Thursday, October 4, 2012

On October 4

On this day in  ...
... 1949, U.S. immigration authorities barred Margaret Fairley (left) and her husband, Professor Barker Fairley, a Goethe expert based at the University of Toronto, from entering the United States. He had been invited to lecture at Bryn Mawr, a Pennsylvania women's college founded in 1885 – coincidentally, the year of Margaret's birth in England. The ban followed an incident in March of the same year, when the couple were detained in New York, where they were attending the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace – according to The New York Times, following that detention, Margaret Fairley was "ordered out of the country at once." She'd been born Margaret Keeling in England, and was educated at Oxford, "finishing with a “first” in English though denied her degree because she was a woman." She moved to the University of Alberta, Canada, which permitted her to complete her degree. By 1913, she was that university's dean of women; she resigned to marry and move to Toronto. (credit for painting by Frederick Varley) While living for part of the 1930s back in England, according to the University of Toronto website,
'Margaret fell in with Marxist activists and when the family, missing Canada, returned in 1936, she joined the Communist party here and remained a member until she died.'
In the course of her life – she died in 1968 – she was a teacher, a campaigner for women's, social, and human rights, and an editor of the magazine New Frontiers, published by Canada's Labour-Progressive Party. Margaret Fairley, who is commemorated by a statue in a small park near the University of Toronto, edited 2 books, The Spirit of Canadian Democracy (1946) and Selected Writings of William Lyon Mackenzie (1960). She was also the maternal grandmother of our colleague William A. Schabas, and an inspiration to him, as he wrote in a touching post this past International Women's Day.

(Prior October 4 posts here, here, here, here, and here.)

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