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Emily Hobhouse
Emily Hobhouse in 1902
Born (1860-04-09)9 April 1860
St Ive, Cornwall, England
Died 8 June 1926(1926-06-08) (aged 66)
Kensington, London, England
Occupation Welfare campaigner; humanitarian activist
Parent(s) Reginald Hobhouse (father)
Caroline Trelawny
Relatives Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (brother)

Emily Hobhouse (9 April 1860 – 8 June 1926) was a British welfare campaigner, feminist, and pacifist. She is primarily remembered for bringing to the attention of the British public, and working to change, the deprived conditions inside the British concentration camps in South Africa built to incarcerate Boer women and children during the Second Boer War.

Conditions in the camps

She had persuaded the authorities to let her visit several British concentration camps and to deliver aid. Her report on conditions at the camps, set out in a report entitled "Report of a Visit to the Camps of Women and Children in the Cape and Orange River Colonies", was delivered to the British government in June 1901. As a result, a formal commission was set up and a team of official investigators headed by Millicent Fawcett was sent to inspect the camps. Overcrowding in bad unhygienic conditions due to neglect and lack of resources were the causes of a mortality rate that in the eighteen months during which the camps were in operation reached a total of 26,370, of which 24,000 were children under sixteen and infants, i.e. the rate at which the children died was some 50 a day.


Hobhouse died in Kensington in 1926. Her ashes were ensconced in a niche in the National Women's Monument at Bloemfontein, where she was regarded as a heroine. Her death went unreported in the Cornish press.


The southernmost town in Eastern Free State is named Hobhouse after her.

The SAS Emily Hobhouse, one of the South African Navy's three Daphné class submarines, was named after her in 1969. In 1994, after the end of minority rule, the submarine was renamed the SAS Umkhonto.

In Bloemfontein, South Africa, the oldest residence on the campus of the University of the Free State is named after Hobhouse.

There is a statue of Hobhouse at the parish church at St Ive, Cornwall, where she was born.

In 1990 Dirk de Villiers directed the South African film That Englishwoman: An Account of the Life of Emily Hobhouse with Veronica Lang as Emily.

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