Josephine Butler to Miss Forsaith

Scope and Content

Photocopy of letter. Written from 39 Clarence Square, Cheltenham (dictated).

She is the only person outside of her family to whom she has spoken on the matter. In her Will which she has made lately she has requested her sons to forbid any biography to be written of her after her death. The reasons for this are:

That she has written biographies of her father, her husband and her sister (Hatty) and in addition a history of their crusade. These give the history of the movement and as much personal detail as she would wish made public.

'Again my children and grandchildren would be grieved if any life of me were written as uniquely and solely connected with our Abolitionist work. It would be very one sided and in that work there has been so much that was terribly painful that in our family we are agreed to let the painful part pass into oblivion; and I think it would be most unpleasant to my children to have a book written which identified me with this crusade and with nothing else.

This is such a self-advertising age: workers in causes such as General Booth and even Maurice Gregory announce the number of miles they have travelled, meetings etc. all of which she thinks 'in very bad taste'. At her death she wishes no fuss to be made ... even a biographical sketch. However she regrets that one or two very striking events should be left unrecorded, notably the occasion 'when we gained, after so many years of conflict, our cause in the House of Commons [Apr 1883 'That this House disapproves of the compulsory examination of women under the CD Acts] JB gives a detailed account of 'that marvellous day and night'. She also says: 'I have an account of it written by myself to my sons' and tells her friend she would be glad if she could see any means of publishing the letter in any form. 'I would leave it as my little legacy to you'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Biog: General Booth, Maurice Gregory, Mr Stead