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1847-1981 :

A thesis presented to the London School of Economics, University of London,
for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, by Julia Twigg
©AUTUMN 1981 - Thesis Index

The author is now Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at Kent University, England, and has given permission for this previously unpublished thesis to be published on the IVU website. The ownership and copyright remain hers and no part of this thesis may be used elsewhere without her express permission.


[Numerical links are to the author's footnotes, use your back button to return to the same point in the text. Text links are to relevant items on the IVU website, all open in new windows]


One marked change is that New England Transcendentalism, whether of the quasi-religious type or not, is dead; there are no more references to Emerson, Thoreau or Carpenter, nor to their deified landscapes. The connection with various liberal versions of Christianity continues (1), though the drive that had in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries led to the formation of such groups had very much slackened. The orthodox churches had to some extent accommodated themselves to the doubts and difficulties of the crisis of faith, so that, by the interwar years, as people, in continuingly large numbers, fell away from belief, they tended to leave the orbit of religion altogether.

The association with theosophy continues. These were for the society, years of consolidation under the control of Mrs Besant. Aided by the wealth of the motor car heiress, Miss Dodge, the society flourished and reached its apogee in the expectations gathered around Krishnamurti and expressed in the Order of the Star in the East. The Indian link grew stronger and Mrs Besant and the theosophists were influential in the early stages of Congress and the fight for independence. Crisis came, however, in 1929 when Krishnamurti repudiated his role as the world teacher. Many left the Theosophical Society at this point, some to join other groups. Lady Emily Lutyens has left an account of those years; like many in the society she was a vegetarian and also vice president of the Vegetarian Society. (2) Anthroposophy, an offshoot from Theosophy, had similar vegetarian links. (3)

The general connection with India continues. This was partly through its continuing influence at the spiritual and philosophical level, though also more widely through its political impact on the left - Brockway, Reynolds and Cripps were all involved in the Issue of India - and through the influence of figures like Tagore on Leonard Elmhirst of Dartington and Gandhi and his example of the effective political use of non-violence on the Quakers and the pacifists. When Gandhi visited London in 1931 for the abortive Round Table talks he renewed his acquaintance with the vegetarians and attended a reception in his honour given by the London Vegetarian Society. (4)

The other vegetarian religious associations covered in this period are: the Order of the Cross, Mazdanan, the Quakers, and, rather apart from them, the Seventh Day Adventists.

  1. 147. The Church of the New Age, Manchester, provided an example from this period. The church stressed tolerance of opinions, the search for truth, purity of life and service to humanity, and a theology of love. Vegetarianism was part of this. For accounts see VM, March 1933, p97; Nov 1933, p354. Walter Walsh's Free Religious Movement for World Religion and World Brotherhood, founded 1913, is another example.
    DR WALTER WALSH: 1857-1931. University of Glasgow, DD Pittsburg, peace and temperance advocate, interested in housing reform, member of ILP, city councillor, excluded from the Church of Scotland for his 'Universalist' views. Vice president of LVS. See his 'Nature Red in Tooth and Claw' for a discussion of suffering in nature, VN, July 1928; VM, Feb 1930, p36; and his obit. VN, June 1931, p175.
  2. 148. See her Candles in the Sun, 1957, and her daughter, Mary Lutyens' To Be Young, 1959 and Edwin Lutyens, 1980.
    LADY EMILY LUTYENS: grand-daughter of Bulwer Lytton, sister of Lady Constance Lytton. For her vegetarianism, see Candles, p36 and To Be Young, p13. For the period see also A.H. Netheroot, The Last Four Lives of Annie Besant, 1963, and Annie Besant in VM August, 1933, p253.
  3. 149. Rudolf Steiner held very similar views concerning meat-eating. He also supported homeopathic medicine and herbalism, and founded Weleda to produce these and non-animal based cosmetics.
  4. 150. VN, Dec 1931, p352 VN, March 1932, p74, interviewed by Dugald Semple; and A. Hunt, Gandhi in London, New Delhi, 1978. [ text of Gandhi's talk to LVS -- same text, different pictures ]

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