Tuesday, 28 May 2013


The SWF breaks the news of Silvio Corio’s death to comrades in Italy

(Written in French.)

c/o Syndicalist Workers Federation,

25a Amberley Road., London, W.9, England

 [undated]  [January 1954]

M. Mantovani  

Piazza G. Grandi, N.4,

Milan, Italy.

Dear Comrade Mantovani,

                It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of the death of our dear old comrade, SILVIO CORIO,  He was 78 years old.

                He died on Monday 11th January. His body was cremated on 14th January at Manor Park, in north-east London.

                Apparently comrade Corio, two weeks before his death, received the news that his sister had died in Palermo.  As I believe you know, he had not been in good health in recent years and the shock of that unexpected news was too much for him to bear.

                Our good comrade Corio remained an active militant until the end of his life. On the 2nd of November he attended the sessions of the congress of our section of the IWMA (SWF), to which he had been affiliated since it was founded in 1950. He made several contributions to the conference debates, making  practical suggestions for developing the anarcho-syndicalist movement in Britain. That was the last time we saw Silvio Corio. He wrote to our group in London  after the Congress, however, and we didn’t know he was shortly to leave us for ever. We retain the best memories of him: his exemplary life, his friendship, his profound sense of solidarity.

                We expect you will wish to publish an obituary notice in Il Libertario. We should be very grateful if you would do us the favour of passing on this sad news to the other publications of the Italian anarchist press, in particular Guerra di Classe and l’Umanita Nova.

In great sorrow, comrade, and with our fraternal wishes.

(Ken Hawkes)

[Translation: Liz Willis]
IWMA = International Workingmen’s Association (in the terminology of the time, regrettable perhaps but not to be taken to imply male exclusivity). The French is AIT, Association Inernationale des Travailleurs.

Letter: Syndicalist Workers Federation to Silvio Corio

Discussion of adult (working-class) education, WEA and NCLC:-

On headed paper:           Syndicalist Workers Federation                      



NATIONAL COMMITTEE:  25a Amberley Road., London, W.9                        COPY

18th October 1953

S. Corio

5, Charteris Rd.,


Dear Comrade,

                                Thank you very much for of your letter 8th October. We note that you are wishing to attend, and we shall send definite information as soon as the arrangements are decided.

                We have discussed the matter raised in your letter: your son Richard is welcome to attend as an observer. It is understood, of course, that the proceedings of the Congress are a matter of confidence.

                I should have written before, but you may be interested to know that your earlier letter to Ken, on the subject of a Popular University, promoted a useful discussion among the members of the National Committee and the London Group. We agreed that our movement had not the means to start such a project effectively, in competition with the National Council of Labour Colleges and the WEA, both of which themselves did not have easy going. We decided, however, that our cause would be better served if as many comrades as possible did lecture for the NCLC, chosing [sic], of course, the subjects which were as relevant as possible to our ideas, eg. Workers’ Control. At least one comrade present at that meeting undertook to do this, as he had at times previously. We were all of the opinion that the NCLC was a more useful field of action than the WEA, because the former had some influence among the most strongly organised and militant workers, and he latter was handicapped by the doctrine that education was something apart from the war of the classes, and must be ‘unbiased’. I might add a personal note that I attended a WEA class at Plaistow, near my home, and found that this ‘impartiality’ seemed to imply, in their practice, repudiation of the class struggle. The audience seemed to be less class conscious than the average attender at a Branch Meeting of the Transport & General Workers Union. Do not let my personal fad dissuade you or Richard from carrying on what you are doing, though. I expect the audiences vary in different cases, and in any case, you know best, as you are doing it.

We were interested to hear that you had heard from Alan Smith; only recently he contacted us again, after quite a long gap. Do you know if he is interested in any activity?

I must close now,

With best wishes from us all,

Yours fraternally,

[signed]  Peter Green

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Document: Silvio Corio and the Syndicalist Workers Federation 1953

Copy of a letter from Silvio Corio to the Syndicalist Workers Federation (SWF) about their forthcoming Conference, with mention of Richard Pankhurst:-

New Times and Ethiopia News  [headed paper]


Editor: E. Sylvia Pankhurst

Oct. 8 ‘53

Dear Com. Green,

Many thanks for notification of Conference.  If you could favour me with the date when it will effectively be held I should be grateful. I will attend – if permitted – merely as an observer. And – if you have no objection –  I will take with me Richard. He is very interested in the Labour Movement of today. Before long his book on Wm. Thompson will be published by Messrs. Watts & Co. It should have appeared already but these people are so slow. He is now teaching Economics for the W.E.A. at Woolwich, thanks to his Ph.D. degree. He wants to know, at first hand, the opinions of English workers of today. A few days ago I had a letter from Alan Smith quite favourable to your work. You know him of course.

Best wishes,


S. Corio


The New Times and Ethiopia News was begun by Silvio Corio and Sylvia Pankhurst in response to Mussolini’s attack on Ethiopia and continued as an anti-fascist and anti-imperialist paper until  the mid 1950s.

A short biography of Silvio Corio can be found at www.libcom.org – not much about his last years. This correspondence may fill the picture out a little.
See also  The North East London Anarchist Group: A short history ... founded in 1946”, <http://www.libcom.org/history/north-east-london-anarchist-group> by Nick Heath. This mentions Alan Smith and Peter Green as well as Corio himself (also Mario Mantovani), as in letters in the set currently being published here.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Document: Appeal against conscription 1952

Copy of document: from the editorial offices of the Syndicalist Workers Federation (paper: Direct Action) to Richard Pankhurst:-


25a Amberley Road.
London, W.9

November 5th, 1952

Richard Pankhurst.

Dear Comrade,

Very many thanks for sending us the material on your C.O. tribunal.  After discussion, we decided that publication in the form of a letter from yourself might well have the effect of prejudicing your appeal, and that it would be better to put it in the form of an article.    We hope this will be o.k.

                Hoping you will keep us informed of developments, and that your appeal will be successful.

Every good wish,

Yours fraternally,

 [copy unsigned]

for editorial office 

Note:  According to the National Archives website most National Service records, including those for appeals tribunals, were destroyed, so this letter, along with the letter to which it replies, and the article to which it refers (neither located yet ) may be something of a rarity.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Coming shortly:Old documents newly unearthed in Sparrows' Nest

The documents in question are letters in Ron's Archive at www.thesparrowsnest.org.uk, three from/to/about respectively Silvio Corio, the Italian anarchist who was the long-term partner of Sylvia Pankhurst (one to be translated from French), and one to their son Richard Pankhurst about his Conscientious Objector (CO) Tribunal (i.e. he was appealing against conscription for National Service).