THINKING ON SUNDAY at CONWAY HALL, Annie Besant’s Passion for Malthusiansm

A variation on a talk given at the Theosophical Society on September 30th 2017 as part of a two day conference on Annie Besant, but with more emphasis on Annie Besant’s role in the National Secular Society and her working partnership with the “Atheist, Republican and Malthusian”, Charles Bradlaugh, founder and leader of the National Secular Society, which still exists today.

Annie Besant is now most famous for her role in the 1888 Matchgirls’ strike,  and perhaps for her association with George Bernard Shaw and the Fabians, but she first became known to her contemporaries in 1877, when she stood trial  alongside  Charles  Bradlaugh,  charged under the Obscene Publications Act  1857 for re-publishing a birth control pamphlet “The Fruits of Philosophy” first published anonymously but written by an American, Dr Charles Knowlton.  Annie Besant’s pro contraception stand has associated her with feminism, but her principle argument for birth control was Malthusian, while the majority of  late 19th century feminists, including Millicent Fawcett condemned  birth control as likely to lead to the greater oppression of women. A striking example of autres temps, autres moeurs.

Part of The Thinking on Sunday series at Conway Hall
2.30 Sunday 26th November 2017

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