I shoot Mussolini in the nose
Published on 21st September 2021
Among the many acts of individual bravery against fascism in Europe in the 20th century, Violet Gibson's has been largely lost to history. The title of this blog post comes from a song by Lisa O'Neill, Violet Gibson.
I read the book, The woman who shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders, when it first came out and have happily gone down many rabbit holes ever since. In fact, I've launched myself. It's a fascinating story. I'm spookily drawn to her.
On 7 April 1926 an Irish woman, 49-year-old aristocrat Violet Gibson, stepped out from a crowd in Rome and fired a shot at one of the 20th century's most infamous dictators. One bullet grazed the nose of Benito Mussolini. Of the four people who attempted to assassinate Il Duce, she came closest. Now, nearly a century later, moves to put up a plaque in Dublin are gathering pace.
TG4TV are showing a documentary on her life on Wednesday 22 September at 9.30 pm.
Who was Violet Gibson?
Gibson was the bold, free-thinking daughter of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who rejected the trappings of her Anglo-Irish upbringing, and committed herself to social justice, anti-war activism, and opposition to fascism.
Formerly a debutante at the Court of Queen Victoria, Gibson was written off as a lone mad Irishwoman and effectively written out of history. Following 18 months of imprisonment and interrogation in Italy, plus investigations into an international conspiracy, a deal was brokered by Mussolini and the British Foreign Office.
She was locked up in a British lunatic asylum for the rest of her life. For 30 years, she battled for her release, writing letters to the authorities, politicians, friends; Churchill (after Italy declared war on Britain), and to Princess Elizabeth. Her letters were never posted.
Gibson was passed off as: a mad Irishwoman, and a demented spinster, a crazy Irish mystic. Read the book for yourself and enjoy going down the rabbit holes!
Here's a good video I found on YouTube:
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