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(en) UK, Kate Sharpley's Story - Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library, #6, September 1996

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/whoisks.htm)
Date Mon, 10 Nov 2003 11:40:06 +0100 (CET)

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One of our frequently asked questions is who was Kate Sharpley?
[The KATE SHARPLEY LIBRARY carry her name - I.S.]
Many of our readers will know of her as One of the countless
unknown members of our movement ignored by the official historians
of anarchism We Hope this tribute, written by Albert Meltzer in 1978
will help to fill that statement out a little. There are more details in
Albert's autobiography I Couldn't Paint Golden Angels.

Kate's Tinwear
Sixty-five years ago Queen Mary was handing out medals in
Greenwich, most of them for fallen heroes being presented to their
womenfolk. One 22-year old girl, said by the local press to be under
the influence of anarchist propaganda, having collected medals for her
dead father, brother and boyfriend, then threw them in the Queens
face, saying, If you think so much of them, you can keep them. The
Queens face was scratched and so was that of one of her attendant
ladies. The police, not a little under the influence of patriotic
propaganda, then grabbed the girl and beat her up. When she was
released from the police station a few days later, no charges being
brought, she was scarcely recognisable.

The girl was Kate Sharpley, who had been active in the Woolwich
anarchist group and helped keep it going through the difficult years of
World War 1. After her clash with the police she was sacked from her
job on suspicion of dishonesty (there was nothing missing but a
policeman had called checking up on her…) and, selling libertarian
pamphlets in the street, she was recognised by the police and warned
that if she appeared there again she would be charged with soliciting
as a prostitute (which in those days would have been a calamity, and
even today a disaster, if once convicted). Isolated from her family, and
with the group broken up, she moved out of activity, away from the
neighbourhood, and married.

I met her, by chance, last year in Lewisham. Twice widowed, she
remembered the anarchist movement with nostalgia, and gave me a
fascinating account of the local group in the years before World War
1. Unfortunately, she was already very ill, and a few weeks ago, she
died, I was told by one of her neighbours.

I had, though, asked her for a message to the Anarchist movement
today. Her answer: tell the kids they're doing all right, they don't need
any advice from me. Especially she praised the young women of
today: I wouldn't have had to take cover like I did if women of my day
had any guts. she said. But she did have guts. A few only in 1917
dared take any action in bereaved England.
Albert Meltzer

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