palestinian cause.25 Mannin was also involved in the movement against the partition of Ireland and, once again through Reynolds, with the anti-racists and anti-imperialists around George Padmore, Chris Braithwaite, C L R James and the International African Service Bureau.26 Busy indeed!

“The necessity for revolution in relation to women”

Women and the Revolution was finally finished in October 1937 and published the following year. It was still very much an ILP book, and an agitational rather than a theoretical volume. There were some serious gaps in its account, not least its failure to so much as mention the Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai and the communist suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. Nevertheless, it was a remarkable achievement and one of the most important left-wing books of the 1930s. It was published by Secker and Warburg, who were taking on the Communist Party and the politics of the Popular Front at the time, releasing a whole series of books by dissident socialists, many of them ILP members. Among these were: C L R James’s The Black Jacobins and World Revolution 1917–1936: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International; Reg Groves’s But We Shall Rise Again: A Narrative History of Chartism; Francis Ridley’s The Papacy And Fascism: The Crisis Of the 20th Century and The Jesuits: A Study in Counter-revolution; Fenner Brockway’s Workers’ Front; Reg Reynolds’s The White Sahibs in India; and Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Women and the Revolution was dedicated to Emma Goldman, but Mannin made clear in her dedicatory note that, although her “disillusionment with Russia was…complete”, she still believed that “the deterioration of the Marxist ideal into a dictatorship of the few over the many is not inevitable”:

Still I believe that, with the revolution achieved, there could be established a real dictatorship of the proletariat that would not deteriorate into a dictatorship of a bureaucracy or a handful of politicians or leaders. Rosa Luxemburg warned Lenin that this might be the case with the Soviet Union, and tragically it soon became the case.

Essentially, what Mannin argues in Women and the Revolution was that women’s oppression today is a product of capitalism, that capitalism had to be overthrown and that women had to throw themselves wholeheartedly into that struggle. Much of the book was given over to showing a presumed female readership the extent to which women had been and still were involved in revolutionary struggle. Her revolutionary politics were uncompromising. She wrote in favour of:

The overthrow of a system that is at once grossly unjust to the mass of the people, and incredibly wasteful and stupid. It should be clearly understood that by “the overthrow of the system” is meant the total abolition of private capital, private property and private enterprise, together with the private ownership of the sources of wealth and the means of production, and the passing of all this power to the mass of the people.

She goes on to consider “the assertion that revolution and the complete overthrow of the existing system are not practicable”. She counters: “The simple truth is that it is reformism—a patching up and improving on an old system—is not practicable… What country has ever reformed itself into a state of classlessness and equality?” And for her, “The whole spirit of socialism is essentially international and bound up with the Marxist slogan, ‘Workers of the World, unite!’” Mannin recognises that:

The struggle of the workers of every country is a common struggle against world capitalism… Not until workers’ power—socialism—is achieved in every country will the world be safe from war, imperialist aggression and exploitation.

Reflecting on the situation in Spain, Mannin argues that, although the Communists had “made a move to the right in 1934”, the POUM had, by this time, an “uncompromisingly revolutionary line”, “the correct Marxist line”, and one deservedly supported by the ILP.

In the chapter, “The Necessity for Revolution in Relation to Women”, Mannin explores and condemns the position of women under the capitalist system, but goes on to argue that any response short of revolution is inadequate. Although she celebrates the campaign for female suffrage in Britain, she also insists, “The time is now ripe for a far bigger struggle, a far bigger revolt of woman…against the whole social system that penalises man and woman alike.” This is all the more urgent given the rise of fascism, “spreading over Europe and swallowing up the hard won rights of women, sending them back into the home, urging upon them again that their function in life is to serve man as wives and housekeepers, and to serve the state by bearing children.” What the fight against fascism demands is not “a new feminist movement, but for cooperation in the general struggle for workers power against capitalism, of which fascism is only an advanced form”.

Mannin celebrated the Russian Revolution as “the greatest revolution in history”, which “overthrew both monarchy and capitalism, establishing the first workers’ state”. She writes, “Lenin insisted on the importance of women in the making of the Revolution”, and refers to Clara Zetkin’s conversations with him on this subject. Lenin “emphasised that real freedom for women is only possible through communism”, although Mannin makes clear that he did not mean Stalinism when he used this word. Lenin “drew a clear and ineradicable line” between socialists and feminists. The socialist held fast to the “policy of binding the woman question to the proletarian class struggle and revolution, making it a social question, part of the workers’ problem”; “the policy of the feminists” was the “separation of women’s problems from the general problems of the workers.” Lenin urged that the women’s movement must be a part of the general mass movement: “There can be no real mass movement without women.”

Mannin thought that, had Lenin lived, Russia “might have progressed from socialism to communism, faithful to those Marxist doctrines Lenin upheld”. However, Stalin’s Russia was “no longer a workers’ state, though not yet capitalist”:

The dictatorship of the proletariat is being succeeded—if indeed it was ever fully established, which is doubtful—by a dictatorship of bureaucrats headed by a dangerous megalomaniac whose one ambition seems to be to execute or imprison all who did outstanding work in the making of the original revolution.

At the same time as she wrote this, Mannin was obviously grappling with Goldman’s anarchist rejection of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. She refers her readers to Trotsky, C L R James and Goldman. She had not as yet embraced anarchism.27

“The general revolutionary cause”

Women and the Revolution looks at the involvement of women in past struggles such as the Paris Commune, the Russian and German Revolutions, and in Ireland, China and elsewhere. However, arguably more important is Mannin’s celebration of more contemporary battles. She writes of women’s involvement in the civil disobedience campaign in India, quoting from Henry Noel Brailsford’s book Rebel India, published in 1931. Brailsford wrote of how the Indian National Congress had called on women to protest: “With courage and devotion they answered its call. They spoke at its mass demonstrations. They did most of the picketing work. They went in thousands to prison.” According to Brailsford, women provided the leadership in many places. This was, Mannin insists, “an excellent example of the importance of the women’s movement extending beyond purely feminist causes and allying itself with the general revolutionary cause”. The repression unleashed on the movement by the Labour government in Britain reinforced her opposition to reformism. She also celebrated women’s involvement in the Palestinian struggle: “The nationalist spirit of freedom has penetrated behind the veils of the Arab women and given them boldness and courage, sweeping away the encumbrances of Islamic tradition overnight.” In 1929, the Palestinian women’s movement organised an Arab Women’s Congress in Jerusalem: “Some 200 delegates faced the public gaze unveiled… The Congress had the courage not merely to stand openly for social and economic freedom for women, but to identify itself with the nationalist movement.” Later, in 1932:

Palestinian women expressed their nationalist spirit by organising mass demonstrations. A procession went first to the Mosque of Omar, where a Christian woman preached from the pulpit of the mosque, and then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where a Muslim woman preached before the tomb of Christ. These acts symbolised the nationalist solidarity of Arab womanhood.

The example provided by the Spanish Revolution is decisive for Mannin. Writing after the May 1937 rising in Barcelona, she condemned the “fearful atrocities” committed by the Communists in the aftermath. Certainly, the revolution had “received a severe set-back”, but she hoped that “all is not lost”. If the revolution is defeated, “Stalin will have had a considerable hand in it.” She went on to celebrate the work of the women’s anarchist group, Mujeres Libres (“Free Women”), which was suppressed after the May rising along with the POUM. The POUM had organised “a women’s secretariat, a women’s regiment, classes, lectures and centres of education and child welfare”, all of which was the work of its main women’s organiser, Louise Gómez. Hundreds of women were involved, some of them, as Mannin observed, keeping their involvement secret from their husbands. Women brought up in the “Spanish feminine tradition…learned to drill and shoot, take a machine gun to pieces and reassemble it… Women came in their hundreds to the women’s secretariat for classes ranging from socialism…to child welfare.” All this had been rolled back by the Stalinists.

Mannin also memorialises one particular woman fighter, Mika Etchebéhère, an Argentinian Trotskyist, who commanded a POUM militia unit in which men and women fought alongside one another against Franco’s troops. She had defended the cathedral in Sigüenza for four days, under constant bombardment. With ammunition running out and the building starting to collapse, she led a night-time break-out in thick fog. The POUM fighters scattered, and many were shot down, but others reached the woods “through a rain of machine gun bullets”. Etchebéhère was “hunted for 24 hours before reaching the antifascist lines. Only a third of those who set out from the cathedral reached home.” Mannin claimed that Etchebéhère was later killed fighting at the front, but she was mistaken. She actually survived the war, was involved with the student rebellion on the streets of Paris in May 1968 and published an account of her Spanish experiences, Ma Guerre d’Espagne à Moi (“My own Spanish Civil War”), in 1976.28

Mannin’s book ends with a powerful call to arms and is worth quoting at length:

It is in the power of the women of today to play a valuable part in the making of the revolution that will give them a richer, fuller and more gracious life, and a happier and safer world for their children… Without their cooperation in changing the social system, the women of tomorrow will be as exploited in commerce and industry, as degraded by sex inequalities, and as hemmed about by the conventions and taboos of the moral code as the women of today. With their cooperation, the women of tomorrow will be free: free of all economic dependence upon men; free to work in the home or in wider spheres at choice; free to bear children or not as they please, independently of marriage laws and moral codes; free of the tyrannies and injustices of social snobberies; free of the fear of unemployment and of war… Women free in the social system of a classless society, and free in their own souls, with time to stand and stare, time to savour life as the vast luxury it is capable of being, not for a privileged and moneyed few, but for the masses.

This was what the revolution was all about.29

“The evil of war”

By the time that Mannin published her Privileged Spectator memoir in 1939, she had embraced both anarchism and pacifism. Reynolds had resigned from the ILP in 1938 due to its failure to condemn Zionism, and Mannin resigned the next year because she thought the party was too uncritical of Stalinism. Nevertheless, she still believed “in the international revolutionary socialist movement” as “the one hope in a corrupt and crumbling civilisation”, and in “the world proletariat”. Indeed, “Working for the social revolution, even if it did not come in one’s own time, seemed to me the supremely important task for everyone with a social consciousness, and a sincere feeling for liberty, equality and fraternity.”

How did this square with her pacifism though? By this point, Mannin believed that the Russian Revolution had never been anything more than a “bourgeois revolution” from the very beginning. She argued there had never been a workers’ state, even in the early years, and she explicitly rejected Trotskyism. Most astonishingly, she even repudiated the revolutionary struggle in Spain. Once the notion of Spain falling “into the hands of Franco seemed intolerable” to her, but that time had passed as she came to recognise the full horror of war. She had come to the conclusion that, “If Republican Spain had shown no resistance, this horror would have been spared… Nothing would have been or could have been more terrible for the common people than the terror and misery they have endured in defending themselves against fascist aggression.” Surrendering to fascist rule was to be preferred to fighting it with a gun in hand: “If there is an evil in the world today more terrible, more relentless, more hellish than the evil of war, I cannot conceive of it.” She could not have been clearer; instead, the way forward was “the tremendous moral force of non-violent methods of resistance”. Mannin insisted that not even the fascists could “machine-gun an entire nation when it does not resist”. The fascists might be able to “crush an army”, but “you cannot crush the silent unarmed spirit of a people”. She championed a militant pacifism, completely rejecting passive responses to war and oppression, which she described as “pathifism”. Hers was always “a revolutionary, militant pacifism” of strikes, demonstrations and even barricades. Nonetheless, in the end, what was most important was “to be allowed to live—in freedom if we may, on our knees if we must”. This was the stance that she was to hold to for the rest of her life, all the time insisting, “I have not deserted the revolution.”

Both Mannin and Reynolds were ready to oppose the coming war, even in the face of the repression they confidently expected would be unleashed once it had begun. They were involved with British Trotskyists in preparing for resistance. Jock Haston of the Workers’ International League later remembered meeting with them both in Dublin on a number of occasions, discussing “the question of setting up an illegal wireless station in the event of the ILP and the League being banned”.30 Back in Wimbledon, they hid a printing press that the anarchists had stolen from the Communist Party at Oak Cottage.

The defection of George Orwell from the anti-war camp once war had broken out was felt by Mannin as a serious blow. She wrote an outraged letter to him telling him that she was “bitched, buggered and bewildered” by his turnaround. She pleaded with him to, “For the luv of Mike, write a few lines to enlighten our darkness”.31 Earlier, on 12 March 1937, she had reviewed Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier in the New Leader under the headline “Sense and a Lot of Nonsense”, welcoming his account of working-class life in the North of England but ridiculing the political discussion in the second part of the book. She reported in the review that he was fighting with the POUM in Spain and hoped that he had “already outgrown the confused and contradictory ideas set forth in the second part of this book”.32 Despite this falling out she still dedicated her 1940 novel, Rolling in the Dew, to Owell. She also worked with him on the Freedom Defence Committee that was set up in March 1945. In 1948, Orwell wrote the introduction to the first volume of Reynolds’s British Pamphleteers, a collection of radical pamphlets from the 16th century to the French Revolution.

What about Mannin’s militant pacifism? In truth, this belief in the efficacy of civil disobedience and non-cooperation was just a romantic delusion and a wholly utopian strategy for achieving socialism. Even in India, it was not Gandhi’s pacifism but rather fear of violent revolution that forced British withdrawal. Mannin can be justly accused of underestimating the murderous methods that not only fascist governments but also bourgeois democracies, particularly in their colonies, were prepared to use. There was no need to machine-gun an entire nation—just as many as was necessary to bring the rest to heel, at the same time as deploying the trusted “divide and rule” strategy. More importantly, resistance to oppression was inevitable; the working class and the colonial peoples would always fight back. The duty of revolutionary socialists was not to say that it is better to live on your knees but rather to help the oppressed win. Mannin’s prescription would have made the left helpless. Even when writing in 1938-9, she recognised that Nazi antisemitism might pose a problem for her new pacifist commitment. She admitted that if she were Jewish, “I might be willing to see the whole world plunged into unspeakable horror in order that there might be an end to the persecution of my people.” She argues, however, that would be a terrible mistake. Mannin was not as moved as some people by the fascist persecution of the Jews, but this was not due to antisemitism. Rather, she explained, “I do not forget that all the time, out of sight and ignored by the press, there is the no less revolting imperialist persecution of Arabs, negroes and Indians by the so-called democracies.” Anyway, she did “not…believe every atrocity story I read”. This last comment is important because it was certainly one of the reasons that she failed to grasp the enormity of the Holocaust, either during the Second World War or for some time afterwards.33 Indeed, a strong case can be made that her opposition to war actually led to her flirting with antisemitism in the pages of Peace News.

Mannin’s determined pacifist stand led her to “normalise” the Nazis. This is not too strongly worded a criticism. During the war, she and Reynolds visited people being detained under Regulation 18b of the Defence (General) Regulations 1939. As she makes clear, this included unrepentant Nazis, and she justified this on the basis of the adage, “I loathe your ideas but would die for your right to express them.” This is obviously not how to fight fascism. Mannin even took on a former blackshirt as her secretary. This man still supported British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley and sympathised openly with the Nazis. Incredibly, she dedicated her 1946 novel, The Dark Forest, to him. The publishers objected to the book’s Epilogue, where she “suggested that one occupying army in a neutral country was very like another”. She was required to make cuts, which she blamed on “the press plugging the atrocity stories for all it was worth” and on all the talk “of Buchenwald and Belsen” and the other concentration camps. As late as 1949, she published a fictionalised account of the life and execution of William Joyce, the infamous “Lord Haw-Haw”, a US-born Nazi propagandist who broadcast radio programmes into England and had been hanged in January 1946. Astonishingly, she wrote that her imagination had been stirred by the way he “died bravely, fanatically loyal to his last idea, Nazism”. For a while during this period, Mannin even came “under the insidious influence of Irish Catholicism”, attending mass regularly. One might normally expect that all this would presage a turn to the right, and even to the far right, but it did not. In truth, Mannin was very confused by her attempts to render consistent her anarchist pacifism. This does not excuse her political weaknesses, which allowed her opposition to war to compromise her hostility to fascism and antisemitism. Yet even while normalising fascism, she published a remarkable study of utopian thought and its contemporary relevance, Bread and Roses, in 1944, and this work still repays reading. The following year, her novel satirising the revolutionary left, Comrade O Comrade, was published. She describes the book as a satire of the beliefs “for which I have worked all my adult life”.34 Nevertheless, its “Author’s Note” lamented the recent death of the Barbadian Communist sailors’ leader Chris Braithwaite: “The socialist and anti-imperialist struggle lost a valiant fighter by his death, and many of us, myself included, lost a good comrade and friend.” Moreover, she still bitterly opposed British military intervention against the Greek left in 1944. Admitting to voting Labour in 1945, she confessed to “a stir of excitement and satisfaction in Labour’s overwhelming majority at the polls”, despite “my innate anarchist belief that one political party is very like another in power”. Indeed, the Labour government did continue the war on the Greek left, although she did not make this point.35

Mannin also continued to write revolutionary fiction. In 1941, she published Red Rose, a fictional biography of Emma Goldman. Even at this point, she was not finished with Spain and the POUM; in 1943, she published another novel, The Blossoming Bough, which sees the main protagonist, young Irish poet Flynn Hannigan, end up fighting in the ranks of the POUM. He is arrested together with his friend Graham Hayes after the May 1937 rising in Barcelona, and both are accused of being “Trotsky-fascists”. The prison saw “floggings and ‘confessions’ extorted by every form of third degree method, and every night there was the sound of a car in the barrack square”. This car, an anarchist prisoner tells them, is taking away those who are to be disappeared. A gloating British Communist tells them that people back home will never know that they were shot: “You will simply disappear. Your sorrowing relatives will think you were killed in action, or that you died of appendicitis after your arrest.” Both men are brutally interrogated and then they are driven out into the countryside, shot and buried in secret graves. Mannin’s mention of appendicitis was a telling reference to the controversy surrounding the death of Bob Smillie, a POUM volunteer and a former chair of the ILP Guild of Youth. He had died in Communist custody, with the authorities claiming the cause of death was appendicitis. However, many among the non-Communist left believed he had died under interrogation at the hands of the Russian secret police, beaten to death in order to extort a confession that the POUM and the ILP were in league with the fascists. It seems clear which story Mannin believed.36 Her hostility to Stalinism increased in ferocity. By 1959, she was writing of the Soviet Union as a country where “the capitalist system of private ownership of land, raw materials and means of production” had been “replaced by state capitalism”.37

“I have been a socialist all my adult life”

Mannin emerged from this period a fully-fledged “Tolstoyan” or ethical anarchist, although in practice she often found it impossible to refuse support for people fighting back against oppression. Stuart Christie, a critic of this tendency within the anarchist movement, argues that Mannin, along with Reynolds, Herbert Read, George Woodcock, Vernon Richards and others, were no more than a “coterie of Tolstoyan and Gandhi-influenced middle-class pacifists and academics”. They were in favour of “permanent protest—as opposed to class struggle—and who believed the idea of revolution ‘outdated’”.38 How fair was this to Mannin? Certainly for much of the post-war period she seems to have been mainly concerned with opposing nuclear weapons, supporting national liberation struggles and issues of personal freedom. For instance, in December 1954, she joined in protests against the mass hanging of Mau Mau rebels in Kenya, which numbered 50 a month at the height of the repression. However, the cause that came to dominate her thoughts was that of the Palestinians.

In 1963, she published The Road to Beersheba, a novel about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias in 1948. It is written from the point of view of the Palestinians and has been tentatively described as “the first Nakba novel”.39 The book was a reply to a Zionist novel, Exodus, written by Leon Uris and published in 1958, which was a massive bestseller and was made into a film in 1960. The decisive factor in her decision to write The Road to Beersheba, however, was her first visit to Gaza, where she “saw a dead shepherd, killed by an Israeli bullet, brought back across the border”.40 Her novel was translated into Arabic, and there was even talk of a Egyptian-Jordanian film production of it, although nothing came of the idea. In the Foreword, Mannin provides some historical context: how the UN plan for partition “gave 60 percent of Palestine—including the most fertile areas—to a third of the inhabitants, the Jews” and how “the million or so Palestinians fled as the result of Israeli terrorism, such as the massacre at Deir Yassin in April 1948, or were ejected from their homes”. Safely assuming her British readers would be ignorant of this history, she explained that these refugees had soon been “rotting in camps in subhuman conditions”. Mannin’s prescription for the Palestinian struggle was the emergence of an Arab Gandhi, but she recognised that this might be problematic. There is a discussion of this way forward towards the end of the novel, but it is left unresolved. A Mr Shapley is urging something like Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign of the early 1930s:

I have a vision of the great refugee camps in Jordan emptying, the people pouring out to march in a great, ragged, hungry army to the border, thousands of unarmed people—men, women and children—going home. Or trying to.

The book’s main protagonist, Anton Mansour, dismisses the idea: “They’d be mown down by Israeli machine guns from the hilltops. Perhaps from the air… It would be just one more massacre.” As if to emphasise the point, Anton, alone and unarmed, is himself machine-gunned by the Israelis on the road to Beersheba.41 Mannin wrote a second Palestinian novel, The Night and its Homing, that was published in 1966 and was also translated into Arabic.

On many occasions, both Mannin and Reynolds insisted that opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel was not antisemitic. In his memoirs, My Life and Crimes, he wrote that they both felt that Zionism was a “racket”, and that “we still feel that way”:

We felt even more strongly about it because it exploited the sympathy of decent people for Hitler’s victims and directed it to the justification of an outrage perpetrated on the Arabs of Palestine. We felt even more keenly because professing socialists were mostly taken in by it.

He was particularly appalled by the use of accusations of antisemitism against critics of Zionism, particularly when directed against “people like ourselves who had done what we could to help Jewish refugees”.42 Mannin argued the same: “It cannot be too strongly insisted that being anti-Zionist and anti-Israel is not being anti-Jewish.” She pointed out that “by no means are all Jews pro-Zionist”.43 Interestingly, it was her engagement with the Palestinian cause that actually led her to confront the enormity of the Holocaust. When she visited a refugee camp in Nablus, she was asked why Britain supported Israel and tried to explain “that British sympathy was with the Jews because of the Nazi persecution”. The camp leader angrily demanded to know what that had to do with the Arabs. All she could come up with was, “The six million Jews who had died in the Nazi camps had made an impression on the world, not merely the British, which a million people robbed of their homes and lands by the Jews left alive totally failed to make”.44 According to Mannin, sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust led people in Britain to either ignore or minimise the suffering that had been inflicted on the Palestinians, who had no responsibility whatsoever for that crime. Those who bore responsibility were the Nazis, their collaborators and those governments that refused to accept Jewish refugees, including Britain and the US; yet, it was the Palestinians who paid the price. Mannin was determined to fight for justice for the Palestinians and to expose what had been done to them in 1948 and the murderous oppression to which they were still subject. She insisted that opposing Zionism did not make you an antisemite. However, even though she had come to acknowledge the enormity of the Holocaust, she did not recognise the particular character of antisemitism and the strategic place it occupied in right-wing ideology. The fight against Zionism has to go hand in hand with the fight against antisemitism.

Although the Palestinian cause was arguably her major concern through the 1960s and into the 1970s, she still considered herself a revolutionary socialist. On a number of occasions she wrote for Socialist Worker. On 15 March 1969, the paper published an article by her that advocated public lending rights to help impoverished authors. On 5 March 1970, the newspaper printed her review of a collection by Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet, recommending him to Socialist Worker readers as being of “interest both as a revolutionary socialist and as a poet—the two are, in fact, inseparable”. She seemed to stop contributing for a while, but on 6 January 1973 the paper published a letter in which, among other things, she congratulated it on being “much improved from when I first knew of it a couple of years ago”. There are almost certainly more contributions. By now though, Mannin was in her seventies. How did she look back on her life? In her Stories from My Life, published in 1973, she wrote:

I have been a socialist all my adult life, from the age of 15, and now, at close of play, in the seventies, am more than ever convinced of the necessity for social revolution… I am glad to have lived to see the end of the British Empire… If I can hold on for a few more years, I might live to see a united Ireland—a 32 county Irish republic… The hope for Palestine is more remote, and I think it unlikely that I shall live to see this cause, the one I have most intensely at heart, triumphant, with Palestine as Palestine again with the indigenous people, the Palestinian Arabs, in control, a nation again, Muslim and Christian, co-existing with a Jewish minority. It will come, but not I think for another 20 years or so—and I cannot wait so long.45

She died on 5 November 1984.

John Newsinger is the author of numerous books, the latest of which is Chosen by God: Donald Trump, the Christian Right and American Capitalism (Bookmarks, 2020).


1 Mannin, 1938a, pp299-300.

2 Mannin remained unrediscovered even by the women’s movement during the late 1960s and 1970s; perhaps the politics of Women and the Revolution were just too revolutionary. The book was also strongly and explicitly opposed to Popular Frontism, which probably did not help. Mannin was ignored by academics too; as late as 1999, a collection edited by Maroula Joannou, Women Writers of the 1930s: Gender, Politics and History, omitted any mention of her. A notable exception to this neglect was Andy Croft’s important essay, “Ethel Mannin: The Red Rose of Love and the Red Flower of Liberty”, which appeared in a 1993 collection edited by Angela Ingram and Daphne Patai, Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals: British Women Writers 1889-1939. Unfortunately, Croft’s powerful piece failed to have the impact it deserved.

3 Mannin, 1952, pp25, 27 and 41.

4 Mannin, 1936a, pp59, 62 and 73.

5 Mannin, 1971, pp17-18, 45-47, 52, 56 and 59.

6 Mannin, 1971, p144.

7 Bullock, 2017, p207.

8 Mannin, 1939, p112.

9 Mannin, 1977, p16.

10 Mannin, 1934, pp260-261.

11 Brockway, 1938. In this book, Brockway envisaged a new world war bringing about “a revolutionary crisis” that would inevitably see “workers’ governments and soviets of workers and soldiers…throughout Europe”. “Revolutionary socialists”, by which he meant the ILP, would have to give a “lead”— Brockway, 1938, pp242-243 and 252. Even once Brockway rejoined the Labour Party and began his journey towards the House of Lords, clearly giving up on socialism, he remained a determined opponent of imperialism, war and racism until his death in 1988.

12 Mannin, 1934, pp40, 45, 175, 177, 181, 201, 205, 207, 209 and 210; Mannin, 1971, p155. For more on Toller, see Dove, 1990.

13 Mannin, 1936b, pp18-19, 21 and 22.

14 Mannin, 1936b, pp19-20.

15 Nesbitt, 2017, p178.

16 Mannin, 1935, pp206-208.

17 Mannin, 1939, p74.

18 Mannin, 1939, pp146-145.

19 Mannin, 1959, p13.

20 Priestley, West, Powys and others, 1936, p5.

21 For a photograph of the platform at this meeting, see Brodie 2020, p27. For more on White, see Keohane, 2014.

22 On Emma Goldman and the Spanish Revolution, see Porter, 2006.

23 Mannin, 1939, pp150, 151 and 179.

24 Mannin, 1938b, pp214-215.

25 Huxter, 1992, pp107-109. Reynolds was an admirably eccentric and courageous left-wing Quaker who kept pictures of Cabinet ministers on the wall of his lavatory in order to assist his bowel movements—Huxter, 1992, p136.

26 See Høgsbjerg, 2014a and Høgsbjerg, 2014b.

27 Mannin, 1938a, pp11, 15-17, 31 and 85.

28 Unfortunately, Etchebéhère’s book has never been translated into English.

29 Mannin, 1938a, pp144, 146, 193, 293, 294 and 300. For modern studies of the part played by women in the Spanish Revolution, see Nash, 1995, Ackelsberg, 2004, and Lines, 2015.

30 Bornstein and Richardson, 1986, p10.

31 Newsinger, 2018.

32 Bullock, 2017, p291.

33 Mannin, 1939, pp292, 294, 296 and 305.

34 Mannin, 1945, p5.

35 Mannin, 1959, pp37, 50, 58; Mannin 1973, p13.

36 Mannin, 1943, p229. For more on the death of Bob Smillie, see also Newsinger, 2018, pp118-119.

37 Mannin, 1959, p262.

38 Christie, 2007, p312. Christie is particularly appalled, and rightly so, when one of this “coterie”, Herbert Read, accepted a knighthood in 1953. Anarchist newspaper Freedom published “an explanation of Read’s action, but this proved too much for one working-class anarchist, Glaswegian Frank Leech, who dropped dead of a heart attack after reading the article, aged only 53”— Christie, 2007, p313.

39 Rooney, 2018. According to Caroline Rooney, the novel actually anticipates “the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, staging a refusal to buy Israeli goods that is maybe the first fictional representation of this”—Rooney, 2018, p90.

40 Mannin, 1977, p107.

41 Mannin, 1963a, pp13, 243-244.

42 Reynolds, 1956, p165.

43 Mannin, 1959, p250-251.

44 Mannin, 1963b, p165. See my unpublished paper, “A Lance for the Arabs: Ethel Mannin, Zionism and the Middle East”.

45 Mannin, 1973, pp215-216. She was still to write one last volume of autobiography, Sunset Over Dartmoor, published in 1977. Here she made clear that she had never been a feminist, “because as a revolutionary socialist, I have always seen the struggle of women for true equality as part of the general egalitarian struggle”. Nevertheless, “When it comes to ‘rate for the job’, I am with them. And I could scarce forbear to cheer when I read and heard that some 10,000 women, from all over the country, rallied in London in the summer of 1975 to demonstrate against the Abortion (Amendment) Bill, which would make abortion illegal in all but the strictest medical cases… The demonstrators called for abortion ‘on demand’—the right of women to control their own destinies.” She was “heartened” to see “that people will still demonstrate in their thousands in the cause of freedom, social and political”—Mannin, 1977, pp174-175.


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