Josephine Butler to Miss Priestman

Archive Unit
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 3JBL/33/45
  • Former Reference
      GB 106 4350
  • Dates of Creation
      5 Nov 1894
  • Physical Description
      1 item

Scope and Content

Written from Balham. No year but letter mentions her grandchildren 'Little Josephine and Bob' as does the postcard dated 10 Oct 1894 and mentions Mrs Smyttan before she died in 1895

'I tried hard to keep out of the 'Empire' conflict'.

The 'Empire' was a famous Victorian music hall. This letter is important as it gives Josephine Butler's principles on dealing with prostitutes. The issue of the 'Empire' was a question of licensing a Promenade in a Theatre, admittedly used as a convenient place for making assignations. It was a complicated case because the owner of the property profited by 75% by allowing women to use his place which resembled organised prostitution.

'The principle of the Federation has always been to let individuals alone, not to pursue them with any outward punishment, nor drive them out of any place, so long as they behave decently, but to attack organised prostitution, that is when a third party actuated by the desire of making money sets up a house in which women are sold to men or keeps any place for his own gain which is a market of vice...'

It was a most difficult question for the [County] Council before granting a license. She has mixed views about the Vigilance Society. Hopes for a little rest at Christmas. Very worried about her sister (Mrs Smyttan) who dreads her loneliness. She is trying to arrange for a daily visitor.

Administrative / Biographical History

Biog: Little Josephine and Bob, Mrs Chant, Mrs Smyttan, John Burns