Edith Bone

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Edith Bone (28 January 1889 – 14 February 1975), originally Edit Olga Hajós,[citation needed] was a medical professional, journalist and translator who later became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bone was born in Hungary in 1889.[1] Hajós married Béla Balázs in 1913.[citation needed] After the First World War she joined the Bolshevik Party in Petrograd.[1] In 1918, she began editing the English version of the Communist International magazine and later became a courier for the parent organisation.[1] She lived in Berlin, Germany from 1923 to 1933, leaving for Britain when the Nazis took over.[1] She married Gerald Martin in February 1934.[citation needed]

Bone learnt to speak six languages fluently.[2]

In 1936, she and friend, Felicia Browne, travelled to Spain to attend the international People's Olympiad, a protest event against the 1936 Olympics.[3] However the event was cancelled due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.[3][1] Bone was involved with the establishment of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC) in Barcelona, Spain.[1]

She returned to Britain sometime before 1939 when she resigned briefly from the Communist movement before rejoining the British Communist Party in 1942.[1]


In 1949, Bone was acting as a free-lance correspondent in Budapest, affiliated with the London Daily Worker.[1] When arriving in Hungary, she was accused of spying for the British government, arrested by the State Protection Authority (AVH) and detained in solitary confinement without a fair trial or a prisoner identification number for seven years.[1][2]

During her detention, Bone managed to avoid the mental instability or insanity that typically accompanies isolation. She developed a series of mental exercises, including reviews of geometry, the several languages she knew and vocabulary. She mentally reconstructed the plots of all of the books she had read, made a comprehensive list of all of the characters in Shakespeare and Dickens' works she could remember, and made letters out of the dense black bread she was fed; out of these she composed poetry.[1][2]

She launched what she called a series of "little wars" against her captors after realising they weren't going to use physical force on her and that she had no family to threaten.[1] This included a language strike in 1951, in which she refused to speak Hungarian but rather used all the other five languages she knew.[1] Her protests worked as in 1952, they allowed her access to books.[1] From these she learnt her seventh language, Greek.[1]

She put weeks-long effort into removing a very large nail from the iron-hard oak door of her cell. To accomplish this, she slowly removed single threads from towels and wove them into a solid rope with which to work the nail. After weeks of straining effort to get the nail to begin to wiggle and then loosen, she finally got the nail out. She then sharpened it on the concrete floor and used at as a drill to create a small peephole in her cell door so she could finally see out of her cell.[citation needed]

She used these projects to keep her mind stimulated, to fill her time with goal-oriented actions, and to keep her sanity during her long period of extreme isolation.[1][2]

Bone was freed after 7 years, during the last days of the revolutionary Nagy Government in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.[1] A student group had seized control of the Budapest political prison where Bone was held, and processed political prisoners for release.[citation needed]

When she returned to Britain she gave interviews denouncing communism.[4] This was due to the feeling of betrayal she felt from being imprisoned by her fellow communists and the Daily Worker which had sent her there.[1] He died in 1975 in Richmond upon Thames, London.[5]


  • Bone, Edith (December 1966). Seven Years Solitary. Cassirer. ISBN 9780851810829.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Newsinger, John (2018). "'2+2=5'". '2+2=5': Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the New Left. Hope Lies in the Proles George Orwell and the Left. Pluto Press. pp. 143–146. doi:10.2307/j.ctt21kk1wk.11. ISBN 978-0-7453-9928-7. JSTOR j.ctt21kk1wk.11. Archived from the original on 2021-02-04. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  2. ^ a b c d Leung, Wency (18 April 2017). "New book Solitude makes the case for being alone". The Globe and Mail. Phillip Crawley. Archived from the original on 2021-01-17. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  3. ^ a b Güner, Fisun (2016-07-20). "Felicia Browne: the only known British woman to die in the Spanish civil war". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  4. ^ London Dr Bone Released After 7 Years In Gaol (Interview). British Pathé. 1956. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  5. ^ A Temze-parti Richmond 1965-ig London egyik elővárosa volt, 1965-ben vált londoni kerületté.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bone, Edith (December 1966). Seven Years Solitary. Cassirer. ISBN 9780851810829.
  • Bone, Edith. Hét év magánzárka Budapest: 2007.
  • Harris, Michael (2017). Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World. Random House Books. ISBN 9781847947659.