British Fascists: “For King and Country”

(London): British Fascists, no date (c. 1927).  First edition.  Scarce recruitment handbill for the British Fascist Organisation.  Founded as the British Fascisiti in 1923 by Rotha Lintorn-Orman, as a response to the growing strength of the Labour Party, a source of great anxiety for the virulently anti-Communist Lintorn-Orman. She felt Labour was too prone to advocating class conflict and internationalism, as such, it was the first avowedly fascist movement to appear in British politics.  Rotha along with Nesta Maude Ashworth had earlier been instrumental in the formation of the Girl Guide Movement, and was one of the first recipients of the Silver Fish, an award for an exceptional contribution to a wide section of Girlguiding.  Financed by her mother Blanch, Lintorn-Orman’s party nonetheless struggled due to her preference for remaining within the law and her continuing ties to the fringes of the Conservative Party. Lintorn-Orman was essentially a Tory by inclination but was driven by a strong anti-communism and attached herself to fascism largely because of her admiration for Benito Mussolini and what she saw as his action-based style of politics.  Sadly Lintorn-Orman became dependent on alcohol and other drugs, rumours about her private life began to damage her reputation, eventually her mother stopped her funding amid lurid tales of alcohol, other drugs and orgies, and by her early death in 1935 her organisation was all but defunct.  This scarce handbill is addressed to loyal British subjects not content with the godless, Communistic direction the country is headed in and encourages the discontented to join the British Fascists. The verso lists the organization’s three objectives: to oppose Communism, to keep members physically fit through exercise and games, and to foster pride of Race. Members are forbidden to arm themselves or to engage in any aggressive actions.  A single sheet measuring 20cm by 13cm printed on both sides. Creases from folding, edgewear and some dark smudging to verso, although all text is legible.  Rare and important ephemeral item from the early days of women’s involvment in British politics. Worldcat locates a single example at Michigan State.


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