Myrtle Solomon
Myrtle Solomon was an active pacifist. She was general secretary of the Peace Pledge Union
Peace Pledge Union
The Peace Pledge Union is a British pacifist non-governmental organization. It is open to everyone who can sign the PPU pledge: "I renounce war, and am therefore determined not to support any kind of war...

 (PPU), a British pacifist organisation, between 1965 and 1972, and Chair of the War Resisters International (WRI) between 1975 and 1986.

Early life

Solomon was born in Kensington
Kensington is a district of west and central London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Street, and it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensington.To the north, Kensington is...

, London. She was the third of five children of fairly liberal and affluent Jewish parents. Her father was a solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

 while her mother came from the family that ran the Lewis's
Lewis's was a large department store in Liverpool city centre. It was formerly the flagship of a chain of department stores under the Lewis's name, that operated from 1856 to 1991, when the company went into administration. Several stores in the chain were bought by the company Owen Owen and...

 store in Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

. Before the Second World War her parents played an important role in helping Jewish refugees escape from Germany and Austria.

Solomon attended St Paul's Girls' School
St Paul's Girls' School
St Paul's Girls' School is a senior independent school, located in Brook Green, Hammersmith, in West London, England.-History:In 1904 a new day school for girls was established by the trustees of the Dean Colet Foundation , which had run St Paul's School for boys since the sixteenth century...

 but left at the age of 16. In the Second World War she worked for a year with the Women’s Voluntary Service
The WRVS is a voluntary organisation concerned with helping people in need throughout England, Scotland and Wales....

 driving a mobile canteen. Not yet a pacifist she then worked in an armaments factory. This experience turned her into a feminist. Women doing skilled work were being paid less than men who swept the floors. Another issue that concerned her at the time was the British nationality law
British nationality law
British nationality law is the law of the United Kingdom that concerns citizenship and other categories of British nationality. The law is complex because of the United Kingdom's former status as an imperial power.-History:...

 where a British man could pass his nationality to his wife but a British woman could not make her husband British.


After the war Myrtle Solomon joined a group called “Women for Westminster” that campaigned on feminist issues and it was here she met Sybil Morrison
Sybil Morrison
Sybil Morrison was a British pacifist and a suffragist as well as being active with several other radical causes.As a young and enthusiastic suffragist, Morrison was persuaded by Emmeline Pankhurst that she was too young to go to prison. She became a pacifist in 1917 and during World War I she...

, a fellow lesbian, who was an active pacifist and a member of the Peace Pledge Union: “I admired her very much and learned a lot from her, and it seemed quite natural to me to become a pacifist then.” They became close friends and were living together at the time of Morrison’s death in 1984.


Solomon began working for the PPU in 1957 as organiser for the London area. General Secretary 1965–72, she was credited with reinvigorating the PPU after it lost members to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is an anti-nuclear organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty...

 in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She represented the PPU on the War Resisters International for six years and in 1975 was elected Chair of the WRI, an election she modestly attributed to the fact that she was a woman. But, as with the PPU, WRI was close to collapse and Solomon played an important role in rescuing it, for a time living in the building in Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 where the WRI offices were situated.

A highlight of Solomon’s tenure at WRI was a speech she made to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament
Conference on Disarmament
Conference on Disarmament is a forum established by the international community to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements...

in 1982, including the following observation: “Talk of disarmament has become a mythical ritual - a strange macabre dance of millions of words - but the weapons are never put down. To justify a totally illusory need, a whole new language has been invented by a sick society dominated by its weaponry.”

Myrtle Solomon was also a Trustee of the Lansbury House Trust Fund (LHTF). She bequeathed money to LHTF for the establishment of the Myrtle Solomon Memorial Fund to compile, publish and maintain an international survey on compulsory military service and on provisions for conscientious objection.
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