Papers of David Markham (1913-1983) relating to tax refusal

Scope and Content

This collection comprises only two files which cover David Markham's attempts to sustain the tax refusal campaign after the Direct Action Committee disbanded in 1961. The files also cover his own case of tax refusal.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Markham was an actor, performing on stage, television and film for over 40 years. He married the novelist, poet and BBC radio dramatist Olive Dehn in 1937. Together they had four children, Sonia, Kika (married to Corin Redgrave), Petra and Jehane.

During the Second World War, David refused to serve in the armed forces and received a 12 month sentence as a conscientious objector. He was imprisoned in Winson Green and Wormwood Scrubbs, but was released early on appeal, following the intervention of Queen Mary. After the war, the couple moved from the Manchester area to East Sussex, where they bought a farm at Lear Cottage, Coleman’s Hatch.

In the early 1960s David became involved in the Committee of 100 and the Committee Against Tax for Nuclear Arms, a body set up under the auspices of the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War. David personally refused to pay a portion of his tax assessment in protest at government spending on nuclear weapons. After the DAC disbanded, he undertook to continue the tax refusal campaign, gathering support through publicity in Peace News. In 1964, in co-operation with George Clark and Howard Cheney of the Campaign Caravan Workshops, the Campaign Against Taxation for Nuclear Armaments was formed, with David as chair.

The Markhams were also the driving force behind the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse. This was formed in 1975 to highlight the misuse of psychiatry for political ends, particularly in the Soviet Union. After a campaign which saw the couple arrested in Moscow, David and Olive were successful in gaining the release of the Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky in 1976.

Access Information

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

These files were found with the archives of the Committee Against Tax for Nuclear Arms, which was donated to the Commonweal Collection in July 1995.

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.


None expected.

Related Material

Archives of Committee Against Tax for Nuclear Arms, part of the Direct Action Committee archive [GB 0532 Cwl DAC/5/15]