We have fresh new pages for you in AnnoTate! Discover the archive of Felicia Browne, a London-born artist who was the first British female combatant to lose her life in the Spanish Civil War. As we mark the 80th anniversary of the conflict’s outbreak, delve into Browne’s letters in which she articulates her political views, her stance against fascism, her journey from London to Barcelona and her experiences in Franco’s Spain.
About Felicia Browne
Born in 1904, Browne was a painter, sculptor and teacher. She attended courses at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1920–8, where she was awarded the Certificate in Drawing. In 1928 Browne went to Berlin intending to study sculpture. Whilst there she also spent time learning metal-working and stone masonry and witnessed the rise of Nazism. On her return to London in the early 1930s Browne became involved in the Artists International Association (AIA) and the Communist Party. She continued to study at Goldsmiths College and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. During this time Browne also travelled in Eastern Europe, visiting Russia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and sketching the townscapes and peasants there. In early 1936 Browne started working as a scullion in a tea shop where she attempted to persuade other members of staff to join a trade union. In July of that year she went on a driving trip to France and Spain with her friend Edith Bone, a left-wing photographer. On arriving in Spain they were caught up in the Spanish Civil War and on 3 August Browne joined a Communist militia. She was killed in action on 25 August 1936 in a failed attempt to dynamite a Fascist munitions train becoming the first British volunteer to die in that conflict.