Emily Hobhouse, 1860-1926, was one of the first great women of the twentieth century. She was a feminist, a pacifist and an internationalist, and above all a humanitarian. She worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged and, in the case of the South African women and children who were herded into concentration camps by Lord Kitchener, was relentless in expounding their cause. This took great courage. She was deported from Cape Town, and was unable to get legal redress.
Emily Hobhouse's young life was spent in a tiny village in east Cornwall where her father was Rector and it was only when he died that she was able to expand her horizons. She was 35 and untrained. She went to Minnesota, U.S.A., to do welfare work for Cornish miners and formed an unfortunate relationship with a man who became Mayor of the town. They planned to marry and live in Mexico. Emily spent a trying time until the engagement was broken off just before the Boer War started.
After the war she travelled through the ravaged areas of South Africa and devised a successful scheme of home industries for young girls on isolated farms. Illness forced her to seek refuge in Italy where she remained almost to the beginning of World War I, and began her famous correspondence first with J.C. Smuts and then with Isabel Steyn. Her comments on the events of the day show unusual foresight.
She was loved by the people of South Africa and admired by those like Mahatma Gandhi who asked for her help. She was a bit of a painter, a writer and an entertainer, and in spite of ill-health travelled easily between countries, even in the midst of the first World War when she went to Germany, and hoped to obtain peace.
Returning to Europe after that war Emily Hobhouse put into a place a number of schemes to help the impoverished, but the cry of the children of Leipzig won her particular sympathy, and with the help of the Save the Children Fund and later the South Africans she devised a feeding scheme for them. The South Africans so admired her that they clubbed together to buy her a little house in Cornwall, at St. Ives. Later Emily moved to London where she died, 8th June 1926. Her remains were cremated and the ashes buried at the foot of the memorial for the women and children who died in the Anglo Boer War for whom she had worked so hard.
This book contains an outline of Emily Hobhouse's life and work including much new material; official and un-official records of the Concentration Camps set up by Lord Kitchener in the Anglo Boer War; many letters, and correspondence with J.C. Smuts and Isabel Steyn, wife of the ex-President of the Orange Free State.