BCCDBritish Concentration Camps
of the South African War

Mailing List Postings
Emily Hobhouse
Posted on 22/04/2015

Emily Hobhouse remains the single most important figure in the story of the camps. When I started writing about her, I wondered whether she would turn out to have feet of clay but I became convinced that without her courage and persistence, it would have taken the British far longer to tackle the mortality and the dreadful condition of some of the camps – if ever.

Now there is a new book about her, emanating from Australia. This is: Robert Eales, The Compassionate Englishwoman. Emily Hobhouse in the Boer War (Australia, Middle Harbour Press, 2015).

Written in part for an Australian readership, which knows almost nothing about Emily Hobhouse, it is focussed primarily on her South African life and mission. Emily Hobhouse is well documented in that her letters and part of her memoir have been published and there are several existing biographies. This volume, however, draws on more recent research and provides a most readable introduction to the person and the camps. Eales looks not only at Emily Hobhouse herself, but also at the British responses to her report and letters, so we get a well-rounded picture. Eales is a South African in origin, so he is comfortable with the country and there are none of the slips that one finds in books written by overseas authors.

The one drawback for South Africans is that The Compassionate Englishwoman will not be readily available in this country. If anyone wishes to purchase it, please contact me and I will pass your request onto Robert Eales.

Elizabeth van Heyningen
22 April 2015.

Acknowledgments: The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is not responsible for the contents of the database. The help of the following research assistants is gratefully acknowledged: Ryna Boshoff, Murray Gorman, Janie Grobler, Marelize Grobler, Luke Humby, Clare O’Reilly Jacomina Roose, Elsa Strydom, Mary van Blerk. Thanks also go to Peter Dennis for the design of the original database and to Dr Iain Smith, co-grantholder.