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The New Age, Volume 11 (May 2 to October 31, 1912): An Introduction
by Rentfrow, Daphné

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Please Note: In this Introduction, events covered by The New Age are listed with some relevant pages in the journal preceded by issue numbers. For example, page 211, located in Issue Number 9, is cited as 11.09:211 (for articles concerned with a given event, only the first page is provided). Some of these pieces refer directly to the given event, some are more generally related (for example, not all articles noted with Strindberg's death deal specifically with his passing, but may be reviews of a performance of his work). These are starting points only, and are not intended to take the place of a full search.

In the six month period (May-October 1912) covered by Volume 11, world-wide political and military arrangements are establishing the scenario that will, in less than two years, lead to war. Events in the Balkans reach a breaking point by September; Britain rejects, out of concern for French and Russian retaliation, an offer made by Germany for military neutrality and instead begins to build more warships; Italy and Turkey conclude a peace settlement which cedes Libya to Italy in exchange of the removal of Italian forces from the Aegean; Woodrow Wilson, who will bring the United States into the war in 1917, is named the Democratic choice for U.S. President while President Taft is put forth by the Republicans and Teddy Roosevelt is nominated by the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party. The Ottoman Empire comes to an end, military muscles are flexed, and Europe unknowingly charts a course toward the Great War.

Names to know while using this volume

    Herbert Asquith
  • Prime Minister (Liberal Party) from 1908-1916. Anti-suffrage.
  • David Lloyd George
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer. Will become an advocate of escalating the war. In 1915, he becomes Minister of Munitions, and Prime Minister in 1916.
  • Edward Grey
  • Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Makes the defense of France central to British policy. Remembered for his shocked response to the war: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." Removed from office by Lloyd George in 1916.
  • James Keir Hardie
  • Labour Party. From Scotland, Hardie was a coal miner at the age of eleven. Disillusioned by the Gladstone government, he decided that the working class needed its own party and began advocating for Socialism. He supported the suffrage movement the abolition of the House of Lords, and was a strong pacifist, vocally anti-war.
  • George Lansbury
  • Social Democratic Federation. Worked closely with strikers and joined the Independent Labour Party (which would become the Labour Party). Supported suffrage, going so far as to resign his seat in the House of Commons to draw attention to W.S.P.U. prisoners.
  • Andrew Bonar Law
  • leader of the Conservative Party after Balfour resigned in 1911; becomes Prime Minister in 1922.
  • Charles Masterman
  • Liberal, held various positions in government. In the war will be appointed head of the War Propaganda Bureau.
  • Philip Snowden
  • Independent Labour Party after leaving the Liberal Party. Member of the Men's League for Women's Suffrage. Considered an expert on economics. During the war he will provide help to conscientious objectors.



In Great Britain during these six months, domestic affairs are dominated by concerns of labour and Irish Home Rule. Among the notable events are the following:

  • British dockworkers strike for minimum wage, joined later by strikers from the British transport workers' union (11.07:147; 11.08:169, 189; 11.13:292; 11.14:315)
  • by the summer months, strikes of London lightermen, dockers and carters add to the destabilization of British national life
  • an explosion in Cadeby Colliery kills eighty miners
  • the British National Health Insurance Act goes into effect (though, ironically, it will take the Great War to make free medical treatment an integral part of British life)
  • Ulster loyalists rally to fight Home Rule, marching for seven days in September and putting on a show of menacing force (Sir Edward Carson, the barrister who led the prosecution of Oscar Wilde in 1895, leads the protesters) (11.23:531)
  • in response to German naval buildup, Britain recalls her battleships from the Mediterranean and dispatches them to the North Sea (11.05:100; 11.06:125; 11.12:273; 11.16:382)
  • the suffragette movement gains momentum, highlighted by Christabel Pankhurst's organization of secret arson attacks on the homes of members of Parliament (though two attacks failed, another succeeded in destroying the still-under-construction summer home of David Lloyd George, who would succeed Asquith as Prime Minister).

World Events by Month

Foreign affairs are dominated by events in the Balkans, though other concerns certainly intrude. To best aid the reader and researcher making use of this volume of The New Age, the calendar below provides an overview of domestic and world events and related pieces in the journal.



    8: Paris
  • Ballets Russe gives the first complete performance of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe (11.09:211)



    1: Europe
  • air-mail service begins between London and Paris
  • 3: Albania
  • Ottomans grant Albania limited autonomy (11.13:292; 11.17:390)
  • 7: Far East
  • Russia and Japan reach agreement on spheres of influence in Mongolia and Manchuria (11.12:293)
  • 11: Morocco
  • Sultan abdicates (11.02:029; 11.13:293; 11.21:485; 11.27:629, 632)
  • 14: France
  • Composer Jules Massenet dies


    1: Britain
  • Composer Samuel-Coleridge Taylor dies
  • 23: United States
  • Mack Sennett releases the first "Keystone Cops" film


    8: Balkans
  • Montenegro declares war on the Ottoman Empire (11.24:557; 11.25:582)
  • 14: Balkans
  • Ottomans invade Serbia
  • 18: Switzerland
  • Ottoman Empire and Italy sign a treaty at Ouchy whereby the Ottomans cede Tripoli and Cyrenaica to Italy (11.26:605)
  • 23: Balkans
  • Greeks rout Ottomans at Sarandapros
  • 25: Germany
  • premiere of Richard Strauss' Ariadnes Auf Naxos (11.27:644)

The Journal Itself

The journal remains priced at threepence throughout Volume 11. Regular columns are “Notes of the Week”, “Foreign Affairs”, “Military Notes,”“Views and Reviews”, “Reviews”, “Pastiche”, “Letters to the Editor”, and caricatures by Tom Titt. Within its pages, The New Age, of course, discussed, debated, applauded, and criticized the events swirling around its writers. Of particular interest in this volume is the attention paid to the question of "wage slavery"; the initial attempts to define the emergent "Guild Socialism"; and Orangeism and unrest in Belfast and related questions of Home Rule (see below). Among the contributors to the volume is Ezra Pound, who begins here what would become regular contributions; from November 1917 to April 1920, Pound will review art under the name B.H. Dias and music as William Atheling (Martin 283). Also appearing are Henry Miller ("Four Poems" in 11.06, "Dawn" in No. 26) and, in "Letters to the Editor" in No.6, Upton Sinclair. The familiar names of Hastings, Bennett, A.E. Randall, Katherine Mansfield, Selver, Orage and others are of course represented as well. Two new additions to the journal are especially worth mentioning:

  • “Military Notes,” first appearing in No. 6, becomes a fairly regular column of the journal, appearing throughout this volume. Authored by "Romney," the column cover such questions as Jews in the army, France's military advantages, and higher pay (No.6); the Tripoli massacres and use of the airplane in war ( No. 10); changes in the French uniform ( No. 14); and debates over compulsory service ( No. 24). In these pages the reader can begin to detect the shifts in militarism and militarization, and the disagreements over training and payment that would prove to be some of the greater problems for the British Army in the World War.
  • "Current Cant," beginning in No. 17, takes the form of lists of excerpts from other newspapers, speeches, conversation, and books on the various topics of the day. Nos. 18-25 have "Current Cant and Current Sense," in which the excerpts are organized into the title's categories ("cant" and "sense" being determined, of course, by the editors of The New Age). Nos. 26 and 27 return to "Current Cant" only. The column allows the reader to perceive both The New Age's reaction to and opinion of other newspapers and prominent thinkers and the varying degrees of disagreement among the leading thinkers of the time. In addition, the column is often quite humorous, based upon the selections offered in a given week.
  • Finally, the last issue in the volume, No. 27, sees the beginning of a new column, "Music and Musicians" by John Playford, which will appear fairly regularly in Volume 12.

The Arts in Volume 11

Arguably, the most significant contribution to this volume is the publication of Ezra Pound's "Patria Mia" in Nos. 19-27. Together with his "America: Chances and Remedies" of Volume 13, this series on Pound's home country will be published in 1950 as "Patria Mia." The 1912 series is semi-facetiously described by Pound as an attempt to "set forth the simplicity of Americans, in such a fashion that not only will all foreigners understand implicitly America and its people--all its people; but [also] to bring [his] fatherland to self-consciousness, to cause America to see its face in the glass, to create a new Uncle Sam . . ." (445). He is especially critical of America's relationship to and lack of support of its artists. Richard Sieburth has described the 1950 collection as a presaging of "the disaffection with American insularity and complacency of a later generation of expatriates: America tended to dissipate its enormous energy into self-indulgent sprawl; it was shapeless, at once everywhere and nowhere." Michael Levenson writes that in this 1912 series, "Pound had appealed to wealthy Americans to place resources in the hands of impoverished artists, and while he waited for that generosity, he undertook to find whatever monetary support might allow Gaudier-Brzeska to chisel the next stone, Eliot to write the next poem, Joyce to compose the next chapter." (see Pound at the Literature Resource Center at

Also worth noting is Anthony Ludovici's two-part piece on the Sonderbund Exhibition at Cologne (Nos. 13 and 15). The exhibition presented works by Max Ernst, Cèzanne, Munch, Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse and Gaugin and was considered by some to represent the early stages of the first phase of Cologne dada. The exhibition was also later used as a model by the International Exhibition of Modern Art in its "Armory Show" of 1913, which incorporated the German exhibition's use of informational placards next to the art work, a now standard addition. In issue No. 13, Ludovici claims that "something much more vital and more tragic was on view [in Cologne] than a mere collection of modern works of art" ( 13:307). He writes passionately that "only a public utterly ignorant of the meaning and purpose of art could hear of such things [inspired by the show] with equanimity. Only a Continent that has forgotten that art is prophetic, and that these highly sensitive men who become artists unconsciously foretell the meteorological changes that make and unmake nations, could possibly have remained indifferent to these things for one hundred years" ( 13:037). Ludovici, lamenting the suppression of "positive" life in recent art (like that of the Futurists), sees hope in the works of Gaugin and van Gogh, works in which there is a return to "ascending, positive life" rather than an obsession with technique. Manet's turn to light, Ludovici writes, was a "negative technical refuge from the pressing problems of the day," an "ostrich-like circumvention of the principal threat and danger in the air" ( 15:348). Van Gogh and Gaugin, on the other hand, are vanguards, artists looking for a "higher meaning" in art, rejecting art-for-art's-sake.

Other pieces of interest:

  • the exchange between Walter Sickert and Huntly Carter in the "Letters to the Editor" section in which Sickert writes that "Cubism is not art," and Carter defends Matisse and Picasso (11.07:167; 11.08:191)
  • W.Wroblewski's "Towards the Art of the Future," which compares European to Oriental art (11.11:257)
  • Marcelle Azra Hincks' two-part "Some Observations on Primitive Dancing" in Nos. 18 and 19.
  • several translations by P. Selver of Tchekov's (Checkhov) work, including "In Search of Information" ( No. 10), "The Work of Art" ( No. 18), and "The Calumny" ( No. 25)
  • a piece on the life and work of Jaroslav Vrchlicky by Paul Selver, in which the writer is described as "the most significant factor in the development of modern Bohemian literature" (11.22:522)
  • the controversial Oscar Wilde Memorial by Jacob Epstein is reproduced in a supplement to issue No. 06. Many issues later, in issue No. 23, a letter to the editor criticizes the Parisian municipality's refusal to place the memorial on Père la Chaise cemetery until a strategic"fig leaf" is added (11.23:551)

Socio-political issues covered in Volume 11

As noted above, most of the volume is concerned with the definition of Guild Socialism and related questions of "wage-slavery" and labour unrest. In this volume, issue 24 begins the series "Guild Socialism," which attempts to define the need for a new system: the series is the conclusion, in many ways, to the preceding pieces on labour, wages, etc. Chapter XI of Wallace Martin's book, reproduced in our Resources page, is the best source of information about the evolution of the journal's Socialist philosophy. The following excerpt is a fairly concise description of the issues at stake:

Guild Socialism was an ingenious synthesis of political Socialism and industrial Syndicalism. The trade unions were to be converted into guilds which, by virtue of their 'monopoly of labour', could demand the State to give them control of industries and services. (Ideally clerical and administrative workers other than directors would be members of the guilds presenting this demand.) Both shareholders and the State would be helpless in the face of this concerted action. The State would purchase each industry and issue its guild a charter stating the conditions under which it would be allowed to operate. Its responsibilities would include the maintenance of high standards of quality and a fixed price for its products (to be determined by a joint body representing all guilds and the State); the guild would pay a single tax or rent to the State (determined by the same body). Factories would be locally controlled, a guild consisting of all the factories in a particular type of industry. Each guild member would be assured of continuous pay, full medical coverage, and a pension; the government would not be burdened with the administration of these social services. The early Guild Socialists did not envisage the disappearance of the State, as did the Syndicalists; the citizens as a whole would elect a government which would regulate the guilds, enact national legislation, and conduct international affairs. But they were opposed to the gargantuan bureaucracy of Fabian Socialism, with its omnipotent centralization of power. The basic premise of the movement, according to G. D. H. Cole, was that 'men could not be really free as citizens unless they were also free and self-governing in their daily lives as producers.'" (Martin 208-209)

The other dominant issue is Ireland and civil unrest surrounding HomeRule. In brief, the third Home Rule Bill was introduced in April 1912 (the first two were in 1886 and 1893). The majority of Liberals were confident that could apply to Ireland the same policy that had been successful in South Africa, and most British constituencies in 1912 (unlike in previous years) favored Irish home rule. One the main points of contention was, of course, financial: home rule "was liable to provoke resentment should it appear that Ireland was benefiting more than seemed fair from any reorganization of the United Kingdom . . . .Thanks to Liberal welfare reforms, Ireland was faced with spiralling social expenditure, and now found itself asking, paradoxically, for both greater autonomy and increased financial subventions at one and the same time" (Brooks 142). Ulster, which had proven itself throughout history as willing and able to resist established authority, was the sticking point: by summer 1912, Ulster had drawn up a covenant pledging to do all and everything to prevent the establishment of a home rule parliament and to refuse recognition of its authority--in September, 471,000 Ulster citizens had signed (Brooks 145). Related pieces are "The Orangeman in Politics" by St. John Ervine ( No. 3); "The Case of Belfast" by J.H. Stirling ( No. 11); "Belfast and Poverty" by St. John Ervine ( No. 13); "Belfast and Poverty" by J.H. Stirling ( No. 15); "On Home Rule" by J.M. Kennedy ( No. 19); "Home Rule: A Reply" by S.G. Hobson (No. 20); "Irish Sentiment" by Edward McNulty ( No. 21); "Some Manifestations of Orangeism" by Peter Fanning ( No. 23); "Home Rule from a Sane Point of View" by N. Fitzroy Webb(No. 25). As always, "Notes of the Week" and "Letters to the Editor" are the best starting points for assessing the journal's position on these issues.

Also of interest:

  • Alfred E. Randall, a central contributor who wrote pieces on psychology, the weekly "Views and Reviews," and, under the pseudonym "John Francis Hope," drama criticism from 1912 onwards (Martin 125), concentrates in Volume 11 on the question of insanity. In "The Lawful Impediment" in No. 20, Randall questions the diagnosis and treatment both legal and medical of "feeble-mindedness" and "lunacy," accusing the law of creating a catch-22 wherein treatment is limited to those who are certified insane and incarcerated, reducing the numbers of those who would seek help. In "The Treatment of the Insane in Private Care" ( No. 22), Randall continues his criticism of England's treatment of its mentally ill, accusing lawyers and the legal system of preventing doctors from administering to the sick. Issues number 23 and 25, with "The Diagnosis of Insanity" and "Prevention of Insanity" respectively, continue the attack, concentrating on the Eugenics approach to the problem and, using the work of Dr. Hollander, connecting insanity to the rise of industrialism.
  • Suffrage and related issues are given much less attention than are questions of labour and Home Rule. Contributors to the journal demonstrate an increasingly strong and insulting opposition to any women's rights issue. M.B. Oxon's series, "Problems of Sex," appearing in issues number 14-20, for example, addresses the "White Slave Traffic" (prostitution) and its related bill: initially, the series is promising, as Oxon describes prostitution as an "economic crime" (322). [Note: Oxon is Lewis Wallace, a Leeds friend of Orage and one of the initial investors in the NA.] In issue 15, however, we read that it is "more difficult for a woman to have a group of friends who will supply all her needs"; prostitution and corruption are connected to "a century of artificiality and repression" in which "art, literature and society [are] rotten at the core with untruth, and with a poisonous bloom of lasciviousness to attract the unwary to their destruction" (344). Eventually, the discussion becomes one of eugenics, illegitimacy, and the sanctity of marriage and mothering (though, to be fair, there are repeated attempts to explain the problem of prostitution in terms of economic disadvantages and a vexed morality that puts girls who have "gone wrong" on the streets only to punish them through the legal system). "Letters to the Editor" is probably the most fruitful starting place when researching suffrage and woman's issues, providing several perspectives on the various actions and bills as well as on the journal's coverage of these.
  • Debates surrounding Eugenics are particularly revealing for those interested in questions of medicine, psychology, and social definitions of the "normal." The arguments made in this volume by Charles Brookfarmer (Bechhofer — or Bechhofer-Roberts as he also called himself) and A.E. Randall (also A.E.R.) on these and related topics are worth noting as they presage many of the issues that will come to the forefront of medical policy during the war when "shell-shock" will force a re-evaluation of eugenicist theory and of the terms feeble-mindedness, lunacy, insanity, etc.

Works Consulted

  • Brooks, David. The Age of Upheaval: Edwardian Politics 1899-1914. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1995. New Frontiers in History. Mark Greengrass and John Stevenson, eds.
  • Dangerfield, George. The Strange Death of Liberal England. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1997. Orig. pub. 1935.
  • Ensor, R.C.K. England 1870-1914. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1936. The Oxford History of England. G. N. Clark, ed.
  • Martin, Wallace. The New Age Under Orage: Chapters in English Cultural History. Manchester and New York: Manchester UP and Barnes and Noble, 1967.
  • Millenium Year by Year: A Chronicle of World History from AD 1000 to the Present Day.
  • 20th Century Day by Day. Clifton Daniel, ed.