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Letters from Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin (1904-1917)

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Archive: State Archive of the Russian Federation

Reference: State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) Piotr Kropotkin Papers, Fond 1129, opisi 2, 2698

Date Range: 1904-1917

Number of sheets: 15

Number of letters: 8

Emily Hobhouse was an anti-Boer War activist in Britain who gained fame on her return to Britain from South Africa when she penned numerous articles about Boer living conditions. She was also a very active welfare campaigner, feminist, and pacifist.

Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin, 6 August 1904 and No Date

It is clear from the content that the letter without a date is likely soon after the 6 August 1904 letter. In the 6 August letter Emily says that she has been reading your 'wonderfully interesting' Fields, Factories and Workshops and travelling in the 'most poverty-stricken parts of poor Ireland.' Which led her to find Kropotkin's statements about the agricultural potential of peat bogs in the country very interesting. She asks for a book on this specific topic as she knows a man trying to ameliorate the condition of the peasants in County Galway and Donegal on the Congested Districts Board. She states at the end that she will soon be returning to Banwell Abbey in Somersetshire but this letter is addressed from The Southern Hotel, Kenmare, County Kerry. In the dateless letter she is in Banwell Abbey and has sent 'on your helpful information to the parties concerned in Ireland... they say they will look into it. I hope it has a good effect.'

Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin, 21 December 1912 and 26 May 1917

In December 1912 Emily joins many others in congratulating Kropotkin on his 70th birthday. Writing from Italy she writes that she is sad about losing touch with her old friends. She also reminisces about meeting Piotr and Sophie Kropotkin at Mrs Shaw's (probably Charlotte Frances Shaw, wife of George Bernard Shaw) house many years ago. In the 1917 letter she also congratulates Kropotkin, this time on the first Russian revolution of 1917. She discusses the Russian people, Kropotkin's time in Britain and the potential for Russia to stand as an example to the world.

There are no years indicated on the rest of the letters but all will very likely be before 1917 Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin, 20 November ????

Emily states that she has moved to Westminster 'just behind the abbey...within everyone's reach hopefully.' Invites Piotr and Sophie to tea. She would like Piotr to meet a 'Cape Friend' of hers, Mrs Murray 'who is a great admirer of yours and a sympathiser and most anxious to have the honour of meeting you.' She is the daughter of John Molteno (first Cape premier who did much to design their constitution). She also asks if he knows where Vera Figner is living now.

Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin 9 July ????

Emily says she has worked hard and done her best but failed. The Bishop of Hereford is full of sympathy, has taken a week and then finally refused. It seems to relate to the Russia protest as Emily says next 'The Free Russia People will continue their plan for a protest.' The Bishop is signing the memorial to Sir Edward Grey and says he might perhaps take the chair at a meeting in autumn. She then talks about how delightful she is finding Vera Figner.

Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin 21 July (likely 1904 or 1910)

Emily is organising to visit the Kropotkin's for tea and was asked by Piotr to come some Sunday afternoon. She suggests next Sunday (24th) (within the date range this exact date only falls in 1904 and 1910) . I leave soon after and am 'anxious to consult you, if I may, on a point which is interesting me at the present moment.'

Emily Hobhouse to Piotr Kropotkin 18 July ???? (possibly 1909 or later)

Emily has received a pamphlet which seemed to have Piotr's handwriting on it. She thanks him, congratulates him on bringing it out and assures him she will distribute it.

She has sent on to Henry Noel Brailsford the paper she was handed by Piotr containing signatories for Nikolai Tchaykovsky, he wanted it for reference and promised to get it back to Kropotkin. She also talks of how much she enjoyed Vera Figners visit describing here as a 'marvellous character.'

(The Pamphlet mentioned above could be 'Terror in Russia' which was published in July 1909 with help from Henry Noel Brailsford who is mentioned in this letter also. This would place this letter in 1909 or later)

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