ROSSETTI, Olivia & Helen. MEREDITH, Isabel, pseud.

A Girl Among the Anarchists.

London: Duckworth & Co., 1903 Stock Code: 130071
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19th-century anarchy

First edition, first impression, of the Rossetti sisters' pseudonymously published semi-autobiographical memoir of their experiences as teenagers in the late 19th-century anarchist underground movement in London. The titular narrator Isabel Meredith shuns her comfortable Victorian home for the life of a revolutionary only to eventually reject anarchism on humanistic grounds, a move which reflects the sisters' own disillusionment with this particular strain of radical politics. There appear to have been at least three variant bindings: the presumed first issue red pictorial cloth, the present buff cloth trimmed in black, and a Times Book Club issue, red cloth with a "The Times 1783" roundel stamped in black to the lower spine.

Olivia (1875-1960) and Helen (1879-1969) were the daughters of William Michael Rossetti, brother of Dante Gabriel and one of the seven founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1891 they published and edited the anarchist newspaper The Torch from the basement of their family home, and thence from separate offices. This led to the establishment of a prominent salon which counted Kropotkin and Kravchinski among its members, and under these auspices George Bernard Shaw published the pamphlet Why I Am An Anarchist. Return to Yesterday (1931), a memoir written by the sisters' cousin, Ford Madox Ford, also recounts this anarchist period in the Rossetti household. The Rossetti sisters' anarchist leanings eventually developed into support for corporatism and fascism, though Olivia was the more active of the two.

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Octavo. Original buff cloth, spine lettered in black, front board panelled in black.


Spine slightly slanted and dulled, ends bruised and extremities rubbed, front board a little marked, hinges cracked but firm, front free endpaper renewed, half-title and rear endpapers browned, removal of label visible on rear pastedown, else a very good copy.


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