Short exchange of letters between Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree and Piotr Kropotkin (Borthwick): 1912

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Archive: Borthwick Institute, Benjamin Seebohm-Rowntree Papers

Reference: RFAM/BSR/JRF/9/1/3/1

Date Range: 2 May 1912 - 1 October 1912

Number of letters: 3

As I stated in a previous post the vast majority of Kropotkin's correspondence to Rowntree was destroyed by its recipient - letters the other way indicate this would have been nearly 50 letters. Interestingly he preserved one letter from the Russian anarchist. I summarise this below but also include some copies of Rowntree's letters back to Kropotkin stored here under this reference at the Borthwick.

Benjamin Seebohm-Rowntree to Piotr Kropotkin 2 May 1912

Rowntree’s initial letter in this collection (of which there is also a copy in Moscow) discusses education and his book on Unemployment - which he thanks Kropotkin for encouraging words about. They specifically discuss the kind of practical education Rowntree is trying to organise in New Earswick (a model village run by the Rowntree family). He also informs Kropotkin that Fields, Factories and Workshops continues to sell well.

Piotr Kropotkin to Benjamin Seebohm-Rowntree 6 May 1912

Kropotkin is happy to hear the details about this school and talks about the proper way to teach children carpentry. He nostalgically describes his childhood building model boats with rigging, sails etc and how this was good for his development. Kropotkin is also pleasantly surprised by the good sales of Fields, Factories and Workshops and mentions briefly his having settled in Brighton for his health but how he frequently visits London to see his daughter and her ‘charming husband.’

There are letters in between the above and below contained in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) but only these three are in York. The letter below is only in York and not in Moscow.

Benjamin Seebohm-Rowntree to Piotr Kropotkin 1 October 1912

Rowntree is delighted to receive a new edition of Fields Factories and Workshops - (he had requested it in a letter dated in July to help him prepare for the governmental enquiry into British agriculture he is leading for British Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George). He praises the appearance of the book specifically and hopes to see Kropotkin soon in Brighton or London since he visits the latter weekly and it is ‘temptingly near’ to Brighton.

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