The IBMT welcomes the publication of the memoirs of Frida Stewart (m. Knight) by Clapton Press, featuring a foreword and afterword by historian Angela Jackson.
The book is the culmination of a project that began 25 years ago when Jackson interviewed Stewart for her doctoral thesis. The two became friends and collaborators and Jackson began to collate the veteran activist’s unfinished memoirs with the aim of finding a publisher. The memoirs are supplemented with material from Jackson’s oral history interviews with Stewart, filling in the details of a long and politically rich life.
Dr Angela Jackson is a historian and author of ‘British Women and the Spanish Civil War’ and ‘For Us It Was Heaven’.
Although Frida Stewart died in 1996, Jackson continued ‘carry[ing] out other much-needed historical research’ and searching for a publisher. ‘Most were not interested in the life of a woman who was not a “celebrity”, however remarkable she might have been. At last, with the publication of her memoirs, a project I shared with Frida has finally come to fruition,’ Stewart told Cambridge News.
Already a communist activist when the Spanish Civil War broke out, Frida Stewart founded Aid Spain committees in York and Hull and in 1937 joined the Spanish Medical Aid Committee, volunteering to drive an ambulance for the Spanish Republic. She went on to serve in a children’s hospital in Murcia where she assisted refugees fleeing Franco’s advance and then in the press office in Madrid, crossing paths with International Brigaders, journalists and other fellow travellers. Her papers on this period provide a unique insight into the experience of medical volunteers and the book will be recognised as a valuable resource for Spanish Civil War scholars and enthusiasts.
After the withdrawal of international volunteers in 1938 she continued to help in the Spanish refugee camps in France. She was captured and placed in an internment camp when the Nazis invaded but managed to escape with the help of the French Resistance. She continued this commitment to international solidarity and peace for the rest of her life.
‘Firing a Shot for Freedom’ is published by Clapton Press. A review is due to appear in ¡No Pasarán! 1-2021.
Clapton Press have also published a 2020 edition of Angela Jackson’s definitive ‘British Women and the Spanish Civil War’.
Published on 3 September 2020.