by Sheila Rowbotham - £16.99 Pluto Press (2015)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780745335759 | ISBN 10: 0745335756
Friends of Alice Wheeldon is a remarkable play by Sheila Rowbotham that re-enacts the 1917 trial and subsequent imprisonment of Wheeldon for her alleged role in plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister Lloyd George. It is prefaced by an extended essay 'Rebel Networks in the First World War'.
With an overall feeling of claustrophobia and anger, the play recounts how Alice's involvement in socialism, suffragism and the anti-war movement did not endear her to the establishment, and in times of growing class antagonism and war how the government needed a traitor.
The controversial trial became something of a cause célèbre – a show trial at the height of the First World War – based on fabricated evidence from a criminally insane fantasist 'Alex Gordon' who was working for an undercover intelligence agency. It was a travesty of justice.
First published nearly thirty years ago, this new edition points readers to subsequent research into the case and the ongoing campaign to clear Alice Wheeldon's name. It offers a necessary corrective to the more triumphalist commemorations of the First World War.
(Price & availability last checked: May 2015)
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In booklists: Trials, The Suffragette Movement and the Fight for the Vote, Women's Activism, World War I, Peace Activism, Miscarriages of Justice, In categories: History & Biography, Society, Welfare, Justice & the State, Feminism & Women, Changing the World, Peace & Human Rights,