Ros Pesman University of Sydney
The Italian Risorgimento was an event that crossed national and gender boundaries, arousing enthusiasm and garnering support well beyond the peninsula and from women as well as men. Nowhere was this enthusiasm and support stronger than in Britain with its
centuries-old fascination with Italy. When Garibaldi, not only a hero of Italian unification but also the world’s first international celebrity, visited Britain in 1864, an estimated 500.000 people lined the streets of London to greet him. But it is not Garibaldi who is the subject of my research, undertaken in an ARC-funded project on ‘La Bella Libertà: Women, Freedom and the History of Italy’ with Barbara Caine and Glenda Sluga.
My focus is on Mazzini and on the network of devoted supporters he created in Britain, composed of British nationals, Italian exiles and Italian residents in Britain, and particularly on its members who were women. This network comprised Mazzini’s most faithful and unswerving followers, the true believers.