Women of Valor



Emma Goldman, 1869 - 1940

With the exception of a brief ninety-day lecture tour in 1934, Goldman spent the remaining years of her life in exile from the United States, wandering through Sweden, Germany, France, England, Spain and Canada in a futile search for a new political "home." In order to obtain the security of British citizenship, she married an elderly Welsh coal miner in 1925, but the marriage was only a formality.

In the 1920s and 1930s, while struggling economically and frustrated by the restrictions her status as an exile imposed on her political activities, Goldman engaged in a variety of literary projects. The most notable of these endeavors was her thousand-page autobiography, published in 1931 as Living My Life. In the early 1930s, Goldman also became increasingly concerned about the rising tide of fascism and Nazism. For the next several years, she lectured frequently on the imminent dangers posted by Hitler and his fellow fascists.

When the Spanish Civil War erupted in July 1936, Goldman hurled herself into the Loyalist cause with an enthusiasm reminiscent of her early activist years in America. Anarchists had succeeded in winning broad popular support in parts of Spain, and when Goldman visited collectivized towns and farms in Aragon and the Levante, she was electrified by what seemed to her to be the beginnings of a true anarchist revolution.

Goldman soon became the London representative of the National Confederation of Labor and the Anarchist Federation of Iberia (CNT-FAI), directing the English-language press service and propaganda bureau for the Spanish anarchists. She worked tirelessly, writing hundreds of letters to supporters and editors. Dismayed but not vanquished by Franco's triumph in early 1939, she moved to Canada, where she worked to gain asylum for Spanish refugees and helped foreign-born radicals threatened with deportation to fascist countries.

  1. Information from "Emma Goldman in Exile," "Emma Goldman and the Spanish Civil War," and "Biographical Essay on Emma Goldman" on the website of the Emma Goldman Papers, accessed March 18, 2002, available at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/goldman/Exhibition/exile.html, http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/goldman/Exhibition/spanishcivilwar.html, http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/goldman/Curricula/bioessay.html.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Emma Goldman - Exile." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/goldman/exile>.