The Rawnsley British Union of Fascists Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

"From the shadows of exile" (photocopy typescript of an unpublished autobiography by Nellie Driver, covering her membership of the B.U.F. and her internment during WW2), "The mill" (photocopy typescript of an unpublished novel, based on her experiences) and taped interviews with former B.U.F. members, with typed transcripts.

Administrative / Biographical History

Material collected by Stuart Rawnsley while researching for his Ph.D. thesis, "Fascism and Fascists in Britain in the 1930s". The British Union of Fascists was an amalgamation in 1932 of Sir Oswald Mosley's New Party and several small fascist groups. The Union adopted the Fascist salute, black shirt and extreme anti-Semitic views. They were strongly opposed by Communists and Jewish groups, and increasingly by people from across the political spectrum. Hecklers at meetings were harshly dealt with, and rallies and marches were set to provoke confrontation, including conflicts at Olympia in 1934 and the "Battle of Cable Street" in London in 1936. The Public Order Act (1936), prohibiting political uniforms and giving the police power to ban political marches, took the movement out of the public eye. The party was strongest in the textile areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire, depressed rural areas, and the East End of London, but failed to develop ultimately as a serious political force on the national scale. Following the fall of France and the invasion crisis of May 1940 Defence Regulations 18B and 18B (1A) were enacted, resulting in the internment of many British Union members on the grounds that they might potentially act as a Fifth Column for the enemy.

Conditions Governing Access

Available to researchers, by appointment

Acquisition Information

Deposited with the J B Priestley Library by Dr. Rawnsley.


In English

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Alternative Form Available

The audiocassettes are all accompanied by transcripts

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Sheffield University Library Special Collections and Archives: British Union Collection, Blackshirts in Kingston Project, John Beckett Collection, Fascism in Great Britain Collection, Joyce Papers, Robert Saunders Papers.


Stuart Rawnsley, "Fascism and Fascists in Britain in the 1930s: a case study of Fascism in the North of England in a period of economic and political change": Ph.D. thesis (Bradford, 1982)