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Marie Louise Berneri

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Marie Louise Berneri
Maria Luisa Berneri

(1918-03-01)1 March 1918
Died13 April 1949(1949-04-13) (aged 31)
London, England
EducationThe Sorbonne
  • Activist
  • author
  • psychologist
(m. 1937)
RelativesGiliane Berneri (sister)

Marie Louise Berneri (born Maria Luisa Berneri; 1 March 1918 – 13 April 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 newspaper Freedom. 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][2] Berneri was also one of the first people in Britain to promote the ideas of Wilhelm Reich.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

In December 1948 Berneri gave birth at home but the baby died shortly afterwards. Berneri died on the 13th of April 1949 at the age of 31 from a viral infection. She was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery and her ashes scattered in a north London park.[4] Her friends formed the Marie Louise Berneri Memorial Committee and in 1949 published the book Marie Louise Berneri, 1918 – 1949: A Tribute.[5] In 1950 the book Journey Through Utopia was published posthumously. In 1952 the memorial committee published Neither East Nor West, a selection of Berneri's articles from War Commentary.[6][7]

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


  • Peter Kropotkin: His Federalist Ideas (1922)
  • Workers in Stalin's Russia (1945)
  • Journey Through Utopia (1950)
  • Neither East Nor West: Selected Writings 1939–1948 (1952)


  1. ^ Orwell, George (2001). Davison, Peter (ed.). Smothered Under Journalism, 1946. The Complete Works of George Orwell. London: Secker & Warburg. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-436-20556-9 – via Internet Archive.
  2. ^ Goodway, David (2006). Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow. Liverpool University Press. pp. 126–127. ISBN 978-1-84631-025-6.
  3. ^ Woodcock, George (1986). Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (2nd ed.). Pelican Books. p. 383.
  4. ^ Senta, Antonio (2019). "Maria Luisa Berneri Richards". In Guarnieri, Patrizia (ed.). Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy: Migrants, Exiles and Refugees Fleeing for Political and Racial Reasons. Biblioteca di storia. Vol. 34. Translated by Dawkes, Tom. Firenze University Press. doi:10.36253/978-88-6453-872-3. ISBN 978-88-6453-872-3. OCLC 1125084797. S2CID 226874803. Archived from the original on 3 May 2022. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  5. ^ Marie Louise Berneri, 1918–1949: A tribute. London: Marie Louise Berneri Memorial Committee. 1949. OCLC 6787417. Archived from the original on 6 July 2022. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  6. ^ Berneri, Marie Louise (1950). Journey Through Utopia. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. OCLC 466380107.
  7. ^ Berneri, Marie Louise (1952). Neither East nor West. London: Marie Louise Berneri Memorial Committee. OCLC 1221495736. Archived from the original on 16 May 2022. Retrieved 3 October 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Editor of Freedom
Succeeded by