Rawson, Marion (political activist)
Ivy Marion Enthoven, known after her marriage as Marion Rawson, graduated from Bedford College with a degree in Italian studies and was related to one of the numerous Anglo-Florentine families. These family connections allowed her to travel with relative ease between England and Italy, and during 1925 she worked for six months as a secretary at the British Institute in Florence.
During the 1920s and 1930s she was part of the group of people working in England against Italian fascism, whose members included Gaetano Salvemini, Don Luigi Sturzo, Raffaele Rossetti and members of the Rosselli family. Between 1927 and 1930 she carried out much of the organisational work of the Italian Refugees’ Relief Committee, set up in to raise money for the refugee community in Paris, but on the advice of Salvemini and others kept her name from being mentioned in connection with anti-fascist causes in order that she could continue travelling to Italy. She was a participant in the organisation of the escape of Carlo Rosselli, Emilio Lussu and Francesco Nitti from confinement on the island of Lipari in 1929. She translated many anti-fascist and other works into English, including Mazzini and The French Revolution, 1788-1792 by Salvemini and Sardinian Brigade, (1939), by Emilio Lussu.
Ivy Marion Enthoven married the dramatist Graham Stanhope Rawson in 1930.
The Italian Refugees’ Relief Committee was set up in Spring 1927 as a non-political humanitarian organisation to raise funds to support those who had had to flee Mussolini’s Fascist regime. British immigration regulations of the time did not permit the entry of refugees into Britain. However, a large exile community was being established in Paris, where the Comité de Secours aux Réfugiés Politiques Italiens (Italian Political Refugees Relief Committee) was formed. The British Committee was able to send funds and material aid to their French counterparts. The first Chairman was Alys Russell (formerly the wife of Bertrand Russell), who was later replaced by Lady Margaret Slesser. W.S. Kennedy (a lawyer associated with the Labour Party) acted as Honorary Secretary and F.R. Muir as Honorary Treasurer.
The collection (formerly referenced MS 1244), contains around 100 letters written to Marion Rawson, chiefly between 1926 and 1930, discussing the political situation in Italy and the work being done to raise money and awareness elsewhere. Thirty-six letters, written in Italian, are from the archaeologist Umberto Zanotti-Bianco. Other correspondents include Don Luigi Sturzo, Marion Cave Rosselli, Carlo Rosselli and Giovanna Berneri (wife of the anti-fascist anarchist Luigi Camillo Berneri). The collection also contains around sixty cuttings from English and American newspapers 1927-1930 on Italian affairs, and forty issues of Italian periodical publications 1925-1968 (chiefly 1937-1942), including La Giovine Italia and Giustizia e Liberta; Other items include a typescript copy of Marion Rawson’s notes on Salvemini’s life in England, written for Iris Origo in 1965, and copies of reports, speeches, letters and articles on Italy and Italian-British relations during the Fascist era.
The collection (formerly referenced MS 943) consists largely of correspondence addressed to the Committee. Subjects include acceptance or rejection of membership, donations, appeals, Committee meetings and finance. Much of the day to day organisation of the Committee was carried out by Marion Enthoven (later Rawson), who is the author or recipient of many of the letters. Other correspondents include the committee members Alys Russell, F.R. Muir, W.S. Kennedy, Lady Margaret Slesser, Luigi Sturzo and Helena M. Swanwick. There is also correspondence from the French committee, particularly from Giovanna Berneri (wife of the anarchist anti-Fascist Luigi Camillo Berneri), reporting on visits to refugee families, other activities of the organisation, and finance. The rest of the collection contains copies of appeals and letters sent to the press, pamphlets, reports, accounts and balance sheets, and other miscellaneous items.
- A full description is available on our online database
- A handlist of the whole collection is available here
- Reader’s reports about Sardinian Brigade can be found in AURR 30/5/35 and AURR 30/5/36
- For further collections relating to Italy and fascism see the Salò Republic Collection and the papers of Cecil and Sylvia Sprigge