Arthur Kitson, Inventor & Asshole
My cat Carlo has been listening and supervising as I go over some old research I did on Arthur Kitson (1860-1937). Carlo agrees with my verdict: the historical record does not speak well of Kitson. I began examining his life because he lectured in the anarchist clubs in Philadelphia and contributed material to anarchist journals during the early 1890s. As is the case with so many people, there are patches of his long life that have been examined separately but the whole quilt --surveyed only by me, it seems --tells a tale of its own. I'll tell this from memory, as briefly as I can while giving the sense of it.
[EDIT (next day): I must emphasize that I gave this [b]from memory.[/b] As you'll see from the comments, Ceridwen caught the ball and ran with it!
It turns out that I, like others interested in these stories, had conflated two separate Arthur Kitsons. The one I originally intended to research (Born 6 April 1859) settled in Philadelphia and married Fannie E. Aschenbach; fathered seven children. This same man was the money theorist, lamp inventor & lighting engineer, and finally a leading anti-semite and fascist.
The other Arthur Kitson was the son of a rich family of Leeds, went to Australia, married Linda, and was at the center of the Kitson-Playfair scandal of 1896 in London.
The two Arthur Kitsons may have been somehow related by family, but there were several reasons why my mistakes were easy to make. It's all been an unfinished, accidental line of inquiry in the first place. The essay here is still interesting to me, and it has been a delight to review and correct what I had begun all those years ago.
Arthur was the youngest of the four children of a rich train manufacturer. His brother James took control of the family fortune, and his sister Emily married Dr. William Playfair, an obstetrician who treated royal women all over Europe. Arthur spent one year at King's College in London and within a few years he emigrated to the United States. The death notice in this picture gives the gross exaggeration that Kitson "worked with Edison." Actually Edison looked at Kitson's ideas and proposals but was not impressed. A more interesting episode (to me) was in 1882, when Arthur hosted Oscar Wilde's lecture at Iowa City, Iowa and played organ music to accompany.
Kitson settled in Philadelphia in the mid-188os and started a lamp factory here. He patented new lights and won medals at inventors' gatherings. But Kitson's major passion was in banking & finance theory. This is what he preached about in radical (including anarchist) clubs, starting in 1892. I found no evidence of him socializing with any anarchists save for William Whittick, whose theory of an "invariable unit of value" Kitson was accused (by some anarchist writers) of plagiarizing. Kitson himself was never an anarchist, nor did he say he was, but careless observers mentioned him as such on a few occasions.
Kitson had very bad relations with his brother James in regards to the family fortune, and he seems to have been difficult for anyone to get along with for long periods of time. By 1893 he is married to Linda, who I had difficulty in researching but I believe she was American and his only wife.
Kitson was avoiding his many creditors in 1892-93, and he sent Linda to London and gave out the story that he had gone on a journey to Australia and East Asia. My research indicates that he never took that journey, and certainly the British sources never mention his residence in Philadelphia.
Linda was ill and went to a doctor, who brought in Dr. Playfair, who was the patient's brother-in-law. Playfair found that Linda had had a miscarriage, which he didn't approve of because Arthur was believed to be on the other side of the planet since before the pregnancy began. The doctor then told his wife and other relatives to shun Linda, and he persuaded James Kitson to cut off Linda's living allowance.
A significant episode in medical law began when Linda sued Dr. Playfair for slander. The trial took place in 1896, and Arthur appeared beside his wife in court, supportive and loyal. My take on it says that he had impregnated his wife, being more than close enough to do so, but never admitted that he was that close. Linda won the case because the world's most powerful families do not want indiscreet obstetricians examining the genitals of their women.
As best I could determine, Linda wound up in a mental asylum before 1903, when Arthur returned permanently to England. Through the years he had made more than one fortune and lost them. When the World War began, Kitson was doing well, installing lighting systems in buildings, neighborhoods, and entire towns in many countries.
During the war, Kitson's business was wrecked and many of his agents were killed. Unlike most British capitalists of the time, he had made too many enemies by denouncing the banking system, and he was not bailed out by the Parliament. Now ruined again, Kitson became bitter and became convinced that Jewish bankers were the cause of his and the world's troubles.
At upper left is part of a 1936 letter from Kitson to Ezra Pound. Notice where he inserts (by hand) the word "Jew" into the sentence, "Our so-called 'statesmen' are entirely controlled by the Money Power and they represent nobody but themselves and the international Jew financiers." His correspondence with Pound is a disgusting read, to put it mildly.
By the time of his death in 1937, Arthur Kitson was the second most influential fascist in Britain, the first being Oswald Moseley. In his late years he was brought to Germany to consult with Nazi party economists. After I bought this pamphlet (in the photo) on line, the seller asked if I was interested in his other material, including a title on "Jewish ritual murder." I did not reply.
It's been about ten years since did this research. Writing this blip has made me want to pick up the thread again. In future, I promise that none of my rediscovered dead people will be so easy to detest as this.
- Fujifilm FinePix J250