Morrison, Sybil

1893 - 1984
One of the most satisfactory aspects of any political involvement can be the contacts that one makes. If those contacts also span back to an earlier age, through a remarkable individual, then one can really judge ones involvement within an historical context.

Sybil Morrison was a suffragist and Pacifist. Mrs Pankhurst insisted that she was too young to go to jail. However, Sybil did spend six months in Holloway prison during 1940, having broken wartime regulations by speaking against the war at speakers corner.

Sybil was an active member of WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom), being at one stage the Chairwoman of its British branch. She was also active within the Howard League for Penal Reform, the National Peace Council, and other campaigning bodies.

I first became acquainted with Sybil during the early 1970s, having became involved within the Peace Pledge Union (PPU - the British section of the War Resisters International - WRI). At that time Sybil was on the PPU national Council, having previously been its Campaign Organiser and twice its Chair.

Sybil was a feminist and lesbian, who was once described as "the most famous dyke in London". She was also a close friend of Donald Soper and Fenner Brockway. For the last few years of her life she also shared a house with Myrtle Soloman, who was the general secretary of the Peace Pledge Union and later on the chair of WRI. Other people that Sybil worked with included Vera Brittain, Alex Comfort, Laurence Housman, Hugh Brock, and Kathleen Lonsdale. Indeed, it would be true to say that Sybil knew or worked with some of the most famous individuals in Radical politics during the first and middle part of the 20th century.

Even towards the end of her life she took an active interest in politics. For example, at the assembly point for an anti Falkland war march, in 1982, Sybil turned up to see us leave, even though she was unable to participate in the event herself. Ironically this was one of the last times that I ever saw her, as the march started in Hyde Park, close by Speakers Corner. One of the other last times that I met Sybil was in 1983, when I met her outside a pub, all dressed up in suffrage colours (purple, green, and white), on a day that she and her old friends were celebrating a suffrage anniversary.

What always impressed me about Sybil was that she would never confuse politics with the individual. I can well recall having many very heated exchanges with Sybil during meetings, having very friendly talks over coffee and cake during breaks in the proceedings, then going back to resume our heated exchanges.

Works by Sybil Morrison

Morrison, Sybil: I Renounce war : The story of the Peace Pledge Union. Sheppard Press - London - 1962.
This work also chronicles some of the work that Sybil did within PPU,

Morrison, Sybil: Some Practical Hints on Chairmanship and Conference Procedure. (Pamphlet). Peace Pledge union - London - 1963.

Morrison, Sybil: The Life and work of Stuart Morris. Peace Pledge Union - London - 1969.
This pamphlet is a short biography of the man who was the general secretary of PPU during the years 1937-1964.

Morrison, Sybil: Plain Words on war. Peace News - London - 1952. - 16 pp.

Morrison, Sybil: More plain words on war. Peace News - London - 195(?).
(N.B. These last two work are a collection of articles rpt., from Peace News).

Sybil also wrote for the Pacifist, the journal of PPU, under the pen name of 'Old Hat'

Some works about Sybil Morrison

Although there has never been a biography produced about Sybil, there are several works that include references to her.

Taylor, Richard, and Young, Nigel: Campaigners For Peace. British Peace Movements in the Twentieth Century Manchester University Press - Manchester - 1987. - ISBN 0 7190 1893 5. - paperback.

This book contains some references Sybil, but more importantly it gives a good background account to some of the campaigns that she was involved with. The book also contains some useful bibliographical references.

Bales, Mitzi. (editor). Opening Doors to Peace : A memorial to Myrtle Soloman. Myrtle Soloman Memorial Fund & War Resisters International - London - 1991. - ISBN 0 903517 13 2.

This Pamphlet is a collection of the writings and speeches by Myrtle Soloman, a collection of tributes to her, together with the text of an interview she gave in which references are made to Sybil Morrison.

An obituary to Sybil Morrison is also to be found in 'Peace and Freedom' (the journal of WILPF ) - No 1, 14 June 1984.

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