Felicia Browne

FELICIA MARY BROWNE

Strapline

In the summer of 1936 Hitler’s Nazi Party was planning an Olympic Games in Berlin that they hoped would promote to the world the superiority of the Aryan master race, a tactic scuppered by Jesse Owens winning four gold medals.

Barcelona was supposed to be hosting a Peoples Olympics as a protest against the Berlin Games, but this was cancelled when La Guerra broke out. Barcelona’s games was to feature chess, folk-dancing, music and theatre alongside traditional Olympic sports.

In July 1936 English sculptor and political activist Felicia Mary Browne took a driving holiday to Spain with photographer Edith Bone. It became a trip both serendipitous and fateful, as it happened.

When Franco’s rebel coup started the Spanish War on July 18th, Felicia enlisted in the Catalan Karl Marx Militia, demanding to fight.

She was the first British volunteer – woman or man – to die in armed defence of the Popular Front Government and the fledgling Second Republic

Felicia Mary Browne (1904 – August 1936); English sculptor and political activist.

felicia-mary-browne

By the age of thirty Felicia had studied metalwork, taken a stonemasonry apprenticeship, designed TUC Tolpuddle martyr medals, fought brown-shirted thugs on the streets of Berlin, supported refugees and visited the Soviet Union. In July 1936 she undertook a driving holiday to Spain with photographer Edith Bone. It was a trip both serendipitous and fateful, as it happened. Felicia was in Barcelona when the coup began on July 18th. She enlisted in the Catalan Karl Marx Militia and demanded to fight in the battle against Franco’s military fascist forces.

In the summer of 1936 Hitler and his Nazi Party were planning an Olympic Games in Berlin that they hoped would show the world the superiority of the Aryan master race, a tactic countered by Jesse Owens winning four gold medals. Barcelona was supposed to be hosting a Peoples Olympics as a protest against the Berlin Games, but this was cancelled when the La Guerra broke out. Barcelona’s games was to feature chess, folk-dancing, music and theatre alongside traditional Olympic events.

Elected in May 1936, the Popular Front Government was a left-wing coalition of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, the Republican Left, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, Republican Union Party, the Communist Party and Acció Catalana.

On August 22nd 1936 – sources contest the date; some say it was the 25th or 28th – Felicia Mary Browne was killed on her first mission, trying to dynamite and derail a rebel munitions train in Aragon. The party was itself ambushed; Browne was shot dead while assisting an injured Italian comrade. She was the first British volunteer – woman or man – to die in armed defence of the Popular Front and the fledgling Second Republic. Browne’s body had to be left there, but comrades retrieved a sketchbook filled with drawings of her fellow fighters.

These sketches made their way to Tom Wintringham, a journalist on the Daily Worker, now the Morning Star. Tom suggested that Felicia’s drawings be sold by the Artists International Association (AIA) to raise money for Spanish relief. The AIA correctly considered her to be a fine example of an artist choosing to embrace and combine art with direct political action.

https://archive.org/details/DrawingsFeliciaBrowne Archive drawings

https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/event/through-an-artists-eye-felicia-browne  An artists eye

https://artistseyecom.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/artseyepressrelease2.pdf Press release

“You say I am escaping and evading things by not painting or making sculpture. If painting and sculpture were more valid and more urgent to me than the earthquake which is happening in the revolution, I should paint and make sculpture.” From a letter to her close friend Elizabeth Watson

https://artistseyecom.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/letters-rich-in-content-honest-in-conviction Letters

YouTube clip

http://www.grahamstevenson.me.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74:felicia-browne-&catid=2:b&Itemid=98  Felicia Mary Browne – blogs

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-38fd-The-bell-tolled-for-Browne#.V7VhwVsrKig Morning Star article

https://www.facebook.com/groups/7123291063  International Brigade Memorial Trust on Facebook

“It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” Dolores Ibárruri, known forever as La Pasionaria.

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