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Howard, Ebenezer

1850-1928). Theosophist and founder of the English garden-city movement. He was born in London on January 29, 1850. He first worked in a stockbroker’s office at the age of 15 where he learned shorthand. At the age of 22 he emigrated to the United States in the hope that his health would be improved by the warmer climate. Howard worked first on a farm in Nebraska and then as a legal stenographer in Chicago, but returned to England in 1876 where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1898 his book Tomorrow: a Peaceful Path to Social Reform was published in which he put forward the idea of building a new town to be called a Garden City based on land ownership by the members of the community. The central theme was decentralization, which he termed “the marriage of town and country,” as a correction of the ever growing cities with their shocking living conditions. The Garden City association was formed in 1899 with large support and his book was republished under a new title, Garden Cities of Tomorrow (new edition 1946). His dream became reality when Letchworth was planned in 1903 and Welwyn Garden City in 1920. Howard was knighted in 1927.

Howard joined the Theosophical Society on July 29, 1909, and remained a member until his death at Welwyn Garden City on May 1, 1928. Although Howard gained much of his inspiration for land reform from Sydney Webb and Bernard Shaw when they were co-members of the Zetetical debating club and from the works of Edward Bellamy and Thomas Davidson, he was also encouraged by the social reform theories of Annie BESANT.


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