Nesta H. Webster
The strange career of |
Nesta H. Webster
Nesta was born August 24, 1876, the youngest daughter of Robert Cooper Lee Bevan, Director of Barclays Bank, and his second wife, Emma Francis Shuttleworth. [p. 13.]
Nesta married Arthur Templar Webster [d. April 1942], 10 years her senior, on May 14, 1904 in London. [p. 26.]
"... Mrs. Webster published her first conspiracy theory work in 1916 when she was 40 years of age. Unfortunately, the published portion of her autobiography, Spacious Days, ends only three years later with an account of the critics reception of her second work of revisionist history, The French Revolution A Study in Democracy and therefore reveals nothing about the twenty-nine year period (1920-1949) which encompassed over ninety per cent of her literary career. During these years she published seven works of revisionist history, a pseudonymous novel, contributed numerous articles to the Morning Post and The Patriot, a crucial, far-right wing, political journal of the inter-war period, and was a member of the British Fascists (1924-1927) [p. ix.]
There have been two books published on the life of Nesta H. Webster. The first, her autobiography Spacious Days and the second, Richard Gilmans Behind World Revolution in which he has sketched a valuable first portrait of the mysterious, compelling author, Nesta H. Webster.2 The following quotes and notes are gleaned from the latter as references for other pages found on this website.
"Background information about these events was contained in the manuscript of the second half of Mrs. Websters autobiography, Crowded Hours. Unfortunately, this manuscript was stolen from the offices of the Britons Publishing Company in Devon, England by a mysterious American and therefore this crucial volume was never published." [p. ix.]
"While on a visit to Switzerland during the winter of 1910, Mrs. Webster underwent a profound mystical experience which led her to believe that she was the reincarnation of a late 18th century countess (the Comptesse de Sabran), whose daughter had been imprisoned and son-in-law guillotined during the French Revolution." [p. 26.]
"Inevitably Mrs. Webster took on the political views of her staunchly monarchist alter ego and the Chevaliere Boufflers,  which upholds the cause of the Ancien Regime against the conspiring revolutionaries, can be considered Mrs. Websters first conspiracy theory work." "Ultimately the book ran through 15 editions." [pp. 31-32.]
"This success encouraged Mrs. Webster to follow up in 1919 with The French Revolution A Study in Democracy. In this work Mrs. Webster propounds the thesis that the French people played an essentially passive role in the French Revolution and that the revolution was planned, fomented and carried out by an Orleanist-Prussian cabal linked with "illuminated Freemasonry." [p. 32.]
"Contrary to What Mrs Webster would have her readers believe, she was by no means the first to try to convince an English audience that the French Revolution was primarily the outgrowth of an Illuminati conspiracy. Consequently, her argument that her work was being boycotted precisely because she was the first to reveal these ideas in England simply does not hold water." "Of exceptional interest is a book authored by one Una [Constance] Pope-Hennessy (née Una Birch) [1876-1949] entitled Secret Societies and the French Revolution. Despite the fact that this work was published in London in 1911 a scant five years before the publication of Mrs. Websters The French Revolution and pursues a theme very similar to her own book, Mrs. Webster makes no mention whatsoever of Secret Societies and the French Revolution in either The French Revolution or World Revolution. Indeed, in the 'Authors Note' in World Revolution she even has the effrontery to tell her readers that The French Revolution a Study in Democracy was '...the first attempt, in English, to tell the truth (about the nature of that revolution).'" [pp. 36-37.]4
Evaluation of her theories
"Nesta Webster has assumed an answer; consequently there is no impetus to look for evidence. Energy is spent on propagandising the 'answer' rather than investigation of facts... Nesta Webster has to be rejected because it is difficult to separate fact from fiction [in her work]." [p. vii.]5
"By the early 1950s nearly all her books were out of print and probably by this date have had only a marginal impact on American, right-wing, conspiracy theorists if they had not received the endorsement of Robert Welch and the John Birch Society." [p. 4.]
Taking note of the increased interest in right-wing conspiracy theories in both Britain and the U.S., Patterns of Prejudice, a publication of the Institute of Jewish Affairs in London, published an article by Richard Thurlow, a professor of Economic History at the University of Sheffield." "Nearly a third of this article is devoted to a consideration of the impact of Mrs. Websters work on Anglo-American conspiracy theory." [p. 59.] 6
"Moreover, as the pivotal figure of right-wing, totalitarian conspiracy theory in the English speaking world, the fraudulant and non-scholarly character of much of Mrs. Websters work must be exposed in a manner that will be meaningful to many of the more rational converts and potential converts to her theories. It is my intention to do just that in volume two of this work." [p. 63.]
'Mrs. Webster surveys the changes of the last 145 years, taking as her starting point the French Revolution. She is less interested apparently in historical facts than in the thesis she is able to deduce by a selection from the general body of historical truth of such facts only as support her theories.' 'By piling suggestion and innuendo on a foundation of hypothesis, Mrs. Webster makes a gallant effort to see the Jew behind the French Revolution and to make us see him too but she has failed.' [pp. 80-82.] 7
'Mrs. Webster, whose book on the World Revolution we review elsewhere, has added to the debt of gratitude due to her. Her book on the French Revolution was not only eminently readable, and what Bacon would have called 'luciferous'; it had also the inestimable advantage that it was fully documented. By this we do not mean that there were huge appendices filled with unreadable State papers, speeches, and the like, but that whenever she was making a point of importance she quoted the actual words of the actors in the drama and did not rely upon dead summaries.' [p. 83.] 8
Nesta Webster at age 53, from "The Rulers of Darkness A Chapter from the secret history of Europe in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries", Nesta H. Webster (1876-1960). The Sphere. April 9, 1927: London. Reprinted in Behind World Revolution cover illustration detail.
Behind World revolution : the strange career of Nesta H. Webster, Richard M. Gilman. Ann Arbor : Insights Books, 1982-. v. 1 : ill. ; 23 cm. [Bibliography: v. 1, p. 101-111, no index] LCCCN: 82-90685 ISBN: 0910087008 pb. 111pp. [no volume 2 to date.] Cf.: Obituary of Nesta H. Webster, May 18, 1960: The Times, London, p. 17. Also see : "Nesta Webster: The Voice of Conspiracy', Martha F. Lee [Francis] (1961- ). Journal of Women's History. : The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1 October 2005. vol. 17, no. 3. ISSN: 10427961. p. 81-104.
Detail from a photograph of Nesta Bevan at age 22, reproduced from Spacious Days; an autobiography. Nesta H. Webster. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1949. Reprinted in Behind World Revolution, unnumbered page following p. 32.
Birchs position was sympathetic to republicanism and far too balanced and reasoned to appeal to Webster. Cited articles: Dillon, Msg. George F.. The War of Anti-Christ with the Church and Christian Civilization. 1885: M.H. Gill & Son, Dublin. "The History and Mystery of Secret Societies and Secret Political Clubs," Frasers Magazine, Vol. 21, No. 125 and Vol. 22, No. 128. (May and August 1840). "The Dawn of the revolutionary Epoch." H.M. Hyndman. The Nineteenth Century. Vol. 9, No. 47 (January 1881). "Illuminism and the French Revolution." Edinburgh Review, Vol. 204, No. 417 (July 1906). "The secret Order of the Illuminati." Dublin University Magazine, Vol. 81, no. 481 (January 1873).
Citing "The State of Research Concerning Power Elites", Conspiracy Digest. Dr. Anthony C. Sutton. Summer 1977.
"The Powers of Darkness Conspiracy Belief and Political Strategy." Richard Thurlow. Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 12, N. 6 (November-December 1978).
"Revolution and the Jews." World Revolution: the Plot Against Civilization By Nesta Webster. July 9, 1921: The Saturday Review, London.
A commentary on Nesta Websters World Revolution the Plot Against Civilization. July 2, 1921: The Spectator, London. In other words, she created imaginary dialogue. The reviewer also refers to Adam Weishaupt as "a Prussian with criminal instincts and lunatic perversions" and inclines to the claim that the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion reflect a real a Jewish conspiracy.
Nesta Beven, age 22.3