Saturday, December 1, 2012

Unusual find sheds light on history of the language

Unusual find sheds light on history of the language

In October 2012, while browsing on eBay, I was surprised to come across an unrecorded message by Dr Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto, listed for sale.  Addressed to a Mr Edwin Roberts, secretary of the Accrington Esperanto Society in Lancashire, the postcard is clearly written in Zamenhof’s spidery script. It is undated but, but the postmark makes it clear it was posted in August 1912.  Wondering about the source of this card and other Esperanto books he listed, I contacted the vendor, who kindly replied:
“I acquired them a few weeks ago at a local shop that deals in house clearances and bric-a-brac. … I bought quite a lot; they were not expensive. When looking through the books when I got home I realised that they had belonged to the president of the Accrington Esperanto branch, Mr H.E Roberts. There were little notes and a few postcards tucked in between the pages; this is where I found the L.L.Zamenhof postcard.”

Dr Zamenhof’s postcard will not change our understanding of the man or his language. He writes to thank the Esperantists in Accrington, turning down the invitation to him to become their Honorary President. He wrote many such cards turning down such titles. This card was finally sold for £310!

I'm afraid it is all too clear what had happened. Descendants of Mr H.E. (probably Edwin) Roberts had kept the books safely, until the next generation wanted to sell the house, and they called in a contractor to clear everything out. 

The Esperanto Society in Accrington was founded in 1909. J.D. Applebaum in his “A short history of the Lancashire and Cheshire Esperanto Federation 1908-1933” published in 1933, records that the founder was a dentist called Lee. A Miss Lizzie Iddon became a Fellow of the British Esperanto Association in January of that year. She was listed as secretary, and S. Kirkbright was listed as chairman in January 1911. By August of that year it was meeting daily. The invitation to Zamenhof dates from the time of this great expansion. Sadly, I have been unable to trace the minute books and other records of that society, and I wonder whether they have survived.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pioneers of Esperanto in Liverpool

The names and addresses of early speakers of Esperanto in the Liverpool area, with their registration numbers are as follows in the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists), starting with the issue for January 1904 to January 1905 (Series XXIV). All of the following are listed in Liverpool, Anglujo, i.e. England. The number given is a unique one for each individual. Indeed, early users of the language frequently signed articles with that number alone, knowing that anyone wanting to contact them could easily find their address in the Adresaro.

Here are the names of those pioneers of over a century ago:

8201 George Quail, 77 Sandy Road, Seaforth.

8387 Aubrey Norman, , H.M.S. Conway, Rock Ferry

9893 James Johnson, 318 Hawthorne Road, Bootle.

10375 Miss Margaret L. Jones, 44 Church Road, Stanley

10557 James Krogman, 10 Elstow Street

11323 William Village, 84 Boaler Streert, Newshamn (sic) Park

11870 Sydney Whitaker, Cosby Road, North Liverpool

12532 A. L. Rawlings, 24 Oxford Street

12955 George F. Karek, 4 Old Hall Street

12965 John Hamilton, 19 Irving Street, Litherland

14811 W. Klemm, 25 Marmion Road

14830 F-ino (=Miss) Joanna Crosby, ĉe S-ro D-ro Whitaker., Waterloo

14856 Henry F. Mc Guinness, 5 Ether Road

14977 S-ino (=Mrs) Kenyon Rogers, 16 The Grove, Great Crosby

15010 J.H.J. Stringer (lernejestro (=Headteacher), “Avondale”, Cambridge Avenue, Gt. Crosby

16398 George H. Lyon, 28 Tunstall Street

16423 Edward Whutley MA, Cloirelly, Sefton Park

16460 F-ino (=Miss) E. Roberts, 103 Garmoyle Road, Sefton Park

17850 W. Murray, 119 Limekiln Lane

17896 F-ino (=Miss) H.M. Barret, The Beeches, Broad Green

18214 Muriel Willoughby, 22 Rock Park,

18215 V. Banister, “Elmhurst” Blundellsands

20925 H.E.W Gohrt, M.Ph.S. 94 Newcombe Street, Breck Road

Little is known about most of those listed. However, we do know that Margaret Lily Jones (1878–1935) went on to teach the language and even write a textbook. In 1910 she married a Belgian called Paul Blaise with whom she used Esperanto as a home language. Dr Whitaker became an activist for Esperanto.

There are other sources of information on these early pioneers of the language in Liverpool. According to the inside cover (p.ii) of The British Esperantist magazine for January 1905, an Esperanto Society in Liverpool had been founded in June 1904 – the 19th in the British Isles. Its Secretary is given as Mr R.E. Issott, 5 Gresham Street, Liverpool, Edge Lane, and the President is listed as Dr Lloyd. “Doktoro Lloyd” is mentioned in vol. 1, no. 3 of “The Esperantist” (January 1904) as delivering an Esperanto course at Liverpool University. Sadly Dr Lloyd died by drowning during the 2nd Universala Kongreso (World Congress) in Geneva in 1906.

In the list of affiliated groups in 1907 (see The British Esperantist, vol. III, title page) Liverpool is listed as affiliated to the British Esperanto Association. The secretary in that year was Miss Hughes, Rosenau, Knotty Ash, and the President Dr Sidney Whitaker. We know from this publication that an Esperanto group was established in Southport thanks to the efforts of Dr Whitaker. By 1909 the Secretary of the Liverpool Esperanto Group is given as R.R. Gray Chisholm of 69 Kingsley Road. In 1910 there was yet another new secretary, Robert Graham of 15 Harvey Street, and the local group was meeting every Tuesday. In the same year there was an Esperanto Office at 11 Renshaw Street. We learn in 1912 that a Miss Holden was teaching An Esperanto class under the auspices of the local education authority, while the local group was meeting at 18 Colquitt Street. From 1912 on the Local Esperanto speakers had their own little magazine called “Nia Propra” entirely in the language. Its first editor was Mr James.G. Baxter. A Miss Swan was teaching the language in 1912-13.

In the years before the First World War there was a strong connection between the Liverpool Welsh community and Esperanto. These included Griffith Griffiths (1860–1944) and his three sons Richard Prys Griffiths (1885-1961) Gruffydd Rhys Griffiths (1889-1956) and Emrys Griffiths. They were involved in setting up the Esperanto eisteddfod which took place in 1913 and 1914.

Other names found in the British Esperanto magazine are “Messrs Applebaum”,Philip Sellick, Rhodes Marriott, Gabriel D. Lewis and a Miss Jenkins who left Liverpool for America in 1914 to get married. Miss Jenkins had been a member of a Walton branch which met at 2 Stuart Road, together with Miss Swan and a Miss Warbrick.

There are minute books of the Liverpool Esperanto Group in the city’s Records Office. One wonders if any dairies or letters from these early years survived. Did any of these enthusiasts have an opportunity to speak Esperanto with people of other nations?

The images here show: 1. Margaret Blaise
2. Liverpool's own Esperanto magazine
3. Programme for an Esperanto eisteddfod

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pioneers of Esperanto in Keighley

Pioneers of Esperanto in Keighley, Yorkshire

As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Esperanto, we have an opportunity to take a look at the early years of the language in Britain. Esperanto was first published in 1887, of course. Its first adepts lived in the then Russian Empire, but it began to gain adherents in Great Britain from about 1900 onwards.

The names and addresses of early speakers of Esperanto in Keighley, with their registration numbers are as follows in the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists). In those early days of the language it was necessary to register, first with Warsaw, later with Paris in order to make full use of the language and have access to other speakers. The number given is a unique one for each individual. Indeed, early users of the language frequently signed articles in the press with that number alone, knowing that anyone wanting to contact them could easily find their address in one or another Adresaro.

Here are the names of those pioneers of over a century ago:

(Series XXI, January 1900 – January 1901).

5260 Joseph Rhodes, 54 Drewry Terrace

Rhodes (pictured) was one of only five British citizens to appear in this list of 541 names.

(Series XXII, January 1901 – January 1902).

6102 J.A. Woollard, Hartington Street 4 (sic)

6110 S-rino (=Mrs) Elisabeth Rhodes, 54 Drewry Terrace

6129 Smith-Terry (sic), Starkie Street 29 (sic)

January 1902 to January 1903 (Series XXIII).

6701 Jom (sic) Swire, Clerk, 3 Hartington Street

6725 James Morton, solicitor, Devonshire Street

6887 Mary M. Smith, 8 Lord Street

7123 Frank Wilkinson, 20 Drake Street

7239 James Watson, 265 Bradford Road

7240 H.W. Hamilton, 15 Nashville Terrace

7241 Alfred D’Eduarte Smith, 33 Rupert Street

7242 Allan S. Scott, Denbigh Hill, Oakworth

7243 Wm H. Hainsworth, 91 Eshton Terrace

7244 J. Edwin Lister, Apsley Road, Oakworth

7245 Duncan R. Carr, 39 Upper Green

7246 Wm. Armstrong, 6 Leaf Street, Lees

7337 Johnson Wilkinson, 8 Cartmel Road

7341 F.G. Rowe, 28 West View Terrace

7342 Fraŭlino (=Miss) Ellen Uttley, Masonic Buildings, Cook St

7343 Percy Midgley, 38 Enfield Street

7344 Fraŭlino (=Miss) Amy Green, 11 Cliff Street

7345 J.P. Henderson, Woodhouse Farm

7346 G.S. Laycock, Quarry House, Utley

7347 Andrew Smith, 52 Belgrave Road

7408 Tom Carr, 45 High Street

In fact, it was in Keighley that Esperanto had its first great success in Britain. Here Joseph Rhodes (1856-1920), a local journalist, established the first Esperanto Society in the UK, in November 1902, where he became the secretary and John Ellis the president. Presumably, some of those named above became its earliest members. The first textbook published for British students of Esperanto, First Lessons in Esperanto was a translation by Joseph Rhodes of Théophile Cart's earlier work in French. Joseph Rhodes also compiled The English-Esperanto Dictionary: Based Upon the Fundamento, the Esperanto, the Esperanto Literature, and the National Esperanto Dictionaries Bearing Dr. Zamenhof's Aprobo (1908). Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (translated by Joseph Rhodes, La progresado de la pilgrimanto de tiu ĉi mondo ĝis la venonta:Rakontita kvazaŭ sonĝo de Johano Bunjano (1628-1688), saw the light of day at Stead's publishing house in 1907.

In his The International Auxiliary Language Esperanto, Grammar & Commentary (1906), Major-General George Cox claimed wrongly that “Esperanto was first introduced into Great Britain by Mr. Joseph Rhodes”. Whilst this claim is not true, Joseph Rhodes was indeed a worthy pioneer and it thanks to his personality and his knowledge of journalism that the language thrived.

Also pictured here is a card in Esperanto (from my collection) sent in 1907 by Fred Waterhouse, a neighbour of Joseph Rhodes, to his correspondent in Vierzon, France.