Letter: Essex man: not a Tory but a radical

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Sir: I see that, now local and European elections are in the offing, John Major is courting the people of Essex in a vain attempt to win votes. Perhaps he is unaware that the media stereotypes of Essex man and woman are of fairly recent date. Essex's radical connections are much more long-standing.

Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was born at Epping. William Morris lived at Woodford Hall between 1840-1848. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were settled in farms around Ongar after returning from transportation to Australia. Frances Mary Buss, pioneer of women's education, lived in Theydon Bois and is buried in St Mary's churchyard there.

Muriel Lester, minister and preacher, travelled the world as an ambassador for the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, worked alongside Gandhi in his struggle for Indian independence and was imprisoned during the Second World War for her pacifist beliefs. She lived in Loughton from 1902 till her death in 1968.

Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline, and a noted suffragette and pacifist, had three houses in Woodford at different times, and established a memorial to the folly of war in the shape of a bomb, in Woodford High Road.

Finally, Clement Attlee lived in Woodford Green. His monument, which used to be seen whenever one looked around (the National Health Service) has been demolished or disfigured by people of John Major's ilk. The spiritual descendants of radical Essex men amd women, will not forget their heritage when it comes to casting their votes.

Yours faithfully,


Woodford Green, Essex

5 April