Marian Harwood

Marian Fleming Harwood (1846-1934), anti-war activist, scholar and philanthropist, was born in Greenock, Scotland, daughter of Catherine (born Barnett) and Henry Reid, merchant. Raised in Belfast in an intellectual environment as a pacifist and feminist, she studied romance philology under Heinrich Morf at the University of Zurich before her marriage to Dr Septimus Harwood. She came to Australia for the sake of her husband's health in l885 but returned to Ireland, childless, on his death shortly afterwards. After her mother's death she returned to Australia where she graduated BA (Sydney 1896), and MA in English and German (Melbourne 1900).

A liberal internationalist, she joined the committee of the New South Wales branch of the Peace Society soon after its establishment in 1907, became a vice-president in 1913 and took an important part in its activities until her death. In August 1910 she represented the Peace Societies of New South Wales and Victoria at the 18th International Peace Congress in Stockholm and spoke on the Australian peace movement at the University of Freiburg and at a peace conference in Coventry; she met leaders of the international peace movement including the author Norman Angell. On her return she began a journal, Pax, which she edited from July 1912 until its demise in June 1916. She also set up a library of peace literature which was still being used and added to by peace activists in the 1960s. She invested 1800 pounds in perpetuity to provide funds to pay the rent of the Sydney office of the Peace Society and 1000 pounds to provide prizes for children in state secondary schools for an essay on peace.

She was as critical of British as of German militarism during World War I and was regarded by the censors who intercepted her mail as quite a formidable opponent of the status quo. She wrote on the future of pacifism in the Federal Independent, 15 September 1918, and published monographs on the Sydney Peace Society, Sir Philip Gibbs' The Hope of Europe, Australian and overseas peace conferences and her reminiscences of Rose Scott (q.v.). Although she welcomed the formation of the League of Nations she was sceptical about its chances of success and critical of those who founded the local branch of the League of Nations Union as imperialists and non-pacifists.

Her scholarly analysis of the study and performance of Shakespeare's plays in Germany - The Shakespeare Cult in Germany from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Time (1907) - was written at the request of the Shakespeare Society of New South Wales. Fluent in French and German, she instituted a series of lectures in foreign languages from 1910-17, when they were merged into the Modern Language Association. She wrote a pamphlet entitled The Neglect of the Study of Modern Languages in Australia in which she recommended compulsory oral examinations in French and German at Australian universities and the teaching of spoken foreign languages in schools from kindergarten level. She taught French and German privately, was a member of the Teachers' Association of New South Wales and represented the National Council of Women at the Brussels Conference on Education in August 1910. She was an acute observer of the suffrage movement while in England and contributed an article on the Australian women's movement to Christian Commonwealth. She had a scholarly dislike of Esperanto and a rather dim view of the clergy, particularly those who supported the war.

A woman of seemingly boundless intellectual and physical energy, she was shipwrecked in 1919 on a visit to Colombo (an experience which she viewed as an interesting adventure), and she still swam regularly at the age of 82. She conducted an extensive correspondence with overseas pacifist and feminist organisations and collected a great deal of pacifist literature. She was forthright in expressing her opinions and sometimes rather harsh in her judgments of people. She practised public and private philanthropy, endowing beds in many children's homes, in most Sydney public hospitals and in each of the Queen Victoria Homes for Consumptives. She died on 28 July 1934.

Ann-Mari Jordens

Ann-Mari Jordens, 'The Growth and Decline of a Liberal Anti-war Movement in Australia, 1905-1918' Historical Studies 1987.