Collection 628 - Mary Benson Papers

Identity area

Reference code

MR-MM-628

Title

Mary Benson Papers

Date(s)

  • 1962 - 1990 (Creation)

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Collection

Extent and medium

approx. 23 files

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Name of creator

(1919-2000)

Biographical history

A friend of Mandela’s, Benson was a journalist, author, and anti-apartheid activist. After serving as an aide to various generals in World War II she settled in England. She returned to South Africa in 1957 and worked to raise funds for the defence of Mandela and 155 other accused in the Treason Trial. Mandela visited her in London on his clandestine trip
out of South Africa in 1962. Among her books is Mandela: The Man and the Movement (New York: W. W. Norton, 1986).

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Scope and content

The personal papers of Mary Benson. The collection includes:
Nelson Mandela’s statement from the dock at the Rivonia Trial. Correspondence, reports and statements about the treatment of political prisoners in South Africa; Reports by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and Amnesty International. Attempts to publicise the conditions of prisoners, particularly Nelson Mandela, and information about the medical treatment of prisoners.
Papers related to Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, collected by Benson when writing her biography of Mandela, "Nelson Mandela: the Man and the Movement."
Correspondence between Mandela and Mary Benson and between Benson and others people mainly related to Mandela and campaigns for his release from prison. Correspondents include Helen Suzman, Elinor Birley, Hilda Bernstein, Oliver Tambo, Winnie Mandela, Denis Healey and Ismail Ayob.
Typed notes on Mandela and other prisoners, as well as lists of political prisoners. News clippings concerning Mandela, mainly from British newspapers. Includes reports on the dropping of negligence charges against Mandela in 1967.

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