A Quaker Artist Takes on World War One
Editor’s Note: Joseph Southall (1861-1944) was a successful British artist, who was at the peak of his renown and productivity when World War One began. A lifelong Quaker pacifist and socialist, he set aside much of his conventional work to make drawings of protest against the war and militarism.
Then in 1917, he joined with a radical former member of Parliament, R. L. Outhwaite, and illustrated a pamphlet, The Ghosts of the Slain. Largely allegorical in form (no doubt to evade strict wartime censorship), it targeted politicians and munitions makers for promoting war, and heaped special vitriol on the churches whch blessed the bloodshed.
Southall was past fifty when the war came, beyond the age for war conscription. But draft resistance was widespread among younger British Friends, and more than a hundred served time in prison for it. Many women Friends also shared the risks by joining in protests.
On the pamphlet’s centennial, here are some excerpts and several of Southall’s drawings. The visual style might seem dated to some, but there is no mistaking the depth of Southall’s anger at war’s folly and waste, and his demand for finding some alternative is still all too timely.
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