Saturday, 13 April 2013

Vegetarianism in Haslemere c.1900

I've been wondering how popular vegetarianism was in 1893 when Maude Egerton King published 'Vegetarianism' (King, M.E,, My book of songs and sonnetsPercival & Co., London, 1893).  The impression I get from The Vegetarian Society, is that whilst the Society was formed in 1885 (from two previous groups that were established in 1849 and 1877), the movement was not that popular in 1893.

Gandhi at the 1891 Portsmouth Vegetarian Federal Union Conference

Interestingly Gandhi and George Bernard Shaw are both cited as being members of the Society.  Both having tentative links to the Haslemere Peasant Arts movement, with Gandhi citing in Hind Swaraj (Gandhi, M.K., c.1909) Godfrey Blount's New Crusade as recommended further reading, "some testimonies by eminent men", as discussed in my October 2011 post.  Bernard Shaw had links with Joseph King as discussed in my November 2010 post and honeymooned in Haslemere, staying in Haslemere around 1898 to 1900.

It appears that Godfrey and Ethel Blount were also vegetarians, as shown iTherese La Chard’s memoirs A Sailor Hat in the House of the Lord (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1967) where she reminisces about living in a bungalow in the Blounts' garden in Weydown Road, Haslemere c.1910, "The meals seemed to consist largely of salads and haricot beans eaten with horn spoons off heavy pottery plates laid on handwoven strips."

From this I would conclude that Maude's 1893 poem did not reflect a passing fad for her but that vegetarianism was part of the Haslemere Peasant Arts lifestyle.  

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