, ,

Margaret Sanger took numerous trips to England for both political refuge and research; however, her visit to the Easton Glebe estate was a memorable trip which would mark the start of a great love affair and lifelong friendship. In 1920, she had the pleasure of receiving an invitation from H.G. Wells to visit his house in Essex, England at the Easton Glebe Estate.  She stayed overnight on July 24, 1920.  At this time H.G. Wells was a prominent writer, free thinker, social theorist, who was a supporter of neo-Malthusian, eugenics, and most importantly, Margaret Sanger.  

Sanger with H. G. Wells and Otis Skinner. She met Wells on her 1920 trip to England, though this picture might have been taken at a later date. (Courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College).

Sanger with H. G. Wells and Otis Skinner. She met Wells on her 1920 trip to England, though this picture might have been taken at a later date. (Courtesy of the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College).

In Wells’ A Modern Utopia, we can see many similarities between his and Sanger’s ideals. He, like Sanger, also discussed that those that were economically or mentally unstable should not reproduce, because they were essentially unfit to raise children. In 1916, before he and Sanger met, Wells sent a letter of protest to President Wilson against Sanger’s federal indictment for the distribution of the Woman Rebel. The Woman Rebel was a publication that provided birth control knowledge for women, which was seen as obscene material and a violation of the Comstock law.

Sanger and Wells were both influential, intellectual free thinkers, who held similar interests and ideals. It is no wonder that when they were finally able to meet in 1920, sparks flew. Along with sharing all these qualities, they loved each other’s company.  Her visit to the Easton Glebe Estate has truly made history for both their friendship and the birth control movement.  By getting to know each other on a more personal and intellectual level, Wells continued to help and support her cause.

H.G. Wells house, leased from Countess Warwick during the first world war.
This estate was the centerpiece for his novel “Mr. Britling Sees it Through,” in which he discussed his wonderful life at the Easton Glebe Estate and war time anxieties.

When Sanger arrived for her first visit, Wells awaited her arrival at the Dunmow Station from which they drove a little car to an “old stone, ivy-covered; lovely lawns were spread around it.” In Margaret Sanger’s autobiography, she described her stay here as a lovely, magical weekend, where she got to know Wells as a person who was amusing, witty, and flirtatious. Among her numerous visits she went on walks in the Easton Glebe estate’s beautiful gardens, the surrounding woods, or around the lakes and streams. Wells as well had a love for this estate, which   was the centerpiece of his novel, “Mr Britling Sees it Through.” In this novel he discussed a wonderful life in tranquil Essex, a life which Mr. Britling, the main character, wished would never change. For both Sanger and Wells, this estate was a wonderful place to stay and develop intellectually.

One can imagine how Sanger felt arriving to a place where everything was charming, where people shared similar views, a place where laughs and happiness were plentiful.  Sanger stated, “From 1920 on I never went to England without spending part of the time with H.G., and many of the most attractive people I met were in Easton Glebe.” Their connection and similarities were so profound that it almost seems natural that they would make a strong connection and become strong supporters of one other and lifelong friends. Her descriptions of her stay here can make it appealing to anyone! Who would not want to enjoy a weekend in England at an enchanted-like estate filled with love, intellectuals, and overall, beauty.  

Click here for our map of Sanger’s travels.