Harriet Shaw Weaver
|Harriet Shaw Weaver|
|Born||1 September 1876
Frodsham, Cheshire, England
|Died||14 October 1961
Saffron Walden, Essex, England
|Occupation||Political activist, journal editor|
|Parents||Dr Frederic Poynton Weaver
Harriet Shaw Weaver was born in Frodsham, Cheshire, the daughter of Frederic Poynton Weaver, a doctor, and Mary Wright, who had inherited a fortune from her father. She was educated privately by a governess, initially in Cheshire and later in Hampstead. Her parents denied her wish to go to university and she decided to embark on social work. After attending a course on the economic basis of social relations at the London School of Economics she became involved in women's suffrage and joined the Women's Social and Political Union.
In 1911 she began subscribing to The Freewoman: A Weekly Feminist Review, a radical periodical edited by Dora Marsden and Mary Gawthorpe. The following year its proprietors withdrew their support from it and Weaver stepped in to save it from financial ruin. In 1913 it was renamed The New Freewoman. Later that year at the suggestion of the magazine's literary editor, Ezra Pound, the name was changed again to The Egoist. During the following years Weaver made more financial donations to the periodical, becoming more involved with its organisation and also becoming its editor.
Ezra Pound was involved with finding new contributors and one of these was James Joyce. Weaver was convinced of his genius and started to support him, first by serialising A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in The Egoist in 1914. When Joyce could not find anyone to publish it as a book, Weaver set up the Egoist Press for this purpose at her own expense. Joyce's Ulysses was then serialised in The Egoist but because of its controversial content it was rejected by all the printers approached by Weaver and she arranged for it to be printed abroad. Weaver continued to give considerable support to Joyce and his family but following her reservations about his work that was to become Finnegans Wake, their relationship became strained and then virtually broken. However, on Joyce's death, Weaver paid for his funeral and acted as his executor.
In 1931 Weaver joined the Labour Party but then, having been influenced by reading Marx's Das Kapital she joined the Communist Party in 1938. She was active in this organisation, taking part in demonstrations and selling copies of the Daily Worker. She also continued her allegiance to the memory of Joyce, acting as his literary executor and helping to compile The Letters of James Joyce. She died at her home near Saffron Walden in 1961, leaving her collection of literary material to the British Library and to the National Book League.
See also