Abstract: Jean Mills „“With every nerve in my body I stand for peace”—Jane Ellen Harrison and the Heresy of War“
This essay examines the leading, albeit forgotten, and frequently dismissed, 20th century professional woman scholar and public intellectual, Jane Ellen Harrison, and her ardent pacifism in response to World War I, as it puts her in conversation, through her correspondence, commentary, and her largely neglected, but important, anti-war, pacifist polemic, “Epilogue on War: Peace with Patriotism” (1914) with leading pacifists and anti-war activists, such as Bertrand Russell, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Clive Bell, and Gilbert Murray. Here, I explore her engagement with and support of the No Conscription Fellowship and The Union of Democratic Control, led by “Goldie” Dickinson, which she backed at great professional risk, incurring the public wrath of her male, pro-war colleagues at Cambridge; her vehement disagreement with her beloved and respected colleague, Gilbert Murray, one of the early crafters of The League of Nations and her close friend, when, in writing to him, she disputed his assumption that “War has its good side”; and her public support, again, at great professional risk, of Bertrand Russell. Her essay “War and the Reaction,” which became “Epilogue on War: Peace with Patriotism,” and a model and important source for Virginia Woolf’s more well-known pacifist polemic, Three Guineas, and her other essays on war and humanism, “Heresy and Humanity” and “Unanism and Conversion” each collected in Alpha and Omega (1915) add dimension to a discourse on peace, peace-making, and peace building, that has recently sought to historically construct both aesthetic and active resistance to the war and act as a counter to the myth of war experience (see, Jonathan Atkin’s A War of Individuals: Bloomsbury Attitudes to the Great War (2002); Jay Winter’s Dreams of Peace and Freedom: Utopian Moments in the 20th Century (2006); and Grace Brockington’s Above the Battlefield: Modernism and the Peace Movement in Britain, 1900-1918 (2010). Harrison, who was read, respected, and internationally well known to her contemporaries as a pacifist and radical, Cambridge intellectual, has been lost to readers today. This essay seeks to act as a corrective to this gap in a critical history in need of acknowledging and investigating her important contributions and efforts in helping to prevent the war.