Brocher, Gustave, 1850-1931

Gustave (centre) Victorine (l)
Gustave (centre) Victorine (l)

The story of French priest-turned-anarchist writer, Gustave Brocher.

Submitted by Ed on March 2, 2007

Gustave Brocher 1850-1931 a.k.a Rehcorb
Born Delle, France 1850. Died France 1930

Gustave Brocher was born in Delle, France in 1850. He was raised by his father in a Fourierist tradition. Despite this he studied theology and became a priest but then appears to have rejected this and then went off to Russia as a private teacher. He went to London in 1875, where he eventually joined the Vpered! group and became a socialist.

In 1879 he became an anarchist under the influence of Paul Brousse and co edited the newspaper Le Travail (Labour) between 1880 and 1881. He became active in the Socialist League and anarchist circles in London. He chaired a committee to organise a London Anarchist Congress in 1881, and he represented the Iowa Icarians at this International Social Revolutionary and Anarchist Congress on July 14-19, 1881.

He met Victorine Rouchy there and they later got married in 1887 and adopted 5 orphans of the Paris Commune. He contributed articles to Henry Seymour's monthly paper The Anarchist (1885-7). With Frank Kitz he published an English language Freiheit in defence of Johann Most and seven issues of this appeared from April to June 1881.

Hammersmith Socialist Society Minutes report that he lectured to the branch twice in 1885 on 'The Phalanstere', and 'The Icarian Communities'. The August 1885 Commonweal reports his singing of the old song from the French Revolution, La Carmagnole, at the first annual League Conference. Between 1885 and 1897 he published three French translations and readers in London. In 1891 he moved to Lausanne in Switzerland. Later he returned for a while to London. An 1893 issue of Freedom lists him as a speaker, and he may well have been the Brochean at Mary Mowbray's funeral in 1893 who spoke as a representative of a 'French Anarchist Section' of the League.

He taught at the academy of Fiume in Italy from 1911 to 1914. He contributed to many anarchist periodicals and publications like the Encyclopédie anarchiste and, as a militant freethinker from the 1880s on, to numerous secularist papers. He was editor of La Libre Pensée (Freethought) from 1918 until his death.

He wrote several books between 1915-18 in France on Russian topics, and edited selections of a Dictionaire des Athées (Dictionary of Atheists). His pamphlet Absurdites et atrocites de la Bible (Editions de L'Idee Libre) appeared in 1926.

Nick Heath