Henry Stephens Salt

Henry Stephens Salt

Henry Stephens Salt (September 20, 1851 – April 19, 1939) was an influential democratic socialist English writer and campaigner for social reform in the fields of prisons, schools, economic institutions and the treatment of animals – he was a noted ethical vegetarian, anti-vivisectionist and pacifist. He was also well-known as a literary critic, biographer, classical scholar and naturalist, and as the man who introduced Mahatma Gandhi to the influential works of Henry David Thoreau.

Early life

The son of an army colonel, Salt was born in India in 1851 but travelled to England while still an infant in 1852. He studied at Eton College, then graduated from Cambridge University in 1875.


After Cambridge, Salt returned to Eton as an assistant schoolmaster to teach classics. Four years later, in 1879, he married Catherine (Kate) Joynes, the daughter of a fellow master at Eton. He remained at Eton until 1884, when – inspired by classic ideals but disgusted by his fellow masters' meat-eating habits and reliance on servants – he and Kate initially moved to a small cottage at Tilford, Surrey where they grew their own vegetables and lived very simply, sustained by a small pension Salt had built up. Salt engrossed himself in writing and began work on the pioneering Humanitarian League.


During his lifetime Salt wrote almost 40 books. [ [http://www.henrysalt.co.uk/biography.htm "Henry S. Salt - Biography by Simon Wild"] ] His first book, "A Plea for Vegetarianism", was published by the Vegetarian Society in 1886. He produced an acclaimed biography of philosopher Henry David Thoreau in 1890. These two interests later led to a friendship with Mahatma Gandhi.

Humanitarian League

In 1891, Salt formed the Humanitarian League. Its objectives included the banning of hunting as a sport (in this respect it can be regarded as a fore-runner of the League Against Cruel Sports). In 1914 The League published a whole volume of essays on "Killing for Sport", the preface was written by George Bernard Shaw. The book formed in summary form the Humanitarian League's arraignment of blood-sports. [ [http://www.henrysalt.co.uk/biography.htm "Henry S. Salt - Biography by Simon Wild"] ]

His circle of friends included many notable figures from late 19th and early 20th century literary and political life, including writers Algernon Swinburne, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Havelock Ellis, Count Leo Tolstoy, Peter Kropotkin, George Bernard Shaw and Robert Cunninghame-Graham, Labour leader James Keir Hardie and Fabian Society co-founders Hubert Bland and Annie Besant.

elected publications

Salt wrote more than 40 books, plus numerous pamphlets and articles. The following is just a selection:
*"A Shelley Primer" (1887)
*"Life of Henry David Thoreau" (1890; London: Walter Scott, 1896). Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-7028-6
*" [http://animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/salt01.htm Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress] " (1892). Reprinted, with a Preface by Peter Singer (Clarks Summit, PA: Society for Animal Rights, 1980). ISBN 0-9602632-0-9
*" [http://animalrightshistory.org/timeline-victorian/sal-henry-salt.htm Quotes & Excerpts from Henry Salt's Animals' Rights] " (1892)
*"Richard Jefferies: A Study" (1894)
*"Selections from Thoreau" (1895)
*"Percy Bysshe Shelley: Poet and Pioneer" (1896)
*"Richard Jefferies: His Life and His Ideas" (1905)
*"The Faith of Richard Jefferies" (1906)
*"Cambrian and Cumbrian Hills: Pilgrimages to Snowdon and Scafell" (1908)
*"The Humanities of Diet" (1914) ( [http://animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/salt02.htm two] [http://animal-rights-library.com/texts-c/salt03.htm excerpts] )
*"Seventy Years among Savages" (1921)
*"Call of the Wildflower" (1922)
*"The Story of My Cousins" (1923)
*"Our Vanishing Wildflowers" (1928)
*"Memories of Bygone Eton" (1928)
*"Company I Have Kept" (1930)
*"Cum Grano" (1931)
*"The Creed of Kinship" (1935)

ee also

*Animal rights



*Stephen Winsten, "Salt and His Circle" (1951)
*George Hendrick, "Henry Salt: Humanitarian Reformer and Man of Letters" (1977)
*George and Willene Hendrick, eds., "The Savour of Salt: A Henry Salt Anthology" (Fontwell, Sussex: Centaur Press, 1989) ISBN 090000130-5

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