Dora Montefiore

From a Victorian to a Modern

Introduction by Transcriber

As I read DBM and research her background it becomes apparent that her autobiography is full of sloppy mistakes due, I think, to a lack of proof-reading and lack of help. Her eyesight was deteriorating badly by 1926-7, the publisher was small and unknown and there are inconsistencies with dates and events. That might hint at the attitude to her of the British Communist Party of the time, which might have been one of a lack of interest. The most striking error is a statement in Chapter IX that in 1907 at the Socialist International Congress at Stuttgart “ I saw for the first and only time Frederick Engels and De Leon, the Socialist Labour Party leader from the States.” Since Engels had been dead since 1895 she clearly meant someone else, most probably Bebel, but perhaps Lafargue or Liebknecht. There is a general lack of dates but where she quotes from letters received, obviously from her own files, she must be accurate. So she does not seem to have checked matters with others.

Since the book is a political autobiography, personal and family matters, except in so far as they relate to politics and political activities, hardly intrude. As an example of inaccuracy the date of her own marriage in Australia is incorrect which she says was 1879, but which, according to NSW Archives, was in February 1881 at an Anglican Church in Sydney. Other examples are the date when she returned to England with her children, she says 1900 but from internal evidence it was certainly before that, perhaps 1898 or even earlier. At no point does she mention the names of her children, Florence Mary b.1883 and Gilbert VB, the B presumably being Barrow, (1887-1921). She mentions her son’s education (at St Paul’s School and London University) but, oddly for a feminist, never that of her daughter nor indeed her daughter’s marriage at the age of 18 to a Croydon solicitor, Herbert Allen Broad, 9 years older than her in August 1901 at an Anglican Church in Hove where she was present.

Ted Crawford
January 21, 2007

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