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Hunger Strikes in British Prisons, 1913-1940  > 
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Hunger Strike in British Prisons 1913-1940


There were 61 recorded strikes in 1914, spread over 17 prisons. Nearly half of the strikes were concentrated in Manchester and Wormwood Scrubs, as demonstrated by the map. As the tables below show, a large majority of the strikes lasted less than a week. While the reasons prisoners gave for their hunger strikes were diverse, more than a quarter of the strikes (16) resulted from complaints about punishment. Interestingly, nearly as many (15) were attributed to the prisoner's mental condition. 

There is no evidence of coordinated group strikes in 1914, but there were several intriguing cases. In June 1914, Micharlesco Annette was convicted of stealing and sentenced to three months at Holloway followed by expulsion as an alien. In December he began an 88 day hunger strike, which lasted until the following March, listing his reason as "a protest against detention as an alien." Prison officials, using an oesophagal tube, force-fed Annette 164 times, nearly twice a day.

One of the most active hunger strikers during the early years of the record was Harry Humphries. In May 1913, Humphries was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 20 months hard labor at Wormwood Scrubs. Less than a week after his sentencing, Humphries began a 54 day hunger strike "to obtain his release." In February 1914, he began a second strike to protest his sentence. After 28 days prison officials had Humphries certified insane and transported to an asylum.  But in September 1914, Humphries appears on the record again, beginning a 159 day strike to protest his innocence. This strike lasted until February 13, 1915, the day of his release. During each of his three lengthy strikes, prison officials force-fed Humphries approximately two times a day.

Duration of Strikes

This table includes the 54 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 7 strikes for which the length could not be determined, due to a missing start date, end date, or both.

Notable Strikes, 1914

Micharlesco Annette

Micharlesco Annette

Harry Humphries

Harry Humphries First Strike
Harry Humphries Second Strike
Harry Humphries Third Strike