Victorian Blogging – Writing Wrongs

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents:

A series of Wednesday evening talks commencing 31 October and running until 5 December. 7pm to 8.30pm

These  Heritage Lottery-funded talks are free. But please register for talks

Speakers: Prof. Joad Raymond, Dr Joseph Kelly, Dr Gregory Claeys, Prof. David Nash, Deborah Lavin & Viv Regan (Spiked)

Starting with a Joad Raymond’s talk on the technological advance of printing and the advent of the dissident pampleteering and ending with Viv Regan’s talk talk on the technological  advance of the internet and advent of the maverick voice of blogging; and the slite’s efforts to silence both the pamphleteeer and the blogger. In between four talks on campaigns that historically animated the  men and women associated with Conway Hall

31 October | Brockway Room 

The First Resort: Pamphleteering and Politics in Early Modern Britain

Prof. Joad Raymond charts the rise of the pamphlet as a method to communicate alternative political ideas and challenge power in early modern Britain.

7 November | Brockway Room

The Elimination of Slavery from the Whole World: Problems of Anti-Slavery in Victorian Britain

Dr Joseph Kelly examines the problems faced by the slavery abolition movement in Britain after slavery was abolished in the British Empire in the 1830s and the new task was to eliminate slavery from the rest of the earth.

14 November | Library* 

Marx, Morris and Utopia

Dr Gregory Claeys considers whether, despite Karl Marx’s  well-known rejection of earlier utopian socialism, he might still be termed a utopian thinker, and how some of Marx’s ideas were adapted and built upon by the English socialist William Morris.

21 November | Brockway Room

Blasphemy, the Individual and the State: From Historical Flashpoint to Contemporary Grievance

Prof. David Nash traces the long battle to abolish the Blasphemy Laws in England, from the seventeenth century to their abolition in 2008 and examines concepts of blasphemy which impact us in new ways today.

28 November | Library

Annie Besant and the Liberal, Radical, Socialist and Feminist Opposition to Birth Control in the Nineteenth Century

Deborah Lavin reveals how strong opposition to contraception in the 19th century, came not just from the religious and tradional but from liberals, radicals, socialists and feminists.

5 December | Brockway Room

The End of the Wild World Web? Internet Freedom in the Twenty-First Century

Viv Regan of Spiked  explores the threats to open debate and blogging online and discuss es what has happened to the lost promise of internet freedom.

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Sqaure, London WC1

Prostitution, Pimping and Trafficking

A series of Wednesday evening talks at 7pm at Conway Hall starting on 5th September running until 10th October. 2018;

Speakers: Dr Stacy Banwell, Dr Kevin Brown, Dr Jane Jordan, Dr Julia Laite, Dr Siobhán Hearne and Prof Roger Matthews.

Presented by Conway Hall Ethical Society and curated by Deborah Lavin

September 5th (Brockway Room)

Forced Prostitution: Unpacking the Links between Globalisation, Neo-Liberalism and the Illicit Sex Trade. Speaker: Dr Stacy Banwell

September 12th (Library) *

Syphilis and Fallen Women 1495-1945. Speaker: Dr Kevin Brown

September 19th (Library) *

Josephine Butler and the “Ladies Campaign” against the Contagious Diseases Acts. Speaker: Dr Jane Jordan

September 26th (Library) *

White Slaves to “Hard Girls”. Increasing Criminalisation and its Consequences (1885-1960). Speaker: Dr Julia Laite

October 3rd 2018 (Brockway Room)

From “Yellow Ticket” to “Bourgeois Evil”, Prostitution in Russia 1900-1930. Speaker: Dr Siobhán Hearne

October 10th 2018 (Brockway Room)

Contemporary Prostitution, Politics and Policy. Speaker: Prof Roger Matthews

Tickets: individual tickets £6, students & participating society members £4.

Series ticket (6 talks for the price of 5): £30,  students & participating society members £20.

Further Information on the Conway Hall website:

The British Business of Slavery, a series of talks at Conway Hall, Autumn 2015


Conway Hall Ethical Society presents a series of talks,  curated by Deborah Lavin, on British involvement in slavery,  from the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans to the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015, 7:00 pm
Freedom’s Debt, the Politics of the Atlantic Slave Trade (1672 – 1752)

Speaker: Dr William Pettigrew, University of Kent, and also currently running a Leverhulme Trust project examining England’s 17th century international trading corporations
Freedom’s Debt will discuss the parts played by ideas of freedom and liberty in developing England’s contribution to the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans. It also argues that Britain’s relationship with slavery has largely been viewed in terms of Britain’s contribution to the abolition of the trade. It suggests that British identity, British ideas, British institutions did much to develop the trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It examines the political deliberations that surrounded the Royal African Company – a monopolistic trading corporation formed to develop England’s slave trade that would become, by the middle of the eighteenth century, associated with some of the earliest embryonic arguments for the abolition of the slave trade. The lecture will examine the role that Britishness and freedom played in developing the largest forced-intercontinental migration in human history

Tuesday 13th October, 7:00 pm
First Prime Minister of the London Empire: William Beckford, Jamaican Planter & Lord Mayor of London (1709 – 1770)
Speaker: Dr Perry Gauci, Vivian Green Fellow in Eighteenth-Century History at Lincoln College, Oxford
The First Prime Minister of the London Empire examines the life of William Beckford, twice Lord Mayor of London, and one of the largest slave-owners in the British Empire. In a remarkable political career, he gained fame as a proponent of British liberties, while overseeing a transatlantic family business founded on colonial slavery. The talk will seek to demonstrate how these contradictions highlighted many of the dilemmas Britain faced as a global empire, and helped to spark some of the earliest domestic debates about its future as an imperial power.

Tuesday 20th October, 7:00
The Law’s Ambiguous Struggle with Slavery
Speaker,  Prof Satvinder Juss, King’s College London and Barrister at Law.
Previously a Human Rights Fellow at Harvard Law School and a member of the Slavery Working Group at the Centre for Social Justice (2013),  which advised on the  Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The Law’s Ambiguous Struggle with Slavery considers the ambiguity that the law faced in the eighteenth century in its struggle with slavery. In this century, several English judges upheld the rights of slave owners to claim property in their “Negroes”, either on the grounds that they were not Christians, or by appealing to the legal concept of jus gentium (law of nations). However, some judges upheld the rights of slaves, arguing that once a slave set foot in England, the slave became free.  Also new light is thrown on the perennial controversy  surrounding the case of James Somersett (1772) and the role of Lord Mansfield in the change to the common law regarding slavery within Britain.

Tuesday 27th October, 7:00 pm
George Hibbert M.P. (1757-1837) and the Defence of British Slavery
Speaker, Dr Katie Donington, awarded a PhD in History (2013) from University College London (for research into the Hibbert family( Co-author of The Legacies of British Slave-ownership: Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain
George Hibbert was an early and powerful defender of the slave trade and later slavery. He was a Chairman of the West India Merchants Society, a Member of Parliament between 1806-1812, and Agent for Jamaica between 1812-1832. His family had been involved with the business of slavery for generations. As early as 1790 he campaigned for the payment of compensation for those whose livelihoods depended on the labour of enslaved people. This talk will look at the different strategies used by Hibbert to delay the ending of slavery, as well as to ensure that the government compensated the slave-owners for their ‘property in people’.

Tuesday 3rd November, 7:00 pm
The Unfortunate Colonel Despard: “Governor of Belize”, Anti-racist, Democrat, Executed as a Traitor 1803
Speaker: Mike Jay, author and historian
Colonel Edward Despard was executed in London in 1803 as a terrorist and traitor. However, the seeds of his radicalism were sown on the other side of the world, during his military service in the Caribbean. A patriotic war hero who fought alongside Nelson, he fell from favour with the British government after he was appointed governor of Belize and allocated equal shares of land to black and white settlers. Recalled to Britain, he shocked London society with his mixed race marriage, and his pursuit of racial equality and political rights steered him towards the revolutionary underground.

Tuesday 24th November, 7:00 pm
Slavery and the Shaping of Britis
h Culture
Speaker:  James Walvin, Professor of History Emeritus, University of York.
The past forty years have yielded an astonishingly rich and varied archive and historiography about slavery. Much less impressive however has been the efforts to locate slavery as an integral feature of Western cultural life itself. Too often, slavery is seen as an exotic, discreet subject which belongs outside Western culture. This talk takes a different approach, arguing that slavery was pivotal to the way Western Europe emerged over a period of three centuries.

Tuesday 1st December, 7:00 pm
A British-Owned Congo: Roger Casement’s Battle with Slavery in Peru (1910-1914)
Speaker: Professor Jordan Goodman (presently affiliated as an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, at UCL).
Roger Casement was the twentieth century’s first outstanding humanitarian. Best known for his 1904 chilling report on conditions in King Leopold’s Congo, Casement continued his campaign for human rights in the Putumayo Valley bordering Peru and Colombia, where a rubber company with headquarters in London was abusing and murdering indigenous people on a massive scale – nearly thirty thousand workers had died for a few thousand tons of rubber. Casement’s 1912 Foreign Office published report made for disturbing reading. He was widely celebrated as a hero in his battle to expose widespread abusive labour regimes. In 1916, Casement was hanged on a charge of treason by the British Government.

Additional Talk: Friday 4th December at 7.OO
Slavery isn’t History: The Argument for Reparations
Speaker: Dr Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International
For further  information about Anti Slavery International’s campaigns and for details of membership:

Tuesday 8th December @ 7:00 pm
Identifying Unfinished Business: The UK Modern Slavery Act (2015)
Speaker: Gary Craig, Professor of Community Development and Social Justice at Durham University, and Emeritus Professor of Social Justice at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University Hull.
Almost two hundred years after the anti-slavery legislation associated with William Wilberforce, the UK government passed the Modern Slavery Act, acknowledging the fact that slavery had never really gone away. What is different now is that “modern slavery”, is present within the UK itself rather than in far-flung countries where Britons preferred to overlook working conditions. This talk will briefly trace the links between historical forms of slavery and its modern manifestations, and will critically examine claims by the government that the Act is world-leading.

Q and A after each talk

The Brockway Room
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

For further information and tickets:

Supported by the Socialist History Society:

Camden New Journal, 1 October 2015

Stop the First World War, a series of talks at Conway Hall, Autumn 2014

30th September 2014 at 7pm
Norman Angell – liberal, radical, socialist, pacifist or patriot? 
Speaker: Martin Ceadel,  Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College.

7th October at 7pm
From Ivory Tower to Activist: Persistent Dissent: Bertrand Russell’s response to the War and Conscription
Speaker: Chris Bratcher,  former Chair of Conway Hall Ethical Society
Ramsay MacDonald and World War One
Speaker: John Grigg, Treasurer of Labour Heritage,  researcher into local Labour History in West London and one time Labour Leader of Hounslow Council.

14th October at 7pm
The British Labour Movement and the Outbreak of the First World War
Speaker: Prof Willie Thompson, former editor of Socialist History
A Movement Divided, The Labour Movement and the Great War
A Case Study The West Riding of Yorkshire
Speaker: Prof Keith Laybourn, leading labour historian and author.

21st October at 7pm
Irish labour and the First World War
Speaker: John Newsinger, Professor of History at Bath Spa University and author of Rebel City: Larkin, Connolly and the Dublin Labour Movement
Radical Liberalism and the Outbreak of WW1.
Speaker Duncan Bowie, editor of The Chartist

28th October at 7pm
The Pankhursts at War
Speaker: Katherine Connelly, author of a biography of Sylvia Pankhurst and coordinator of last year’s Emily Wilding Davison Memorial Campaign.
Isabella Ford; a socialist and feminist Peace Campaigner in World War One
Speaker: June Hannam, Professor (Emerita) of Modern British History, University of the West of England.

6th November at 7pm
1914 and the Schism in International Anarchism
Speaker: Pietro Dipaola, senior lecture, University of Lincoln and author of The Knights-Errant of Anarchy: London and the Italian Anarchist Diaspora 1880-1917 (Liverpool University Press, 2013).
Not Our War
Speaker: Tony Zurbrugge, publisher at the Merlin Press and editor of the recent book “Not Our War” (2014).

Q and A after each talk.

The Brockway Room
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London, WC1R 4RL

Further information and tickets;

Supported by the Socialist History Society:

19th century radicals and their “Alternatives to Religion”, a series of talks at Conway Hall, Autumn 2013

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents a series of talks, curated by Deborah Lavin on five  leading 19th century figures who argued and campaigned  for ethical “Alternatives to Religion”

George Jacob Holyoake; Tuesday 8th October 2013 at 7pm
Speaker: Stefan Dickers, archivist at Bishopsgate Institute

Charles Bradlaugh, Tuesday 15th October 2013 at 7 pm
Speaker, Bryan Niblett, author of Dare to Stand Alone, a new biography of Charles Bradlaugh explores the importance of atheism to Bradlaugh’s radical thinking

John Stuart Mill, Tuesday 22nd October 2013 at 7pm
Speaker Prof. Greg Claeys. examines Mill’s idea of secular progress, his arguments in support of Malthusianism and feminism; alongside a discussion of his growing interest in socialism and concern to reconcile the conflicted demands for more equality and social justice with the dynamism of the Liberal meritocratic and individualist ideal.

Harriet Law, Tuesday 29 October 2013 at 7pm
Dr Laura Schwartz, author of Infidel Feminism  presents Harriet Law as a deeply unrespectable woman. Freethinker, feminist and socialist, who  abhorred religion, condemned the institution of marriage and was the first woman to sit  on the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association, where she allied herself with Karl Marx.

Annie Besant, Tuesday,  5th November 2013 at 7pm
Speakers: Marie Terrier  on Annie Besant’s secularism as a weapon in the fight for women’s emancipation (1874-1890). Louise Raw on Misinterpretations of Annie Besant, Socialist, Strike Leader, “Unsexed Woman”, Atheist, or Religious Leader? 

The Brockway Room
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

For further information and tickets:

Supported by the Socialist History Society: