Marie-Louise Berneri

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Marie Louise Berneri (March 1, 1918 – April 13, 1949) was an anarchist activist and author. Born in Italy, she spent much of her life in Spain, France, and England. She was involved with the short-lived publication, Revision, with Luis Mercier Vega and was a member of the group that edited Revolt, War Commentary, and the Freedom newspaper, which is still being published by the Freedom Bookstore in London. She was a continuous contributor to Spain and the World. She also wrote a survey of utopias, Journey Through Utopia, first published in 1950 and re-issued in 2020. Neither East Nor West is a selection of her writings (1952).

Early life[edit]

She was born in Arezzo, Italy, the elder daughter of Camillo & Giovanna Berneri. The family went into exile in 1926 for resisting Mussolini. In 1936 her father went to Spain, to fight against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He was assassinated by communists in 1937. Marie visited Barcelona twice, the second time after her father's murder. Around this time she was living in France and studying psychology at the Sorbonne.


Towards the end of 1937 she married Vernon Richards, also an active anarchist with many of the same groups and publications as she. In April 1945 she was one of the four editors of War Commentary which she had helped to found, who were tried for incitement to disaffection. Because her husband was a co-defendant, she was acquitted on a legal technicality that allows that a wife cannot conspire with her husband. When her three comrades were imprisoned, she took on the main responsibility for maintaining the paper into the postwar period.

She attended the first post-war international anarchist conference in Paris, 1948 as a member of the British delegation. Her mother and sister Giliane Berneri, a medical doctor, also attended as members of the Italian and French delegations. She received much praise for her Freedom Press pamphlet, the anti-Stalinist Workers in Stalin's Russia (1944).[1] Berneri was also one of the first people in Britain to promote the ideas of Wilhelm Reich.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

Marie-Louise Berneri died, along with her baby, due to an infection from childbirth, 13 April 1949 in London at the age of 31.

George Woodcock and Ivan Avacumovic dedicated their biography of Peter Kropotkin, The Anarchist Prince (1950) to Marie-Louise Berneri, "a true disciple of Kropotkin."



  1. ^ Orwell:Collected Works, Smohtered Under Journalism p.368, Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow, David Goodway. Liverpool University Press, 2006 (pgs. 126-7).
  2. ^ Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements by George Woodcock, (2nd Edition) Pelican books, 1986 (pgs. 383).

Further reading[edit]

  • Adams, Matthew S. (2018). "Marie Louise Berneri (1918–1949): 'Prophecying Utopia'". Anarchist Studies. 26 (2): 7–11. ISSN 0967-3393.
  • Ferretti, Federico (2019). "Journeying through Utopia: anarchism, geographical imagination and performative futures in Marie-Louise Berneri's works". Investigaciones Geográficas (UNAM). 100. ISSN 2448-7279.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
John Turner
Editor of Freedom
Succeeded by
Vernon Richards
Colin Ward