Nesta Helen Webster

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Nesta Helen Webster
Nesta H Webster.png
Webster aged 53.
Born Nesta Helen Bevan
(1876-08-24)24 August 1876
Trent Park, London
Died 16 May 1960(1960-05-16) (aged 83)
Occupation writer, historian, theorist
Nationality English
Citizenship British
Subject International Revolutionary conspiracy
Notable works World Revolution: The Plot Against Civilization, Secret Societies and Subversive Movements

Nesta Helen Webster (24 August 1876 – 16 May 1960) was a controversial author who revived conspiracy theories about the Illuminati.[1][2][3][4] She argued that the secret society's members were occultists, plotting communist world domination,[3] using the idea of a Jewish cabal,[citation needed] the Masons and Jesuits[5] as a smokescreen.[3] According to her, their international subversion included the French Revolution, 1848 Revolution, the First World War, and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.[6]

In 1920, Webster was one of the contributing authors who wrote The Jewish Peril, a series of articles in the London Morning Post centred on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[7][8] These articles were subsequently compiled and published in the same year in book form under the title of The Cause of World Unrest.[9] Webster claimed that the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was an "open question".[10]

Early years[edit]

She was born Nesta Helen Bevan in the stately home Trent Park. She was the youngest daughter of Robert Cooper Lee Bevan,[11] a close friend of Cardinal Manning. Her mother, Emma Frances Shuttleworth,[12] was Robert Bevan's second wife. Emma was a daughter of Philip Nicholas Shuttleworth, Anglican bishop of Chichester. Nesta was educated at Westfield College (now part of Queen Mary, University of London). On coming of age, she travelled around the world, visiting India, Burma, Singapore, and Japan. In India, on 14 May 1904, Nesta married Captain Arthur Templer Webster,[13] Superintendent of the British Police in India.[14]

Fascination with the French Revolution[edit]

Returning to England she began her historical studies and literary career with a critical re-assessment of the French Revolution, especially exploring the theory of the monarchy's subversion by a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy. For more than three years she immersed herself in historical research, primarily in the archives of the British Museum and Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Her first serious book on this subject was The Chevalier de Boufflers. While doing research for the book, she experienced deja vu which led her to believe she might have been reincarnated.[15]

Political views[edit]

Following the First World War she gave a lecture on the Origin and Progress of World Revolution to the officers of the Royal Artillery at Woolwich. By special request she repeated the lecture to the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Brigade of Guards in Whitehall, and then she was asked to repeat it a third time to the officers of the Secret Service. It was at their special request that she wrote the World Revolution: The Plot Against Civilisation, based on these lectures. Her charisma helped her to captivate some the leading literary, political and military minds of her day. Lord Kitchener in India described her as the "foremost opponent of subversion".[citation needed]

In 1919, Webster published The French Revolution: a Study in Democracy in which she claimed that a secret conspiracy had prepared and carried out the French Revolution. As she said in her book, "The lodges of the German Freemasons and Illuminati were thus the source whence emanated all those anarchic schemes which culminated in the Terror,[16] and it was at a great meeting of the Freemasons in Frankfurt-am-Main, three years before the French Revolution began, that the deaths of Louis XVI and Gustavus III of Sweden were first planned."

She had a wide readership. Winston Churchill praised her in a 1920 article entitled "Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People,”[17][18] in which he asserted, "This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognisable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution."[19]

Webster also published Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, The Need for Fascism in Great Britain,[20] the Menace of Communism (with Mrs. Katherine Atkinson) and The Origin and Progress of the World Revolution. In the latter book, published in 1921, she wrote: "What mysteries of iniquity would be revealed if the Jew, like the mole, did not make a point of working in the dark! Jews have never been more Jews than when we tried to make them men and citizens."[21] In her books, Webster argued that Bolshevism was part of a much older and more secret, self-perpetuating conspiracy. She described three possible sources for this conspiracy: Zionism, Pan-Germanism, or "the occult power." She stated that she leaned towards Zionism as the most likely culprit of the three. She also claimed that even if the Protocols were fake, they still describe how Jews behave.[22]"

Webster became involved in several right-wing groups including the British Fascists,[23] the Anti-Socialist Union, The Link, and the British Union of Fascists.[24] She was also the leading writer of "The Patriot", an anti-Semitic paper,[25] Webster dismissed much of the persecution of the Jews by Nazi Germany as exaggeration and propaganda.[26]


She favoured "traditional roles for women and believed women should primarily influence men to be better men", but was frustrated by limits on the careers open to women, because she believed jobs should not just be for the money but should be purposeful professions. She saw marriage as limiting her choices, although her wedding financially allowed her to be a writer. She believed in raising women's education, and that the education they had been receiving was inferior to men's, making women less capable than they could be. She believed that, with better education, women would have substantial political capabilities to a degree considered "non-traditional", but without that education they'd be only as men imagined all women to be, the suppliers of men's and children's "material needs". "[S]he implied ... [that] women and men might well be true equals." She believed there had been "women's supremacy ... [in] pre-revolutionary France, when powerful women never attempted to compete directly with men, but instead drew strength from other areas where they excelled, in particular, 'the power of organisation and the power of inspiration. She favored women being allowed to vote and favored keeping the British Parliamentary system for the benefit of both women and men, although doubted that voting would provide everything women needed, and thus did not join the suffrage movement. In the 1920s, "her views on women had become more conservative", and she made them secondary to her work on threats to British civilisation.[27]


In February 1924, Hilaire Belloc wrote to an American Jewish friend regarding one of Webster's publications which purported to expose evidence of Jewish conspiracy. Though Belloc's record of writing about Jews has itself attracted accusations of antisemitism, his contempt for Webster's own efforts was evident:

In my opinion it is a lunatic book. She is one of those people who have got one cause on the brain. It is the good old 'Jewish revolutionary' bogey. But there is a type of unstable mind which cannot rest without morbid imaginings, and the conception of a single cause simplifies thought. With this good woman it is the Jews, with some people it is the Jesuits, with others Freemasons and so on. The world is more complex than that.[28]

Umberto Eco, whose novel The Prague Cemetery recounts the development of the Protocols, has characterised Webster's propagation of the document as evidence of a delusional tendency:

In 1921... the Times of London discovered the old pamphlet by Joly and realized that it was the source for the Protocols. But evidence is not enough for those who want to live in a horror novel... [Webster's] syllogism is impeccable: since the Protocols resemble the story I have told, they confirm it. Or: the Protocols confirm the story I have concocted from them; therefore they are true.[29]


  • The Chevalier De Boufflers. A Romance of the French Revolution, E.P. Dutton and Company, 1927. [1st Pub. London, John Murray, 1910. Reprints: 1916; 1920; 1924; 1925; E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1926].
  • Britain's Call to Arms: An Appeal to Our Women, London, Hugh Rees, 1914.
  • The Sheep Track. An aspect of London society, London, John Murray, 1914.
  • The French Revolution: A Study in Democracy, London, Constable & Co., 1919.[30][31][32][33][34]
  • The French Terror and Russian Bolshevism, London, Boswell Printing & Publishing Co., 1920 [?]. OCLC: 22692582.
  • World Revolution. The Plot Against Civilization, Small, Maynard & Company, 1921 [1st Pub. London, Constable & Co., 1921. Reprints: Constable, 1922; Chawleigh, The Britons Publishing Co., 1971; Sudbury, Bloomfield Books, 1990?].
    • The Revolution of 1848, Kessinger Publishing, 2010.
  • The Past History of the World Revolution. A Lecture, Woolwich, Royal Artillery Institution, 1921.
  • with Kurt Kerlen, Boche and Bolshevik, being a series of articles from the Morning Post of London, reprinted for distribution in the United States, New York, Beckwith, 1923. Reprint: Sudbury, Bloomfield Books [1990?]. ISBN 1-4179-7949-6.
  • Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, London, Boswell Printing & Publishing Co. London, 1924. Reprints: Boswell, 1928 and 1936; London, The Britons Publishing Co., London, 1955 and 1964; Palmdale, Christian Book Club of America and Sudbury and Sudbury, Bloomfield Books, 198 [?]; Kessinger Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7661-3066-5.[35][36][37]
  • The Socialist Network, London, Boswell Printing & Publishing Co., 1926. Reprint: Boswell, 1933; Sudbury, Bloomfield (1989?); Noontide Press, 2000. ISBN 0-913022-06-3.
  • The Need for Fascism in Britain, London, British Fascists, Pamphlet No. 17, 1926.
  • The Surrender of an Empire, London, Boswell Printing & Publishing Co., 1931. Reprints: Angriff Press, 1972; Gordon Press Publishers, 1973; Sudbury, Bloomfield Books (1990?).
  • The Origin and Progress of the World Revolution, London, Boswell Printing & Publishing Co. (1932).
  • (with the pseudonym of Julian Sterne), The Secret of the Zodiac, London, Boswell Printing & Publishing Co., 1933.
  • Germany and England (reprinted from The Patriot and revised), London, Boswell Publishing Co. (1938).
  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before the Revolution, G.P. Putnam's sons, 1938. [1st. Pub. London, Constable & Co., 1936. Reprint: Constable, 1937].
  • Spacious Days: An Autobiography, London, Hutchinson, 1949 and 1950.
    • Crowded Hours: Part Two of her Autobiography; manuscript "disappeared from her publisher's office". It remains unpublished.
  • Marie-Antoinette Intime, Paris, La Table ronde, 1981 (French translation). ISBN 2-7103-0061-3.

Selected articles[edit]


  • Gilman, Richard M., Behind "World Revolution": The Strange Career of Nesta H. Webster, Ann Arbor, Insights Books, 1982.
  • Lee, Martha F., Nesta Webster: The Voice of Conspiracy, in Journal of Women's History, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 81 ff. Fall, 2005. Biography.


  1. ^ Bruno Duarte, Miguel. "Illuminati," The Inter-American Institute, 11 December 2012.
  2. ^ Who Are The Illuminati?; We Reveal The Truth Behind This Secret Sect The Express 27 October 2005.[page needed][unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b c Who are the Illuminati? Independent on Sunday (London) 6 November 2005.
  4. ^ Stauffer, Vernon. New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, New York, 1918.
  5. ^ Not without Honor, Harvard University Nieman Reports, 22 March 1997.
  6. ^ New World Order, Old World Anti-Semitism, The Christian Century 13 September 1995.
  7. ^ "The So-Called Jewish 'Protocols'," The Weekly Review, Vol. III, No. 83, 15 December 1920.
  8. ^ "Puncturing the Protocols," The Weekly Review, Vol. V, No. 122, 10 September 1921.
  9. ^ The Cause of World Unrest, G. P. Putnam's Son, 1920.
  10. ^ Webster, Nesta (1924). Secret Societies and Subversive Movements. London: Boswell Printing & Publishing Co. p. 408. Contrary to the assertions of certain writers, I have never affirmed my belief in the authenticity of the Protocols, but have always treated it as an entirely open question. The only opinion to which I have committed myself is that, whether genuine or not, the Protocols do represent the programme of world revolution, and that in view of their prophetic nature and of their extraordinary resemblance to the protocols of certain secret societies in the past, they were either the work of some such society or of someone profoundly versed in the lore of secret societies who was able to reproduce their ideas and phraseology. 
  11. ^ Robert Cooper Lee Bevan (8 February 1809 – 22 July 1890)
  12. ^ Emma Frances Shuttleworth (25 September 1827 – 13 February 1909) – Robert Cooper Lee Bevan and Emma Frances Shuttleworth were married on 30 April 1856.
  13. ^ Arthur Templer Webster (27 December 1865 – 13 April 1942)
  14. ^ N. Webster, Spacious Days, London and Bombay: Hutchinson & Co., 1950, pp. 103 and 172–175.
  15. ^ Thurlow, Richard C. (2006). Fascism in Britain: from Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts to the National Front. London: I.B. Taurus. p. 38. ISBN 1-86064-337-X.  citing Webster, Nesta (1949). Spacious Days. London. p. 173. 
  16. ^ Johnston, R. M. "Mirabeau's Secret Mission to Berlin," American Historical Review, Vol. 6, Nº. 2, 1901.
  17. ^ Churchill, Winston S. "Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People," Illustrated Sunday Herald (London), 8 February, pg. 5, 1920.
  18. ^ Quoted in Anthony Julius, Trials of The Diaspora, A History of Anti-Semitism in England (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 719, footnote 387.
  19. ^ Pyle, Joseph Gilpin. "1919 and 1793," The Unpartizan Review, Vol. 13, Nº. 25, 1920.
  20. ^ The Need for Fascism in Britain, London, British Fascists, Pamphlet No. 17, 1926, 12pp., (Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, A. V. Alexander Papers AVAR 12/281).
  21. ^ Radner, Ephraim. "New World Order, Old World Anti-Semitism", The Christian Century, Vol. 112, N°. 26, 13 September 1995
  22. ^ "The Professor's Pendulum", Los Angeles Times; 9 November 1989
  23. ^ Thomas Linehan, British Fascism 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture, Manchester University Press, 2000, p. 46
  24. ^ Barberis, Peter; John McHugh; Mike Tyldesley (26 July 2005). Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8264-5814-8. , page 176
  25. ^ Macklin, Graham (15 April 2007). Very Deeply Dyed in Black: Sir Oswald Mosley And the Resurrection of British Fascism After 1945. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-284-4. , page 30
  26. ^ Julius, Anthony (3 May 2010). Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-929705-4. , page 408.
  27. ^ Lee, Martha F. "Nesta Webster: The Voice of Conspiracy," Journal of Women's History, Vol. 17 (3), Fall 2005.
  28. ^ The Life Of Hilaire Belloc, by Robert Speaight, 1957, pp. 456–8.
  29. ^ Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, by Umberto Eco, 1994, pp. 137–9.
  30. ^ Egan, Maurice Francis. "Democracy and the French Revolution," The New York Times, 27 June 1920.
  31. ^ Babbitt, Irving. "A New History of the French Revolution," The Weekly Review, Vol. 2, Part. II, 1920.
  32. ^ Pratt, Julius W. "The French Revolution: A Study in Democracy," The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 19, Nº 4 , 1920.
  33. ^ Abbott, Wilbur Cortez. "A New History of the French Revolution," The Bookman, July 1920.
  34. ^ Chickering, Julia. "The French Revolution," Part II, The Theosophical Quarterly, Vol. XVIII, 1920; Part III, Vol. XIX, 1921.
  35. ^ Abbott, Wilbur Cortez. "Revolution," The Saturday Review, 17 October 1925.
  36. ^ "Nesta H. Webster’s Secret Societies," Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A.M. Updated: 27 July 2001.
  37. ^ Heckethorn, Charles William. The Secret Societies of all Ages and Countries, Vol. 2, George Redway. London, 1897.

External links[edit]