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Hunger Strike in British Prisons 1913-1940


The record begins in August 1913. In those five months, there were 45 recorded strikes, spread over 14 prisons. As the tables below show, a large majority of the strikes lasted less than two weeks. The reasons prisoners gave for strikes were fairly diverse, with the largest group (13) complaining about their punishment. One interesting note is the relatively large (7) of strikes attributed to the mental condition of the prisoner.

There is no evidence of coordinated strikes in 1913, but there were several curious cases. The longest strike was that of G. Welczeck. After being sentenced to 12 months at Wormwood Scrubs for "inducing person to sign false notice," Welczeck went on a 78 day strike protesting that his sentence was "too severe." Prison officials force-fed Welczeck by way of a nasal tube 216 times, nearly three feedings a day.

Another interesting case was Roger O'More. Convicted of attempted murder and burglary, O'More went on three different hunger strikes in 1913 while in Gloucester Prison. During the third strike, prison officials determined that he was faking a mental condition and refused food "in the hope that he might be released on a/c of starvation."

Of course, prison officials accepted the mental conditions of other prisoners as genuine. In May 1912, Augelo Spagnolo was convicted of burglary and sentenced to 18 months at Wormwood Scrubs. On May 12, 1913 he began a 62 day hunger strike, citing worries and an abdominal complaint.  After striking again in September, officials noted that Spagnolo was "now certified insane."

Duration of Strikes

This table includes the 40 strikes for which there was a definite start and end date. Strikes with a length of "0" indicate the strike started and ended on the same day.

There were 5 strikes for which the length could not be determined, due to a missing start date, end date, or both.

Notable Strikes, 1913

G. Welczeck

G. Welczeck

Roger O'More

Roger O'More First Strike
Roger O'More Second Strike
Roger O'More Third Strike

Augelo Spagnolo

Augelo Spagnolo