Ruth Harrison

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Ruth Harrison OBE (24 June 1920 [Ruth Winsten] – 13 June 2000), was a British animal welfare activist and author.

She was born in London, the daughter of the author Stephen Winsten and the artist Clara Birnberg. She was educated at Bedford College, London.[1]

As a Quaker and as a conscientious objector during the Second World War (thereby following the stand of her father in the First World War), she served in the Friends Ambulance Unit, first in Hackney, London, and then with displaced persons in Schleswig-Holstein and Bochum in Germany.

In 1964 she published Animal Machines, which describes intensive poultry and livestock farming.[2] The book was said to have exposed the whole reality of intensive farming.[3] It was published in seven countries and was the inspiration for the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes.[4] In 1986 she was awarded an OBE.

The Australian ethicist Peter Singer has said that reading Animal Machines was important in his becoming a vegetarian and adopting the views that he sets out in Animal Liberation.[5][6]


  1. ^ Harrison nee Winsten. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Subscription or UK public library membership required
  2. ^ Title Advances in animal welfare in New Zealand accessed 28/03/08
  3. ^ Vegan Views (influences) accessed 28/03/08
  4. ^ Animal Welfare Quarterly Archived 2008-11-06 at the Wayback Machine accessed 28/03/08
  5. ^ Singer, Peter (2001). "Animal Liberation: A Personal View". Writings on an ethical life. London: Fourth Estate. p. 294. ISBN 978-1841155500.
  6. ^ Peter Singer talk, "My Life in Philosophy: The Point of View of the Universe and Its Implications for Ethics, Animal Liberation and Effective Altruism" (Universität Graz, in Graz, Austria, June 7, 2017, published to YouTube on Aug 11, 2017)

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