Francis Edmunds

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Francis Edmunds (born 30 March 1902 Vilnius, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire) - died 13 November 1989 Forest Row, East Sussex) was an educator and Anthroposophist and the founder of Emerson College, Forest Row. [1] [2]

Vilnius City in Lithuania

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and its largest city, with a population of 574,147 as of 2018. The population of Vilnius functional urban area, that stretches beyond the city limits, is estimated at 697,691, while according to statistics of Vilnius territorial health insurance fund, there are 723,016 permanent inhabitants in Vilnius city and Vilnius district municipalities combined. Vilnius is in the southeast part of Lithuania and is the second largest city in the Baltic states. Vilnius is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania and the Vilnius District Municipality.

Lithuania Republic in Northeastern Europe

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, the other being Latvian.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire was an empire that extended across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.



Early years

Louis Francis Edmunds was born into an orthodox Russian-Jewish family. His mother died when he was two years of age, whereupon his father emigrated to the United Kingdom, leaving Francis in the care of his grandparents until he was of an age to start school in England. He then joined his father in London, who had since acquired a second family with the sister of his first wife. On leaving school, Francis distanced himself from the faith of his family and embarked on a study of Medicine.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

From 1922-24 he was part of a Quaker mission to Russia, distributing emergency rations on horseback to the starving farming population during the Bolshevik Revolution. On returning to England, his interests having switched from Medicine to Education, he was sent to a Quaker Friends School in Lebanon, and later taught at the International School in Geneva, Switzerland.

Geneva Large city in Switzerland

Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland and the most populous city of Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

Steiner education

Through a friend he was introduced to Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, studied briefly at the Goetheanum in Dornach and became a member of the Anthroposophical Society in 1930. In England once again, he took up contact with the teachers of “The New School” (today Michael Hall) that had been founded in Streatham, South London in 1925. In 1932 he was asked to take on the first grade, which soon led to various other responsibilities in the school.

Rudolf Steiner Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

Anthroposophy philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner

Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded by the 19th-century esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and specifically seek a precision and clarity in studying the spiritual world mirroring that obtained by natural historians in investigations of the physical world.

Goetheanum world center for the anthroposophical movement, including performance halls, in Dornach, Switzerland

The Goetheanum, located in Dornach, in the canton of Solothurn, Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement.

In 1936 his colleagues asked him to direct what was to become the Michael Hall Teacher Training Course, the first organised Steiner training in Britain, which he ran for years besides his teaching work.

During World War II, the school, now called Michael Hall, was evacuated to Minehead in Somerset. Here Edmunds began to write the Michael Hall News and held many lectures for the soldiers stationed there to guard the coastline. [1] After the War the school moved to Kidbrooke Hall Forest Row in Sussex. It was then that he began to travel extensively, mainly to the United States, in order to help the Waldorf Schools in those parts to develop. Besides this, he and his wife Elizabeth for many years ran the school hostel, living together with the boarders in Kidbrooke Mansion with their own three children. [2]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Minehead town in Somerset, England

Minehead is a coastal town and civil parish in Somerset, England. It lies on the south bank of the Bristol Channel, 21 miles (34 km) north-west of the county town of Taunton, 12 miles (19 km) from the border with the county of Devon and in proximity of the Exmoor National Park. The parish of Minehead has a population of approximately 11,981 making it the most populous town in the Somerset West and Taunton local government district, which in turn, is the worst area in the country for social mobility. This figure includes Alcombe and Woodcombe, suburban villages which have been subsumed into Minehead.

Forest Row village in East Sussex, United Kingdom

Forest Row is a village and relatively large civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England. The village is located three miles (5 km) south-east of East Grinstead.

Concerned that the British Steiner schools begin consequentially to work together he founded and was chairman of the "Steiner Schools Fellowship” for many years. [2]

Emerson College

Finally, in 1962, he was able to found an adult education centre for Anthroposophy which he named Emerson College after the American Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was able to attract a number of inspiring lecturers to work at the college with him, including John Davy, Michael Wilson, William Mann, Anthony Kay, Gerhard Koepf and his wife Elizabeth. The college offered a Foundation Year in Anthroposophy followed by a further year in either Education, Biodynamics or various arts. By the 1979’s it had an annual enrollment of around 200 students.

In the last years of his life Edmunds began to write the books, particularly on Waldorf Education, that have become well known introductory works into these concepts.

A series of audio sessions, conducted by William Hearst II and recorded by John Swain, are available at These recordings span approximately 7 hours over 4 sessions, and present an extended conversation with Edmunds on a variety of topics.

Published works

L.. F. Edmunds, Rudolf Steiner Press: 3rd Edition 1982 ISBN   978-0854402854

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  1. 1 2 The Story of Emerson College: Its Founding Impulse, Work and Form - Michael Spence, Temple Lodge Press, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 'Francis Edmunds' - Biographischer Eintrag in der Online-Dokumentation der anthroposophischen ‘’Forschungsstelle Kulturimpuls’’