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Letters from Edvard Westermarck to Piotr Kropotkin: 1899-1914

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Picture of Edvard Westermark in suit

Archive: State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF)

Reference: Fond 1129 Opisi 2 Entries 768 and 784

Date Range: September 28 1899 - 22 March 1914

Number of sheets: 11

Number of letters: 6

A small number of letters from Piotr and Sophie Kropotkin to Westermark are stored in the Åbo Akademis bibliotek in Finland and will be summarised (and hopefully reproduced in a later post). There are two entries of his correspondence at GARF listed under 'Edward Wectemant' (768) and the other 'Ed. Westmarch' (784) - I have viewed both and confirmed the sender to be Finnish philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist Edvard Westermark.

In the earliest letters (28 September 1899 and 5 July 1903) they discuss the Finnish independence movement briefly and exchange books. It should be noted that the 1903 letter is received from Hyvinkaa, Finland - unless stated otherwise all the other letters are from London. Westermark sends Kropotkin his History of Human Marriage (28 September 1899) and Kropotkin sends Mutual Aid (5 July 1903). Along with Mutual Aid Kropotkin also provides Westermark with very critical feedback of his work on 'primitive marriage.' Westermark is however thankful for the 'courteous criticism' and thanks him for Mutual Aid stating that 'I hardly need say that it interests me deeply and that I have derived much instruction from it.' He says that he is writing something similar about the origin and growth of moral ideas.

On 31 December 1903 Westermark also wishes Kropotkin happy new year, says he has been ill with asthma lately and has barely visited anyone or anywhere except the British Museum Reading Room.

Westermark writes again on 12 June 1906 and 5 February 1907. He has his publisher send Kropotkin his new book and hopes the Russian will join him for an informal dinner in London with John Scott Keltie, Gilmour (likely another geographers) and Harold Mackinder (12 June 1906). The letter of 5 February 1907 is about a political campaign in Sweden, Westermark asks for Kropotkin to write to Henrik Hedlund claiming that the Russian's work and name is so highly regarded in Sweden that it could have a great effect. Westermark believes the whole Swedish Liberal Party would agree with Kropotkin that extradition would be a disgrace to Sweden. He then says he will be in London for a few more weeks and hopes to see Kropotkin in Person.

The last letter of 22 March 1914 is addressed from Helsingfors, Sweden. It introduces Kropotkin to Westermark's friend G. Lindqvist who is coming to England soon and interested in relevant social questions. Westermark says he will be in England in May and June and hopes to see Kropotkin soon.

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