First IVU General Secretary, 1913-1923
We know that Mathilde Hompes was writing for The Vegetarian Messenger
(Manchester) from at least October 1896. Her column was entitled 'Foreign
Notes' which provided a summary of world vegetarianism, she continued
with this until at least 1909 and it has proven extremely valuable for
In 1900 she was "sent to the Paris Exhibition by the Southport
Food Reformers as their representative" at the International Vegetarian
Congress, and she was a speaker at one of the sessions.
Her obituary was published in The Vegetarian Messenger in the
1924. It stated that she was of German-Jewish origin but had lived in
Manchester, England since the early years of the 20th century (the above
shows that it was slightly earlier than that). We hope to reproduce
the obituary here in due course.
The first mention of her in connection with IVU was in the report of
the 2nd IVU Congress, held in Manchester in 1909:
Miss Hompes assured the guests from the knowledge gained by her long
residence in this city, that nowhere could they meet with greater
courtesy and kindness. She knew that when their visit came to an end
they would agree with her that the opinion so often expressed on the
Continent of Europe that Englishmen were not polite, was a fiction
based on imperfect knowledge ; and so well did our English friends
bear themselves that several of the delegates did actually witness
the truth of Miss Hompes' prophecy. They vowed that they had "quite
changed their opinion about English people."
The author of that detailed report on the Congress was 'M.Hompes'.
She was again the author of the report on 1910 Congress for the Vegetarian
Messenger, giving brief reference to herself:
The two delegates from Manchester, representing the Vegetarian Society,
were Dr. Wm. E.A. Axon and Miss Hompes. Dr. Axon gave a few words
of greeting in true hearty English, and then Miss Hompes read a fairly
full report - substantial Dr. Nyssens called it - of the organisation
and work of our Society, ... It is probable that Miss Hompes report
may be printed later.
The report on the 1913 Congress was credited a little more boldly at
the top, instead of at the bottom as in the previous two: 'International
Vegetarian Congress at The Hague. By Mathilde Hompes'. Again she makes
brief references to herself:
The delegates of the Vegetarian Society, Rev A.O.Broadley and Miss
Mahilde Hompes, spoke respectively on "The Vegetarian Church
in Salford" and "Vegetarianism and Peace." The latter
was read in Dutch before the Public Meeting on Monday evening. Both
were well received. ...
... On Tuesday evening it was suggested that the International Union
should nominate a Secretary, and that the various Societies belonging
to it should contribute towards a fund for the Union. This was deferred
to the General Committee, which met later in the day. Rules for raising
a fund were drawn up and Miss Mathilde Hompes, of Manchester, was
elected Hon. Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union.
Mathilde Hompes at the 1923 Congress,
a year before she died.
By this time Miss Hompes had become the Editor of the Vegetarian
Messenger, and retained that post throughout the first world war
- a significant achievement in view of the anti-German hysteria in Britain
at that time. The IVU Congresses were inevitably cancelled and did not
resume until 1923, in Sweden, from where Mathilde was again reporting
for the Messenger:
[from a pre-Congress notice] : Miss Hompes, 26 Denham Street,
C-on-M, Manchester, is the General Secretary.
... the Roll Call of the Delegates... England - Miss Mathilde Hompes
(Editor of Vegetarian Messenger, General Secretary of the International
Vegetarian Union), ...
... The Hon. General Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union,
Miss Mathilde Hompes (Manchester), read a full report or the work
of the Union,...
... General Secretary : Miss Hompes expressed her desire to retire.
This was reluctantly and regrettully accepted and she was elected
General Secretary Emeritus for Life, with consulting and voting powers.
Miss Hompes proposed the Honorable Miss Ortt of the Hague as her successor
and Miss Ortt was duly elected ...
At the next Congress, 1926 in London, England, the new General Secretary
gave her report:
The report opened with a sympathetic reference to the passing away,
on the 3rd of March, 1924, of Miss Mathilde Hompes, the first Secretary
of the International Vegetarian Union, and the company stood in silence
in recognition of her character and work.
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