Bristol Radical History Group Book Launch

Event Details
Date: , 2019
Time: to
Location: Studio 1
Venue: M Shed, BS1 4RN
Price: Free
With: Lois Bibbings, Jeremy Clarke, June Hannam
Series: Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience

This book launch will include talks by some of the authors and time for questions and answers. Both booklets will be available to buy at the festival.

Refusing to Kill: Bristol’s World War I Conscientious Objectors by Remembering the Real World War 1

Lois Bibbings, Jeremy Clarke, Mary Dobbing, Colin Thomas

This A4 colour booklet reflects the work of a community history project undertaken by Remembering the Real World War 1, with support from researchers around the country as well as descendants of First World War conscientious objectors. It is based on the exhibition staged at Bristol Cathedral, Bristol Central Library and Bristol Archives in 2017-2018, and supported by the University of Bristol.

When the exhibition opened in September 2017, the introductory panel read ‘Over 350 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1.’ Now, thanks to Cyril Pearce’s database, out of a national total of around 20,000, the number of men we can confidently identify as COs from the Bristol area is nearly 580. The list of COs at the end of this booklet includes the names of all 580 men. This new count means the Bristol area had one of the greatest number and density of conscientious objectors in the country. The booklet tells the story of these men and the people in the city who supported them.

Mabel Tothill: Feminist, Socialist, Pacifist

June Hannam

Mabel Tothill (1869-1964), a middle-class Quaker and supporter of women’s suffrage joined the Bristol Independent Labour Party, a socialist group, just before the First World War. From then on she saw the cause of women and labour as intertwined. During the war she was at the centre of a network of women and men who worked tirelessly to support conscientious objectors. Mabel visited COs in prison, monitored their conditions and wrote to their families. In 1920, standing for the Labour Party, she became the first woman councillor in Bristol.

What led Mabel to take part in such radical activities? What was the appeal of socialist politics for a middle-class woman from a comfortable background? It will be argued here that her lifelong interest in education and the importance of tackling the causes of poverty drew her to socialist politics. Her involvement in the Barton Hill Settlement from 1911, including its educational and welfare work, was a formative time in the development of her ideas. She continued to emphasise the importance of education in the inter-war years through her support of the Folk House and the Workers’ Education Association.

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