Dead Socialist Watch, #292

Charlotte Despard, novelist, feminist and socialist. While her husband was alive, she wrote novels; when he died in 1890, she threw herself into political work, being an SDFer and ILPer; later honorary secretary of the WSPU; then president of the Women’s Freedom Leage. (According to the ODNB, she “wore a simple black chiffon mantilla instead of the large hat of a conventional Edwardian lady, and open sandals instead of tight boots”.) She opposed the First World War, despite the fact that her brother was Sir John French of the BEF. After home rule, she moved to Ireland, where she was president of the Women’s Prisoners’ Defence League. She toured the USSR in 1930, aged 86, moving to Ulster after her home was attacked by an anti-communist mob in 1933; and in her final years she supprted the anti-appeasement cause, though was too old to go to Spain. Born at Ripple Vale in Kent, 15 June 1844; she died at Whitehead, near Belfast, 10 November 1939 and is buried at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin.

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