A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846) and the Jews*

It is perhaps fitting that a lecture named in honour of a noted Jewish female writer should have as its subject on this occasion a noted non-Jewish female writer. Both started their literary careers as authors of instructive material in their respective creeds. Both were keen students of Hebrew. Their lives over? lapped, albeit very briefly: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna died when Katie Lady Magnus was a toddler.

Lady Magnus (i 844-1924) was the daughter of Emanuel Emanuel, the first Jewish Mayor of Portsmouth (1866-7). Until the Municipal Offices Act (1845) the presence of Jews on town councils was technically illegal, because municipal office-holders were obliged to swear on the ‘true faith of a Christian’. But Ports? mouth’s Corporation, in common with the civic authorities of Southampton and Birmingham, had for several years turned a blind eye to that requirement so that Jews could participate. Emanuel Emanuel was a well-respected manufacturing

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